Whether planning a family vacation, honeymoon, nature adventure or fishing experience, a vacation in Costa Rica is a trip of a lifetime. With so much to offer, this Central American country is a “rich coast” indeed.
It is unknown who originally coined the name Costa Rica (which translates in English to “rich coast”). Some say it was Christopher Columbus who arrived there in 1502, others say it was Gil González Dávila, a Spanish conquistador, who turned up on the country’s shores in 1522 and made a deal with the natives for some of their gold. Whoever it was, the name has stuck and is totally appropriate for the endless nature, scenery and beaches of this lush and attractive country.
Located on the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica borders the Caribbean Sea (to the east of the country) and the Pacific Ocean (on the western side), with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south-south east. With its location just north of the equator, Costa Rica enjoys a year round tropical climate.
With this spectacular climate, the country is a eco-tourism experience and nature lover’s paradise, home to a wide and fascinating variety of different animals and plants. In fact, despite its relatively small landmass, the country is home to five percent of the world’s biodiversity. This all adds together to make an experience of a lifetime for anyone seeking a nature vacation in Costa Rica.
Approximately 25 percent of the land area consists of protected national parks and other protected areas and the country has successfully diminished deforestation from what was among the worst rates in the world back in the 1970s and 1980s, to virtually zero by 2005.
Costa Rica also has the aim of being the first developing country to become carbon neutral and is planning on achieving a zero output of carbon dioxide by the year 2021.
One national park of special note is the Corcovado National Park, renowned worldwide for its biodiversity. Visitors to the park are guaranteed to see a wide range of wildlife, including big cats, tapirs and all four species of Costa Rican monkeys, including the mantled howler, Geoffroy’s spider monkey and the white-headed capuchin.
For the birder, this country also boasts more than 840 species of bird, consisting of a mix of both North and South American species, most of which thoroughly enjoy the country’s abundant fruit trees.
Some of the most popular include the colorful Scarlet Macaw, the Keel-Billed Toucan, the Bare-Necked Umbrella Bird and the charmingly named Resplendent Quetzal. Various frogs, including the Red-eyed Tree Frog, and other reptiles flourish in the country.
For hikers and explorers, the Poás Volcano National Park is a popular location. This is a National Park covering an area of around 65 square kilometers (16,000 acres), and with a summit of 2,700 meters (8,900 feet). It is possible to climb right up to the edge of the crater where there are well-marked trails to follow.
While there have been no eruptions for around 7,500 years, the park is often closed to visitors due to sulphuric gas emissions. According to the experts, there are several indications that the volcano is slowly working up to have a new eruption in the future.
For beach-lovers seeking the perfect quiet spot, Cocos Island is a National Park off the country’s shores. Visits are limited and tourists are only allowed ashore with the permission of the island rangers. No one can camp overnight and no flora, fauna, minerals or rocks can be removed from the island. However, this is boundless nature, completely unaffected and in its perfect state, and certainly beautiful to see.
In short, any eco-tourist or nature lover, looking to enjoy a truly beautiful nature vacation, can’t go wrong with Costa Rica – an experience of a lifetime. Future articles will explore the cities of this beautiful country, but for the time being, enjoy a video guide of Costa Rica below.
1. Arenal Volcano as seen from Monteverde CC by-SA Peter Andersen
2. Red-eyed tree frog in the public domain by Careyjamesbalboa
3. Spider Monkey CC by-SA Steven G. Johnson
4. Scarlet Macaw Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic zoo355
5. Poás Volcano National Park CC by-SA Peter Andersen
6. Cocos Island Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic J RAWLS