Introducing Costa Rica
Costa Rica is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central America because of its comfortable lifestyle, peaceful democracy and overwhelming natural beauty. The country’s Disneylike cast of creatures – ranging from howler monkeys to toucans – are populous and relatively easy to spot. The waves are prime, the beauty is staggering and the sluggish pace seductive. A peaceful oasis in a tumultuous region, this tiny nation draws 1.5 million visitors every year.
To put things in perspective, consider the fact that prior to 1950, half of the country struggled with grinding poverty, and living beyond the age of 50 was an achievement in itself. Today, less than one in five Ticos (Costa Ricans) lives below the poverty line, and life expectancy is on a par with the USA. Given the rise in quality of life throughout the country, Ticos are generally self-content and passive about politics. But underneath the easygoing veneer is discernible pride and support for their unarmed democracy.
What’s on tap? The question is what isn’t? Active travellers can surf, hike, snorkel and spot wildlife for starters. The incredibly varied topography means you can cruise the cloud forest one day, visit an active volcano the next, and finish relaxing on a hot sandy beach. Adrenaline junkies have a myriad ways to make mothers worry – among them zipping through canopy lines hundreds of meters long and riding the rough surf of the Pacific. Choice and variety name the game.
Of course, the frenzy to snatch up a piece of Shangri-la has its consequences. Since the boom, tourism is more chic and less cheap. Classic destinations are now crowded destinations and local culture is often lost or cast aside. Lucky for Costa Rica that its do-gooder fans, ranging from ecologists to proud Ticos (Costa Ricans), are vocal and vigilant. Nature here (like everywhere) suffers its blows, but at least it is taken seriously.
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Best places to stay in Costa Rica
Costa Rica travel guide
In Costa Rica trails lead to rushing waterfalls, mist covered volcanoes and deserted beaches. Regardless of which you choose, this tropical playland is a feast for the senses.
Top five nerve-shredding road trips in Costa Rica
Renting a car in Costa Rica is costly and can even be dangerous if you're not prepared for what's to come. It’s also ridiculously good fun. There are plenty of reasons not to rent a car in Costa Rica...
Costa Rica's best surf breaks
Costa Rica's best eco-lodges
Discover Costa Rica
Monteverde, Arenal, the coastal rainforest of Manuel Antonio – we’ve selected the most iconic sights and incredible places so you can enjoy the real Costa Rica with the minimum of fuss.
Top beaches on Costa Rica's northern Pacific coast
This year, Costa Rica’s wet season took a turn for the dry, and it seemed like the whole country headed for the beach...
Costa Rica's best bird and wildlife watching spots
Costa Rica - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Costa Rica starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus indepth info on the range of outdoor activities that are a feature of this rugged destination.
Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama
Central America's narrow isthmus lends itself perfectly to exploration on two wheels. From the colonial hub of Granada to bustling Panama City, discover Costa Rica's steamy rainforests, La Fortuna's Arenal Volcano and the island paradise of Bocas del Toro. Visit the nature lover's paradise along Lake Nicaragua, cruise along the Tenorio River and snorkel over Panama's reefs.
Best of Costa Rica
Explore the remarkable wildlife, pristine scenery, volcanoes, coast and cloud forest of Costa Rica
A perfect trip to Costa Rica
Costa Rica may look small, but it conceals mysterious cloud forests, quiet beaches and extraordinary wildlife. Take a trip to its most remarkable destinations with Carolina A Miranda in this excerpt from Lonely Planet Traveller. The white-sand beach at Playa Carrillo...
Costa Rica - Understand Costa Rica & Survival Guide (Chapter)
All the info you need on everything from history, Tico culture, landscapes and ecology, to flights, public transport, climate, money, the internet…you name it. Get hints on the gay and lesbian scene and tips for women travellers and travelers...