British readers name Costa Rica the world’s best emerging destination

The annual Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards poll all the newspapers’ readership to select their favorite vacation settings.

From all of the world’s destinations, 270,000 people agree that Costa Rica is the best the planet has to offer. At least these were the results of the ninth edition of the Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards, where the small Central American nation was selected as the best emerging destination.

The 270,000 votes received were all from readers of the iconic British newspaper, and it included 12 categories and 120 different destinations. The rationale behind Costa Rica’s placing was the country’s well-documented commitment to sustainability, its myriad of potential outdoor activities, and the evergreen allure of the “pura vida” lifestyle. From its impressive collection of volcanoes and expansive rainforest ranges, to the most stunning tropical beaches and bustling biodiversity, Costa Rica really is its own world of wonders. The sheer diversity within the country’s relatively small area offers tourists a compact gateway towards unlimited adventure and relaxation.

The magazine readers also recommended some of the country’s best destinations, where national parks like Manuel Antonio, Corcovado and Tortuguero were all featured, as well as the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife refuge and the impressive setting that is Playa Conchal.

It comes as no surprise that so many British people favor Costa Rica’s enthralling natural beauty, since the United Kingdom is the country that sends most tourists to Costa Rica from all of those beyond the Atlantic, a number that will surely increase after such glowing recommendations

There’s no better time to visit Costa Rica than during the World Cup!

The ticos’ qualification means an extra enticement for those who arrive in the country during november and december of 2022. 

As the final whistle blew to finalize the game between Costa Rica’s football national team and New Zealand’s, the whole Central American nation felt a powerful roar of happiness and excitement. Once again, the ticos will be a part of soccer’s biggest tournament, qualifying to the edition of the World Cup that’ll be played in Qatar from November 21st to December 18th. 

Naturally, this fills the hearts of most Costa Rican citizens with joy and pride, as their soccer team has steadily become a constant fixture in the tournament ever since the early 2000s. But qualifying to a World Cup also means a huge boost for a country’s economy and social life. Restaurants see important rises in attendance while the games are on, usually promoting thematic offerings linked with the tournament, while retailers see a huge increase in TV and audio equipment sales; everybody wants to experience the thrills of the World Cup in the best way possible! 

As in most Latin American countries, soccer in Costa Rica is lived intensely, and in recent years the ticos’ celebrations have been well-documented internationally. Since the national team’s improbable success at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they advanced to the quarter finals until eventually losing in penalties to the Netherlands, congregations around San Pedro’s La Fuente de la Hispanidad have been a given whenever the Costa Rican squad reaches an important landmark. 

If you’re thinking of traveling to Costa Rica during winter in the northern hemisphere, you might also get the unforgivable experience of seeing a country fully synced to a sporting event, and the moving displays of passion that come from it. 

The US Travel Alert for Costa Rica goes back to a pre-pandemic level

The country’s stabilization in terms of Covid-19 means more tourism is soon to be expected from the country’s biggest market. 

The initial waves of the Covid-19 pandemic shook by storm the tourism and services industry. In the blink of an eye, staying inside and avoiding travel became a sanitary need, and the whole world was put on hold for a couple of months. With a better grasp of how the virus behaves, and the widespread accessibility of tools for its detection and avoidance, most industries have slowly come back to where they once were, and in some cases, the new trends that came with the pandemic actually helped establish a more effervescent growth. 

Such is the case for travel in Costa Rica, which with the advent of digital nomads and the newfound excitement for international travel has come back with historic numbers. Just recently, The U.S. Department of State has brought even more good news for the service industry. 

During the worst part of the Covid-19 pandemic, this governmental organ instated a travel advisory of level 4 alert for most countries where the virus was running rampant. That meant the highest degree of caution was recommended, and travel was not encouraged. For many years, the United States has represented the most important market for tourism in Costa Rica, and even if things were stabilizing in recent months, that level of prevention meant a hiccup for an economy seeking reactivation after some harsh years. But things are changing for the better. 

The U.S. Department of State has just reinstated Costa Rica’s level to 2 out of 4, meaning it’s now back to the level the country was before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to data for the first quarter of the year that was disclosed by the tourism sector, in which nearly 80% of the visitation numbers from pre-pandemic times were achieved, things look encouraging for Costa Rica’s main economic activity. 

Experience the highlights of nature documentaries in real life

For many years now, Costa Rica has been one of the preferred locations for scientists, filmmakers and TV producers that focus on biodiversity and natural history. 

Be it the legendary voice of British natural historian and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, or the iconic baritone of former United States President Barack Obama, Costa Rica’s natural wonders have been praised and examined in an almost immeasurable amount of ways over the years, and perhaps the most engrossing of all of these have been nature documentaries. 

From a vast back catalog of Natural Geographic specials fully devoted to some of Costa Rica’s most impressive biodiversity hotspots, to the new advent of the format via streaming services, this Central American nation has fully cemented itself as one of the most visually and aurally enthralling corners of the globe for some time now. And as technology in video recording advances, the country’s wide array of motions and textures have never been better depicted. 

In the BBC-Netflix joint production of Life in Color, cameras with revolutionary color-capturing technology were created specifically for the project, in order to depict some of the colors invisible to the human eye and how they play a vital part in rich ecosystems such as Costa Rica’s rainforest. 

Netflix’s Our Great National Parks plays with slow motion and breathtaking drone shots to contrast the beautiful and vast landscapes of the natural world with some of its stunning inner secrets, such as the infamous habitat that is the Costa Rican sloth’s fur. 

The locations and species featured on these works have become so popular that many of the country’s tourist offers have incorporated them into their repertory. From night tours to live first hand the miraculous turtle nesting, to fun trips to sloth reserves, the great thing is that Costa Rica’s natural attractions are so vast and varied that there’ll always be something new to discover. 

So if you’re a fan of nature documentaries, there’s no better time to create your bucket list, search for a comfortable rental option, and see for yourself what has enamored scientists, filmmakers and TV producers for decades. 

Costa Rica reclaims its throne as Central America’s concert hotspot

During the 2010s Costa Rica became Central America’s hotspot for international shows. Its well-recorded sociopolitical stability, cultural affinity to US culture, and status as one of the globe’s main sustainability ambassadors, made the country the best suited destination to represent the region in the biggest pop stars’ world tours. It all started with hard rock luminaries Iron Maiden and Metallica, but soon Gen-X favorites like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Green Day followed suit, and by the mid-decade classic rock legends like Elton John, Paul McCartney and Roger Waters,  and young effervescent stars like Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, where all part of Costa Rica’s healthy roster of year-long mega-spectacles. 

Naturally, all that stopped in 2020 with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and its heavy toll on the concert industry. Slowly but steadily, local venues began to open again, and by March the concert agenda finally started to get crowded once again. Just in these first couple weeks of 2022 big name artists like Bad Bunny, Coldplay, Ex-One Direction Louis Tomlinson and Karol G have all confirmed dates, and the expectation is for many more to be announced in the coming months.

Costa Rica’s modern Estadio Nacional is one of Central America’s best concert venues.

One of the main advantages Costa Rica has in the booking department is how easy the pitch is to lure international stars. Coldplay, the band that’ll kickstart the country’s comeback as Central America’s concert hotspot, decided to open their tour here, and that gave them extra time to relax and explore many of the nation’s breathtaking natural attractions. The reason that this iconic British band decided on such a small nation to start off their world tour isn’t just a random occurrence either, as the country’s renewable electric network and 99% clean renewable energy percentage mirrored Coldplay’s well-documented environmental activism. 

It was reported that lead singer Chris Martin arrived a whopping full two-weeks before the concert dates, giving himself plenty of time to immerse himself in Costa Rica’s many allures, and that has been the case before with other world-class stars who take the opportunity to sneak for a quick beach getaway or mountain adventure. Some, like Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Enrique Iglesias (who have both played multiple times in the country) even go a step further, and end up buying property for their tropical hideaway after a long tour. 

If you’re a passionate music lover who also has a penchant for tropical lifestyle, you might want to follow the steps of the artists and begin planning your concert escapade around a nice, relaxing vacation. 

Our Tour Experience with Quepos Canyoning

One of our favorite tours, which offers a perfect combination of nature and adrenaline, is the waterfall rappelling tour by Quepos Canyoning. The tour begins with a 20-minute ride from the company office in Quepos to the town of Villa Nueva, where the company base camp is located. Here the guides will fit you with the gear you need for your trek–safety harness, helmet, belts and clips.

From base camp, it is another 15-minute ride, in an open air 4wd vehicle, over hilly unpaved roads, to the tour starting point. First a short, uphill hike through thick rainforest, until you arrive at the first platform. To reach the 30-foot high platform, you must climb a suspension ladder. But safety comes first, and you are secure during the climb, thanks to your safety harness. Once atop the platform, you take the first of 2 ziplines, soaring over the forest canopy. Then comes a new challenge– a 25-meter cable walk. This is done at your own pace, as you are walking across a single suspension cable, but with shoulder high support cables on each side to assist you. And of course, you are secured by belts in case you slip along the way.

Then you arrive at the summit of the waterfall. This is the tour highlight, a 75-foot descent, alongside and then through a refreshing waterfall, until you arrive at the pool at the base. After some snacks and water, a brief hike to the final zipline, and then the final thrill, the ‘’monkey drop’’ where you are suspended out about 25-feet in the air, and then do a controlled free-fall to the pool below.

All activities during the tour are done with the assistance of the professional, English-speaking guides, and always with the use of safety belts and harnesses to prevent injury.

The Quepos Canyoning tour is recommended for all ages (the guides informed us that the oldest person to go on the tour was a 91-year old woman); as long as you are reasonably fit, have no issues with mobility, nor fear of heights. A Costa Rica style lunch is included once the tour ends. This tour is recommended for outdoor enthusiasts and is suitable for 10 years of age and up.

Start Of Fishing Tournament Season 2021-2022

November kickstarts the beginning of the fishing tournament season at Marina Pez Vela.

Dorado Derby is the 1st of the tournament season, a one-day tournament designed for those of us who like fishing but who aren’t real fishing junkies and/or professional anglers. Dorado Derby has been so successful in the past, that the marina decided to start a second non-related date for the tournament called Dorado Derby Dos. This year, they will take place on November 13th and November 20th respectively. 

The Dorado Derbys are always super fun, easy going tournaments with tons of participation from many foreigners and residents and both local and outside boats. Many boats head to the area from Marina Los Sueños in Herradura and many other spots in and out of the country.

Dorado is the word in Spanish for mahi mahi, and since this fish is in season during the month of November, rarely ever does a boat come to shore empty handed. This competition is also a great opportunity to get to know the area, and get a good idea of what the following months will be like for fishing; and of course, you can catch the most delicious and freshest fish while having fun.

Marina Pez Vela doesn’t have any tournaments in the month of December due to the holidays and other celebrations but the beautiful Bright Lights Boat Parade happens at the beginning of the month. 

January will arrive with the world-renowned Pelagic Rockstar Offshore Tournament. This competition lasts for 3 days and offers over one million dollars in cash, prizes and overall awards, granting it the label of “Central America’s Largest & Richest Fishing Tournament”. In 2022 the tournament will be held from January 14th to the 16th. 

February features the one-day Rooster Rodeo tournament on February 5th, followed by the Pescadora Billfish Championship, a 2-day ladies-only competition that takes place from February 17th to the 19th.

March offers the 1 day Sailfish Slam, which this year will take place on March 5th.

April is one of the busiest and most competitive months of the year for fishing at Marina Pez Vela. From April 22nd to the 23rd the Marina Pez Vela Open will be held and later on the same month from the 24th to the 30th the Offshore World Championship will follow. 

June will see the last of the tournaments with the one-day Summer Solstice Shootout happening on the 18th.

Costa Rica offers great year round fishing with mahi mahi, tuna, sails, marlin and more coming in season at different times but with most available year round. This is shaping up to be a memorable fishing year and we hope to see you here. Tight lines!

3 Reasons Why Thanksgiving in Costa Rica Is Better Than At Home

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday celebrated during a great time of the year. The foliage outside changes colors, your friends and family gather around and travel for the celebration. Holidays like Christmas and New Years are right around the corner and everyone is in a celebratory mood. Everything is a go, everything feels like a great occasion; its a celebration to get together, enjoy those we love and be thankful for all that we’ve got. Thanksgiving is so beloved that it’s certainly one of those holidays that other cultures have embraced and are now celebrating around the world. Costa Rica is no exception. Thanksgiving is truly wonderful, but is it really…? Here are 3 reasons why Thanksgiving is better in Costa Rica than it would be at home.

Less slaving away in the kitchen

No one likes cooking large family meals when they’re on vacation, so most likely this would be one of the first if not the first Thanksgiving that you are not slaving away cooking every single signature dish for this particular holiday. You can choose one of two great options: a) get an in-house chef service. Treat yourself to a personal chef cooking for you and your party. You can choose to get a traditional Thanksgiving dinner or completely change the setting and the tradition by going a whole other direction like a tropical seafood dinner. Or b) you can go and enjoy the traditional turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie and much more at one of the many local restaurants that serve the indulgent Thanksgiving foods on this day. 

You will skip the “annoying relative” questioning

It’s about time you have a boyfriend, isn’t it? When are you getting married? When are you going to have kids? Have you put on weight? Oh my God, you look too skinny, what have you been doing? Are you eating well? Let’s be honest, whether it’s your aunt, someone’s spouse or sometimes even grandma, we all have that one relative who likes to ask very personal and sometimes even, very inappropriate questions. Well, this is your chance to skip that! What better excuse to skip your family dinner than to say: “I’m sorry but I’m going to be in Costa Rica and will not be able to join you this year”. Skip the family drama, questioning and even that dreadful drive; while everyone else is going through the troubles of family celebrations you can be laying on a beach sipping on some margaritas and snacking on the freshest ceviche. 

The weather would be wonderful

You may be one of those lucky people who loves cooking large meals and who also won the genetic lottery when it comes to drama-free celebrations but your weather will never be as good as Costa Rican weather. Late November weather in Costa Rica is truly one of the best, the rainy season is coming to an end so there aren’t as many showers but the atmosphere stays cooler, everything is luscious green so it’s a great time to experience the tropical forests and fauna of the country and even though “high season” is approaching, it’s still not nearly as crowded as December through April are going to be.

With no intention to sound like that annoying relative who asks too many questions, we just have one for you… What are you waiting for? Visit Costa Rica this coming Thanksgiving. It will be an experience you will not regret! We will take care of everything for you, from your accommodations to your transportation, chef and tours.

Where to watch American sports in Quepos?

Americans are big sports fans. Real fans can be so hardcore that a few are willing to give up traveling, dinner out or even some family time in order for them not to miss the game. This can make it challenging for parties to travel outside of the US since some restaurants and/or rentals don’t broadcast some important games. Well, you do not have to worry about that here in Quepos. Here are 3 places to watch major US sports games:

Double Hook

This sports bar is located at the world-renowned Marina Pez Vela. Not only does it have a great view of the ocean for sunsets, it’s surrounded by many TVs so you don’t ever miss out on the action from any angle. In this spot you can find the majority of dishes that you would find at most American bars, like fried pickles, wings, quesadillas, chilli fries, etc.

Bar Jolly Roger

The specialty of this bar, located in Manuel Antonio, are wings. There are over 20 different sauce flavors for you to choose from, all while enjoying the game in one of their 2 screens. Make sure to try their hot honey garlic or their troubadour sauces if you’re a fan of spicy. If you’re not a big fan of wings, they also serve burgers, pizza and some other grub. Make sure to try one of their signature drinks like their bohemian, a gin-based drink with strawberries and jalapeño peppers.

Bar El 506

This dive bar in downtown Quepos is a favorite of the local expats. The deli food they serve is great with everything from pastrami sandwiches to home-smoked bacon BTLs. It’s a fully air-conditioned space and so you don’t have to worry about the tropical Costa Rican atmosphere making you sweat, leaving your focus only on the heat of the game.

Lastly, an event worth mentioning on this list and not to miss if you’re in Quepos for the Super Bowl. Marina Pez Vela always hosts a giant screen in the mid plaza for the big game. Chilli dogs, beer and other food is served in little stands placed around the marina.

It’s a great experience and a fun place to watch it as your background view is the many yachts and generally a sunset. You can sit under the stars or enjoy the game sitting from one of the 4 restaurants’ balconies.

Start packing your bags, now you have all the information you need not to miss any of your favorite team’s games.

What to do in Quepos/Manuel Antonio on a Pandemic Friday?

The pandemic has changed life for us all in many ways, from the way we travel to the way we shop and socialize. Since the pandemic started, Costa Rica has been working hard to prevent the spread of the disease from large vaccination campaigns (with so far 67.21% already vaccinated [1] ) to migration of certain services into online systems. Restrictions for driving and business operation times have also been imposed, currently restricting cars to drive one day during the weekdays and one of the weekend days, and for driving and places only being able to do so between 5am and 9pm. Driving restrictions do not apply for rental cars. So what do you do on a Friday now?

Don’t worry! There are still many things to do in the area that will allow you to enjoy the local scene, gorgeous views and overall beauty that makes Manuel Antonio the magnificent place that it is. Here are a few of our favorites places to hit this coming Friday:

Farmers Market

One of the nicest things to do on a Friday afternoon is to visit the local farmers market. It’s held in downtown Quepos and you can go as early as 3pm. Here you can spot many tropical fruits and vegetables that are endemic to Latin America, and the best, they taste incredible! Forget the bland flavors of the fruit you might have encountered back at home, here you can find the fruit freshly picked and naturally ripened, it will be like nothing you have ever tasted before.

The produce is available depending on the season, and so even when having visited the market before, you might encounter on your next visit a fruit or vegetable that you might have not tasted or even seen before.

There are many shops that sell products other than produce, like the Menonite stand that sells the traditional Pennsylvania-Dutch whoopie pies, apple pies, granola, goat milk’s yogurt and homemade peanut butter; the German butcher stand who sells grass-fed-hormone-free meats like ribeye, prosciutto and wursts, and you can even buy a freshly made German hot dog with horseradish mustard right from the butcher; the cheese stand that sells locally made cheese and many souvenir jewelry and clothes.

Make sure not to miss this experience and don’t worry if you can’t make it on Friday, it’s held until Saturday morning, but make sure to get there early so you don’t miss some of the stands who run out of product or leave earlier.

Cafe Agua Azul

This spot is worth visiting for either lunch or dinner. Our recommendation since the pandemic, is to go here for lunch. One, it’s less busy than their dinner service so you won’t risk not being sitted or having to wait too long (they do not take reservations) and two, you can spot the incredible view that the place has to offer and eat some of the best food in Manuel Antonio.

Make sure to try their calamari appetizer, the tuna or shrimp tower or their delicious pollo napolitano.

If you’re not in the mood for food but some good drinks, make sure to try their amazing passion fruit margaritas or Paige’s monster drink. They also have happy hour specials so make sure to ask them for those.

Ape Bar

This chic and eclectic bar has an amazing atmosphere and even better food! It’s just a short walk from Café Agua Azul and so you can easily move from one place to another. Most Friday nights they have a DJ (or great music) and it’s open from 6pm on to 9pm (in non pandemic times it was 2am -oh the good old times!).

If you’re a fan of decadent yet affordable food, you are going to love this place! Make sure to try their cheese bourekas, vegetarian carpaccio, dolmas (rice stuffed grape leaves) or Moroccan cigars. All the dishes are designed for sharing so you can start with at least a few and go from there.

Drinks here are also tasty and they have plenty of options, from top shelf whiskey to whiskey sours and delicious mojitos.

Yes, the pandemic has certainly made the nightlife of Manuel Antonio a bit slower and earlier but certainly not dull, there’s still plenty of cool fun things to do in town. Make sure to give these recommendations a try.

1 As of October 4th, 2021