Costa Rica - Pura Vida (Enjoy Life)
Located in Central America with the Pacific Ocean on the West, the Caribbean Sea on the East, Costa Rica is a small country filled with natural beauty and adventure. Because it has amazing diversity in a very small area, I am going to talk about some of the most popular areas as individual entities, although you will certainly want to include several in a visit to this wonderful country.
Costa Rica abolished it's army in 1948 and has been a neutral country ever since. A very peaceful and safe country, Costa Rica has spent most of it's money on education and has one of the highest literacy ratings in the world. They are very techo-savy and the number one export from the country is not pineapple or coffee, but micro-chips. What they spent on education, however, they did not spend on roads. Getting from one part of the country to another is an adventure not for the faint of heart. I would recommend using transfers to get from one area to the next rather than driving as many of the roads are not paved and signage seems to not be very important.
Getting there and when to go -
You can fly into San Jose (main international airport) or Liberia (Guanacaste area) and have ground or air transfers from either airport to your next destination. If you arrive in San Jose after about 2:00 you will need to overnight as you won't be able to get to your next destination before nightfall. Costa Rica has two seasons, wet and dry. Dry is from December though April and wet season is from May through November. Temperature doesn't vary much, but you are in a rainforest and, if there in rainy season, you are almost sure to get wet. The tropical rain is spectacular in intensity, but is not an all day soaker. Activity stops when the rain comes and then starts again as though only a minor inconvenience has occured.
Arenal - La Fortuna, 81 miles NW of San Jose, is the town associated with Arenal Volcano, but the volcano is the main attraction for this beautiful region. This soaring volcano ceased activity between the 13th and 16th centuries and stayed inactive until July 29, 1968 when an earthquake brought it back to life and it has been smoldering and providing shows with minor eruptions almost daily every since.
Does the view from your hotel matter? Yes. In Arenal you want a volcano view from your hotel. At night the volcano spews out red-hot lava and it can put on quite a nocturnal show.
But, watching the volcano is only one of the activities in Arenal to make a several day stay worthwhile. The Arenal Hanging Bridges consist of eight fixed bridges, ranging in length between 8 and 22 meters and six hanging bridges between 48 and 98 meters long. The bridges sway just enough to give that Indiana Jones feel to the adventure as you enjoy incredible beauty, wildlife, and views of the volcano.
Canopy Tour - Who goes to Costa Rica without taking one of the Zipline Canopy Tours available throughout the country. Arenal is just one of the areas where you can experience the zip line adventure that started here.
Hot Springs - Another natural wonder found in this wonderland of nature. There are several hot springs that you can spend time at, either during the day or in the evening. Steaming hot waters pour from the base of the volcano into the balneario (bathing resorts) which have volcanic heated pools from 80-102 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can find your comfort zone for relaxing. Sitting in the hot spring jacuzzi, sipping an umbrella drink, with newly made friends or in a quiet corner by yourselves is one of life's memory making moments.
Other fun activities include a raft trip down the Penas Blancas River watching for monkeys, crocodiles, toucans and sloth, or taking an exciting white water rafting trip, shopping in La Fortuna or fishing in Lake Arenal.
This review appears on Costa Rica.