When you think of Costa Rica, images of the majestic Arenal Volcano, verdant forests, and exotic wildlife come to your mind. Whether it is for the hiking trails, the picturesque lakes, and the rich flora or the friendly locals, a relaxed lifestyle, and the Pura Vida experience, Costa Rica attracts more than two million tourists every year from all over the world. So, to help you make the most out of your Costa Rican trip, here are three fundamental ways to improve your vacation time in this Central American country:
- Take a Guide Along
Whether you are exploring the Arenal Volcano National Park or the Manuel Antonio National Park, always hire a professional guide if you want to make the most of the nature tours. Meander through the deep forests spotting sloths, white-faced Capuchin monkeys, ocelots, toucans, and red-eyed leaf frogs, on your way. A guide has the first-hand experience of the forests and knows about the exact places where you can spot wildlife. Without a guide, you may not be taking the correct route and never see the animals you always wanted to watch. Instead, you may just end up crossing paths with the most visible iguana basking under the Costa Rican sun. Wild animals are likely to hide when tourists come trudging along the forest paths. Hiring a guide will let you avoid the obvious trails and take the ones to spot birds, monkeys, reptiles, and amphibians.
- Choose a Combined Tour
If you want to see most of Costa Rica in a short time, opt for combo trips. You can book the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall tours, the hot springs and hanging bridges tours, or combine a coffee plantation, Sarchi and OxCart, and a Poas Volcano tours for a single day. Most of these combo trips come with a meal. So, you don’t need to carry your lunch.
- Consider a Long-Range Tour
Taking a long-range tour is the best option if you have more places to cover in less time. Instead of booking hotels in different locations, you can take longer excursions. If you love the place, we suggest investing in a vacation villa in Arenal Hill with financing options. For example, if you are staying in the Arenal region for a week or so, but don’t want to miss scuba diving or snorkeling in Guanacaste, we recommend a day tour to the place instead of booking a hotel there. It’s a long trip, but it is more convenient than checking in and out of different hotels in different locations.
Traveling to Costa Rica is fun if you know how to make the most of your trip. So, plan smart. And if you want to make this tropical paradise your second home, invest in our vacation villas. Call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS to learn more.
For young vacationers seeking some adventure, fun, and excitement, the Arenal region in Costa Rica delights them with several recreational activities. Whether you are looking for biking, hiking, spelunking, or just love to soak yourself in the all-natural springs, the country has it all. With scenic views, diverse topography, majestic volcanoes, cloud forests, and natural caves, Costa Rica has several things for you to do. Here are some of the most exciting activities for you in Arenal:
Explore the Venado Caves
Stretching across 2,700 meters, these limestone caves are known for their pointy stalagmite and stalactite formations and are about 15 to 20 million years old. So, if you are an adventure seeker, gang up with your family or friends to explore the natural cave that will take you 8,850 feet underground. Take a trip from the Arenal region to the caves, wading through underground rivers and streams, spotting subterranean creatures and marine fossils on the way. A professional guide will tell you about the history of the cave. During a guided tour, you may notice monochrome frogs, bats, and fish that are frequently seen in the caves.
Take a Warm Bath in the Natural Hot Springs
Tired after a strenuous hike or a long walk in the rainforests? Soak your stressed muscles and unwind in the all-natural hot springs at Arenal. The place boasts many thermal pools, the water of which is naturally heated underground. Did you know that the country’s mineral waters are as good as therapeutic baths and have been effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis for at least 200 hundred years? Vacationers can take a refreshing dip in the warm waters, surrounded by the verdant rainforests and the majestic Arenal Volcano.
Go for Road Biking
Take a biking trip around Lake Arenal to enjoy the beauty of the undulating hills and verdant forests. This trip is ideal for novices as well as intermediate bikers. Your ride will start near the Arenal Dam and then take you by a picturesque lake and through the deep rainforests. After the ride, stop for lunch and then take a boat trip across the lake offering stunning views of the volcano on your way back.
If you are looking for some adventure activities and a bit of an adrenalin rush, then Arenal is the place to be. Do you want more information about our vacation homes and all that you can do around this location? Call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS today.
The Costa Rican rainforests are home to about 100 different species of plants. Colorful, giant-sized, and brilliant orchids spill out from the tree barks, nourished from the fresh air, rain, and moisture in the soil. You may also notice howler monkeys, fer-de-lance snakes, sloths, and toucans while venturing into the depths of the forests. Whether you want to explore the pristine jungles of the Arenal region or the remote forests of Osa Peninsula or Manuel Antonio, this Central American country has it all. So, if you are planning a Costa Rica forest excursion, here are three things you must know:
- Jungle Tours
Though the rainforests of Costa Rica have thick undergrowth, there are hiking trails for young adventure seekers who want to get close to nature. Hire a guide to learn more about the rich Costa Rican flora and fauna and spot diverse species of wild animals on your way. You can also take a cruise trip or jungle kayak to explore the unspoiled beauty of the verdant forests. A trip along the mangrove canals will surprise you with wading birds foraging for food in the swamps, and sometimes they may gather in flocks of thousands delighting tourists and vacationers. Avoid taking a motor boat if you want to spot some of the more ‘uncommon’ animals of the tropical forests.
- Plant Life and Flowers
The rainforests of Costa Rica are home to a variety of plants that are accented with bright orchids and beautiful flowers. One of the common flowering plants is the large red, yellow, or orange heliconia. If you love orchids, these forests have them in abundance, mesmerizing tourists with their colors and vibrancy. The tropical forests boast a large number of these orchids and bromeliad species. When your guide identifies the guanacaste tree, take a picture in front of it— it is the national tree of Costa Rica.
- Skywalk Tours
Want to explore a rainforest from the top? Go for a walk among the jungle’s high treetops. You might be wondering how. When biologists learned that about 90 percent of forests animals thrive in the canopies above and away from human intrusion, suspension bridges were built to study and explore the mysterious creatures high up. The skywalk tour includes a two to three-hour excursion on six hanging bridges in the town of Monteverde. Spanning across drainages and canyons, these bridges can accommodate up to 12 tourists at a time.
Rainforest excursions in Costa Rica come in different forms. If you are exploring the Arenal region, make the most out of your vacation by opting for horseback riding, hiking, or taking a canopy zipline tour in the jungles. A one-time or short visit is not enough to discover the many mysteries of the place. You need to stay here and make it your second home. We have excellent villas at Arenal Hills that embody the essence of contemporary living set in a rustic backdrop. Our villas even offer a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano right from the bedroom? Call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS to find more about Arenal Hills.
Souvenirs are a great way to relive a great vacation. Even if you are not a shopaholic, you would love to bring back a little something to remember your trip by. As far as Costa Rica is concerned, uninformed, souvenir-hungry tourists often end up buying things that don’t have anything to do with the country – appliquéd textiles of Panama, apparel made in Guatemala, woodwork a la El Salvador, or rocking chairs made by Nicaraguan artisans. If you don’t want these items as souvenirs of your trip to Costa Rica, here are three examples of indigenous things that proudly proclaim their Tico origin:
Pre-Columbian gold jewelry : One item worth bringing back home or gifting to someone special is the pre-Columbian gold jewelry. These chunky pieces with their unmistakable Central American aura are available in both solid gold and silver. If you are looking for something affordable, opt for the gold-plated numbers. Carved stone figurines of the same period are also a collector’s delight. Remember, they can be extremely heavy, and so, you may be required to pay an extra charge to your airlines while boarding the return flight.
Costa Rica and Coffee : You cannot possibly separate one from the other. So, don’t come back home without stuffing your bag with a good quantity of gourmet coffee. Besides the very popular Britt coffee, there are many other brands that taste great and are priced affordably. Doka, Sunburst, 1820, and Terrazu by Cafe Rey are some of the labels that are worth trying. Better still, team your coffee packets with Chorreador de Café, the traditional coffee brewer that the Costa Ricans have been using for ages to stir up their cuppas. In these traditional units, a filter is replaced by a ‘sock.’ Other parts include a wooden stand and a blue tin pitcher. Buying tip: go for the ones that are adorned with the paintings of toucans, macaws and other symbols of Costa Rica.
Barry Biensanz creations : Do you have many art lovers in your family or on your friend list? Then, your souvenir shopping will be incomplete without the purchase of a few Barry Biensanz creations. A familiar name in the country’s art circles, Barry Biensanz stands for excellent hardwood pieces and exquisite sculptures. Of course, these objects d’ art are not available in ordinary stores. While you can find wood pieces in high-end gift shops all across the country, for the sculptures, you will have to visit the Original Grand Gallery in La Fortuna.
What is a trip without some souvenir shopping? Here’s one piece of advice — wherever you are traveling, always try to purchase authentic souvenirs that are reflective of the indigenous culture. Follow our tips while shopping for souvenirs in Costa Rica. Also, if you want assistance in finding a vacation home in the country, call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS.
Etymology, which involves the study of a word’s origin, is an interesting discipline. The country-name etymologies suggest that they are not just arbitrary sounds – there must be some story behind them about how they came into use and how their meaning changed over time. As far as Costa Rica is concerned, there is a great debate among historians as to who gave the name to the country.
According to some historians, it was none other than the great explorer, Christopher Columbus, who named the country Costa Rica, which in Spanish means, the ‘rich coast.’ As the legend goes, the great explorer anchored on the eastern shores of Costa Rica, near the current location of Limón, on his last voyage to the Western Hemisphere in 1502. He stayed there just a little over two weeks, during which time he was believed to encounter natives wearing chunky gold ornaments. He and his aides readily assumed that the state must be rolling in gold and subsequently christened the land as Costa Rica – the ‘rich coast.’
Modern historians, however, differ from this account. They hold that in his travelogue, where he mentioned that he’d seen a large quantity of gold, he actually referred to an area called La Huerta (The Garden). The entries in his logs around that time talk of dense jungles and sprawling swamps that deterred his search parties from making their ways deep into the land. Consequently, they aborted the idea of any significant inland investigation and left the place as soon as they were finished with their repairing works for their storm-wrecked ship. No further mention of Costa Rica is found in his subsequent travelogues, and he never returned.
These schools of historians, however, are more inclined to give the credit to, Gil Gonzálas Dávilla, a conqueror. According to their accounts, on a bloody war of 1522, this ruthless Spanish stripped the Indians off all the gold they mined from the Osa Peninsula. However, he failed to accomplish his second mission— to establish a permanent settlement in the region. He returned to his country, defeated. But determined to disguise the disgrace as an act of exploration, Gil Gonzálas Dávilla christened the land as the ‘Rich Coast’ and issued a proclamation to this effect.
Over the years, the stories of brutality and subjugation got lost in the labyrinth of history, while the version containing the romantic heroism caught people’s imagination and stayed in people psyche forever.
Stories like these do inspire you to visit Costa Rica, don’t they? Who knows, you may even want to stay in this country forever or come back to it now and then to spend some time in the lap of nature? In case you want a suitable vacation home in this country, call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS.
You cannot know a place well until you take a peek into its culture. And what is the best way to do that? See the country through its festivals. Soak in the festivities, be a part of the fun, celebrate with the locals. If you have always found Costa Rica’s Pura Vida culture fascinating, participate in its festivals to know it more vividly. Here are the Costa Rica’s top three festivals that will make you love the country even more:
In a country where traditional farming is still very much prevalent, bulls are revered because of their crucial contribution to the production process. Fiestas Zapote, a January festival, celebrates the majestic ways of this magnificent animal. It’s a show of power with the fiercest of bulls competing in one of the world’s biggest rodeos.
Don’t we all secretly wish that festivities must be allowed to go on and on? Well, Fiestas Palmares is almost your wish coming true as it lasts for two whole weeks. The events include virtually all fun things that one can think of – rodeos, carnival rides, horse parades, and musical shows. Almost everybody seems to be breaking into a beer drinking spree. Enjoy the bash just like a local, and it will be great fun.
Your account of Costa Rica will never be complete without the mention of this hippie festival. Envision Festival is a four-day extravaganza that brings all apparently paradoxical things together – loud music and sacred rituals, salubrious yoga, and sinful junk foods. Dozens of makeshift booths and open-air stages come up in the campsites, with temporary trust afarians swarming the roads. If you have the time to attend only one festival in this country, it should be the Envision, especially if you actually take pleasure in crazy things like covering your body in glitters or dance away the night.
Make the most of your stay in the land of Pura Vida by taking part in its festivities. Whatever event you want to attend, be sure to book your accommodation in advance, as it becomes difficult to find one without reservation. If you want assistance with this regard, call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS.
When visiting a foreign land, it is the smallest details that can be surprisingly confusing. One such thing is tipping. How much should you tip? On what services? Should you tip at all? If you are a first-timer to Costa Rica, you will find the following helpful.
Tipping in Restaurants
Every time you eat out in Costa Rica, a 10 percent gratuity is automatically added to your bill. This leaves tipping entirely up to you. In other words, tipping is not a necessity in restaurants here, however, if you think you can be a little generous to the waiter that is most welcome.
Tipping in Hotels
Tipping etiquette can change depending on the type of accommodation you are staying in. If you are putting up at a high-end resort, offer a tip of around $1 per bag to the bellhop and around $2 per day to the housekeeper throughout your stay. However, if you are planning to offer a higher tip to the housekeeping staff, we recommend to do so on the very dayof your arrival. That extra bit might guarantee you better service. When at the bar, consider offering a tip of $1 per drink to the bartender.
Tipping for Transportation
Tipping drivers and other people who help you around can be a bit complicated. If you are taking a cab for a short distance, the general norm is to roundup the fare to the nearest dollar. For longer cab rides, a tip between $1 and $5 should be fine.
Tipping Tour Guide
When it comes to tipping tour guides, be it a local guide or a private guide, a tip between $10 and $20 is polite, depending on the number of people in your group.
The figures mentioned are rough estimates. Listen to your heart and do not hesitate to tip a higher amount if you feel the service quality exceeds expectations. Enjoy your stay in Costa Rica. If you decide to make your stays longer and more frequent, consider buying a vacation home. Call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS for details about our luxury villas for sale at Arenal Hills.
One of Central America’s most popular tourist destinations, Costa Rica, lures travelers with its chaotic jungles, pristine beaches, and unlimited scope for adventure. Many women flock to the country each year, either alone or in groups, to discover puravida, but most find that they are ill-equipped for the trip. The tropical climate of the region varies considerably from other countries, and most women do not pack the right things to take along with them. If you require a guide to tell you what items you should have with you in Costa Rica, you’re in luck! Every woman traveling to Costa Rica needs the essentials listed below:
Fancy dresses are wasted in Costa Rica. Instead, carry a couple of sundresses for dinners and low-key affairs. You can also wear the dress to cover up your swimsuit after a refreshing swim in the ocean.
Strenuous outdoor activities like repelling aren’t just difficult; they can be downright embarrassing if you’re wearing athletic shorts. Spare yourself the hassle by switching to a comfy pair of yoga pants. The best part is, they double up as pajama bottoms.
Denimis usually a versatile clothing item, but due to the high degree of humidity in Costa Rica, jeans can feel uncomfortable after a while. You should pack a couple of shorts instead that are meant for such outdoor activities as zip-lining and hiking.
Due to unpredictable rains in Costa Rica, it makes sense to pack a raincoat for your trip. You can also avoid getting wet by carrying a cheap, disposable poncho.
Outdoor adventures become a lot more comfortable when you’re wearing water shoes. Such footwear serves multiple purposes. The shoes keep your feet covered during activities like white water rafting and are comfortable enough to wear while hiking through the forest.
A hat is indispensable if you wish to shield your face and eyes from the sun and other natural elements in Costa Rica. You can also use a hat to keep your head dry during the rains.
Make sure you reapply sunscreen frequently while on the beach. Otherwise, you might develop nasty sunburns.
Women tourists will find loads of amazing sights and sounds in Costa Rica. But how well they enjoy these experiences will depend a lot on their preparedness for the trip. It’s important to carry all the items mentioned above so you can easily adjust to the local culture and climate. Do you have any more questions about your trip to Costa Rica or wish to buy a vacation home in this breathtaking country? If yes, get in touch with us at 1-844-MY-HILLS.
Being cooped up in a plane for too long is an uncomfortable experience. Unfortunately, there are times when you have no other choice. For example, if you’re on a flight to Costa Rica to look at some vacation properties or to holiday in the country, it’ll take you more than four hours from the Eastern US, more if you’re from Canada. We know that four hours could look like a l-o-n-g time if you feel uneasy. However, it’s possible to transform your in-flight experience into a more positive one by following the tips given below:
Dress Comfortably at All Times
The temperature inside the airplane cabin tends to dip low. Yes, you can switch off the air-conditioning, but that doesn’t mean others will as well. So, the ambient temperature remains more or less the same. Moreover, you might have to stand in line or sit for hours during check-in, boarding, and security. This means that you’re better off dressing in comfortable clothes than stylish ones. You can carry a hooded jacket so you can pull it while you take a nap. Try bringing a pair of flip flops and shorts in your backpack so you can change into them at the airport and get into the Costa Rica mood.
A toiletry kit containing all the bare essentials, like deodorant, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, and lotion is a great idea. You can even bring along a few face wipes to freshen up after the long flight. A dusty, grimy face feels unpleasant.
Carry Your Own Entertainment
Sure, the airlines will have in-flight entertainment, but you might not necessarily like what’s being shown. Your phone and your laptop can be lifesavers in this instance. A few airlines carriers provide in-flight Wi-Fi for a price. If all this is too much, you can always sleep during the flight. Not only does it soothe your nerves, but time passes by quickly.
If you reach Costa Rica all relaxed and refreshed, you’re more likely to enjoy the country even more. Call us at 1-844-MY-HILLS if you are in the mood to check out beautiful single-family style luxury villas for sale.
A trip to a new country is never complete unless you delve deep into its culture through its cuisine. After all, the food habits of a nation say much about it. Costa Rica’s high-fiber, well-rounded meals, for instance, more than explain the amazingly high happiness quotient of the country.
Costa Rica as a nation is not a big admirer of red meat, sugary drinks, junk foods, processed food, and fatty dairy products like cheese. They would rather gorge on their Casado meals consisting of rice (gallo pinto) and beans, roasted pork, chicken and seafood, fried plantains, or a carrot, tomato, and cabbage salad. Their daily diets consist of fresh food items that contain very little to no preservatives and additives. This Central American country may not occupy a pride of place in the world gourmet map, but it does boast of a few traditional dishes worth trying.
A complete meal, Casado or Comida Tipica consists of beans, rice, red bell peppers, and onions. You can choose between pork and chicken as meat staple to go with. Don’t expect the meat to be fried; it is either grilled or sautéed. You will have to satiate your craving for fries with fried plantains. Every eatery in the country will serve you Casado, no matter what time of the day it is. You can have it either for lunch or dinner.
Before you cancel your plan of tasting ceviche because it is made of raw fish, think twice. Made with local tilapia or corvina (white sea bass), camarones (shrimp), or mixto (mixed seafood) tenderized with citrus juices and seasoned with finely chopped cilantro, garlic, hot and sweet pepper, onion, and celery, this appetizer is perfect as a hearty snack item for your beach day out.
The Costa Rican versions of tamales contain a corn-based filling (masa) made with small pieces of vegetables and meat. Folded in a banana leaf, the filling is steamed in boiling water.
It is a sweet and slimy dish prepared by adding water to a few tablespoons of chan seed which has a lavender-like aroma. It has a calming effect on your body and mind. Farmer’s markets are the best place to find an authentic version of the drink.
What is a meal without a sweet and sinful roundup? Common Costa Rican desserts range from simple Orange Pound Cake (quequeseco) and rice pudding (arrozcon leche) to a more elaborate Sweet White Spaghetti Squash (Miel de Chiverre) and multilayered cake filled with dulce de leche (tortachilena). Some of the other yummy desserts include cold caramel custard (flan) and corn starch pudding (mazamorra).
To experience the real Costa Rica, take a gastronomic journey through the country’s famous eateries. Better yet, live the experience whenever you want by purchasing a luxury, single-family style villa at Arenal Hills. Call us today to learn more, 1-844-MY-HILLS.