Costa Rica By: Brooke Rogers

Costa Rica officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Things to do in Costa Rica:

Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula's sparkling 80-mile shoreline beach-centric towns with cream-colored shores and dense forests. Nosara Beach's powdery sands line the Nicoya Peninsula's western edge. You'll also find fishing and cattle-ranching communities east of the rustic coastline. After a significant rise in tourism that began in the 1970s, an influx of restaurants and hotels have enticed visitors to the peninsula's sandy coast.

Recent travelers highlight Nosara Beach's gorgeous sunsets, colorful fish and turquoise waters as ideal for surfers and beach lovers alike. But be warned: shade is minimal; sunset walks on the beach are highly encouraged. Another hot spot is Montezuma, a charming coastal town that boasts affordable hotel accommodations and untamed splendors, like magnificent waterfalls and gentle cerulean waves.

San José

San José, Costa Rica's vibrant capital, serves as a central base for exploration. You'll likely want to stop here before heading to the country's magnificent rainforests and beaches. Soaring offices, apartment buildings and museums will tower above you as you roam through the city's interconnected barrios (districts). If you plan on staying in the city for a few days before connecting elsewhere consider heading downtown to explore the exquisite collections at the Jade Museum and Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Both facilities house dazzling and rare pre-Columbian artifacts.

Recent visitors were equally impressed with the Jade Museum's presentation as they were with the extensive collection displayed in its confined space. Hipsters may wish to drive about 3.5 miles west of San José to reach trendy Escazú, a sophisticated spot that boasts vibrant shops, nightclubs and restaurants.

Corcovado National Park

Travelers come to this nearly 11,000-acre misty rainforest for its diverse wildlife. Buzzing insects and chirping birds can be seen and heard as you stroll through the verdant jungle. Trek along the hazy trails and you’re likely to spot macaws, tapirs, jaguars, spiders or howler monkeys.

Recent visitors suggest visiting early in the day (7 to 9 a.m.) to increase wildlife sightings. But to fully experience all of Corcovado's sights and sounds, you'll want to carve out two or three days for exploring. If you need a break from hiking, head to the 23 miles of beaches, but be warned the sand is hot.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

The village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, comes alive with reggae music, funky bamboo bars and a wild nightlife. Surfers crowd coconut-fringed Cocles Beach; nature-lovers venture inland to explore rainforests; and foodies check out downtown's delectable cuisine. Off the beaten path, you'll find dusty biking and walking paths running through tropical farms and gardens. Along the coast, you'll discover remote bungalows and empty stretches of sand.

Travelers recommend visiting Playa Negra's black-sand beach located in the northwest end of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for a less touristy retreat. Visit between September and October for the best chance of sunlight in this often damp, tropical region.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Short for "Catarata La Paz" (or "peace waterfall"), La Paz may seem quiet and still at first glance. But take another look, and you'll find this rainforest buzzing with activity. From croaking frogs and fluttering butterflies to rumbling jaguars and howling spider monkeys, there are plenty of creatures to be found in this wildlife-lover's paradise. And there is much for nature-seekers to admire too, from the garden's five flowing waterfalls to its colorful orchids and sea of leafy green canopies.

While some visitors were deterred by the park's high admission rates, others say the private garden's natural splendors outweigh the costly the entrance fee.

Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week, is a major Catholic holiday celebrated all over the world and Costa Rica is no exception. Traditions run deep during this special week, and everyone enjoys their much anticipated time off work.

The processions are held in every city, but the one in San José is the best to see since it usually involves the cast of the National Theater Company and has a big production team featuring various bands and professional musicians.

The actual holiday during this week is celebrated on the Thursday and Friday before Easter Sunday. Most Costa Ricans have at least those two days off, however, schools and many others enjoy taking the entire week off to spend time with their families and friends.

During this festive week, many Ticos head for the beaches to enjoy some sun and relaxation. If they aren’t at the beach, they’re relaxing at home, making traditional food to share with loved ones. Since many religious followers fast during this week (or at least on Good Friday), they make wonderful homemade tamales and enjoy more seafood than usual.


Created with images by / - "Herradura Costa Rica Sunset In The Harbor"

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