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Costa Rica Destination Guide

Exclusively Elegant Travel Since 1988

For more information, please call our Travel Consultants on:01244 897 221

Your guide from the Luxury Travel Experts


Welcome to the Elegant Resorts Destination Guide for Costa Rica, created to help make your choice of luxury holiday as easy as possible. Here, you will find more detailed factual information about the destination you have selected.

If you require further information, not featured on this page, please call one of our Travel Consultants.

Overview+

Capital San Jose
Language Spanish
Time Difference -6 hours
Currency US Dollar
Voltage 110

A destination which can be easily explored, expect transfer times to be long but astonishingly scenic. Adventure activities include zip-lining, rafting, bathing in thermal waters and incredible wildlife-spotting. Expect to see (and hear) Mantled howler monkeys, spot toucans, seek endangered green macaws and nesting turtles and, of course, the enigmatic sloth! From jungle-fringed coastline and endless deserted beaches, to captivating cloudforest, pretty orchids and the mighty volcanoes and waterfalls of the Central Valley, there is so much to admire in Costa Rica beyond poison dart frogs! The Manuael Antonio National Park is an expansive coastal rainforest nature reserve that is a visitor must-see. Thriving with rich wildlife and rare species this is a highlight for any trip.

Highlights+

Central Valley and Highlands
Being elevated and landlocked, this area is far more temperate that the coastal regions, with temperatures around 25 degrees year-round. This makes it an appealing escape for San Jose residents retreating from the city heat. Whilst June to October are the best months to visit here, the ‘green’ season between June and December is the high season for rafting due to sunshine with afternoon showers.

Northwestern Costa Rica
Home to misty cloud strewn forests, a dormant volcano, bubbling hot springs and stunning lake, this region boasts striking waterfalls, grassy savanna and affordable ecolodges. With a climate ranging from dry heat, wind and cool mist, this is a dry region and evenings can become cool. With very little rain between November and April this is a good time to go, whilst marine-lovers will wish to travel around September and October to see Humpback whales migrating up the coast. Venture to the Arenal area, from Ciudad Quesada, for a scenic ride with stunning backdrop of Volcan Platanar. Winding your way past lush green vegetation, rivers and brightly coloured towns, you’ll eventually arrive at the mighty peak of the Arenal volcano.

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica’s most popular national park, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, is an enchanting lush green gem that is home to beaches, tropical rainforest trails and incredible wildlife. Scan the impressive canopy for White-faced capuchin monkeys, hear the Mantled howler monkeys, spot troops of tiny Squirrel monkeys, photograph the remarkable Toucans, or Black spiny-tailed iguanas, and look for the popular Sloths. These two-toed and three-toed varieties are often seen lazing about in the canopy.

Osa Peninsula
Located in the remote southwestern corner of Costa Rica and regarded by many as the most picturesque and pristine region, the protected rainforest of Osa is renowned for its extensive wildlife and raw appeal. The peninsula plays host to deserted beaches, world-class surf and rugged adventure trekking, making it a haven for those seeking a true adventure in the wilderness. Corcovado This is one of the most biologically rich places on earth with Parque Nacional Corcovado teeming with wildlife. In the canopy of Corcovado, guests can see all four native species of monkey with other rare species such as Baird’s tapir frequently spotted. Whilst trekking affords the opportunity to see the elusive Jaguar, feline Ocelot and Tapir. Creatures you may wish not to see, include the painful Bullet ant, ticks, peccary or water-based crocodile.

Guanacaste
Located in Northwestern Costa Rica, and said to have a Nicaraguan personality, the lively Guanacaste province is a popular destination for beach-lovers and those seeking some sublime relaxation in a tropical paradise. With notable shorelines such as Playa Panama, Playa Grande, Pan de Azucar, Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco, travellers are simply spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches. Boasting long summer days, unparalleled wildlife and a diverse and exotic landscape, visitors can unwind on beautiful beaches and escape the humidity. Watersport attractions include surfing and snorkelling, whilst nearby zip-lining, horse-riding and hiking are all available too. Renowned for its hot, dry weather and pristine beaches, this tourist spot boasts the stunning Papagayo Gulf. When not exploring the North Pacific Coast and admiring the beaches, history and sunsets, Guanacaste is also home to Nicoya Peninsula, Monteverde with its Cloud Forests and numerous nature reserves, the Miravalles and Tenorio Volcanoes, Arenal Volcano and Northern Lowlands, Rincon de la Vieja Area with its notable waterfalls.

Tortuguero
The main attraction of Tortuguero National Park is the turtles, with Green Sea and Hawksbill turtles nesting between July and October and Leatherback turtles nesting from February to April. Whilst you can head along the beach trail to observe turtles nesting, the best way to appreciate the park as a whole, is from a boat. From canoes or kayaks, you can access the beaches, canals, lagoons and wetlands. Created from high annual rainfall and the rich environment, where freshwater and sea water meet, this is an area boasting seven species of river turtles. If seeing turtles is your main goal however, then a specially guided night walk is the best time to see the turtles lay their eggs. Other wildlife highlights include seeing Southern River Otters, crustaceans and over 50 species of freshwater fish — not to mention the Spider, Howler, Capuchin Monkeys and dozens of species of birds. For the very fortunate, you may even spot an endangered West Indian Manatee! Aside from the wonderful fishing.

Travel Gems+

With 25% of Costa Rica's land comprising protected national parks or nature reserves, there are plenty of natural sites to be inspired by. The 161 parks and reserves contain a remarkable biodiversity; with many rare species of birds, wildlife and flora, plus fauna. With dormant volcanoes, waterfalls and hot springs to add to the coveted sloths, monkeys and toucans, there is an abundance of marvels beyond the renowned tree frog and coffee plantations. The most visited parks include Poas Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero, Cahuita and Arenal. Highlights for any visitor must include the White-faced monkey, Macau birds — not to mention the number of adventure activities available. Try rafting, hiking, zip-lining or a jungle night safari to experience something very unique and to truly immerse yourself in the rainforest.

Climate+

Costa Rica has a tropical climate year-round, with dry and wet seasons. The best time to visit is during the dry season, between December and April. The dry season is May to July and the month of November, when the rains start; whilst low season is during the months of August to October when rainfall is at its highest. Heavy rains may cause flooding of roads which can hinder travel, however Pacific swells mean that this is the best time for surfing.

Temperature Guide

These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Costa Rica.

  Temp °C Rain mm
January276
February2710
March2813
April2879
May27267
June27280
July27181
August27280
September26355
October26330
November26135
December2610

Getting There+

British Airways fly direct from London Gatwick to San Jose. The flight time is approximately 10 hours, 50 minutes.

Travel Documentation+

Travelling With Children or Without an Adult

Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.

Visa and Advance Passenger Information

All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.

Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.

For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk

Health+

Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/

In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.

Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net, www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.

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