Costa Rica borders Nicaragua and Panama in Central America. The land is rich in natural beauty and wildlife and offers a variety of adventures. Whether it is visiting the Butterfly Gardens, hiking on one of many jungle trails in the rainforests, overlooking Poas Volcano's mile-wide crater or surfing the Pacific Ocean, your trip to Costa Rica will leave you mystified with its natural treasures. Valid passports are a must.
Traveling independently, you can position yourself in San Jose, or nearby, and take day trips to several attractions. Tours can be arranged at your hotel. Many attractions are an hour or two away in all directions. Costa Rica claims both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Jaco Beach on the Pacific side is a haven for surfers and volcanic black sandy beaches.
A minimum of a seven-day trip is highly recommended if you are going to get the full enjoyment out of this great country. Jeeps are available for rental; however, whenever exploring on your own, always use caution and common sense.
The food in Costa Rica is not what you would imagine. They have plenty of fresh vegetables, tasty meats and fish, and the most wonderful "garlic soup" ever.
Gambling is permitted, however, this is no "Las Vegas." Be sure to bring your binoculars and cameras, and most of all, the proper footwear. Flying time from Central Florida is three hours and 15 minutes, if you are lucky to get a direct flight. Most flights require a connection in Miami. Airline tickets range in price from $350-$450.
There are several escorted tours available, which include all your meals, hotels, tour guides, local transportation between sights, tours and more.
No planning is required on your part. You will enjoy this relaxing tour, which begins in San Jose, located in the central part of Costa Rica. Most hotel stays are two nights. From this location, you will visit Poas Volcano, Plaza de la Cultura, Central Park and the National Theatre. The National Museum is also located in San Jose.
Anywhere you travel throughout Costa Rica, you will encounter amazing waterfalls, exotic birds, many colorful species of butterflies and wildlife local to the region.
On your way to Tortuguero, take a ride on the aerial tram through the heart of the rainforest and cruise through the rivers and canal of Tortuguero National Park. Have your binoculars and camera ready to capture a picture of wild toucans, parrots or the rare green macaw. On your canal cruise, watch for the white-faced monkeys and green iguanas.
On your way to San Carlos, Fortuna, located in the North Central part of Costa Rica, you can walk across a 300-foot-long suspension bridge over a jungle river. Visit the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, home of many migratory birds, spider monkeys and web-footed water-walking lizards. After spending time in the quaint village of Fortuna, enjoy a restful soak in the volcanic hot springs. If you're lucky, that evening you may get a glimpse of nearby Arenal Volcano's glowing lava flow.
Heading southwest, we arrive at Jaco, located on the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy swimming at one of the beautiful beaches and easy hiking through the nearby jungle, home of the playful squirrel monkeys. Visit the metallic church of Grecia and on to Sarchi, where you can purchase the famed colorful, handcrafted ox carts in all sizes. Sample Costa Rican coffee and drive through the Carara Biological Reserve, Carara meaning "river of crocodiles."
Costa Rica is a land natural beauty, and attracts "Nature Lovers" from around the world.
Pat Kelley is owner of Port Orange Travel. She can be reached at (386) 788-3990 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.