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    Pocket Guide: Costa Rica

    Costa Rica is a colorful destination in Central America. Known for its diverse flora and fauna, it’s a major advocate of conservation and ecotourism. Whether you’re looking to hike through tropical rainforests or veg at the seaside, book your flights to Costa Rica today and get ready for ocean breezes and palm trees.

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    Geography

    Costa Rica is nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. This Central American destination features a varied landscape with all kinds of terrain, from beaches and volcanoes to jungles and cloud forests. These regions support an impressive ecosystem with an assortment of plant and animal species. In fact, this tiny country contains 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and 25 percent of the land is protected.

    Best and Worst Times to Visit

    Because this country sits just north of the equator, it experiences toasty temperatures year round. The high season, which the locals refer to as summer, lasts from late November to April. This time of year usually sees the most sunshine. Some argue that the best time to visit is during December and January because the scenery is still green from the wet season, but the rain has tapered off.

    The locals call the wet season winter and it usually runs from May to November. Certain regions see an increase in rainfall, making the landscape especially green and lush. Depending on the region, it may rain every day, but in other areas it could only pour for a few hours. If you’re looking to capitalize on the sunshine, the rainy season may not be the best time to visit.

    Lodging

    If you’re in search of an accommodation with everything on site, book a stay at one of the best resorts in Costa Rica. Many of these luxury places include multiple restaurants, beach access, and full-service spas. Some even boast several pool areas and recreational activities, such as tennis courts and watersport rentals.

    You’ll also find standard Costa Rica hotels that provide some of the same amenities on a smaller scale. Oftentimes, hotels in the area offer complimentary breakfasts, lounges, and computer stations to accommodate your travel needs. Check out our cheap deals on resorts and hotels right here with Expedia.com to keep your vacation within your budget.

    Things to Do

    Costa Rica boasts some of the world’s most diverse flora and fauna, and you can witness it all at the national parks scattered around the region. Explore the tropical rainforest at Corcovado National Park and hike the dormant volcano at the Arenal Volcano National Park. Manuel Antonio National Park is where you’ll catch sight of wild monkeys, while Barra Honda National Park includes caves of limestone. These parks usually offer a number of ecotourism activities that allow visitors to experience the landscape and support the conservation efforts.

    For warm sand and salty sea air, head to the shore. Costa Rica flaunts serene beaches, perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sunshine or making a splash in the ocean. Retreat to Playa Potrero and find shade under a palm tree, or discover peace and quiet along the tranquil shores of Samara. Hit the waves at Playa Avellana, aka Little Hawaii, which stirs up some of the best surf in the country, attracting surfers from around the globe. You can also stay at one of the resorts in Jaco, where you’ll find another sweet spot for surfing.

    Take a break from the beach scene and dedicate some time to learning about the Costa Rican culture. San Jose has a number of must-see exhibits, including the Costa Rica Art Museum, Costa Rica National Museum, and the Costa Rica Jade Museum. Discover Central America’s pre-Hispanic history at the Museum of Native Cultures in Sarapiqui, and don’t miss Heredia’s Museum of Popular Culture.

    Culture

    Baseball is to America what soccer is to Costa Rica. The English taught the sport to locals in the early 20th century, and Costa Ricans have been scoring goals ever since.

    Bullfighting is another sport close to Costa Ricans’ hearts. It’s considered the country’s Super Bowl, with the most famous fight occurring in Zapote each year. Unlike the Spanish version though, the fighters don’t kill the bulls. These bullfights involve the contestants dodging the animal and running around the arena, much like a rodeo.

    The Costa Rican people are also big fans of festivals. In early January, they host the Fiesta de Palmares, which is a massive carnival with parades, concerts, comedy shows, and bullfights. The Fiesta de Los Diablitos is another popular festival that celebrates the indigenous culture and their ancestral spirits. Meanwhile, Independence Day falls on September 15 and commemorates the country’s separation from Spanish rule. During this celebration, the streets are lined with paper lanterns, and the Freedom Torch is carried from Guatemala to Cartago, the colonial capital of Costa Rica.

    Food

    Gallo pinto, a black bean and rice dish, is a staple of Costa Rican cuisine. Usually it’s served with a side of meat, salad, and fried plantains. Ceviche is another favorite fare, which includes raw fish, often white sea bass, with lime juice and chopped vegetables. Tamales, chicharron, and empanadas are common meals, too. As for drinks, coffee is the backbone of the culture, while the sweet cinnamon drink, horchata, and the sugar cane drink, guaro, are popular, too.

    Sip on horchata and join one of the ecotours in Costa Rica. Visit during one of the major festivals to get a sense of the culture or escape to the serene shoreline for an unforgettable sojourn. Here at Expedia.com, we provide a variety of cheap deals on Costa Rica resorts and hotels. Book today get ready to take on this diverse destination.

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    Costa Rica Hotels
    Costa Rica Hotels

    Hotels in Guanacaste - North Pacific Coast

    Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort - Tamarindo Hotels
    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort

    Tamarindo Beach, Tamarindo - Map
     
     
    Hotel was great. Do yourself a favor and stay in town. Many people stayed at JW or Barcelo, and they are all too far from any towns. You can walk everywhere from here, and bring groceries, drinks etc to your room, NO PROBLEMS. Everyone was so nice, great stay! Stay on beach side, most fun!
    A Traveller
    Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort fronts a white-sand beach in a dry tropical forest of Costa Rica's Guanacaste province …More
    Hotel Pasatiempo - Tamarindo Hotels
    Rating: 3.0 Stars

    Hotel Pasatiempo

    Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo - Map
     
     
    "Convenient location close to the beach!"
    Only complaint was the A/C was leaking but everything was else was very pleasant.
    A Traveller
    Situated on the Strip, this hotel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Tamarindo Beach and within 12 mi (20 km) of Conchal Beach and …More
    Hotel Arco Iris - Tamarindo Hotels
    Rating: 3.0 Stars
    $130

    Hotel Arco Iris

    Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo - Map
     
     
    "A wonderful boutique hotel close minutes to town"
    Great hotel with an outstanding staff. Coco greeted us each morning with eggs, coffee, fresh fruit etc.. She was amazing! Francesco was very approachable and helpful. He always had a smile and provided information, towels and tons of personality. The hotel cleaners left our room sparkling each day and Richard, the owner, was great as well. My 15 year old son and myself hope to return on another trip. I would recommend this hotel for families with older children only ( see note below). This is a great place to stay and the staff goes out of its way to help whenever possible. The hotel has a restaurant located beside the pool which sounded fine; however, it was an inconvenience as we were unable to use a common area in the evening. If you have small children be aware of their behaviour during dinner hours ( no yelling , splashing etc).
    joscelyn from chilliwack, bc
    Situated near the airport, this hotel is 0.7 mi (1.2 km) from Tamarindo Beach and within 12 mi (20 km) of Conchal Beach and …More

    Hotels in San Jose

    Hotel Presidente - San Jose City Center, Costa Rica - San Jose Hotels
    Rating: 3.5 Stars
    $104

    Hotel Presidente - San Jose City Center, Costa Rica

    Avenida Central, Calle 7, San Jose - Map
     
     
    "Great hotel centrally located."
    Wonderful hotel and staff! It was just what we needed centrally located, great service, nice breakfast. I will stay here again and every time I visit San Jose.
    A Traveller
    Located in the heart of San Jose, this hotel is steps from Plaza de la Cultura, National Theater, and Gold Museum. Jade …More
    Hotel Luisiana - Santa Ana Hotels
    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    Hotel Luisiana

    100 west and 400 south from Cruz Roja, Santa Ana - Map
     
     
    "Great Find!"
    We stayed here in transit as a brief overnight. It is owned by an expat Italian who has created a peaceful compound in what appears to be a suburb. It's a bit quirky: the lobby is utilitarian with large signs announcing various rules, then you go into the courtyard where there are cars parked juxtaposed with an unexpectedly large pool, with the rooms along one side. The room was surprisingly large and pleasant with clean, modern decor and all the amenities including large screen TV, wireless and even free international calls (which we didn't avail ourselves to). We had dinner in the restaurant which was pricey (for 4 cost more than our hotel room) but food was good with large portions. Overall a great find.
    A Traveller
    A restful alternative to the busier resorts of Costa Rica, Hotel Luisiana is 10 minutes' drive from the international airport …More
    Best Western Irazu Hotel & Casino - San Jose Hotels
    Rating: 3.5 Stars
    $110

    Best Western Irazu Hotel & Casino

    General Canas Hwy KM3, San Jose - Map
     
     
    "Nice Hotel."
    Hasn't changed in years. Still a very nice place to stay In San Jose. Dennys is a real plus when you'r in a hurry.
    cs
    This family-friendly San Jose hotel is located near the airport, within 2 mi (3 km) of Estadio Nacional, Museum of Costa …More

    Hotels in Arenal Volcano Region

    Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort - Fortuna Hotels
    Rating: 4.5 Stars

    Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

    13 km oeste del centro, Fortuna - Map
     
     
    "Blissful and Heavenly"
    Most enjoyable, relaxing, and beautiful experience ever!!!
    Sharon from New Mexico
    Located in Arenal Hot Springs, this luxury resort is within 2 mi (3 km) of Arenal Natura Ecological Park, Baldi Hot Springs …More
    Volcano Lodge and Springs - Fortuna Hotels
    Rating: 3.0 Stars
    $261

    Volcano Lodge and Springs

    7 Km West From La Fortuna, Fortuna - Map
     
     
    "Great Hotel close to Hot Springs"
    The staff were extremely friendly at check in and check out. Breakfast was included - good variety. Grounds were well cared for. Nothing about this stay was disappointing.
    Barb from Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Located in Arenal Hot Springs, this spa hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Arenal Natura Ecological Park, Baldi Hot Springs, and …More
    Hotel El Silencio del Campo - Fortuna Hotels
    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    Hotel El Silencio del Campo

    5 Km West Of La Fortuna Central Park, Fortuna - Map
     
     
    "Beautiful tranquil grounds, great staff"
    This place is fantastic. I stayed here for 5 nights. The rooms are clean and big. All separate cottages. Lots of hot springs, great smoothies. The staff are very friendly. The food is good, especially the breakfast. The flowers and plants in the grounds are gorgeous. They put fruit on a couple tress to attract cool birds. I love this place! I would definitely stay here again if I was in Arenal/Fortuna.
    Margo from New York City
    Located in Arenal Hot Springs, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Baldi Hot Springs, Ecotermales Fortuna, and Ecoglide …More