CENTRAL AMERICA OVERVIEW
Airport:San Jose International Airport (Juan Santamaria), Liberia International Airport
Time Zone: UTC-6
: Costa Rican Colon
WHERE TO STAY
The Occidental Grand Papagayo is a tropical paradise surrounded by Costa Rica’s Northern Pacific coastline with breathtaking views of the ocean. Guests can enjoy three restaurants and three bars featuring delightful dishes and exceptional service. Take an aerobics class, go bird watching, or sign up for a scuba clinic. The landscape at Riu Guanacaste is very different than other parts of Costa Rica. There are grasslands and woods and you might even get to see local cowboys riding on their horses! You can also enjoy many different buffets and cooking stations, unlimited beverages, snacks 24 hours a day, windsurfing, kayaking, and daily evening entertainment. At the Westin Resort and Spa Playa Conchal, get rejuvenated with a trip to the spa or see beautiful views of the Pacific from the resort’s namesake beach. Enjoy fine Italian cuisine at Faisanela Restaurant or have a cocktail at Triton Bar.
Costa Rican cuisine is known for its bold flavors yet mild use of spices. Rice and black beans are a staple known as gallo pinto when mixed together and usually served three times a day. Casado is the national dish of Costa Rica, consisting of rice and beans, meat, and a salad. Sometimes, the dish is served with fried plantains, a slice of white cheese, and corn tortillas. Arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) is another common dish usually served with a Russian salad made with beets, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and mayonnaise. Costa Ricans also enjoy many different beverages including coffee, agua dulce (sweet water) which is made from boiled down sugar cane juice, and refrescos which are liquefied fruits diluted in either water or milk and then sweetened.
Situated just north of the equator, Costa Rica has a tropical climate and two seasons: the dry (December through April) and the wet (May through November). The average annual temperature usually ranges from 71*F to 81*F. During the dry season, days are warm and sunny with cool winds and little moisture. During the wet season, mornings are generally sunny with warm rain in the afternoon. In September and October, be careful of the intense downpours that fill the rivers.
INSIDER TIPS FROM OUR TRAVEL EXPERTS
Costa Rica is more expensive than other countries in Central America, but there are still plenty of ways to keep your costs down and get the most out of your vacation. If you don’t mind getting rained on a little, traveling during the wet season is sure to save you money and a bonus is that the beaches will be less crowded. Amazing food can be found all over the country and if you want to eat like the locals do, look for smaller, family-run eateries where you can get full meals for under $5 USD. Additionally, local water is fine to drink so you don’t have to spend extra money on bottled. One of Costa Rica’s biggest draws is its flora and fauna, so be sure to check out the National Parks where entrance fees are around $5 USD and usually offer discounts for students. Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast is a breeding ground for the endangered green turtle and you can also see manatees, sloths, and monkeys. In San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design or the Teatro Nacional to see the orchestra. Costa Rica is also famous for its volcanoes and coffee plantations, so be sure to check out some of those before you head home. The entire country is bursting with things to see and do!