Costa Rica literally translates from Spanish as “The Rich Coast”, and the meaning can’t be further from the truth. The country is the eco and adventure capital, not only of Central America, but also of the entire Latin America. With its misty crater lakes, active volcanoes, sublime waterfalls and jungle-fringed beaches, Costa Rica is becoming every traveler’s dream. The Rich Coast deserves to be constantly described in superlatives, since it has a greater biodiversity than Europe and USA combined, and we can call it a country of true visionaries; – there is no standing army since 1948, and all the money saved is redirected to education, healthcare, and of course, the environment.
In its humble 19,700 square miles, Costa Rica has almost 1,200 miles of beaches – not a small thing for such a small country, don’t you think? Each of the nearly 300 beaches in the country has a distinct setting and a unique draw. Some are scattered with rocks, while others are sprinkled with shells or softened with fluffy powdery white sand. Many of these beaches are located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and others are on the Caribbean Sea. If you are looking for a world-class stretch of sand, just without tourists or locals for that matter, you can visit the whale-shaped Playa Uvita on the Pacific shore. For an Afro-Caribbean vibe and adventure packed beach experience, go to Tortuguero, and for surfing, the popular Jaco…
A Conservationist’s Dream
The diversity of wildlife is one of the greatest perks of Costa Rica. Where on this planet could you see blue morpho butterflies, a sloth, keel-billed toucans, scarlet macaws, caiman and a howler monkey on the land, and rays, sharks, whales, dolphins and a colorful tropical fish offshore, all in one country? Costa Rica has 12 ecological areas, and more than 60 national parks, biological zones and wildlife refuges spread across them, so there is no shortage of natural sights here.
La Vida Pura
Costa Ricans (Ticos) are living the pure life (la vida pura). This phrase is used in the local dialect for over 50 years now, and it has many different interpretations, such as “purity in life”, “taking it easy”, “enjoy life”, etc. And although the foreigners can never truly grasp the term (well, unless they decide to move to Costa Rica), we could also translate it as a Swahili phrase used in a Disney cartoon – Hakuna Matata (“it’s our problem free philosophy”). And truly with the natural surroundings as they are, and the cost of living a comfortable life being between $1500 and $2000 for individuals (much lower than in USA), everything truly is pura vida.
Eruption of Adventure
Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Costa Rica is famous for its six active volcanoes, but it also has more than 60 dormant or extinct ones. The country’s most active, and certainly most amazing volcano is Arenal, but there are other worth exploring, including the caldera volcanoes (craters filled with water and rising steam), such as The Poás Volcano, The Rincón de la Vieja, The Irazú, and many more. Volcanoes are not the only adventures available in Costa Rica. You can go for rainforest hikes, surfing, high-altitude trails, etc.
Taste the Experience
Last, but not least, Costa Rica is home to many delicious tropical fruits. Some of the fine treats that can be found on local markets are maracuya, carambola, cas, guanabana and guaba. All of these fruits, and some unique seasonings and vegetables are the perfect basis for the sublime Costa Rican cuisine. Known for its lightness and high reliance on fruits and vegetables, the local meals are almost always cooked from scratch from fresh and homegrown ingredients. The most traditional dishes (Gallo Pinto, Casado, Arroz con Pollo, etc.) are made of rice and black beans.
Words fail short when it comes to describing the wonders of Costa Rica, and the only way to truly experience this ultimate tropical destination, is to actually go there. Until then, you can dream about this piece of heaven on earth, and live la vida pura.
Oliver is an experienced business consultant from the UK. His job allows him to travel, which also happens to be one of his greatest passions. You can find him on Twitter.