Tropical little Costa Rica sits on the slender strip of Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. The Pacific Ocean laps her western shore while the Caribbean Sea lies along her eastern coastline.
Costa Rica is a great first step for the would-be intrepid traveler who would like to begin taking more adventurous vacations but who is not quite ready to explore the more remote and difficult-to-reach destinations in the world. A six and a half hour flight from L.A., seven from NY and two and a half from Miami, Costa Rica is a wild place within reach.
A highly attractive destination with its reputation as a peaceful democratic republic, this country is very hospitable to travelers. The official language of the country is Spanish and there is widespread use of English as well.
Nature reserves and wild life
The country has a tremendous variety of animal and plant life. Incredibly, this small nation hosts five percent of the world’s biodiversity. Twenty five percent of the country is protected reserves and forests, making Costa Rica a tremendously popular among nature-loving tourists.
The Tortuguero National Park boasts monkeys, sloths, 320 varieties of birds and several types of turtles. This park is considered the most important nesting grounds for the endangered green turtles. Other turtles that nest here include the hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback.
In the lush reserves of the Monteverde region, another 400 varieties of birds make their home, along with about 100 different species of mammals. The forest boasts about 2,000 species of plants and is famous for the beautiful orchids, which come in several types. All together, there have been 800 different birds identified in this country, which is similar in size to West Virginia.
The Monteverde region is recognized around the world for its efforts in conservation. The area has succeeded in building a lifestyle that is respectful of nature and, by doing so, has been able to provide multiple opportunities for visitors to experience its richness.
Activities in this area are adventure oriented while not being extreme to the point that families or those who are new to adventure would feel unable to participate. Besides hiking and biking, bird watching is very popular in this area of natural habitat. The large population of beautiful birds graces the cloud forest with bright colors and spectacular plumage.
Observation of the forest canopy habitat is also hugely popular. Again, there are several levels of adventurous involvement ranging from zip lines that take you on a Tarzan-like close-up view of the treetops, to walks across breath-taking suspension bridges or tram rides. If these opportunities have not satisfied the desire to see monkey, snakes and birds, there are also terrariums filled with a wide representation of the creatures to be seen.
Interestingly, the Quakers have a strong but gentle presence in this region. As settlers they showed uncommon foresight and concern for the natural environment and set protective measures in place that have allowed the wonders of this region to remain available for all to enjoy. The cultural combination of Quaker tradition amid the local community has formed a unique environment that is particularly good at receiving eco-tourists.
Beaches and coastline
Costa Rica is also well known and lauded for her beautiful beaches. Along her 1100 miles of shorelines there are hotels and lodges to fit a broad range of budgets. The beaches up and down the coast vary between rocky or stony places to smooth beaches with many different colored sands. You will find beaches with white, gray, almost black, pinkish and tan colored sand along her mangrove and palm tree populated coast.
Costa Rican waves are known in the surfing world as some of the best. While experienced surfers take to the water without assistance, there are also opportunities for surf trips designed for beginners and intermediate level surfers. The coastline and islands also offer excellent snorkeling and diving trips as well as deep-sea fishing, hikes through the mangroves and more suspension bridges. With Costa Rica’s low population rate, the beaches provide plenty of quiet, private places for those who just long to soak up the sun.
For those who hanker after a tropical foreign adventure, and especially for those who would enjoy the eco sensitivity and variety of this Central American treasure, Costa Rica is a perfect vacation destination!
For more information visit: govisitcostarica.com; lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/central-america/costa-rica