Costa Rica has long enjoyed the title of Central America’s favorite travel destination. A democratic republic since 1889, Costa Rica is one of the most politically stable Latin American nations. This sparsely populated nation has protected over 25 percent of its area from development, creating a rich playground for travelers with its lush rainforests and cloud forests that are home to over 200 species of mammals, 850 species of birds and 200 species of amphibians and reptiles each.
The active traveler will be delighted with Costa Rica’s many opportunities for whitewater rafting, hiking around and up active volcanoes, mountain biking, surfing and the popular zip-line tours that whip you from mountain to mountain of cloud forest. Those seeking relaxation can lounge on both Pacific and Caribbean beaches, or sip cappuccinos made from locally-grown coffee beans in the traveler-friendly capital, San Jose.
Costa Rica Weather & Seasons
The best time to travel to Costa Rica is from December to February when most of the country is in the midst of the dry season but just before the temperatures really rise in March and April. You will notice climatic changes depending on your altitude and proximity to the two coasts. The Caribbean coast is wet pretty much all year and may suffer hurricanes from August – October. Temperatures year-round range from about 15° – 30° Celsius (60° – 85° Fahrenheit).
Independence Day on September 15 and Día de la Raza on November 2 are two big holidays that may be worth scheduling your visit around.
Costa Rica History and Politics
Costa Rica has the oldest democracy in Central America. Furthermore, it has no armed forces; the 1948 Civil War brought the end to the army. The United States helps with border defense and some other protective measures. However, this does not mean that Costa Rica is a gun-free nation. You will see just as many, if not more, private guards with exposed or holstered weapons on the streets as in neighboring nations. The police are also a fairly visible presence.
Costa Rica Culture
Ticos, citizens of Costa Rica, have a great deal of pride in their nation and culture. The slogan “pura vida” – the pure life – is found throughout the country and represents a relaxed, friendly lifestyle.
Some spots not to miss in Costa Rica are:
- San Jose: the bustling and traveler-friendly capital city is a great base for trips to both coasts and nearby mountain paradises.
- Rainforests and Cloud Forests: located in the center of the country and on the Pacific Coast are great spots for wildlife-watching, hiking, canopy tours and more.
- Beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific are great places to relax, surf, and fill up on fresh seafood.
- National Parks: consisting of over a fourth of this tiny nation, nature-lovers will be delighted with the variety of ecosystems and protected areas around Costa Rica.