Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America and one of the trendiest holiday and adventure-travel destinations in Latin America. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country, and was the first in the world to constitutionally abolish its army back in 1949.
Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, 9° North of the equator. Bathed by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the country extends on a narrow stretch of land from Panama in the south to Nicaragua in the north.
When you arrive in Costa Rica, one of the first Spanish terms you will hear is the country’s unofficial greeting, “Pura Vida” or pure life. These words spring from the lips of taxi drivers, shopkeepers, bankers and tour guides with odd, comforting regularity. But Pura Vida is more than just a catchy slogan for the national tourism agency – it really is the way that Costa Ricans view their country and their lifestyle. Life moves a little slower, people smile more, and the stress of daily life will seem to diminish with each passing minute. It also describes a fierce pride in a country that values families, chooses to have no military, protects their natural surroundings and welcomes foreigners with open arms.
Costa Rica has numerous international flights arriving everyday from all over the world, and from many different airlines (American Airlines, Taca, Copa, US Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta, British Airways, Iberia and Mexicana, among others). It is 2½ hours by air from Miami, 7 hours from Los Angeles and an 11 hour direct flight from London.
The country has two international airports the first and most important one is the Juan Santamaria International Airport (San Jose International), located in the province of Alajuela, around 25 minutes from downtown San Jose.
With its varied landscape of both wet and dry tropical rain forests and a sun-drenched coastline teeming with big fish and even bigger surf, the Central Pacific coast is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica for hikers, anglers, surfers and sun-worshippers alike. National parks hug the coastline providing refuge for rare species of animals such as the Squirrel Monkey and Scarlet Macaw, while more commonly sighted creatures like Iguanas and white-faced Capuchins ensure that every outing is memorable.
There are two popular Playa Hermosa’s in Costa Rica, one in the province of Guanacaste in the north and ours located in the province of Puntarenas. As its name implies, our Playa Hermosa is a beautiful beach located on the Central Pacific Coast, with its rustic bars and restaurants it is ideally located just 3 miles (4 km) south of Jaco, a lively beach town. Playa Hermosa is conveniently located about 1½ hours west of the capital San Jose.
Playa Hermosa is surrounded by national parks, Manuel Antonio National Park, which is Costa Rica’s most famous national park, is about 50 minutes to the South. The Park was recently nominated by Forbes Magazine as one of the top parks in the world. Carara National Park is 30 minutes to the north and just 15 minutes from the hotel there is the Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge, a protective reserve for the Olive Ridley sea turtles that come ashore to nest here each year.
Costa Rica sits close to the equator and has a tropical climate all year round. It is characterized by a dry season from November through April when there is very little rain and light winds. This creates calm seas that are ideal for Sport fishing. The rainy season will begin in May with late afternoon showers and variable winds.
For surfers the seasons vary slightly. For the most part, the Pacific Coast sees increased swells and bigger, faster waves during the rainy season, starting in late June and peaking in September and October. Playa Hermosa breaks are fairly consistent year-round.
Fishing is also good year-round, but you might choose your season if you have your heart set on a specific fish. On the Pacific coast the best time to hook that big Pacific Sailfish is between November and May and Marlin season extends from November through June.
The ocean water temperature will hover around 26°C (80°F) all year round.
Although the country is small, it shelters 6% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world and 25% of the country is under natural conservation protection (National Parks and Nature Preserves).
Costa Rica’s national parks span jungles, marshes, mountains, lowland forests, savannah and two oceans. The wildlife in Costa Rica’s national parks represents the world’s most diverse cast of characters, from the Caiman to Capuchin, Toucan to Tapir. Birders will be overwhelmed by our feathered friends any time of year as Costa Rica has approximately 850 bird species, 600 of which are non-migratory, the best season to spot the Resplendent Quetzal is between November and April. The other birds migrate during the North American winter, making a stop in Costa Rica before continuing on to South America. Spring (March through May) and autumn (September through November) are good times to watch the migratory flocks. There are also 9000 Plant Species, 34,000 Insect Species, 205 Mammalian Species, 220 Reptilian Species and 160 Amphibian Species.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can awaken to the bark of a troop of Howler monkeys, stroll along a deserted beach and spot a formation of Scarlet Macaws in the sky, gasp as a trio of Toucans flies over your head as you raft over a rapid or drive along the road and see a Sloth asleep in a tree.
Citizens holding valid passports from the European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are permitted to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days without a visa. For other countries, please check with the Costa Rican Embassy in your country before traveling. All travellers must carry a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of entry.
Costa Rican authorities now require that all travellers coming from the following countries:
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador as well as the Republic of Guyana have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate.