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The Adventurer’s Guide to Costa Rica

Surf in Costa Rica

Whether you’re into water sports, hiking (or zip lining) through jungles and rainforests, or exploring volcanoes, Costa Rica has an incredible number of opportunities to experience thrills and challenges.

Ziplining and Canopy Tours

You can go ziplining in many places. However, there aren’t many places where you can experience the kind of natural wonders that surround you in Costa Rica. This is an adventurous activity that people of all ages and physical conditions can enjoy. Here are a few of the country’s best zip lines, canopy tours, and aerial trams.
Canopy Safari is one of the oldest zip lining tours in Costa Rica. They also offer many other activities in their incredible rainforest location, including rafting, a Tarzan swing, and walking tours. They have a Serpentarium, butterfly garden and a Cayman pond on the premises as well.
Jaco Aerial Tram Tour is an aerial tram is good for people who are reluctant to try ziplining but still want to get amazing views of rainforests and jungles. Of course, you can also do both if you’re so inclined! The Jaco tour provides great views of the ocean as well as the forest.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is renowned for its incredible diversity of plants and animals. It’s especially great for bird watchers, with more than 400 species of birds including the Quetzal, which is only found in this region. You can observe this amazing reserve for yourself by ziplining or taking an aerial tram tour, which gives you a bird’s eye view of this unique spot. Another favorite activity in reserve is hiking on the Sky Walk Suspension Bridges that are located throughout the forest.

Water Sports

Wherever you go in Costa Rica, you’ll be close to water. It has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, making it one of the best places in the world to enjoy beaches and water sports. As you venture inland, you’ll also find an abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Here are just some examples of where you can find the best water-based activities.

Rafting

Costa Rica offers world-class rafting in a unique tropical environment. You can choose between day trips and multi-day adventures along the country’s many rivers. You can also select trips based on your experience and how challenging an experience you’re seeking (rapids are classified between Class I to Class VI).
Corobici River Float in Guanacaste. This river is classified between Class I and II, making it a good choice for beginners and anyone who wants a relaxing yet beautiful journey with lots of incredible wildlife, especially birds.
Rio Pacuare This river offers a moderately challenging Class III rafting adventure through a rainforest that flows towards the Caribbean. You also have great views of the majestic Talamanca Mountains.
Naranjo River is Class IV+ river is for you if you want serious whitewater action in addition to beautiful scenery. This river presents challenges such as canyon walls and many technical narrows that will test your skills.

Snorkeling and Diving

If you want to get a close-up view of the incredible marine life in the waters around Costa Rica, make sure you go snorkeling or diving. Scuba diving gives you the fullest experience, but you need to be certified. There are, however, quite a few diving schools where you can get your certification. Snorkeling is a simpler way to get a memorable look at the pristine waters.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving in the entire Caribbean. In addition to an incredible diversity of fish, you’re likely to encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees.
Manuelita Coral Garden is a protected area has gentle waters, making it a good choice for novice divers. The coral reef attracts many large sea creatures such as black tip sharks, hammerheads, marble rays, and others.
Caño Island Biological Reserve offers amazing diving and snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean all year round. You can find many experienced diving tours in this area. The most famous diving spot is called Devil’s Rock, which has a dramatic underwater landscape of peaks and valleys.

Surfing

You can enjoy spectacular surfing in many parts of Costa Rica, on both the Pacific and Caribbean beaches.
Nosara is a region is popular for holistic and yoga retreats as well as surfing. Playa Guiones is the main surfing beach. It’s also a protected area for sea turtles and other wildlife, so it’s good for encountering wildlife.
Puerto Viejo is one of the best surfing spots on the Caribbean coast. This area attracts many top surfers who come to test their prowess against the legendary Salsa Brava surf break.
Dominical is popular beach town by the Southern (Pacific) coast. The ocean here can produce powerful waves, so it’s not ideal for beginners. However, there are some spots where the waters are calmer. You can also enjoy the bars, eateries, and shops in this trendy area.

Explore Wildlife

If you visit Costa Rica, you’re bound to see lots of beautiful and exotic animals such as birds, fish, reptiles, monkeys, and many others. If this is one of your priorities, however, you can make it a point to visit national parks and other areas known for the species that most fascinate you. The following are some suggestions for finding particular types of animals.
Birds – Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity. There are an estimated 850 species of birds alone. Fortunately, you can’t help but see many beautiful tropical birds when you’re anywhere in this country. However, some of the best spots for bird watching include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (mentioned in the section on ziplining), Palo Verde National Park, and Los Quetzales National Park, where you have the best chance of seeing the Quetzal, Costa Rica’s most iconic bird.
Big Cats – Costa Rica has a few big cats such as ocelots and jaguars. They are hard to spot in the wild, though you might be lucky and spot one in a rainforest. One place to see big cats is at a wildlife sanctuary such as the one at La Paz Waterfall Gardens National Park.
Monkeys – There are many species of monkey in Costa Rica. Some of the most common are Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and spider monkeys. One of the best places to see monkeys is the Corcovado National Park.
Three-toed Sloth – These tree-dwelling animals are found in rainforests. If you want to see lots of sloths and learn all about them, visit the Sloth Sanctuary in on the Caribbean coast.
Reptiles – You’ll see lizards and snakes everywhere in Costa Rica. Geckos and iguanas are especially numerous. If you’re not an expert, be wary of snakes as some are deadly. It’s wise to learn a little about Costa Rica’s snakes, especially if you’re venturing into forests and jungles. Other common reptiles include sea turtles, crocodiles, caimans, and black ctenosaur lizards.

Visit Volcanoes

Costa Rica is full of volcanoes. There are, in fact, more than 60 in total. Hiking a volcano is an adventurous activity you can try in almost any part of the country. Before planning your trip, be sure to check on the volcano’s current status. Climbing an active volcano adds some extra adventure though even inactive ones are well worth exploring. Here are a few of the most popular volcanoes to visit.
Turrialba Volcano – If you want to hike a volcano close to San Jose, the capital city, this is the closest. However, for safety reasons, the national park in which the volcano is situated is not always open to visitors.
Arenal Volcano – At more than 5,000 feet, this is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Currently inactive, the last eruption was in 1968. One of the advantages of visiting this volcano is that you can also enjoy bathing in some of the numerous hot springs in the area.
Irazú Volcano – This volcano is quite close to San Jose and is Costa Rica’s tallest active volcano at over 11,000 feet. It last erupted in 1994.

Lots of Opportunity for Adventure in Costa Rica

We’ve looked at just a few of the many types of adventure you can find in Costa Rica. Aside from the unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife, you can find world-class resorts, top quality cuisine, a growing arts scene, and versatile nightlife. Few countries offer a greater diversity of activities and attractions. There are many reasons to put Costa Rica at the top of the list for your next adventure tour.

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10 Foods You Must Try in San José, Costa Rica

Feast Through San José, Costa Rica

San José is more than just Costa Rica’s political capital. It is the country’s cultural and gastronomic hub. Chefs flock to San José to serve their spin on traditional Costa Rican delicacies. But don’t limit yourself to gourmet restaurants. You can discover some of the city’s best food in simple cafés and food stalls.
Are you ready to explore Costa Rica’s most popular dishes? Let’s go!

Casado

Casado is the traditional Costa Rican lunch. Of course, there are different variations of this meal, but a true casado consists of rice, beans, meat, and a salad. Chefs decide what ingredients to offer, but you will often find casado with chicken, fish or pork.
Casado translates to “married man.” There is some debate about the origin of this name, but it was likely first with hungry laborers who wanted a homemade meal. Casado is similar to traditional meals married men would eat when they came home from work.
You can enjoy casado all over Costa Rica. Small, roadside cafés (sodas) offer the most authentic casado in the country. In San José, head to the Central Market to find traditional, affordable, and delicious casado.

Arreglados

Arreglados are popular meat-filled sandwiches. Instead of bread, arreglados are served on puff-pastry made of Masa (corn flower). Arreglados typically include meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mustard. But, like casado, the ingredients of an arreglado depends on the chef’s preferences.
The Central Market is the place to find traditional food in San José. While you are strolling through this market, make sure you visit the Soda Tipica stall. Here you can enjoy a variety of Costa Rican dishes, including arreglados.

Pejibayes

Pejibayes are a tropical fruit that grows on Costa Rican palm trees. The vibrant pejibayes are packed with nutrients. Besides their health benefits, pejibaynes are juicy and delicious. From September-April you can find this popular snack at farmer’s markets, fruit stands, and grocery stores.
Pejibayes are often boiled and served with lime and mayonnaise. This exotic delicacy is also made into cakes, soups, and liquor.
If you are visiting in October, consider taking a day trip from San Jose to Tucurrique. This small town hosts an annual Pejibaye Festival. Enjoy parades, dancing, and treats while you learn more about this unique fruit.

Café

Coffee is synonymous with Costa Rica. There are countless coffee plantations throughout the Central Valley. And in the capital city of San José, the 3rd-wave coffee movement is gaining momentum.
Most San José cafés, like Cafeoteca and Café del Barista, serve brews from the country’s 8 coffee regions. Speak with knowledgeable baristas about the coffee growing, roasting, and brewing process.
Chorreadors are the traditional wooden devices used to brew Costa Rican coffee. Hot water is poured through a cloth filter filled with coffee grounds. Many of the city’s cafés use chorreadors to prepare their coffee.

Chicharrones

Chicharrones are a popular crispy, fried snack. Typically made from pork ribs, this satisfying treat is often eaten with lime, yucca, and rangpur (a citrus fruit).Another essential component of chifrijo are Chicharrones.
You can enjoy chicharrones all year long, but they are heavily associated with holiday celebrations and parties.
If you are visiting during December, take a trip to the Puriscal Chicharrones Fair. This town is about 15 miles outside of San José. Bring your appetite for fried food. In addition to the delicious snacks, this festival offers live music and parades.

Gallo Pinto

The classic Costa Rican breakfast dish, gallo pinto, is traditionally made with rice and beans. But, each chef puts their own spin on this simple dish. You might find this served with onion, celery, eggs, and meat.
You can order gallo pinto all over San José, as it is served in Hotel buffets, soda shops and restaurants. Tortilla y Cafe is one of the city’s most popular spots serving this authentic Costa Rican breakfast.

Arroz con Leche

Arroz con leche translates to “rice with milk.” But this sweet, sticky dessert is more delicious than the simple name suggests.
This rice pudding always contains cinnamon and often includes raisins. You can enjoy this dish warm or cold. This is a popular dessert to make at home, but many San José restaurants also serve this delicious treat.

Chifrijo

Chifrijo is a dish with pork (often chicharrones), pico de gallo, rice, beans, tortillas, and lemon. This is a popular bar snack that is perfect to share with friends.
For an authentic experience, visit La Oveja Negra. This relaxed San José bar offers a wide selection of local beers in addition to traditional snacks, like chifrijo.

Patacones

Patacones, or fried plantains, are a popular food in Costa Rica. Although they may seem simple, these sweet golden rounds are incredibly satisfying.
Plantains are not native to Costa Rica. They were first imported in the 16th century. But this fruit flourished in the tropical Costa Rican climate. Today, most Costa Rican most dishes include some variation of the plantain. Patacones are one of the most popular ways to serve plantains in the country.
These warm, soft plantains perfectly complement beans, meat, and chimichurri. Plus, they won’t be hard to find as restaurants all over San José serve patacones.

Picadillo

Picadillo is a traditional hash-like dish. This meal includes ground meat, tomato, and vegetables over a bed of rice.
The specific ingredients in a picadillo vary by chef and region. Most menus name picadillos after their main vegetable ingredient. Look for the popular chayote picadillo, which typically includes a small green gourd-like vegetable.
Despite what you may have heard, Costa Rican cuisine offers much more than a plate of rice and beans. Costa Ricans have spent hundreds of years perfecting their recipes. Plan a trip to San José and experience these traditional dishes for yourself!

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