If you consider visiting Costa Rica this year for a family vacation or a honeymoon / romantic getaway, here are some basic points that might help you in the planning process.
Where should I go? Places to visit?
Costa Rica is a very special destination. It is a very small country but within hours you can drive from the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. You can climb volcanos and learn how to surf. You can hike in cloud forests and kayak in mangroves. Abundant wildlife will accompany you as Costa Rica represents only 0.3% of the world”™s landmass, but is home to almost 5% of the world”™s biodiversity.
Determining where to go depends on your interests. If you have about 10 days of vacation time and are looking for an active nature vacation, but don”™t want to give up all the creature comforts, we recommend spending two to three days in a mountain or volcano destination near the Poas and Barva Volcanoes and then head to the coastal areas.
On the Pacific coast, our preference is the area around and south of Manuel Antonio. The northern Pacific is more of a sun and beach destination. Try to make it to the southern Pacific and the Osa Peninsula. It is the gem of Costa Rica in terms of wildlife. National Geographic called it the ” most biologically diverse place on earth”. For further inspiration on itineraries for an eco-friendly honeymoon or a green family vacation, take a look here.
How do I get around? Transportation options?
Costa Rica is a small country, but sometimes getting around is not that easy. It has a mountainous landscape and the roads are not always in top conditions. Many visitors complain about the lack of road signage. We recommend a combination of various methods of transport during your visit.
The fastest way of getting around is domestic flights. If you are a bit rushed for time, flying is your best option. Two local airlines (Sansa and Nature Air) offer several daily flights all over the country. The other option is to hire a private transfer to take you to your destination. It gives you the chance to stop along the way, check out attractions and have a meal where the locals eat. Especially for parties 3 and up, that is a great value. Or you can rent a car. It helps is you speak a bit of Spanish to ask your way around and it is probably a good idea to invest in a GPS.
When you book your hotel or resort accommodation, ask for help or recommendations on your transportation needs.
What are the activities and tour experiences that should not be missed?
Climb a volcano, take a hike in the rain forest, experience a Canopy tour, kayak or surf in the Pacific Ocean and go on a Coffee Tour. That will probably take care of some of the Top 5 activities. More region specific, we recommend the following:
In the Central Valley near San Jose, visit the National Theater, Central Market and Gold Museum and go on an Organic Coffee Tour. On the Nicoya Peninsula, take a surf lesson in Santa Teresa or Nosara (Guiones) and feel the special vibe of those two beach towns.
At the Central Pacific, visit the National Parks of Manuel Antonio and Bahia Ballena. Go on a tour that takes you into the coastal rainforest and jump into a waterfall. On the Osa Peninsula, explore the local flora and fauna in and around Corcovado National Park with an expert guide and take a boat tour in the Golfo Dulce which is one of the world”™s few tropical fjords.
What will the weather be like? What about the temperatures? Is Air conditioning necessary?
Costa Rica is located near the equator and you can expect warm temperatures year around. However, as you climb in altitude (San Jose is about 1,000 meters above sea level), it gets cooler. So bring a light sweater and jacket. The rains on the Pacific coast are strongest in September through November. March, April and May are the hottest months. We recommend travel in early December or June as they are shoulder season months with few people, great deals available and good weather. For more information take a look at these climate charts.
Air Conditioning? Most people feel more comfortable with the option of A/C in the coastal areas, but if you are staying at an eco lodge or hotel or resort that has been built with sustainability in mind offering good cross ventilation, it is probably not necessary. We recommend giving it a try as you will feel much more connected to nature and hear the sounds of the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean.
Need more info? If you have further questions, send us a note to [email protected]. We look forward to your visit to Costa Rica.
The Cayuga Collection consists of eight eco lodges, eco resorts, and sustainable hotels in different regions of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. All of them specialize in creating the symbiosis of sustainability and luxury always providing a sense of place taking into account local culture and customs.