Costa Rica is one of the most amazing countries in the world, but many people don’t know that much about this small but mighty Central American country.
Ask someone, and they might mention the rainforest or the surf, or even reference sloths (there are plenty in Costa Rica), but they probably won’t be able to tell you much more. And it’s a real shame, because Costa Rica is an absolute gem of a country — full of exciting things to do and see, as well as welcoming, friendly people to meet, and delicious food to try. It’s even possible to do this all on a budget-friendly holiday.
Well, we’re about to change that; check out the post below for seven things you didn’t know about Costa Rica that will make you want to go there immediately:
1. There’s a blissful beach for everyone
You don’t know this yet, but you’re going to fall in love with the beaches of this beautiful Central American country.
In Costa Rica, there’s a beach for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an uncrowded stretch of pristine sand to call your own, or want to spend your days surfing on sun-soaked shores, you’ll find the perfect beach for you.
Romantics will adore the white sands and stunning sunsets of Nicoya Peninsula. And if you’re a nature-lover, head to Tortuguero to find sea turtles and watch hatchlings scurry towards the sea, or snorkel with marine life in the rich waters of Drake Bay.
Or if surfing is what you’re after, then check out the white sands of Santa Teresa, jungle-lined Playa Dominical, or try Tamarindo — the perfect beach for beginner surfers. You can find out more about Costa Rica’s gorgeous beaches on this Costa Rica travel guide for this year.
2. Costa Rican cuisine is delicious
Costa Rican cuisine often gets overshadowed by its Latin American neighbours — street tacos from Mexico and fresh, sharp ceviche from Peru are popular and instantly recognised around the world.
But this small Central American country has plenty to offer of its own, and if you don’t know much about Costa Rican food, then you’re in for a treat.
Costa Rica’s cuisine is delicious — made using local produce, tropical fruit, flavorsome meats, freshly-caught seafood, and comforting fillers like rice and beans.
While you’re out there, there are plenty of great Costa Rican dishes you have to try, such as tacos, tamales, or gallo pinto — a colourful dish of rice, beans, red peppers, onions, plantain, salsa and coriander considered by many to be the national dish.
You’ll also enjoy plenty of chifrijo while you’re drinking ice-cold beers in the sun; this tasty bar snack is made with chicharrones (delicious fried pork rinds) and frijoles (beans), and topped with tortilla chips, avocado, salsa, chimichurri and zesty lime. Delicious.
3. It’s home to some pretty impressive volcanoes
If you’re into your volcanoes, you’re in luck — Costa Rica is scattered with active, dormant and extinct volcanoes, as well as over a hundred volcanic formations. You can visit many of these stunning attractions, taking part in guided volcano hikes, checking out huge craters and traversing rugged volcanic landscapes.
Probably the most famous is the distinctive cone-shaped Arenal, located in the north of Costa Rica. Arenal, which is 5,358 feet high, has been active until very recently (it has been dormant since 2010) — regularly producing lava flows, emitting gas and violently erupting twice in the past 50 years.
The volcanoes aren’t just stunning landmarks, either — they also heat natural hot springs across the countries — creating thermal pools and natural spas that visitors and locals alike can enjoy.
4. It’s one of the most biodiverse countries in the world
Despite Costa Rica’s relatively small size, this tiny country is one of the most biodiverse and naturally beautiful on the planet. Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of flora and fauna — which make up nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
The landscape of Costa Rica varies hugely, which means that wildlife-lovers can come face-to-face with a huge variety of different animals. Head to the humid rainforests for a taste of the tropical and to see anything from slow-moving sloths and chattering monkeys, to tiny tree frogs, to vibrantly-coloured parrots, hummingbirds and toucans.
If you want a break from the rainforests, you can visit Costa Rica’s mangrove swamps and freshwater rivers to catch a glimpse of wading birds, iguanas and huge crocodiles basking on the river banks.
5. Costa Rica puts the planet first
If you’re an eco-conscious tourist or traveller looking for a holiday that won’t have too much of a negative impact on the planet, then Costa Rica is the destination for you.
Unless you’re particularly informed on the environmentally-friendly practices of countries around the globe, you probably didn’t know that Costa Rica is a world leader when it comes to the use of green energy.
That’s right — despite being a relatively small country (and not a super wealthy one, at that), this tiny Central American nation is a trailblazer when it comes to sustainable energy practices. The country runs almost entirely on renewable energy from hydroelectric dams and other green sources, and plans to be the first totally carbon-neutral country by 2021.
6. It’s an adventurer’s paradise
If you’re a thrill-seeker, then Costa Rica is the adventure paradise for you!
Costa Rica is a country that prides itself on its diverse terrain, and offers plenty of adventure activities that make the most of this.
Head to the rainforest for wildlife-spotting trails, treetop canopy walks and ziplining. Or why not take to Costa Rica’s many rivers and enjoy some whitewater-rafting or waterfall rappelling and cliff jumping?
Need some time away from the sticky rainforests? Visit the high-altitude mountains and plains instead, for a chance to take part in activities like volcano hikes, mountain-biking and horse riding.
The sea offers plenty too. As well as some amazing surfing spots, the stunning coastline and azure waters offer the opportunity for kayaking, sailing, and paddle boarding too.
And don’t forget that there’s a whole new world under those perfect waves too: Costa Rica is an incredible place to go scuba-diving or snorkelling. The water is teeming with marine life — from vibrant tropical fish, to curious sea turtles and majestic manta rays, you’re bound to see something breath-taking.
7. The weather is basically perfect (It’s even amazing in the rainy season)
Costa Rica boasts amazing weather basically all year round: wonderful, tropical temperatures and lots of sunny days. Perfect for lazing about on the sun-soaked sandy shores, or heading off to do a guided volcano hike if you’re feeling more adventurous.
However, there is variation to Costa Rica’s weather too. Costa Rica has two distinct seasons: dry (or high) season, which falls between December and April, and rainy (or green) season, which falls roughly from May to November.
Dry season technically has the best weather, with balmy temperatures and plenty of sunshine — this is definitely the best time to head to the beach.
But we shouldn’t forget about Costa Rica’s green season, either. Although there is more rain, this does make the country greener and more beautiful, making it a great time to visit the humid rainforests and high-altitude cloud forests to get up-close and personal with some of Costa Rica’s fascinating wildlife. It’s even cheaper and quieter!
These are just seven things that many people don’t know about Costa Rica — book your holiday to find out many more!