COSTA RICA TRAVEL INFORMATION
People: Although situated in an area which is famous for its remnants of the Maya and Aztec culture, Costa Rica has nothing to offer. The tico‘s (which is how the Costa Ricans are named) are straight descendants of the Spaniards and as such are not culturally very interesting. They are friendly and all, but seem to lean more and more on the USA.
Landscape/Nature: if Costa Rica has nothing to offer culturally, it makes more than up for it naturally. The rain forests in Costa Rica are beautiful AND readily accessible. From the dry forests of Santa Rosa NP to the Cloud Forests of St Elena and Monteverde to the lagoon forests of Tortuguero, it‘s all very very beautiful. The best park however one can find on the Osa peninsula in Corcovado National Park. Also Costa Rica‘s active volcanos like Arenal are amazing.
Transport/Infratructure: with no army and 60% of its land National Parks, Costa Rica is very much targeting on the tourist market. As such infrastructure is relatively good and also public transport in the from of buses is pretty well arranged. That is, if you don‘t mind to travel on the chicken bus once in a while.
Wildlife/Animals: you can‘t get it better than in Costa Rica% If you ever wanted to visit rain forests AND see wildlife, Costa Rica is the place to be. Many people visiting rain forests ar disappointed because they expect to see a jaguar behind each tree and a tapir crossing each stream. Well, even in Costa Rica that‘s not the case but a lot of other animals are relatively easy to spot. All 4 monkey species (capuchin, howler, spider and squirrel monkey) one can see without much difficulty. For reptiles and amphibian lovers (like me) Costa Rica is heaven (with the dart poison frogs as the ultimum; Dendrobates pumilio and Phyllobates vittatus are very common, with Dendrobates auratus as second) and birders will find time is too short. Everybody is of course looking for the Quetzal.
Food: abundance of food available but unfortunately San Jose is turning into a big fast food centre. Do the Americans really have to take over Central America and implement their own horrendous feeding behaviour? On the other hand fruits are everywhere and fresh.
Climate: very pleasant. Sure, its humid but that comes with the territory. Otherwise its nice and warm and far from unpleasant (so we think, but we are used to warm climates by now).
Culture: pure lack of culture like stated above is the only downside of Costa Rica. Its fun to see the tico‘s do their things but culturally not really interesting.
Hygiene: Costa Rica is catering for tourists big time and thus all services are of a certain standard. Sure, you will find bugs in your room but have a closer look and you will find that even these are very amazing.
Costs of Travelling: oops, Costa Rica has become quite expensive since it more or less turned into a dollar economy. That is, if you compare it to neighbouring countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Safety/Stability: no army, no disputes, no crime (or hardly). What more do you want? Great to walk around without having to look over your shoulder every 5 minutes. Sure, at night in San Jose not every area is as safe as the other but with common sense even the capital is no problem at all.
Excitement/Adventure/Challenge: lots of challenges although Costa Rica has changed a lot in 10 years time, and not always for the better. But multi-days hikes are still very much possible in Corcovado NP and very much worth it. In other parks like Manuel Antonio things are changing into a circus so if you don‘t like that, avoid them. The beaches are good for surfing, diving is good (especially Coco Island with lots of hammerheads), turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and in some parks you can do canopy tours or even swings. Rafting is also possible%
Overall Score: 7.2
With this score Costa Rica will NOT enter our top 10 of countries of the world to travel.