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Costa Rica

How do you describe Costa Rica, a country with so many natural treasures? Perhaps the best way to start would be with its name, which means "the rich coast."

The first word in its name, Costa or "coast", attests to this country's position in Central America, bordered by two long, sinuous coasts with kilometres of idyllic beaches.

And the land that lies between these coasts can only be described as "rich". Since it's located on the isthmus separating the Americas, Costa Rica is the natural habitat for many species of flora and fauna found in both the northern and southern continents. The micro-climates of its mountains and rivers, valleys and plains, and tropical forests allow an abundant plant and animal life to flourish. Within its lush vegetation you can smell the heady scent of flowers, hear birds whose songs are as enchanting as their plumage, see multi-coloured butterflies fluttering through the fields, and glimpse endangered species in the forest. Costa Rica's natural beauty is mesmerizing. However, its culture and people are just as fascinating and the warm and welcoming Ticos have contributed greatly to Latin American society.

San José, the country's capital, is surrounded by a lovely valley with beautiful landscapes and numerous attractions. This valley is where most of the country's large towns are situated, and is the hub of its economic and cultural activity. Cartago, Heredia, Alajuela and other towns, in addition to San Jose, offer visitors plenty of leisure activities.

There is also the region of Monteverde, made up of vast forests that cover large valleys and mountains; Corcovado and Tortuguero, two national parks that protect the marshy jungle; and Santa Rosa with its dry tropical forest. Manuel Antonio and Cahuita offer Pacific and Caribbean white-sand beaches, in addition to many others, too numerous to mention, that are scattered along the entire coast of the country. The volcanoes Poás, Irazú, Rincón de la Vieja and all their mysteries; Huge Lago Arenal features a majestic volcano, while the high summits in Parque Nacional Chirripó are surrounded by idyllic country landscapes.


This country's natural riches enable visitors to enjoy almost every kind of outdoor activity you can imagine, and its towns and villages offer endless cultural and historical treasures.

Costa Rica's Safest Beaches -2013

Costa Rica’s Beaches: The Safe and the Not So Safe

In March 2013, local television, Channel 7 News, presented a list of the then most” safe” and “not so safe” beaches in the country, according to national experts.

Alejandro Gutiérrez, director of the Insituto Oceanográfico, says his organization evaluated some 100 beaches to create indications of security. The report was released in January 2013. Some of the conditions taken into account in the report are the proximity to medical clinics (known as EBAIS in Costa Rica), access to emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police protection. Gutiérrez explains they took into account “real potential dangers”; consideration was also given if the beach has a defined evacuation route. Accordingly, here are their findings…

The ten safest beaches in Costa Rica
The ten least safe beaches in Costa Rica
1. Zancudo
1. Junquillal
2 .Bahía Potrero
2. Carate
3. Bolaños
3. Tamarindo
4. Coco
4. Grande
5. Mantas Punta Leona
5. Langosta
6. Hermosa (Pacífico Norte)
6. Naranjo
7. Cuajiniquil
7. Carrillo
8. Platanares
8. Estero (Junquillal-Santa Cruz)
9. Drake
9. Uvita
10. Ocotal
10. Gandoca
Supermarkets in Playa del Coco

I got to handed to "" they are one step ahead... I wanted to write about the present grocery market scene in Coco and as I started my research, well it's all right here. Keep up the great work guys.

Description of Seasons


Costa Rica is becoming a year-round destination with each season having its own special appeal. The temperature is fairly constant year round with the difference in seasons measured in rainfall rather than temperature variation.

High Season is December through April, with the majority of travelers to Costa Rica escaping the North American winter and snow. This is the driest season for Costa Rica - the average rainfall is at its lowest, you can experience weeks or months with no rain, the beach-perfect weather is hot and migrant bird populations are highest.


Green Season is May through August, extending often into November. Known as the "rainy" season, it's the favourite time of year for experienced travelers to Costa Rica and those who live there. It is also my favourite time of the year.


A common misconception is that "rainy" means continuous downpours. That is just not the case. For visitors to Costa Rica, the Green Season is magical for its added lushness and active abundance of wildlife. Typically, it is gloriously sunny most of the day with a short rain in the late afternoon, just in time for lunch, a siesta or nap. Then the skies clear, everything is refreshed and the sun shines again until the magnificent sunset.

Because plant growth is in overdrive during this time, there is more food for the monkeys and you will see more of them. There is a greater variety of blooming orchids as well, along with other stunning flowers that bloom only at this time. The hillside, forests and jungle are in its full splendour and walking through them is an invigorating primeval experience that makes you feel truly alive.


Low Season can start in September and carries through October in to early November, and is more in line with perceptions of a rainy season. It is still comfortably warm but not as hot as the dry season. Rains are prevalent for most afternoons and occasionally fall the entire day, ranging from light drizzle to heavy downpours. While Costa Rica does not get hurricanes, there are occasionally heavy rains left over from dissipated hurricanes off the Caribbean coast.


In summary, and more specific for the Guanacaste region...


  • warm and dry from November to May

  • moderate rain from June to September

  • "mini-dry season" from mid to end of July to early to mid August

  • very rainy in October

  • average temperature 82'F or 28'C

Average Temperature as recorded at

Daniel Oduber International Airport from 1977-2006

min. C
max. C
precipitation (mm)
rainy days
Why Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers incredible and accessible natural beauty, such as waterfalls, secluded beaches, rain forests, cloud forests, the list goes on and on? Some of these areas are reachable only by car or four wheel drive vehicle (4x4). Renting a car is the best way to see the diversity of Costa Rica at your own pace and terms.

Most of Costa Rica?s main roads are paved, but many are in desperate need of repair. Over the past few years, great strides have been made to repair roads, but potholes and other road damage still persist. Therefore, I suggest renting an all wheel drive vehicle (4x4). This will also give you the freedom to reach almost all regions of Costa Rica, accessible only by four wheel drive vehicles.



You will receive a complimentary road map with your rental documents. Main tourist destinations are marked with road signs. However, signs may not always be clearly visible. Addresses are given by distance from landmarks (for example 300 meters north of the city hall). A compass may be beneficial. As a rule of thumb, almost all church entrances face east, making it easier to get your bearings (north, south, etc). There are few street names and even fewer street numbers.



Should you prefer an electronic co-pilot (GPS) to guide you through Costa Rica, ?Garmins? seem to work best in CR., with downloaded maps from NavSat. NavSat is said to offer excellent maps of Costa Rica. You may download the maps from their Internet for a fee.




You may drive using your driver?s licence issued by your home country.

Speed Limits:

On highways: 90 k.p.h. / 54 MPH In urban areas: 40 k.p.h. / 24 MPH

Near schools and hospitals: 25 k.p.h. / 15 MPH


Please note, these are general speed-limits guidelines, the actual speed limit is posted on signs.



  • Legal driving age is 18.

  • Keep safe following distances.

  • It is illegal to drink and drive and voids all insurance.

  • It is illegal to drive without your seat belt

  • Driving on beaches is strictly prohibited everywhere and voids all insurance.

  • Children must be seated in an infant seat or booster! (Most car rental agencies offer complimentary infant- and booster seats ---do ask for these at the time of booking to ensure availability.)


Fuel stations (called Bombas or Gasolineras) are widespread across Costa Rica. Regular, Super, and Diesel fuel are readily available at all gas stations. Fuel prices are regulated by the government and are the same at all gas-stations! Service at gas stations is provided by attendants, there is no need to leave the car. Tipping is at your own discretion. On long trips, use fuel-stops as an opportunity to relax and freshen-up.

In case of an accident stay with the car and DO NOT MOVE IT, unless ordered by a police officer. Costa Rican law states that you must wait until the police arrive at the scene. Contact your rental car company immediately for further assistance.




You may also report the accident by calling 911 or 800-800-8000


Driving at night should be avoided unless you are familiar with the road conditions. Pull over if a police officer signals you to do so. Police officers may ask you to stop if there is an accident ahead, a checkpoint, or if you are violating the law by not carrying a license plate or exceeding the speed limit.

Your personal documents, as well as, the vehicles registration papers are private property and may not be retained by police officers for any reason. If a police officer insists on stopping you or retaining your documents for no apparent reason, ask him to escort you to the nearest police station to clear the problem.

If you believe a traffic police officer or any other law enforcement official acted inappropriately or you have questions regarding their behavior, call 2257-7798, ext. 2506, and ask to be referred to the nearest police station.

If you are given a ticket, please pay it at the nearest state owned bank and present a copy of the receipt to your rental car agent/staff when you return the rented vehicle. If you fail to do so, your credit card will be charged the amount of the fine, plus an administrative fee.

Travelers Tips When Visiting Abroad...

Ø First and foremost, be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.

Ø Always carry with you a photocopy of your passport and leave the original in the safe deposit box with other important documents and/or belongings.

Ø Keep all your belongings in sight. When travelling on a bus or any other means of public transportation, always, always keep your belonging close to you.


Ø Know your destination and have a planned route of travel.


Ø Use only public/private banks or known exchange booths to change your money. Do not exchange money in public places or with strangers.

Ø Under no circumstances should you allow any unknown person to get very close.

Ø If you are told by a passing motorist that something is wrong with your vehicle or if you notice that you are being followed, don’t stop. Drive to the nearest public area, and if necessary ask for police assistance.

Ø The signals for emergency or police vehicles are blue or red. Do not stop for flashing headlights alone.

Ø If you get lost, find a public place such as a gas/service station to check your map or ask for directions.

Ø Keep windows closed and doors locked while driving, as well as when leaving the vehicle parked.

Ø Always park in well-lit area and check surroundings before entering your vehicle.

Remember to keep valuables in the trunk, locked glove compartment or out of sight.

Ø DO NOT pick-up hitchhikers.

Ø Do not leave the keys in your vehicle or the motor running while using an ATM or public phone. If you are using an automatic cashier, be sure the area is well lit. Count your money inside the vehicle with your window/doors closed.

Ø If you go downtown carrying a shoulder bag or camera hold it in front of you and close to your body, be sure it is securely closed.

Ø If you are confronted by a hostile individual, DO NOT RESIST, do what they ask. Your belongings are not worth your life or serious injury. Throw the item (wallet) in one direction and make your escape in the opposite direction.

Ø If you use a taxi be sure to verify that it complies with the established requirements, such as yellow triangles, on the side doors and a taximeter in the front.

Ø If your vehicle is bumped from behind, do not stop on the roadway or side road. Drive to the nearest public area and ask for police assistance.

Ø In case your credit card is stolen, cancel it immediately.

Ø If you suspect you are being followed, go to the nearest public area and call the police.

Ø Two billboards you will see:

“In Costa Rica we protect our children. Sexual intercourse with children or adolescents under 18 is a crime punishable by law.” And,

“To deal in drugs is illegal.”

Ø Judicial Investigation Bureau (OIF), Liberia office is 2690-2901.


Ø In case of emergency call 911 from ANY telephone.

Cash or Traveller's Cheques

Cash versus Traveller’s Cheques (TC)

As with many things, it comes down to a personal decision and what one may feel most comfortable with. But, unlike many other destinations, many businesses and banks in CR do charge a “handling fee” of up to 10% of the “face” value to cash or accept the traveller’s cheque!

At grocery stores, they accept cash (both colones and/or USD) and credit cards at “face value”. But if you offer to pay with traveller’s cheques, then be prepared to be charged a “handling” fee. Since many banks in CR are “private” they too charge a fee for “cashing/exchanging” the traveller’s cheque.

If you do prefer to travel with TCs, we did find the Scotia Bank near the Liberia Airport, does not charge a fee, but does limit the amount exchanged to $500US, at a time. We ended up making a few trips/stops here to take advantage of this “no fee” bank. As with all bank transactions, you will need to show your passport or a copy of the info page of the passport prior to the transaction.

I recommend bringing down TCs, and/or US dollars. In Coco, visit one of the local banks, as needed, to cash-in/exchange a few hundred dollars at a time, or the amount needed in to colones. This way, you are taking advantage of the “current exchange rate” and you are not getting yourselves caught up calculating the “street” rate at a vendor’s booth or being charged higher rates and/or undisclosed fees.

Remember, this is my opinion and only a suggestion.

Mr. Di

January 2011

White-Water (rapids) Rating Scale

The American White-water Affiliation's International Scale of River Difficulty is as follows:

1. Class I: Moving water with a few riffles and small waves. Few or no obstructions.

2. Class II: Easy rapids with waves up to three feet, and wide, clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering is required.

3. Class III: Rapids with high irregular waves often capable of swamping an open canoe. Narrow passages that often require complex maneuvering. May require scouting from shore.


4. Class IV: Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require precise maneuvering in very turbulent waters. Scouting from shore is often necessary, and conditions make rescue difficult. Generally not possible for open canoes. Boaters in covered canoes and kayaks should be able to Eskimo roll.


5. Class V: Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly congested routes that nearly always must be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are difficult and there is significant hazard to life in event of mishap. Ability to Eskimo roll is essential for kayaks and canoes.

6. Class VI: Difficulties of Class V carried to the extreme of navigability. Nearly impossible and very dangerous. For teams or experts only, after close study and with all precautions taken.

Mr. Di says:

Know your ability

and play safely within it.



Sounds like a cliché, I know, but if you do panic you're as good as dead.


2. Do not fight against the current.

The majority of riptide deaths are caused by drowning, not the currents themselves. People caught in riptides will 9 out of 10 times not be able to make it back to shore because they are exhausted from struggling against the current.


3. Do not swim in toward the shore.

You will be fighting against the current. It will beat you every time.


4. Swim parallel to the shore, across the current.

Usually a riptide is less than 150 feet wide, so swimming beyond it is not too difficult.


5. If you cannot out-swim the pull of the tide lie on your back floating and let the riptide pull you away from shore until you are beyond the effective current. Riptides die out 150 to 300 feet from shore.


6. Once you are no longer in the grip of the tide, swim sideways and then back to shore.


Mr. Di says: 




The word Guanacaste comes from the Nahuatl language, a native language spoken by Chorotegas and other native groups in Meso-America. Huanacaxtle or "ear tree" refers to the name given by the natives to the large trees found throughout the region. The (Guanacaste) tree's fruit is shaped very similar to a human ear.

Guanacaste Facts...


  • size --10,141 Km2

  • capital --Liberia

  • region is divided in to 11 counties (61 municipalities)

  • 2012 Census 283,738 inhabitants (projected)

  • borders --Nicaragua to the North; Puntarenas to the South; Alajuela to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West.


Annexation --In 1825 the territory of Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica but not in a military conflict or a battle for land over the territory. In a very unusual situation, yet peaceful, the inhabitants of the area voted by their own free will to leave Nicaraguan jurisdiction and become a province of Costa Rica. The text inscribed on Guanacaste's shield bears witness to this peaceful annexation with the words: "For the country by our will."

The provincial celebration for the annexation of Guanacaste is celebrated yearly, at the end of July. The Annexation is celebrated not only throughout the province but the major festivities are the week long celebration at the Fair Grounds just outside Liberia. This is one of my favourite times to visit Guanacaste.

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