Activities & Sports
If there is one sport Costa Rica can claim to be excellent for, it would be surfing hands down. The real attraction for surfers is the variety of surf categories, and year round waves. The Pacific coast particularly has some of the best surfing in Central America. Tamarindo is a perfect beach to learn to surf, while Playa del Coco is ideal for advanced surfers.
Handicrafts really worth buying are few and rare in Costa Rica. Notable exceptions would be woodcarvings and pottery. An example is the colourfully painted Costa Rican oxcart replicas. These are particularly popular in the craft shops of the town of Sarchi, also know for its furniture. Beautiful low-fired simple potteries put the town of Guaitil, in central Guanacaste, on the tourist map. Costa Ricans create marvellous reproductions of pre-Columbian gold jewellery as well.
The one thing you should buy, in large quantities, in Costa Rica is coffee. With seven different coffee-producing zones, you are sure to find one to satisfy your taste. All coffee is strictly Arabica. Café Britt is the best widely available brand. Do buying whole beans (grano entero), as the local grinds are much finer and may have sugar already added.
Costa Rican cuisine is known for being tasty but quite mild, compared to its neighbour countries, and laden with delicious seafood from the coast, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A breakfast favourite is Gallo pinto, a mixture of rice and beans with a little cilantro or onion thrown in. It is usually accompanied, as most dishes are, with the Lizano Salsa, a mild salsa that has a hint of curry and is slightly sweet. Natilla, a Costa Rican sour cream, is sometimes also added for variation. The traditional national dish is called Casado (which means married) contains rice and beans with meat, chicken or fish, and is always served with salad and fried plantain or a piece of white cheese in accompaniment. Another typical meal consists of egg on chicken with rice and beans, vegetables, fried plantain, and cooked bananas.
Capital: San Jose
Electricity: 110 V, 60 Hz
Time Zone: GMT -6 hr. Daylight savings time is not applied.
Government: Democratic Republic
Land size: 51,100 km2
Language: Spanish, some English
Population: 4,000,000 approx
Religion: Roman Catholic 76%, Evangelical 14%, other 10%
A passport, valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and an ongoing or return ticket are required.
An international driver's license is recommended but your current driver's license is valid for the first 3 months. Must be 21 years old.
Costa Rica Vacation Tips
The local currency is Colon, named after Columbus. The currency is inflating at a rapid pace and forged bills are quite common. It is recommended to simply carry US Dollars in small denomination since tourism areas have prices marked in Dollars.
Be sure to pack light clothing, a sweater, windbreaker, and good walking shoes, swimsuit, sun block, insect repellent, sandals and a hat. Even though there is a very casual dress code everywhere, smart casual is recommended for fine restaurants.