Costa Rica is a land filled with adventure. From the alluring beaches and lush rainforests, to the warmth of its rich cultural traditions, Costa Rica offers nature-lovers from all over the world a destination seeping with possibilities.
Slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia, Costa Rica is one of the wealthiest nations in the world in terms of biodiversity. Although the country occupies only about 0.25% of the world’s landmass, it contains almost 5% of the world’s biodiversity and has the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. Between Costa Rica’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts, visitors will find some of the most diverse geography on earth, including stunning volcanoes, vast mountains, endless wetlands, dense jungles, and several secluded beach towns that are perfect for a romantic excursion.
The Capital City – San José
San José is the capital and the largest city in Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, it is the nation’s cultural hub. The city offers both a historic and metropolitan fill with Costa Rican charm. There are several restaurants, museums, parks, and open-air markets where hand-made crafts and other merchandise is sold.
The Culture Plaza (Plaza de la Cultura), located downtown, is a common meeting place to begin exploring the city’s attractions. Just south of the plaza is the National Theater (Teatro Nacional), which is one of the most revered attractions in San José. Constructed in the 1890’s, the theater is a prominent center of tico culture.
Because of its relatively high elevation—3,839 feet (1,170 m)—the city is known for its temperate weather year-round, with very limited rain showers. Once you’ve experienced San José, there are plenty of destinations just outside the capital city.
Doka Estate Coffee Tour
Doka Estate coffee is one of Costa Rica’s highest quality coffees. The Doka Coffee Estate is located on the fertile slopes of the Alajuela Poas Volcano, the rich soil and the ideal altitude and climate have made the Santa Eduviges farm famous for its prized coffee.
The Vargas coffee growing family also carry a brand – Cafe Tres Generaciones – ‘Three Generations Coffee’ that represents the tradition and pride the coffee growing family has rooted in their coffee trees.
Today, coffee is the number three export for Costa Rica. Costa Rican coffee beans are considered among the best in the world. Tarrazú is thought to produce the most desirable coffee beans in Costa Rica. In 2012, Tarrazú Geisha coffee became the most expensive coffee sold by Starbucks in 48 of their stores in the United States, using the Clover automated French press.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park
On the southern slope of Poas Volcano, the La Paz River forms one of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking waterfalls, La Paz Waterfall. At the waterfall’s base is La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a popular park aimed at preserving and exhibiting the country’s diverse flora, fauna and history through its many observatories and gardens.
There are four other waterfalls: El Templo, Magia Blanca, Encantada and Escondida. There are several natural trails leading to platforms above, below and in front of the waterfalls. Signs posted along the pathways inform hikers of the distance and difficulty of the routes.
The park houses the world’s largest butterfly sanctuary, with 4,000 of these colorful insects. Some of these creatures are larger than the palm of your hand. Tour guides walk visitors through the enclosed observatory, informing them about the unique species while butterflies fly freely above head and occasionally land on the shoulders of their guests for a selfie.
Whatever you seek of your next tropical destination, Costa Rica may offer it and more. The Costa Rican people or Ticos, are very welcoming and are considered some of the happiest people in the world. During your next stay you should be familiar with the term “Pura Vida” (pronounced poo-rah vee-dah). The simple translation means “simple life” or “pure life”. But you have to visit Costa Rica to truly understand how it is a way of life.