Useful information on
Costa Rica


Varies Per Villa
100 in
25 cm
Arenal Volcano
Manuel Antonio

General info

Costa Rica General Information

Costa Rica is the penultimate link in a chain of small nations that together comprise the isthmus of Central America. Along with the Caribbean and the Pacific, the country's borders are defined by Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the South. Located at the nexus of two continents and two oceans, this confluence of land and water makes the region one of Mother Nature’s great bottlenecks. Here, geography constricts a breathtaking amount of plant and animal life within a modest 19,563 square miles (50,900 sq. km), an area comparable in size to Denmark or West Virginia. Within this diminutive nation is found an astonishing five percent of the world's biodiversity, including more than 800 species of ferns, 1,000 of orchids, 2,000 kinds of trees, and 200 species of mammals.

The big province of Guanacaste, the location of most Villas Caribe villas, embellishes and decorates the rest of the country. Among its beautiful beaches and locations, the national and international tourist enjoy of the profusion of natural beauty that interlace with the fantasy that the sun offers in a world created for the total enjoyment satisfying from the most demanding person until the simplest person who wants to enjoy in a good way of the nature full of sun.

The pampas of Guanacaste gifts to the visitors the tropical delights that few places can reach out of Costa Rica. Unique gifts of nature are: its beaches, plains, and rivers, all made in agreement with people that are waiting for you.

Costa Rica's climate is renowned as an atmospheric treat. Mild subtropical conditions prevail year-round, and discomforting temperature extremes and prolonged periods of gray are practically nonexistent. Temperature varies mainly according to elevation, the higher the cooler. The brunt of the rainy season lasts from May through November, while a brief dry spell pays a visit from February to April. Costa Rica's rain falls mainly on the Caribbean coast, giving the Pacific a much more arid climate.


Costa Rica Restaurants

Most restaurants serve bistek or Carne (beef), pollo (chicken), and pescado (fish) dishes. Vegetarian dishes are usually available, ask for vegetariano. Many visitors from North America are used to spicy Mexican food mistakenly assume that Costa Rican food is similar, it is not. Costa Rican cuisine is a much healthier and some people say a bit blander, but many disagree.  They have some of the freshest fruits and vegetables that I have ever experienced. Most juices are fresh as it is cheaper to buy the fruit than the pre-made juices, so the restaurants squeeze or blend the fruits there and it makes for great breakfasts.

Some of the more popular dishes include the following:

Gallo Pinto – Very traditional and served for breakfast. It consists of rice and black beans, usually from the night before, pan fried with onions and bell peppers, cilantro, and Salsa Lizano (Costa Rica’s main condiment). Gallo Pinto is usually served with eggs and sour cream (natilla).

Casado – A set meal that is often filling and always the most economical, usually consists of rice, black beans, a portion of meat (fish, chicken, or beef), and a chopped cabbage salad.

Arroz con Pollo – A basic but tasty dish of rice vegetables and chicken.

Palmitos – Hearts of palm (literally the center or heart of a young palm tree), usually served in a salad with a vinegar dressing.

Olla de Carne – A meal sized soup containing beef and vegetables such as potatoes, corn, squash, plantains, and yucca (similar to the potato).

Of course, internationally popular food is widely available including: pizza, spaghetti, hamburgers, sandwiches, Chinese food, and steaks.


Costa Rica History

The first European explorer to encounter Costa Rica was the Great Navigator himself, Christopher Columbus. The day was September 18, 1502, and Columbus was making his fourth and final voyage to the New World. As he was setting anchor off shore, a crowd of local Carib Indians paddled out in canoes and greeted his crew warmly. Later, the golden bands that the region's inhabitants wore in their noses and ears would inspire the Spaniard Gil Gonzalez Davila to name the country Costa Rica, or Rich Coast.

Some of indigenous tribes fled, while many others perished from the deadly smallpox brought by the Spaniards. Having decimated the indigenous labor force, the Spanish followed a common policy and brought in African slaves to work the land. Seventy thousand of their descendants live in Costa Rica today, and the country is known for good relations among races. Regrettably, only 1 percent of Costa's Rica's 3 million people are of indigenous heritage. An overwhelming 98 percent of the country is white, and those of Spanish descent call themselves Ticos.

Of all the Spanish colonies, Costa Rica enjoyed the least influence as a colony. It was initially a tough and unpopular place to settle, with few valuable or easily exploited resources. The Spanish were far more interested in developing their holdings in Mexico and Peru, where vast amounts of silver and gold were being obtained. The early hapless settlers who came to Costa Rica were left largely to their own devices, and the first successful establishment of a colonial city was not until 1562, when Juan Vasquez de Coronado founded Cartago.

The Costa Rican civil war erupted in 1948, after incumbent Dr. Rafael Angel Calderon and the United Social Christian Party refused to relinquish power after losing the presidential election. An exile named Jose Maria (Don Pepe) Figueres Ferrer managed to defeat Calderon in about a month, and he later proved to be one of Costa Rica's most influential leaders, as head of the Founding Junta of the Second Republic of Costa Rica.

Under Ferrer's leadership, the Junta made vast reforms in policy and civil rights. Women and blacks gained the vote, the communist party was banned, banks were nationalized, and presidential term limits established. Ferrer was immensely popular, creating a political legacy that lives on in his son, who leads the country today.


Costa Rica Golf

Imagine. . . awakening to a perfect sunrise from an ocean front villa, followed by 18 holes of championship golf in the tiny tropical paradise of Costa Rica.  

A new world leader in eco-tourism, Costa Rica is also earning a reputation as a home for world-class golf.  Proudly, Costa Rica offers some of the world’s least crowded golf courses.  Carefully tucked into the natural surroundings, our courses vary from rolling fairways, lined with rare tropical hardwoods, to open links style nestled between mountains and flowering valleys with challenging greens overlooking sandy beaches and ocean.  Golfing in Costa Rica is a unique experience!   Blessed with near perfect weather, majestic mountain peaks and volcanoes, secluded coastlines, luxurious golf resorts and a passionate and friendly people, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica has now become a premier golfing destination.

Villas Caribe Recommended Golf Course:
Melia Playa Conchal Beach & Golf Resort, Play Conchal.  Phone:  506-654-4123


Costa Rica Airports

International flights arrive at San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, 217km (135mi) northwest of San José.  The Liberia Costa Rica airport is on of the airports for visitors that are planning to explore and bask in the sunny and sandy beaches of Costa Rica’s golden coast – the location of many of the Villas Caribe villas (Tambor is another good option).  There are good connections from US, Canadian cities and several European and South American countries.

San Jose – Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)
Phone +506 443-02-40, +506 32-28-20, +506 31-32-80

Liberia - Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR)
Phone +506 66-60-695

Limon – Limon International Airport (LMH)
Phone +506 758-13-79, +506 758-06-59

Major Airlines Serving Costa Rica Airports
American Airlines
British Airways
Grupo Taca

Documents for Arrival in Costa Rica
A valid U.S. Passport is necessary to pass through customs at the Costa Rican Airports.

Approximate Flights Times to Costa Rica
Miami to San Jose – 2:30
Miami to Liberia – 2:15
Houston to San Jose – 3:15
Atlanta to San Jose - 3:30
California  - 7:00
New York - 5:30

Costa Rica Airport Transfers
By far, the best way to see Costa Rica is from the road.  Car rental and other transfer services are available at all Costa Rica airports.  
Your Villas Caribe concierge department will help you with determining the best service to arrive at your villa in the most efficient time.  

Costa Rica Departure Tax
Airport Departure tax is currently $18.00 but is always subject to change.


Costa Rica Communications

Communication with friends and family in the United States or elsewhere should not be a problem from Costa Rica.  Costa Rica has one of the highest numbers of phone lines per capita in Central America and even in Latin America.  All villas come quipped with telephones and many with internet connections and fax machines.

Cell phone rentals and internet cafes are also readily available in-town as well.

Villa Phones:
Costa Rican Villas will come with their own phones.
This number will be given to you prior to your trip.
Long distance calls using any major credit card will usually be possible from these house phones.
Cell Phones:
Most cell phones will not work in Costa Rica.  Phones with international roaming may work in Costa Rica, but it is always advisable to check with your cell phone provider before you depart. If you wish to rent a cell phone, it is recommended to do so BEFORE you depart for your trip.  However, should you need a cell phone while in Costa Rica, cell phone rentals are widely available and can even be reserved in advance.

The voltage used is 110/220 volts AC, 60Hz. Two-pin plugs are standard.  May we suggest that, if you have 220 volt appliances, bring a converter, or please ask if your villa manager/owner can provide one for you.

Internet Café’s:
There are many internet café’s in the larger cities of Costa Rica..
Many of these café’s now offer free wireless access to those with wireless compatible computers.


Costa Rica Nightlife

More than just a nature paradise, Costa Rica has plenty in the way of wholesome entertainment to keep even the most avid partygoer entertained. There are plenty of places across the country with lots to do especially after the sun sets. Visit the capital San Jose for some of the best nightlife in Costa Rica. However, places like Puerto Vieja de Talamanca, Jaco, Quepos and Tamarindo have quite a healthy nightlife as well.

With dozens of museums, jazz bars and clubs, casinos, restaurants, bars, watering holes, concert halls, fiestas and bullfights, San Jose is the place to be. If you are looking for some good fun, head on down to El Pueblo in Downtown San Jose which is filled with live music, mariachi bands, bars, discos and restaurants.

For those who enjoy a more daring nightlife, Costa Rica has a variety of nightlife activities and a great number of Casinos around the country from which to choose. Try your luck at our legal gambling. Step up to the slots or card tables and play caribbean stud poker, mini bacarat, blackjack, canasta roulette, craps, rows of slot machines and video machines. Casinos are all over Costa Rica, in San Jose and resorts throughout the country.  Additionally, you can find a number of online casinos and sports bookies as well.

If your only entertainment consists of having a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, Costa Rica has a number of spas and health clubs scattered all over the place to soothe and calm the senses. Visit the Arenal Volcano area to soak in the fantastic hot springs here, or have a soothing massage while relaxing on the beach.

Car rental

Costa Rica Car Rental & Transportation

Car Rental
Many major car rental companies have offices in the San Jose and Liberia airports. Villas Caribe concierge department will provide you with directions to your villa, and some suppliers will provide an escort.  The villas located on the Costa Rican Gold Coast can be up to a 4hr drive.  Renting a car to tour Costa Rica is a great option, as it is gives you a flexible time schedule for traveling, plus one does not have to worry about things like pick pocketing or luggage theft.  One distinct advantage of using a rental car is that you can visit many of the secluded beaches along the coast. Touring these beaches are great, as they offer you a more tranquil and secluded environment to relax or surf in. This way you can avoid the crowds, and spend more quality time taking in the beautiful surrounding environs.  

A slightly more expensive travel option, renting a car in Costa Rica means a hassle free vacation. This is because you do not have to bother about finding the next bus stop or when the next bus will leave the station. However, do keep in mind that most car rental companies in Costa Rica require that you keep a minimum $1000 deposit before you can rent a car.

Public Bus
Traveling by bus is one of the best ways to get around Costa Rica as the transport network here is quite strong. Both cheap and extremely comprehensive, you can get to almost anywhere by bus.  Downtown San Jose is the transportation hub of the country, with buses leaving from here on a regularly scheduled basis to almost anywhere in Costa Rica.

Today there are dozens of public bus companies that offer both fast (directo) and slower (normal) bus services. Most of the trips cost less than $10 and offer a comfortable ride. Though the standard of buses varies from company to company, most of the buses on major routes are modern and roomy.

If you like, you can also use tourist buses specifically meant for tourists. Mini-buses that strap your luggage to the top, these buses are more expensive than regular public transport ranging from $15 to $25 each way per person. The cost of your trip can vary with different tour companies as well as on the length of your trip. Since most of the people on board these buses are tourists, one really good advantage of using them is that you don’t need to worry about looking after your stuff. Perfect for the non-adventurous traveler, these buses are more comfortable and safe.

Driving is on the right side in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica Weddings

A unique way to begin your life together awaits you in a tropical paradise.  The Villas Caribe concierge department can assist you with planning your big day.  Costa Rica is the perfect carefree destination for a romantic, legal union featuring stunning sunsets, dramatic tropical floral arrangements, gourmet international cuisine, professional photography, Latin rhythms and minimal paperwork.    

There are certain Costa Rican regulations that must be adhered to in order to make a Costa Rica wedding legal, so it is highly advisable to contact the office of the Costa Rican Registrar to get up to date information on all necessary paperwork and other requirements. The most important thing to note is that in order to be recognized as legal, a civil ceremony is required.


Costa Rica Shopping

Shopping is not a major reason to visit Costa Rica, but some high-quality wooden and leather handicrafts are available. San José has the best shopping opportunities, in small gift stores in the city center, an outdoor market near the Museo Nacional, and a neighborhood called Moravia in the northern part of the city, which has whole streets devoted to souvenir stores. Bargaining is possible in outdoor markets, where you should expect to pay about 80% of the first price the vendor gives. Souvenir stores usually give discounts if you pay cash.

Haggling can be done almost everywhere. Even clothing, shoe, and record stores in the mall are usually willing to give discounts of 5%-10% for cash or multiple purchases. It's always worth it to ask politely -- no offense will be taken.

Be prepared to be shadowed closely in stores -- so close that when you stop to look at something the salesperson might bump into you. This is business as usual; take it as earnest friendliness (and of course, diligent protection against shoplifting). An indication that you need no help ("No necesito ayuda, gracias.") buys you a few feet of personal space.


Costa Rica Activities & Beaches

Most of the Villas Caribe villas are located in the Province of Guanacaste.  In its majestic, Guanacaste combines its folklore attractions, traditions and food that rescue the past of Costa Rica. Among its settlements, it is located the center of the Indian art Guaitil, historical national place where the stronger Indian tribe lived long time ago, also Liberia -the famous white city where in a strategic point the tourist can contact to different and beautiful beaches without comparison.  Here are some recommended activities during your stay in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal):  This 1,633 meter volcano has been rumbling and spewing since 1969.  One of the top attractions in the country is reachable in a four wheel drive.  Fantastic landscapes, flora and incredible views combine to capture the best of nature.  Activities:  Baldi Hot Springs, Tabacon Hot Springs, Venado Caves, Catarata La Fortuna (700 meter waterfall), and La Fortuna Canopy Tour.

Nicoya Peninsula: Places to go with Nicoya include:  Barra Honda National Park – best known for its well-preserved limestone caves.  Curu National Wildlife Refuge – privately owned, this refuge has excellent birding and wildlife watching.  Church of San Blas – Historical, located on the north side of central park. Cabo Blanco Absolut Reserve.

Liberia:  The Provincial capital is located in the heart of the province.  The city is spacious and gracious with its tree lined avenues, landscaped central park.  The city also has many little shops, cafes and restaurants.  The Church of la Ermita La Agonia houses the city museum that can boast a very interesting history in itself.

Turtle Watching:  Everyone ought to see a turtle nesting. It is an impressive thing to see, the pilgrimage of a sea creature back to the land its ancestors left a hundred million years ago.  Sea turtles have probably been nesting on the beaches of Costa Rica since time immemorial, but it's only been within the past 30 years or so that research has been publicized about it. People have been coming to Costa Rica for decades to help preserve these endangered animals, by tagging as well as assisting in other research.

There are only three nesting places in the world and Playa Grande is one of them. The National Marine Park Las Baulas of Guanacaste and the wildlife Refuge of Tamarindo located in Playa Grande, Guanacaste, is the nesting place of the leatherback turtle (dermochelys coriacea) known as the Baula turtle, being the most important in Costa Rica.  The nesting season begins on October 20th and ends on February 15th, making Playa Grande one of Costa Rica's most popular tourist attractions.  

Playa Grande:  Las Baulas National Marine Park - This park supports the Pacific Ocean’s largest nesting colony of leatherback turtles.  

Santa Rosa National Park:  This park was established to protect the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa in 1856.  The park reminds the whole country the jealousy of Costa Ricans before an invasion, that without organized army defended the sovereignty and peace the Costa Rica enjoy plentifully today.  

Rincon de La Vieja National Park:  This 35,000-acre national park centers around a volcano that last erupted in 1995.  

Monkey Park:  Animal rescue and refuge.  Wildlife park.
Palo Verde National Park:  The water system in this park sustains the largest population of waterfowl and wading birds in Central America.  
Fusion Natural Spa:  Playa Ocotal.  Phone: 506-670-0914.  Web: Rincon de La Vieja National Park:  National park.

Costa Rica is an absolute paradise in matters of beaches.  The coastline has a length of over 1800 km with a never-ending variety of beaches for any possible taste.   There are rocky and stony beaches, sandy beaches with white, gray, bluish black, tan, and pink colored sand.   From Playa Avellanas to Playa Vuelta del Sur, and any name in between, from the Pacific to the Atlantic / Caribbean, Costa Rica offers an almost infinite number of beaches for tourist enjoyment.  Come to surf, swim, snorkel, SCUBA dive, or just relax in the warm, tropical sun.

To list the beaches of Guanacaste would be endless, but it cannot leave mentioning the famous and crowded beaches of Sámara , Tamarindo, Conchal, Panamá and the unforgettable Coco Beach, which has reached fame and affection of the Costa Ricans that have and offer songs, poems in honour of them.

Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones):  
Playa Nosara is located southwest from the town of Nicoya and is accessed through the route that leads to Sámara. Joining Ostional and Guiones Beaches it constitutes the Osional National wildlife Preserve, whose ravines, rocky plateaus and coastal lowlands are drained mostly by the Nosara River.

Playa Ocotal:
Ocotal is the gate to the Gulf of Papagayo. It is a small beach of 700 mts. protected by hills and cliffs of sedimentary metamorphic rocks of 80 million years of age. Its clear sands mix with scarce rock formations and the dry forests of the hills. Together with Cirial Point to the west and La Flor Peak to the north, it is a site of outstanding scenic beauty where the shimmering sands are dotted with mounds of rocks, the hills covered with tropical dry forest and the jagged coastline forever battered by the pounding surf.
Playa Tamarindo:  Tamarindo is a tourist beach with lots of hotels and activity for a mainly young crowd. The beach extends for two kms. between Punto San Francisco on the South and Matapalo River Estuary, exactly at the southern limit of Las Baulas Marine National Park. It is a place made up of large extensions of clear sand beaches. Surrounded by Savannah Oak-, Tamarindo and Coconut trees.  Tamarindo has quite an infrastructure with a small grocery store, bank, bars, discos and little souvenir/surf shops.  Its a good destination for anyone that wants to fish, surf, kayak, dive, snorkel or boat.

Playa Conchal:  
Located 2 kms from Playa Brasilito.  Playa Brasilito and Conchal make up a unit separated by the rock headlands of Punta Conchal. Its name is derived that the sand is made up of millions of crushed shells that constitute a rare environment. along the 1,5 km long beach, manzanillo-, madero negro-, brasil-, and some ear trees can be observed.   The beaches are drenched in sunshine, this being one of their most valued attractions. The sun shines between 11-12 hours a day during the dry season (December-April), heating the coastal system with an average maximum temperature of 96°F during March and April, and an average annual temperature of 80.6°F.  Rainfall is around 1800 mm, but last only a short time, giving way to an exhausting drought where stretches of tawny terrain alternate with grassland and stands of mayflower, wild cotton, swollen-thorn acacia and some cacti.
Playa Panamá:  Located in the well known Gulf of Papagayo. The beach is surrounded mainly by sarno, brazilwood, manchineel and mesquite. There is a small mangrove swamp in the Rocha estuary. The hills present patches of dry forest and some rocky strata where several cactaceous plants can be observed. In the sea waters that accompany the coastline of 2,5 km of extension, there is an abundance of fishes and different types of seabirds. The climate is hot and dry from November to April and hot and humid the rest of the year. The month with the greatest amount of rain are September and October.

Playa Coco (Coco Beach):  
South of Hermosa, this beach has been a popular destination for Costa Ricans and tourists alike for many years. It has a paved road going right up to the beach, which makes for easy access. Weekends are generally boisterous and loud downtown Playa del Coco - head here if you're looking for something to do. The beach itself has dull volcanic gray sand (for white sand, sneak down to Ocotal). Coco isn't a surfer beach, but it is a port, which makes it very popular with divers and fishermen, who ship out from its anchorages, and surfers bound for Witch's Rock. The southern end houses a commercial fishing fleet and the north end is wealthier. Mid-July sees a very big celebration - the Virgin del Mar Festival.
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