Dreamland Costa Rica
You haven’t visited Costa Rica yet? Then you have missed something wonderful! This small country in Central America is a true dreamland and has a lot to offer: From rainforests and volcanoes to nature reserves where you can marvel at exotic animals like hummingbirds, sloths, turtles or squirrel monkeys. There is not only greenery as far as the eye can see, but also beautiful beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, which are perfect for swimming, diving and surfing. The “Ticos” and “Ticas”, as the inhabitants of Costa Rica call themselves, are extremely hospitable and helpful and are happy to welcome tourists to their country. Costa Rica – the land of pura vida! Here you can enjoy life to the fullest and experience everything from hot volcanic springs to tropical beaches.
The Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica offers everything you could want for your stay abroad, nestled in tropical rainforest you will find the most beautiful beaches in the country. The region is characterized by ecotourism, and the largely unspoiled bays and coastal forests provide the perfect backdrop for your adventures. Nature reserves extend into the ocean to protect the impressive reefs and sea turtles. Some places on the peninsula have become true surfing hotspots, as the conditions are perfect. You will also find good conditions for surfing beginners at many beaches, so you should definitely get on a surfboard yourself. It’s up to you whether you go into the water alone or take a surfing lesson at one of the countless surf schools. A relaxed vibe and interesting people from all over the world make your stay on Nicoya unforgettable. Our favorite places to visit on the Nicoya Peninsula are Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Sámara and Tamarindo.
To and from Nicoya Peninsula
- From San José there are buses several times a day to Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Sámara and Tamarindo which takes about 5-6 hours and costs less than 10 euros.
- On the peninsula there are direct connections with shuttles between the tourist places and local buses often go from place to place with a stopover.
Montezuma is a magnet for backpackers from all over the world! Here the clocks tick slower, the people are relaxed and enjoy this charming spot on earth. Montezuma is a small and beautiful place at the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in the province of Puntarenas. A bit off the beaten track, this unique natural paradise is still an insider tip and not overcrowded. Almost exclusively young backpackers and hippies get lost in Montezuma to enjoy the landscape.
Here you can explore everything quite relaxed on foot. North of the city lies the most popular beach, Playa Montezuma. Here people meet to sunbathe, to lie under the palm trees or to swim in the sea. Probably the most popular destination in Montezuma are the waterfalls south of the city. They consist of three cascades with something for everyone. While some just relax or picnic at the largest waterfall (almost 24 meters high), adventurous people swim or jump into the water at the other two. Also, during your side trip to Montezuma, you can visit our Turtle Protection Project and see how the little turtles are released.
You can also enjoy the extensive restaurant and bar scene. With a mix of locals and immigrants, you can sample cuisines from all over the world. In addition, in Montezuma you are in the middle of the wild nature and can observe the rich animal world with monkeys, birds and butterflies directly in front of your doorstep.
To and from Montezuma
- Since Montezuma is located at the lower tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, it can be reached by ferry from Puntarenas or via the mainland.
- Buses to Puntarenas leave daily from San José, take about 2 hours and cost about 5 euros.
- From Montezuma, Santa Teresa is only a stone’s throw away. The bus, which runs several times a day, takes only 30 minutes and costs a few euros.
The laid-back surf village has a relaxed vibe and you’ll find everything you need to be happy. We just love this laid-back place on the Pacific coast! The surf hotspot is much smaller than Tamarindo, but it has just as much to offer. The gorgeous beaches offer different small and big waves depending on the time of day. Beginners can learn their first steps in one of the many surf schools and rent boards at reasonable prices. Of course, splashing in the sea and hanging out on the beach is just as much fun. Although Santa Teresa can only be reached by a gravel road, the small village has turned out to be a tourist magnet. There you can meet many young people from all over the world and socialize at one of the numerous beach parties. Like everywhere on the Pacific coast, Santa Teresa has a beautiful sunset, which is celebrated by all travelers and locals as a daily ceremony. Take some cool drinks and snacks to the beach and enjoy not only a breathtaking natural spectacle, but also a coming together of the whole town. Santa Teresa is not just about surfing, it’s also about partying hard. Check out weekly jungle parties or pay a visit to the local club “La Lora”.
To and from Santa Teresa
- You can get to Santa Teresa by bus and then by ferry from San José.
- There are also shuttles that you can book from San José, for example, that will get you to your destination a little faster.
- If you come to Santa Teresa via the mainland, there is also the option to take a shuttle or one of the local buses.
- From Santa Teresa it takes only 30 minutes by bus to Montezuma.
- Sámara is about 2 hours away, also accessible by shuttle or bus.
The pretty little village of Sámara on the Nicoya Peninsula is a magnet for young travelers from all over the world who come here to surf and relax on the beach. The downtown area borders the beautiful beach and is full of restaurants, hip boutiques, bars and hostels. Sámara is surrounded by deep rainforest, which is home to diverse wildlife such as monkeys, iguanas and many types of birds.
Sámara’s biggest attraction is its beautiful beach. Playa Sámara, with its palm trees and light brown sand, attracts every year many travelers looking for a relaxed flair. Because you will look for stress here in vain. Whether it’s sipping a cocktail at the beach bar, dozing in a hammock, or strolling in the sunset, everyone will find happiness here.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Sámara is the Belen Waterfall. This small cascade and a series of natural pools are a popular spot with locals that few tourists know about. The entrance is located in the middle of the countryside and is not marked. From there, a rustic path leads to the river. Make sure you have good directions, though, as it’s easy to drive past it. During the rainy season, the current at the waterfall can get strong and should be taken with caution.
From and to Sámara
- From San José to Samara there are several direct buses that take about 5 hours and cost less than 10 euros.
- From Sámara you can reach Nosara in 30 minutes, there are buses several times a day.
- In about 4 hours you are in Tamarindo, for this you have to take the bus to Nicoya and from there change to a direct bus.
Tamarindo is Costa Rica’s absolute paradise for surfers and those who want to become one! The lively and lively city is located in the north of the Nicoya Peninsula and is the surfer hotspot par excellence. There are many opportunities for diving, snorkeling and swimming. The city owes its good reputation to the dream beaches and the variety of hostels, hotels, restaurants and bars. With pleasantly warm water all year round, there is no better place than Playa Tamarindo to catch the perfect wave. There are also numerous other beautiful beaches just a few kilometers away, such as Playa Conchal. During the day you can enjoy water sports like swimming, surfing or fishing and after sunset you can enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
Tamarindo is Costa Rica’s absolute paradise for surfers and those who want to become one! The lively and lively city is located in the north of the Nicoya Peninsula and is the surfer hotspot par excellence. There are many opportunities for diving, snorkeling and swimming. The city owes its good reputation to the dream beaches and the variety of hostels, hotels, restaurants and bars. With pleasantly warm water all year round, there is no better place than Playa Tamarindo to catch the perfect wave. There are also numerous other beautiful beaches just a few kilometers away, such as Playa Conchal. During the day you can enjoy water sports like swimming, surfing or fishing, and after sunset you can enjoy the vibrant nightlife. Very close by is Playa Grande beach, located in the Marino Las Baulas National Park. The national park is a protected area and owes its name to the Baula turtle. These magnificent giant turtles are the largest marine reptiles in the world and come to Playa Grande in large populations from November to April to mate and lay their eggs. Especially recommended are the tours to Las Baulas National Park. Here you will explore the local flora and fauna together with a tour guide. A trip there is recommended after work is done on particularly hot days, as there is plenty of shade along the way.
In the evening you can visit the town with its small charming bars and restaurants. This is also where the locals like to spend their evening and you will quickly meet new people. Especially for the end of the evening the hip Beachtown Tamarindo is highly recommended. When the party lights come on and Latin music plays on the dance floor, no one wants to go home.
To and from Tamarindo
- From San José by plane to Tamarindo or Liberia.
- By bus from San José it takes about 5 hours and costs less than 10 Euros.
- From Tamarindo to Playa Flamingo there is a direct bus that will take you to your destination in 2 hours.
- From there you can travel on to Nicaragua, the hip place “San Juan del Sur” is only 5 hours away, for this you can book a direct shuttle.
White sandy beaches, lush green rainforests, gigantic mountains – it’s not for nothing that Forbes magazine named Manuel Antonio National Park one of the world’s most beautiful parks. The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is the smallest, but most popular national park on the Pacific coast of the country. Not only many tourists, but also the locals like to spend their weekends in Manuel Antonio. The photo of the two beaches Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla is probably one of the most printed pictures from Costa Rica. In addition to the palm forests, the park also includes twelve islands that serve as breeding grounds for many birds. In a very small area, there are more than 350 plant species and 109 different mammal species, such as sloths, raccoons, coatis, capuchins and armadillos.
The land portion of the national park is best explored on foot. Several hiking trails lead through the park to the gorgeous beaches and to some viewpoints. The entrance fee to the park is 10 dollars and you can walk around without a guide without any problems. The animals have gotten used to people and are no longer shy. Remember to enter the park without food, otherwise you run the risk that the thieving monkeys steal your provisions directly from your pocket.
Canopy tours are offered throughout Costa Rica in various places – so of course also in Manuel Antonio. Here, wire ropes are stretched in the rainforest between the highest trees, on which you can fly through the jungle by cable car.
The two best beaches for snorkeling are Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur. Snorkeling tours are also offered to many offshore islands where soft corals populate the water. From December to May, snorkeling can be combined with whale watching on all trips.
To and from Manuel Antonio
- From San José you take a bus to Quepos, from there you change to Manuel Antonio.
- From Manuel Antonio you can make a detour to Jaco or Playa Hermosa, which you can also reach via Quepos.
- In 2.5 hours you will reach the surfer’s paradise Dominical, you take the bus from Manuel Antonio to Quepos and from there directly to your destination.
- From Quepos there is also a direct bus to Uvita that costs about 5 euros and takes an average of 1.5 hours.
Not far from Manuel Antonio is the small town of Uvita, which is best known for the Envision Festival, the largest festival in Costa Rica, held annually at the end of February. The highlight is the Parque Marino Ballena (whale in Spanish). The beach bears this name because at low tide it looks like a giant whale’s fin from above. Many visitors come to the national park every day to walk along the fin. But beware: around noon the sun is very strong and hot and there is no shade on the fin. So don’t forget sunscreen and sun hat!
Dominical is located about 20 minutes north of Uvita and has a lot of restaurants, stores and hostels to offer. A colorful crowd of locals, surfers, backpackers and hippies come here and in the high season it is really busy. So be sure to book your accommodation in advance. Also a trip to the Cataratas Nauyaca waterfalls is definitely worth it. These two places are perfect if you want to get a little down and away from the crowds and like it more relaxed.
From and to Uvita
- From San José you take a bus to Tracopa and change there to Uvita, the trip takes about 4,5 hours and costs between 5-13 Euro.
- From Uvita you need only 20 minutes by bus to Dominical.
- From Uvita you are not far from the Corcovado National Park, unfortunately there is no bus connection and only the option to take a shuttle or ferry.
Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast is located in the southeast of the country and is only a stone’s throw away from Panama. Once there, the best way to discover the colorful surroundings is by bike. In the city itself you can easily walk around, only to explore the 13 km long coastline you will be grateful for a bike. This way you will not only find the best restaurants and souvenir stores, but you can also explore the varied coasts in the immediate vicinity. Besides the absolute Caribbean flair of Playa Blanca you have the possibility to see a real natural spectacle: Playa Negra. Due to the high volcanic activity in Costa Rica, this part of the country has a typical dark volcanic beach, where you can also go swimming perfectly, because the current here is less strong than on the other beaches. One of the most beautiful beaches in the whole country is located just a few kilometers from Puerto Viejo in the Manzanillo National Park. The sky blue waters and pristine nature are breathtaking. The beach is very quiet and there are few waves. There you don’t even have to take a boat to go snorkeling, but you can already observe beautiful fish in the crystal clear and shallow waters. But also the beach Playa Cocles near the center is worth a visit. Opposite the long beach you will find countless restaurants and cafes that have everything from vegan to local food. On top of that, surf schools are stationed here, making this beach a meeting point for backpackers and locals. Several times a week, there is a fire show there for everyone to gather and marvel at during the sunset.
Not only the flair, but also the cuisine in the Caribbean region differs from the rest of the country, it is spicier and cooked a lot with coconut milk. Typical Caribbean is Rice and Beans with fish, you should definitely have tried that.
Not far from Puerto Viejo is the town of Cahuita. In the national park of the same name you have the chance for an exciting hiking experience. The approximately 8 kilometer long wooden trail leads you over beach and rainforest paths to the Punta Cahuita. You don’t have to be a professional to successfully complete this hike. The only obstacle on the trail is the Rio Perezoso, the so-called “sloth river”. It cuts through Punta Cahuita and must be crossed if you want to get to the top. There are some day tourists to Cahuita, but there are only two hostels and therefore fewer overnight guests. If the hustle and bustle of Puerto Viejo gets too much for you, it’s worth staying overnight in this still very traditional Caribbean, sleepy town. You will see more locals than in Puerto Viejo and the prices are a few dollars cheaper. A bus goes from one place to the other several times a day for a few cents.
To and from Puerto Viejo
- Several buses from San José go daily to Puerto Viejo, the duration is 5 hours and the ticket costs about 8 euros.
- From Puerto Viejo you can take a bus to Cahuita National Park, the ride costs about 1 Euro.
- You can also get to Manzanillo National Park by local bus, which will also cost you about 1 euro.
- From Puerto Viejo you can take a two-hour shuttle to Bocas del Toro in Panama.
- There are several shuttles to other tourist places like la Fortuna, everything else has to be done by local bus with change in San José.
In the interior lies the breathtaking Talamanca Mountains with a huge rainforest area. As part of the largest nature reserve in Central America and due to its ecological diversity, Chirripó National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The reserve is home to a wide variety of exotic animals such as the quetzal, ocelot, tapir, puma, jaguar and many others. The national park is home to Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica, from whose summit you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on clear days. The incomparable nature that you can admire during the climb and the spectacular view that you will be rewarded with after the hike make the climb an unforgettable experience.
The small towns of Rivas and San Gerardo are very close to the National Park. There you will find small restaurants and supermarkets. The authentic little village of San Gerardo is home to only a few inhabitants, but is beautifully situated on the edge of the mountains and shows how the friendly Ticos live there in the countryside.
To and from Chirripó National Park
- You can reach the National Park by bus from the capital San José with a change in San Isidro General.
Corcovado & Osa-Halbinsel
In the southwest of the Osa Peninsula, a small miracle awaits you: Corcovado National Park is not only considered the most biodiverse area in Costa Rica, but also defends this reputation worldwide. The 13 ecosystems with 500 tree, 140 mammal and 120 reptile species as well as amphibians and more than 6,000 insect species speak volumes. The park is home to many endangered plant and animal species that are already extinct in other parts of the country, such as the tapir.
The bay near the park Drake Bay is still considered a real insider tip, which is probably due to the great distance to the capital and the difficult accessibility, because there is actually no paved road leading to the region. Nevertheless, year after year more and more travelers come to the paradise and accordingly you can find there some hostels and hotels, as well as restaurants, bars and small supermarkets. The bay owes its name to Sir Francis Drake, who used it as a starting point for his raids on the Spanish fleet in the 16th century. Legend has it that one of the British pirate’s fabled hidden treasures can still be found here today.
From and to Corcovado and Osa Peninsula
- From San José there are few buses to the Osa Peninsula, but you can drive directly and reach your destination “la Palma” in about 8 hours.
- From there you need 20 minutes to the national park, by public bus or cab.
- The best way to reach Drake Bay is by boat. You drive to Sierpe and get on the boat to Drake Bay.
- From there it is not far to the surf village Pavones, unfortunately the connection is very bad and with the public transport you would have to go back to San José to take another bus.
Monteverde and La Fortuna
Monteverde and La Fortuna have everything a nature junkie could want. In Monteverde National Park, you’ll find exciting adventures from the treetop to the root world. It is up to you to discover this place with or without a guide. Here you will find about 9000 Costa Rican plant species, 800 different tree species and over 500 different orchids. But also the fauna will amaze you. The national park offers habitat for almost 200 different amphibian and reptile species. Among them are lizards, snakes and many more. If you feel like a bit of adrenaline, you should definitely make a detour to the so-called canopy. There you fly on steel cables through the jungle and before you know it, you feel like Tarzan and have forgotten everything around you. There you will experience an unforgettable feeling of freedom and you will never forget the experience of floating several meters above the earth.
The fastest way to get from Monteverde to Lla Fortuna is to use one of the many shuttles. The cheaper alternative is to take the local buses, but you will have to plan a little more time. The highlight in La Fortuna is by far the Arenal Volcano. Here you are spoiled for choice between countless hiking trails. Each one offers a unique view of the still active volcano.
After a strenuous hike, there is nothing better than relaxing in one of the city’s many hot springs. These waters flow directly from the volcano into a river that is open to all, and used day and night. Or you can go to one of the many beautifully designed hot springs, it’s up to you.
There are also some exciting activities in La Fortuna, such as flying across the jungle on the zip line or exploring the suspension bridges, which are not only perfect as the next Instagram picture, but also leave you feeling breathtaking in real life. Lastly, be sure to check out the waterfall. From a height of 65 meters, the water masses fall into the rainforest, a real highlight which should not be missed on any visit.
Insider tip: Venado Caves near La Fortuna. This is a cave system. With a guide at your side you will discover underground waterfalls, stalactites and canyons.
To and from Monteverde and La Fortuna
- La Fortuna can be reached by direct bus from San José in 3 hours.
- Monteverde is best reached from La Fortuna in about 30 minutes, the best option here is to book a shuttle.
Pura Vida in Tortuguero National Park! The name Tortuguero means “place where the turtles come” and comes from the Spanish word for turtle, “tortuga”. Untouched rainforest full of animals and plants and black, almost deserted beaches are waiting for you here. The national park is a lagoon landscape surrounded by dense rainforest and is simply unique. Here you can observe the most different animal species: Sloths, iguanas, caimans, toucans, parrots, several species of monkeys, crocodiles and over 300 species of birds.
The eponymous village of Tortuguero is located between the Caribbean Sea and a wide river, only 40 km from the border with Nicaragua. The village can only be reached by boat or plane. About 500 villagers live here mainly from fishing and the ever-growing tourism.
To and from Tortuguero
- Tortuguero is served by several tour operators, you can be picked up from your accommodation and brought to another place after your stay.
- You can reach Tortuguero by plane for about 100 USD from San José.
- After arriving at the airport you have to take a boat for about 10 minutes.
- By bus you need about 3.5 hours from San José and pay only about 6 euros, but you have to change once in Cariari and in la Pavona.
What was a small farming village in the center of the country at the beginning of the 18th century is now the metropolis of Costa Rica. The country decided to move the capital after the Spanish occupation. Since then, San José has grown steadily and has been the new core of Costa Rica for almost 200 years.
During your exploration of the city, you will find many beautiful corners that will lure you in with the sweet smells of smoothies or aromatic coffee. But there are more than just treats in store for you. In the center of the city you will also find the most famous sightseeing hotspots, such as the Teatro Nacional, the Cathedral Metropolitana or the Parque Central. An absolute highlight is the Mercado Central in the city center. The market is open daily and is perfect for shopping for cheap souvenirs before your flight home. There you will find everything you can think of!
If you are interested in the history of the country, the Museo Nacional is highly recommended. The museum is located in a yellow building in front of Democracy Square, which used to be a prison. It tells the story from the indigenous people, through colonization to the present age. There you can also admire the beautiful large blue butterflies in the butterfly garden.
land & people
Once you come to Costa Rica, you feel right at home. You owe this feeling to the people, who literally shower you with their loving nature. Important to the Ticos are their family, their friends, a good education and the connection to nature. In this regard, it is not surprising that Costa Rica once again occupies first place in the Happy Planet Index in 2019.
The “pura vida” is truly lived here. People like to take their time, are friendly and relaxed. No one here says no to the odd after-work beer either. The Ticos like to party with friends or family until late at night and take every opportunity to play their beloved Latin music.
Furthermore, in Costa Rica nothing goes without sports. Soccer is the classic national sport and is seen as its own religion. Besides soccer, there are many other sports that provide the perfect balance from everyday life, from surfing, yoga to fishing or cycling. The Ticos thus combine sports with nature. The perfect recipe to come down and let the soul dangle.
Food & Drink
A journey of the culinary kind can be found in the cuisine of Costa Rica.
The basic foods include rice and beans, which are prepared and served in many different variations. It is also noticeable that cooking in Costa Rica is very regional. Fish is eaten more often near the coast than in the center of the country. You should definitely convince yourself of the freshness of the products at one of the many weekly markets. There it is loud, colorful and it smells wonderful from all corners.
Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s main exports. Every Frahling lover gets his money’s worth here. In addition to the classic coffee bean, there are also roasting plants that process the country’s typical bean, the “caracoli”. After all, there is nothing finer than starting the day with such an aromatic coffee.
The classic national dish Gallo Pinto enchants the palate with the “Pura Vida” feeling. Often served as breakfast, it can also be eaten at any time of the day or night, as Costa Ricans just can’t get enough of it. It is flavorful, rich and at the same time simple to prepare. Gallo Pinto consists of fried rice with beans, onion, peppers and cilantro. It is usually served with sweet plantains (“plátanos”), corn tortillas, sour cream or scrambled eggs.
Batidos (a mixed drink of water, milk and fresh fruit) are equally popular and typical of the country. But pipa (coconut milk fresh from the coconut) is also great to enjoy on a relaxing day at the beach.
Best time to travel
The climate in Costa Rica is very tropical and therefore divided into dry and rainy season. Officially, the dry season is from November to April. However, the weather on the Pacific and Caribbean sides is often very different. Visiting during the rainy season is by no means a bad thing, because it never rains 24/7. You eventually learn to appreciate and enjoy the rain showers that overtake the country, because once it rains, everything stands still and everyone watches this natural spectacle. Nature is also even more beautiful than usual during the rainy season, because how else would everything bloom and green if not with rain. The changing weather in Costa Rica also brings different activities. A visit to the rainforest during the rainy season should definitely be on your list, as nature is in its full bloom here. If you are drawn to water activities, you should definitely try surfing. For this, the dry season is more suitable, as the waves are better for beginners. As you can see, both dry and rainy seasons have their advantages and will enchant you with unique conditions.
From Germany there are direct flights from Frankfurt to San José since a few years. Otherwise, there is the possibility to get to your dream country with a stopover.
In Costa Rica there are hardly any trains and the country can be traveled mainly by public bus or private shuttles. The shuttles are the faster option, but often much more expensive.
With the inter-regional buses that leave from San José, you can actually get anywhere. The seats for these can also be booked in advance. This way you have a safe place to travel and at the same time plenty of time to interact with other travelers.
If you travel locally, you also take the bus. Roughly calculated, 10 km costs about 1 $. Pay directly to the bus driver. Make sure that you have the fare with you as small change as possible. Sometimes the bus driver can’t or won’t change – at your expense.
You can enter Costa Rica visa free for up to 90 days for your travel adventure. Once there, you only need to present your return or departure ticket. To extend your visa for another 90 days, you can cross the border to Panama or Nicaragua, for example, or take a short trip by plane to Guatemala.
The official currency in Costa Rica is the Colón. Compared to Germany, the cost of living is lower. This already starts with the choice of accommodation. A hostel will cost you about 13-20 euros per night. And if you want to experience the real travel adventure, you can prefer the hammock in some hostels for 7 euros. In the tourist areas, hostel prices start at 15 euros and become, especially if you book shortly before or in the high season, sometimes twice as expensive.
If you cook in the hostel and buy food at regional markets, you should be able to get by with an average of 10 euros a day. Stay away from expensive imported goods that will only make your expenses skyrocket. If you’re more in the mood for a restaurant, talk a lot with other travelers or Ticos who can help you with real insider tips. Beer and cocktails at the bar will cost you between 2 and 4 Euros in Costa Rica. If you want to enjoy a delicious meal in a restaurant, you will pay about 10 to 15 euros. In a local restaurant you can get a good meal for about 4 Euros. The tip is usually already included.
Short cab rides of 10 minutes will cost you up to 4 Euros in Costa Rica. For example, a 5-hour bus ride from San José to Puerto Viejo is currently 10 Euros, so it’s affordable for any low-budget budget. In many places in Costa Rica, TukTuks run instead of cabs, they are optimal especially for short distances.
History and culture
To understand Costa Rica and the Ticos and Ticas, it doesn’t hurt to know a little about the history of the country. The first settlement of Costa Rica started in 1522 and it took another 40 years until the Spaniard Juan Vásquez de Coronado founded the first capital of Costa Rica “Cartago”.
Later the capital was moved to today’s “San José”, as the city grew steadily and Cartago was shaken by several earthquakes and partially destroyed in the process. After Costa Rica became independent from Spain in 1821 and broke away from the Mexican Empire of Mexico two years later, the country started growing coffee with its first head of state Juan Mora Fernández. Consequently, the hitherto peasant Costa Rican society changed. The decisive breakthrough in 1843 came with the help of the English captain William Le Lacheur Lyon, who, instead of loading ballast for the return voyage to England, decided to carry sacks of coffee beans and thus became the pioneer of the direct export of Costa Rican coffee to Europe. Within half a century, Costa Rica went from being a poorhouse to the most prosperous country in Central America. In the process, it had overtaken its neighbors. This boom continued when Costa Rica began to build a railroad through the country in the late 1870s. This offered the opportunity to get into banana cultivation. For this purpose, workers were brought mainly from Jamaica, Cape Verde, China and Italy, which contributed to the emergence of the unique Afro-Costa Rican culture in Limón.
As early as 1913, Costa Rica was the world’s largest exporter of bananas, and 10 years later coffee and bananas were joined by cocoa. Unfortunately, Costa Rica did not avoid a civil war and disputes with neighboring Nicaragua, which still exist today. Nevertheless, the country has managed to increase tourism and attract more and more people in recent years.
If you have decided to visit this wonderful country, consider yourself lucky and you will definitely not regret it!
WanderWorld Insider Tips from our contributor Theresa
Having a longing for a country even though you are still on the ground is what Theresa felt after her first visit to Costa Rica. Between the tourist sights and places, this country has so much more to offer. To give you a little taste, Theresa has summarized her favorite moments travel highlights for you:
Puerto Viejo is by far my favorite place in Costa Rica, if not the whole world. This area is different from the rest of the country in culture, food, music and locals. The Caribbean flair makes you forget about time after just a few days and you will be completely immersed in the dynamics and vibe of the city. Every day there is a party to different music, because the people live “Pura Vida”.
It’s hard for me to imagine a visit to Puerto Viejo without trying the Afro-Costa Rican national dish, Rice and Beans. You can order this specialty at any restaurant during the week and try it at one of the many food trucks on the weekends. For the ultimate experience, order Hiel, a ginger drink that is only available in Puerto Viejo. Trust me, this combination is addictive!
Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park was an unforgettable experience. Although I had already become accustomed to the country’s incredibly green and tropical nature, I couldn’t get out of my amazement after entering the national park. Through the guide I could see animals like tucans, iguanas and strangler snakes on the trees and got to know different leaves and tree species. Never before have I appreciated nature so much, noticing and absorbing every sound and smell.
My last highlight is the sunset in Santa Teresa. This is an unofficial event that takes place every evening. Large groups, families, or even solo travelers gather here to enjoy the beautiful and vibrant colors in the sky. Here I met some people again and noticed, the people stick to the “Pura Vida”, because the nature and the people leave an unforgettable impression, so also with me.