Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America, though nothing is guaranteed. On both coasts but especially the Pacific, currents are swift and dangerous, and generally there are no lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches several tourists drown in Costa Rica each year in rip-tides, the major cause of tourist deaths (see article below). Adventure tourism is increasingly popular in Costa Rica, and many companies provide white-water rafting, bungee jumping, jungle canopy tours, deep sea diving, and other outdoor attractions. A few years back, a couple of tourists died on Costa Rica’s flood-swollen rivers in white-water rafting accidents, plus one over-weight non-swimmer man whose life jacket wouldn’t support him. A man fell from a canopy zip-line to his[…]

Though the free service is rapidly disappearing, a few holdout bars in Costa Rica serve bocas with each drink. Bocas (translating to mouthfuls) are a variety of traditional foods served in small amounts, from black bean soup, to a couple of chicken wings, perhaps a small amount of ceviche, a small bowl of olla de carne, or fried yucca or pork strips. Some rural bars still provide bocas free of charge, most bars today have a small charge with their boca menu. Often in cantinas, Ticos like to swallow down raw turtle eggs in a sweet, spicey sauce. They say it gives them the ‘strength of lions’. I tried a test on a Tico one time, blind-folded him because the[…]

The richest wildlife imaginable – Costa Rica, making up 0.01 percent of the planets landmass, and being at the cross-roads of two continents and caressed by two warm oceans, is said to have an amazing five to six percent of the earth’s biodiversity. Flora Costa Rica has an extraordinary abundance of flora, with more than 9,000 species of ‘higher’ plants, and more being discovered every day. There are 800 species of ferns alone, 1,400 species of gorgeous orchids, and thirty species of heliconias (birds of paradise). There is a fast turnover of nutrients within the soils, and root systems therefore tend to be very shallow. With a magnifying glass, you can identify several plant species barely a millimeter high, and[…]

A citizen from the following countries presenting a valid passport valid for six more months is permitted to stay for ninety days in Costa Rica without a visa: Andorra, Australia*, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark*, Germany, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, United States*, Estonia, Finland, France*, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, México, Montenegro, Norway*, New Zealand*, Netherlands*, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Principality Of Monaco, San Marino, Puerto Rico, Serbia, South Africa, United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland **, Czech Republic, Republic Of South Korea, Hellenic Republic (Greece), Romania, Vatican City, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Republic Of China (Taiwan), Trinidad And Tobago and Uruguay. * Their dependencies will[…]

Historically, the Costa Rican economy has been predominantly agriculture, such as coffee production, pineapples, bananas, ornamental flowers and palm oil. In recent years ecotourism, pharmaceuticals, electronics, finance and the software industry have moved in. The location of Costa Rica on the Central American Isthmus gives easy access to US, European and Asian markets. It switches time zones, half a year central (CST) and half a year mountain (MST). The Costa Rican economy has been growing in part because their government implemented a seven-year-plan to expand into the high tech sector with tax exemptions and easy residency to investors. Comparatively high education levels make the Costa Rican population attractive for investors. High tech global corporations have moved in already like Intel[…]

When checking into any hotel, even Adventure Inn, ask the receptionist to show you the room first. You will naturally be shown the best room available, I do it myself. If you don’t ask to see the room, you may end up with an inferior room for the same price. Anywhere on the coasts, you need at least a good fan to keep you cool, and the mosquitos, sand flies that come out at night, and ‘no-see-ems’ away. Many beds have mosquito nets. I’m not sure about breathing the air from burning Pic coils, especially when it isn’t necessary. I come from northern Ontario where in the late spring and early summer, the black flies, mosquitos and the worst, persistent[…]

Being a hotel owner, I could just slap other hotel owners for having no marketing spirit or a sense of reaching out to their future guests. To fill their rooms, they rely on the Global Distribution System (GDS), the big internet hotel distributors, you know the ones, Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline (and several hundred more) where the guest unknowingly pays sometimes 30% or even 40% more than the hotel receives. The GDS has become a huge multi-billion dollar internet industry capitalizing on the ignorance and fear of the average tourist, resulting in inferior hotel stays at inflated prices. The same thing goes for the chain hotels, with centralized global reservations. When you use the GDS, you are given a[…]

It is an eye-opening experience opening business in Costa Rica. Throw everything you have learned doing business in the First World out the window, and believe what other business owners tell you about, it is true. It can take years to get a phone line in some parts of the country for example, but greasing the wheel, or knowing someone in the department, called nepotism, can get it done in days. Unfortunately your integrity is put to the test, and you have to decide if you want to play along and get things accomplished with a minimum of red tape, or suffer not wanting to give in to a corrupt system to teach them a lesson (as if!) I prefer[…]

Many tourists travel around Costa Rica on pre-programmed tourist routes think the country has most of the makings of a First World country. But they often travel in Costa Rica in a sort of bubble, protected by their air-conditioned tour bus or rental car, eyes glued to the windows as it whizzes through the city and countryside, along pre-chosen attractive corridors displaying the country’s most wonderful features. Costa Rica travel draws several pictures in their minds, European-style mountain living, pristine palm-lined beaches, hot springs flowing from volcanic mountains surrounded by the rich fertile soil that has been created, twisting mountain roads with magnificent views over the green Mesita Central or distant oceans, the hustle of a rural-thinking city trying to[…]

In the 1930’s Monteverde was first occupied by Costa Rican colonists scratching a living by farming and logging. They like the undeveloped land because it was quite similar the early America’s wild west, and had no help from Costa Rica’s government to re-establish themselves in the cool, rugged mountain area. In 1949, four pacifist Quakers from Alabama were jailed for refusing to fight in the Korean War after being drafted. Once out of jail, along with their community of ‘friend’s’ (the other name for their Christian group), they searched for a new country where peace dominated. Monteverde, Costa Rica seemed to fit the bill, a year earlier the standing army was abolished, and the underdeveloped, cool, lush, mountain sides were[…]