A 3-hour plane ride from Miami will place you within one of the most beautiful countries in all of Central America. Costa Rica offers attractions for all ages; revel in natural beauty left untouched thanks to the government’s strong efforts to preserve the island’s ecosystems. The rainforests that populate this gem are some of the most unique in the world; combine this with the perfect year-round climate and atmosphere, not to mention the extremely friendly locals, you are sure to desire another visit as soon as you return home.
History and Sightseeing
Since its disbanding of the national army in 1948, Costa Rica is known as one of the most peaceful and democratic countries in the world. The extra money saved from not having an army has allowed them to drastically ramp up their standard of living, so nearly everywhere you look, you will be greeted by happy people and wondrous sites. The locals are commonly known as Ticos, and are notorious for their caring and hospitable ways.
Over a quarter of the country is declared protected territory, so getting your nature fix will not be a problem. Surrounding yourself with such magnificent creatures as sloths, monkeys and wildcats in their natural habitats will never be easier than it is in Costa Rica. Furthermore, participating in a guided tour will only improve your experience in such a diverse country, allowing you to maximize your trip and appreciate everything the island’s culture has to offer.
Don’t let Costa Rica’s isolated location fool you – its culinary influences are as diverse as the wildlife that inhabits it. Beachfront restaurants along the coast are the place to eat, with fusion meals coming together with gorgeous views and curious animals who sometimes can’t resist exploring what you happen to be feasting on.
Central American and Spanish influence can be felt heavily in Costa Rican cuisine, taking in local influences and blending them in a unique fashion. Chicken, rice, beans and seafood are common, as well as some of the best steak in Central America.
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Costa Rica comes alive the moment the sun sets on the Pacific coast. An abundance of bars and restaurants open their doors and pour drinks to entertain locals and visitors alike, from the capital of San Jose to the Atlantic and Pacific coastal cities. The one place that shouldn’t be missed is San Jose’s El Pueblo, which is a mix of over 100 bars, clubs, restaurants, art galleries and shops – the perfect location for bar hopping with a little culture mixed in. And for those who love living in the past, disco is still a very happening scene in Costa Rica, starting shortly after the sun sets but continuing well into the morning.
As is to be expected from a country that borders both the Pacific and the Atlantic, Costa Rica’s aquatic offerings are spectacular. With over 700 miles of coastline at your feet, you can easily enjoy not only the sun and surf but the ecosystems that are highly valued and protected by the country’s government. Mangrove hikes, diving, surfing, sport fishing, hiking and horseback riding offer a one-of-a-kind experience, and thanks to the island’s tropical climate, swimming is a great way to enjoy the refreshing waters almost year-round. Reefs lie just below the surface, providing for a battleground between them and the waves that leave onlookers in awe.
Shopping and Getting Around
Shopping in Costa Rica has drastically improved in the past decade or so, and the addition of many malls, boutiques and specialty shops offering both name brand and handmade, culturally influenced goods are a sign of just that. Visit the very same El Pueblo that was mentioned above for all your shopping needs, as it is home to a great deal of shops and art galleries.
Getting around in Costa Rica is a breeze, – buses, shuttles, taxis, boats and more can take you anywhere you need to go. The main airport, Juan Santamaría International Airport, lies just outside the capital, and the van ride from the capital to either coast might just be one of your wildest experiences in Costa Rica, with the driver darting through narrow passages and hugging the mountains with nothing but rainforest and ocean below you. Every turn brings thrill and adventure into your trip, only moments after landing.
Costa Rica is a country that offers something for everyone and is, without a doubt, an experience that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. The pride and protection that the government exhibits for its ecosystems creates a rewarding experience that should not be missed.
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