Central America is a glorious place to visit, but not one that many people in the UK go to holiday. So I wanted to take this opportunity to look at just one region of it, and why you really should give it a try. From when to visit, what to do when you get there and where to stay – Costa Rica beach house for me please! I’m hopefully going to answer all of those burning questions including a few useful phrases you might need to.
Costa Rica is officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, and 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. Costa Rica’s climate is tropical all year round, making it ideal for us in the Northern hemisphere to visit, especially during our winter and spring months. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region, so you do need to do some planning and investigation before you book a trip.
As I mentioned the climate is tropical, and Costa Rica’s seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period. The year can be split into two periods :
The dry season – summer (known as verano to locals) which occurs from December to April.
The rainy season, winter (called invierno) throughout May to November. It’s important to note this almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it can rain constantly in some regions.
San José which means Saint Joseph, is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. It’s in the western part of the country, in whats known as the Central Valley. Its said to be one of the safest and least violent cities in the region. Rich in history, it’s quite a hectic city on the surface and often overlooked by tourists. If you love to find out about the history of places you visit than this would definitely be the place to spend a couple of days. Two such places are the National Museum, which gives a real flavour of the history of Costa Rico and for a gold lover like me you have to visit the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum which is only a few minutes away.
Markets and Shops – Downtown San Jose is also a great place to go shopping, especially for souvenirs. Right between the National Museum and the Jade Museum is the National Artisans Market. Head to the covered alley, you can find more typical souvenirs like T-shirts, coffee, mugs, but there are also some vendors selling handmade items. From, gold trinkets, painted masks to woven baskets a real treasure trove!
Guided Tour – My favourite way to see a city. This way you can really feel orientated, you get to learn facts and secrets about the city you are visiting with an experienced guide. In San Jose you’ll learn fun facts like which building was used as the old army barracks back when Costa Rica had an army and how Paseo de las Damas got its name.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Nature and wildlife – a big draw for tourists to this country. lt’s one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, with over 500,000 plant and animals and its conservation policies are aimed at keeping it that way. Many national parks and preserves are dotted around the country with opportunities to explore them on your own or join guided tours that are available all year round.
Keeping active – Whether you are a land, water lover or both when it comes to being active. Costa Rica offers many different activities to do solo, share with a friend or as a family. How about hot air ballooning, horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, climbing, cycling, golf as well as fishing, whitewater rafting, diving, surfing, kite sailing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in locations that will honestly take your breath away.
PLACES TO STAY
What kind of place do you like to stay when you go away on holiday? Whether you like luxury, eco or something more unusual Costa Vica really does seems to have all of the options available.
- Beachfront Villa, I’ve mentioned this first as this would be my favourite. When we travel we love to be private, have an amazing view and to be able to spread out as a family. This would make a beachfront villa our top place to stay.
- Ecolodges – These are great for a bit of an all over experience. You get to learn things as well as be get involved in activities, such tours of local flora and fauna, dining on locally sourced and seasonal food, all whilst having a low-impact on the environment.
- Yoga hotels – What to come back refreshed from a trip, mind body and soul? These could be perfect for you.
- Farm hotels, so a cabin or a hotel set on a working farm. So you can milk a cow, or pick the vegetable that are going to be on your table later!
Some Helpful Phrases
- Yes – Si (See)
- No – No
- Fine – Bien (bee-en)
- Bad – Malo (mahl-o)
- Please – Por favor (pohr fah-VOR)
- Thank you – Gracias (gra-SEE-ahs)
- Pardon me – Perdóname (pehr-DOH-nah-meh) Use if you accidentally bump into someone.
- I’m sorry – Lo siento (low see-EHN-to)
I love also that Costa Ricans refer to their partners as “media naranja”, or the other half of their orange, how sweet is that?
Learning friendly Spanish greetings will help you take the basics and use them in conversation with people, so get yourself a phrase book!I hope you enjoyed this post, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have!