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.
Wealth has nothing to do with happiness, which explains why a developing country like Costa Rica has grabbed the top spot in the Happy Planet Index (HPI) rankings, not only once but many times with a substantial lead. The HPI, which ranks 140 nations according to “what matters most – sustainable well-being for all” using such parameters as life expectancy, well-being, inequality, and ecological footprint, doesn’t consider the standard success criterion like GDP. No wonder, some of the wealthiest nations like the USA, the UK, and even Switzerland fare poorly in the HPI list. This leaves us wondering, what is it that makes Costa Rica the happiest nation on the planet? Does it have something to do with its ravishing beauty? Is it their love for the environment? Does the culture and food hold the secret? Let’s find out; this could be a revelation for you.
Instead of spending zillions on feeding an extra-large army and buying military equipment, Costa Rica invests itsmoney on what matters – health and education of its people. Health and knowledge breed happy people – it is easy to see the connection.
Love for the Environment
Costa Rica is one of a few countries that strives to become carbon neutral by 2021. Unlike many other tourist destinations in the world that willingly lose their lands and ecological balance to the aggressive property developers and hoteliers, Costa Rica focuses on converting forests into park lands and nature preserve. The pride of having a green, well-kept country translates into happiness.
Philosophy of Letting Go
Costa Rican traditions forbid their people from holding grudges against another person for more than three days. Now, isn’t that wonderful? How can you remain sad or unhappy when you have no complaint against anything or anybody?
Healthy Eating Habits
Costa Rica has no soda, junk, or additives in the form of refined sugar and sodium; only a diet comprising fresh fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich rice and beans. The result? A regiment of healthy people that are strong from within and to whom the concept of food-induced mood swings is completely unknown. It is this healthy eating habit that gives Costa Ricans a high life expectancy of 78.5 years on average.
Slow Pace, Low Stress
By Costa Rican standards, rushing is synonymous with rudeness. A slow-paced lifestyle, on the other hand, allows them to relax, look around, and appreciate the nice things around them.
Living to Please Others
When you are surrounded by people who are eager to please you and are careful not to hurt other’s sentiments even unknowingly, what can you expect other than complete bliss?
Wouldn’t you like to visit this paradise called Costa Rica at least once in your lifetime? The happiness here is contagious. We won’t be surprised if you never wish to leave the place and if you decide to make Costa Rica your second home, contact us. Our luxurious single-family villas will make every bit of your Costa Rica experience even more memorable. Call Arenal Hills at 1-844-MY-HILLS today.
Horseback riding to the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the most sought-after recreational activities in Costa Rica. Horseback riding around this region will leave you mesmerized when you see how the majestic Arenal Volcano paints an impressive picture on the Costa Rican landscape. Though the volcano is sometimes shrouded behind a cloud forest, the view is truly awe-inspiring. While you meander through the lush green forests on horseback, you may see a thin mist hanging softly over the treetops and hear toucans calling in the distance.
Horseback Riding around La Fortuna Waterfall
Horseback riding to the La Fortuna Waterfall starts two kilometers south of the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos. You can choose a horse based on your riding skills. The 45-minute ride will take you through scenic landscapes, twittering forest birds, and the gurgling La Fortuna River. If you are lucky enough, you may spot White-faced Capuchin monkeys, colorful toucans, coatis, and peccaries.
After Your Arrival near the Waterfall
Upon reaching the waterfall, leave your horse behind and walk up to the 80-meter wonder that waits for you. If you love swimming, walk further down to the river for another 20 minutes or so. You will need to cross a 20-meter suspension bridge to reach the foot of the canyon. Take a dip and feel the rejuvenating touch of cool waters. After a refreshing swim, you will have to walk back towards the top. It’s also a good idea to snack on some food because the next stop on your ride would be the Maleku Reserve, which is about half-an-hour away. This Reserve is a must-visit if you want to learn more about the life and lifestyle of the indigenous people.
Tips for Horseback Riding in Arenal and La Fortuna
- Always wear jeans, long pants, and covered shoes. This is important to protect you from bug bites while riding through the forests.
- Carry a poncho if you are in Costa Rica during the rains.
- There is no need to carry backpack and food. Most probably, you will have a guide who will arrange for food, fresh fruits, and water.
- Bring a decent waterproof camera for taking pictures of the scenic beauty around. Try not to bring your DSLR camera if you are riding for the first time. That’s just a safety measure for your expensive camera.
- There is no need to carry mosquito repellents as the gentle Arenal breezes keep mosquitoes at bay.
Horseback riding in the Arenal and La Fortuna region is a thrilling experience for young couples and families with children. If you fall in love with the place, allow us to show you around Arenal Hills’ luxury single-family style villas that you would love to call your second home. Call us on 1-844-MY-HILLS today.
Costa Rica is the land of rainforests, waterfalls, lakes, and volcanoes. One look around and you will be convinced that the best of nature conspired to create this lovely place on the planet. It comes as no surprise that you can find animals of many species in Costa Rica. However, if you are in the mood for monkey business, consider catching the Capuchin Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, and Spider Monkeys in action. Learn more about these species here:
1. The White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys
The mischievous Capuchin Monkeys are native to Costa Rica and are known for their smartness and intelligence. You will find them at Arenal, Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio, Nicoya, Palo Verde, and Tortuguero. You may spot them in Manuel Antonio National Park, where they are often seen snatching food from tourists. So, be careful with your food!If you have been following the popular American TV show Friends, you’ve probably seen the White-headed Capuchin, playing Marcel, the show’s most loved character in the series. Capuchins are full of life and are extremely energetic, moving in a group of 20 members. You may see them walking on the ground, use tools, and behave like humans.
2. Howler Monkeys
The Mantled Howler is one of the largest species found in the Costa Rican forests. They are known for their loud calls,making their presence felt mainly during the morning or sundown. If you are in Costa Rica for the time, the Howler’s haunting call may scare your wits away, especially if you hear it at 5:30 in the morning. But relax! Expats staying in Arenal vacation villas hear the loud cry, and jokingly pass it off as their wake-up call in the morning.
Howlers roam in several parts of this Central American country including Guanacaste, Arenal, Manuel Antonio National Park, Osa Peninsula, Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, and Monteverde. The males are the loudest of the lot, and you can hear them howling from miles away. The Howler malesyowl to communicate with the group or to respond to their surroundings. They call mostly during the monsoon and howl at people and dogs. These monkeys mostly thrive on leaves and are not as active as the other monkey species. They sleep most of the time to digest the folivorous diet they live on.
3. Squirrel Monkeys
You will spot the Squirrel Monkeys along the Pacific coasts of Panama and Costa Rica. They are the smallest of the species found in Costa Rica. They live on both plants and animals, moving around in a troop of 20-75 members. Due to illegal pet trade and deforestation, the Squirrel Monkey is reducing in numbers as of late. Fortunately, the Costa Rican national parks are striving hard to save them from extinction. You will spot them in Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Osa Peninsula.
Watching monkeys in their natural surroundings is an exciting experience. If you want to experience it more often than not, why not own one of the villa homes in Arenal Hills? Call us on 1-844-MY-HILLS if you want more information about our vacation villas in the Arenal region.
If your idea of fun is running, biking and swimming more than a hundred miles in a day, chances are you aren’t going to lay on a beach somewhere when it’s time to unwind. Costa Rica is the perfect option for those who want to train hard and unwind even harder.
A new trend among triathletes, trications give them the opportunity to train in breathtaking environments, acclimate to new elevations, and enjoy a healthy mix of activity and relaxation. Many training “camps” throughout Costa Rica offer such getaways, usually lasting between four and seven days. Most are all-inclusive and can accommodate the fitness levels of just about any elite athlete. All are fully supported by coaches and support staff.
For those who choose to make the move to Costa Rica and train year-round, Arenal Hills is the perfect jumping off point to any training routine. From mountain biking to a couple-hour swim on Lake Arenal to scaling and then rappelling down a rainforest waterfall, Arenal Hills is located at the heart of trication paradise.
For more information, visit www.arenalhills.com.
The Costa Rica Star recently warned its readers that some tour operators based in La Fortuna in San Carlos are offering guided tours to the peak of the volcano. Be forewarned that they aren’t authorized by local tourism authorities. The National System of Conservation Areas, or SINAC, has been warning residents and tourists alike that tours to the peak are off limits because they are dangerous. SINAC sites that there are no trails, steep slopes, and the area is prone to falling rocks and landslides. Plus, the temperature rises dramatically and uncomfortably near the peak, putting hikers at further risk.
A better option is a trip to see the volcano through approved access points through the Coladas and Peninsula sectors. You can find quality, guided tours at the Arenal Volcano National Park, where you’ll find both volcano hikes and hot springs visits.
But perhaps the best way to experience the beauty of the volcano is from your very own veranda at Arenal Hills. The community is designed so that nearly every home has a commanding view of the volcano.
For more information, visit: www.arenalhills.com.
Birdwatchers and novice wildlife watchers alike tend to catch their breath at the site of the bejeweled fliers who can hover indefinitely and fly backwards—making them unique among all other birds of the world. In Costa Rica, they range from very small to surprisingly large, with tail streamers, bright colorations and fancy head plumes.
Co-evolving with the plants of Costa Rica, hummingbirds have long, slender bills and long tongues, perfect for feeding on nectar. Eating their body weight in nectar each day, hummingbirds have an extremely high metabolism—the highest of any bird on the planet, in fact. To maintain their energetic existence, they also supplement their nectar diets with insects. While awake, their heart rate exceeds 1,200 beats a minute. At night, they go into a torpor state to conserve their energy.
Most hummingbirds live relatively solitary lives, and aggressively defend the nectar-bearing plants in their territory from other hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
The tiniest hummer in Costa Rica is the male of the species Selasphorus Scintilla, weighing in at just two grams. Camplyopterus hemilecurus is the largest hummingbird in Costa Rica, and weighs in at 11.5 grams. This bird is a flash of brilliant violet on its head and beautifully contrasting emerald wings.
Of the 50 species that live year-around in Costa Rica, ten of them prefer highland environments like the Arenal and Irazu volcanoes. In fact, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is within minutes of Arenal Hills, boasts one of the highest concentrations of humminghbirds in a highland ecosystem. These include showy specimens like Panterpe insignis, known by its fiery red throat, and shimmering green body, indigo chest, and a radiant blue crown.
At Arenal Hills, we have purposely included flowering plants that attract hummingbirds to our community. These include orchids, Porterweed, bananas, ginger, and more. We encourage our residents to provide natural nutrition instead of sugar feeders.