Embrace Costa Rica’s Coastal Richness

Costa Rica’s Independence Month tends to be a great spotlight for the myriad of national customs and traditions that make this small Central American nation such an alluring setting. Most of the time, Costa Rican identity is constructed around the iconography imported from the Nicoya Peninsula and the agricultural history of the country, which merits their acknowledgment but aren’t the only kind of expressions the ticos know about.

The Pacific coastline stretches way beyond the Northern province of Guanacaste, boasting in Puntarenas a captivating tapestry of experiences and traditions that’s underrepresented in the national consciousness. For example, architectural enthusiasts will have a hard time finding better examples of Victorian coastal buildings than Puntarenas, with its iconic pier and many prominent houses from the earlier half of the 20th Century. This comes in conjunction with the older colonial buildings from the 19th Century, which are mainly seen in churches and cathedrals in the Spanish fort-like construction.

In terms of music, Puntarenas boasts a blend of folk colonial music intertwined with the Colombian cumbia and the “tambito generaleño” from San Jose’s Southern communities. It’s very tropical in texture and blends perfectly with the festive aura that permeates the summer carnivals and colorful parades.

Perhaps one of the ticos’ favorite reasons to visit Puntarenas is experiencing its culinary delights, which mainly revolve around seafood. Combining pre-Hispanic indigenous diets, Spanish colonial cuisine, and immigrant contributions. Ceviche is the area’s signature dish, featuring diced fish, chucheca, or shrimp marinated in lime juice, mixed with onions, sweet pepper, cilantro, and salt. It’s served cold with crackers, boiled green plantains, or “patacones.” Variations may include vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, Tabasco, or mayonnaise. Other seafood dishes include whole-fried fish, grilled lobster, and various preparations with garlic or butter. Soups are prepared with shrimp or seafood, and traditional African-influenced dishes like “vigorón” (cracklings with cabbage and cassava) showcase Puntarenas’ unique flavors. Local beverages include “resbaladera” (rice and cinnamon drink), tamarindo, coconut water (“agua de pipa”), horchata, and more. For dessert, there isn’t something as iconic as the legendary “granizados,” an icy treat featuring shaved ice, syrup, powdered milk, and condensed milk, particularly the local favorite “Churchil”, a popular variety with added ice cream for which Costa Ricans nationwide have visited the coast to try for generations.

This is just a small sample of the kind of cultural delights that abound in Puntarenas and the Pacific coast’s heritage, another element that enrichens Costa Rica as a multicultural and diverse destination and makes this popular area a must-visit, even beyond its paradisiacal beaches and astonishing national parks. 

Prepare for the whale-watching season in one of Costa Rica’s definitive destinations

Costa Rica’s coastal splendor is celebrated globally, as it encompasses some of the most incredible, verdant rainforests and pristine beaches the world has to offer. Yet, the allure of this tropical paradise extends beyond its scenic landscapes all the way beneath the waves, as witnessed during the annual whale watching season.

Spanning from August to October, this is the best time of the year to glimpse nature’s grandeur. Humpback whales, undertaking their migration from the Arctic’s chilly waters to Costa Rica’s warmer environs, make these coastal waters their temporary residence. Seeing these colossal beings breaching and playing is an experience that holds itself in memory, a testament to their majestic power.

For those looking for a hub for their marine adventures, Quepos and Manuel Antonio emerge as prime destinations for this annual spectacle. Situated on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, these areas boast attributes that enrich the whale-watching journey. One of these features is how the waters around these tourist hotspots harbor a multitude of marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and colorful fishes.

Additionally, both Quepos and Manuel Antonio uphold a steadfast dedication to responsible tourism. Many local tour operators adhere to stringent guidelines to minimize disturbances to the whales and their habitats. This eco-conscious approach lets visitors relish the spectacle while nurturing the fragile ecosystem and even provides an abundance of natural diversions beyond the whale-watching exploration, like the rich biodiversity of Manuel Antonio National Park or other water-centric adventures like snorkeling and kayaking.

With their captivating landscapes, eco-conscious ethos, and unparalleled amenities, this iconic area of Costa Rica’s Central Pacific shines as an exceptional setting to witness these gentle giants in their native habitat.

Electric car usage grows in Costa Rica

As a new example of the country’s leading role in ecological causes, its population has begun seeing the benefits of alternative energy sources for their vehicles.

Costa Rica’s pioneering role in Latin America’s sustainable development has come by way of a multi-layered effort in areas such as conservation, renewable energies and carbon emission reduction. Transportation, however, has been one of the area’s that this small Central American nation hasn’t fully addressed. As plans for an urban electric train faltered, however, a new silver lining for eco-friendly alternatives emerged from data regarding electric car usage.

The adoption of electric mobility is on the rise in Costa Rica as showcased by an steady increase in the number of electric vehicles on tico roads. What were only 282 units in 2011 have now reached nearly 9000 in 2023. Just between 2022 and 2023 growth has been exponential, increasing by around 2300 registered vehicles. The accelerated pace is showing no signs of stopping soon, as the first semester of 2023 has seen 2375 electric cars registered in the country, a number that trumps the entire amount for 2022.

The reasons behind this surprising trend are plentiful. Naturally, one of the main guiding factors are environmental concerns, a discursive thread that’s particularly important to a country that relies on its engrossing natural landscapes for its tourism economy and international appeal. More pragmatic reasons algo come into the fold, particularly when the country has made an active effort to incentivize alternative transportation methods since the start of its ambitious decarbonization plan. Acquiring an electric vehicle in Costa Rica comes with important fiscal benefits not warranted to normal cars.

Beyond Costa Rica, the accessibility of electric vehicles has also made a great impact on the number of owners, as what were once seen as luxury items are now a real possibility for a wider range of people. As long as these kinds of automobiles are within striking distance of the cost of a normal car, many will see the added benefit of its complementary perks and tax exemptions.

Costa Rica isn’t an outlier in this camp. International trends are now in full motion, with the European Union announcing their cease of combustion engine vehicle sales by 2035, an audacious plan followed by different US states and Latin American nations like Chile.

As the transition to electric mobility is gaining momentum, Costa Rica looks to maintain its standing in the forefront of sustainable innovation and green causes, a position that complements the nation’s ethos, but also benefits the whole world.

A new project looks to maximize Costa Rica’s wind power

A joint effort between Costa Rica’s Institute of Electricity and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration looks to expand the country’s renewable energy options.

Costa Rica’s international image has always been linked to its unparalleled natural allure. From its paradisiacal beaches to its lush rainforests and mystic volcanoes, this small Central American nation shines as one of the world’s main ecological bastions. In recent years, this green abundance has gone beyond its role as a scenic backdrop for unforgettable tourist experiences and become more central to the country’s strategic planning, particularly its commitment towards clean energy generation.

The country has been a pioneer in renewable resources since its hydroelectric plants became its main power source in the first half of the 20th Century, and given its incredible natural conditions, it’s no surprise to see other alternative energies becoming a big part of the nation’s future plans. Recently, the historic Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) has joined efforts with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) to analyze the potential eolic energy generation in the country’s North Pacific region.

Both institutions are conducting studies that will serve as a foundation for future electricity production from wind power. The idea is to collect data about oceanic, socioeconomic, and environmental information that could potentially help with the development of infrastructure that makes the most out of these conditions. It is projected that these studies will be concluded by November of this year.

As part of the research tasks, the meteorological conditions of the region have been carefully evaluated through a  monitoring system using buoys and satellites. The investigation is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team of international specialists under the guidance of Offshore Wind Consultants. The ICE, in collaboration with national academia, public organizations, and coastal-related NGOs have been actively supporting this endeavor as an essential part of the country’s role as a regional leader in sustainable development.

By capitalizing on the power of its coastal winds, Costa Rica has the potential to diversify its energy mix, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance economic growth in rural communities. The country continues setting a shining example for other countries in the region and beyond as it illustrates that a sustainable future can be achievable and economically advantageous even for developing nations.

Costa Rica welcomes nearly a million tourists in the first months of 2023.

The tico’s visitation numbers are now virtually on par with their pre-pandemic showings.

What in many countries could be seen as merely another number in a boring government quarterly notice, in Costa Rica becomes a very important barometer of the nation’s wellbeing. Since the Costa Rican central industry is services and tourism, the visitation numbers from each quarter are essential to not only identify current trends, but also project the rest of the year from an economic perspective. 

The most recent report from Costa Rica’s Tourism Institute (ICT, for its Spanish acronym) shows that the country received 968,000 tourists in the first 4 months of 2023. This number nearly equals the 974,000 of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.

As surprise to none, the United States continues to be the main market demographic for the ticos, with a whopping 536,000 visitors, actually surpassing data from 2019. After the US, the next main influx of tourists comes from France, surprisingly Europe’s top market, and other Old World nations like the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada for North America. Additionally, Peru and Chili are the main Latin American countries sending tourists to Costa Rica.

All of the aforementioned countries have increased their visitation numbers from 2019, with only other Latin American countries like Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico representing a decrease. The increase in direct flight offerings both to the Juan Santamaria Airport and the Guanacaste Airport in Liberia have been an important factor linked to the country’s current upwards trend. The growth of Guanacaste’s Airport in particular has diversified routes and provided tourists with an even more appealing and direct way of reaching the most popular tico destinations in the Gold Coast. This quadrimester, that meant 315,000 international arrivals, nearly a 16% increase from 2019.

As Costa Rica’s tourism infrastructure continues to develop, and more and more world-class investments come to the country, the comforts and conveniences offered to international visitors will only grow, meaning there still room to grow in the future from what’s an already strong showing, even by the high standards of the country’s high season during the summer months.

Two new plant species are discovered in Costa Rica

This is a new reminder that this small Central American nation is one of the planet’s most bountiful ecological settings.

Costa Rica is known internationally as one of the world’s most abundant corners in terms of biodiversity. Be it its enchanting mountain areas like Chirripó, Irazú, and Poas, its immersive tropical jungles all around the country, or the paradisiacal beaches on both coasts, this small Central American nation is truly a treasure trove for nature lovers worldwide.

Bird-watching tours, whale sighting adventures, and a myriad of activities devoted to plant lovers are all just glimpses of how Costa Rica shares its blessed environs with visitors. And the thing is, no matter when or where you explore Costa Rica, there’s always something new to discover, another natural spectacle waiting to manifest itself. A clear example is the recent discovery of two new plant species in the country: the Sternospemation coques and Ilex hamelii. 

These plants are endemic to Isla del Coco and the Guanacaste mountain range, respectively, but draw interest in the country as a whole. Just how many other nations can casually announce these relevant scientific discoveries from two independent investigations, in two different areas of the country? After being peer-reviewed by some of the most prestigious scientists in the world, the announcement of each one of these discoveries came by way of recent publications released almost side-by-side, which naturally garnered attention once again to what’s widely considered to be one of Earth’s oasis.

Given Costa Rica’s continued commitment towards preservation and conservation areas, as well as the importance of its national parks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to continue seeing more and more of these breakthroughs happening in the country. After all, ecotourism has grown in popularity in the last decade, elevating the country even more as an unmissable destination. 

A new law looks to establish Costa Rica as a top filming destination

Building from a storied tradition and the current victory lap of Costa Rican cinema internationally, the recently signed legislation is a way to dynamize local economies

The misty mountains and dead forests around Turrialba, the moon-like, barren lands at the top of Irazú’s viewpoint, the dense and uncharted jungles and diverse national parks of the Central and Southern Pacific, and the paradisiacal beaches of the Gold Coast are just some of the many cinematic sights that can be found in Costa Rica. After all, the country’s reputation as a natural oasis comes precisely from its wide array of settings within a relatively small area. Many different experiences can be had in Costa Rica, be it as a thrill-seeking adventurer, or simply as an exotic background for your rest and relaxation.

This fact has been taken into account by Hollywood on different occasions, using the ticos’ blessed corner of the Earth to represent untamed wilderness in Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002), and M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth (2013), just to name some of the higher profile features filmed in the country.

Additionally, Costa Rica has been of particular note on the international festival landscape recently, with productions from tico talent like Valentina Maurel’s Tengo Sueños Eléctricos (2022),  Nathalie Alvárez’s Clara Sola (2021), and Antonella Sudassassi’s El Despertar de las Hormigas (2019) playing and awarded in some of the world’s premiere audiovisual showcases like Cannes, Berlinale, and Locarno, among others.

Recently, a 2021 law was approved to make the most out of this historic period of visibility, and bring more international investment to the country. Called the Law of Filmic Investment Attraction, this legislation creates incentives for international productions to use the country as a filming location, such as tax exonerations and importation of goods during the shoot.

When a film production takes place, the economy of the location is suddenly dynamized, with crew, cast and production members all using the rental, service, and nourishment options while filming, bringing a healthy influx of cash to the community in question. The idea is that this law will put Costa Rica at the forefront of filming location options in the region, highlighting the country’s renowned natural richness, stability and high-grade professionals.

Costa Rica is the perfect wedding destination

Boasting all the pillars needed for the perfect ceremony, this small Central American nation shines bright as the place to be when exchanging vows.

The vibrant waters of the Pacific coast as an almost angelic backdrop. White sands that perfectly complement the bride’s dress. An unforgettable tropical party in a truly paradisiacal environment. Just by going through these images, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica has become a well-known wedding destination. Can you really imagine a more scenic tropical setting for your wedding pictures?

In terms of pure photographic potential, Costa Rica not only hosts its celebrated natural wonders, but the very essence of its climate is also a plus within the area. Luminous landscapes and blue skies tend to be the norm during the summer months, so even if you decide for one of the mountain destinations the country offers, it’ll most probably be just the right set of circumstances.

The country also has the benefit of a robust and apparently ever growing tourism infrastructure, which really sets it apart from other wedding destinations. In Costa Rica, the high education level within the service industry, and the amount of years established as one of the world’s definitive tropical vacation spots, means there’s already a reference and a history you can look back to. After all, unless you have a very specific vision for your big night, an integral part of a destination wedding is also the guests’ experience, and Costa Rica is more than prepared for demanding and large groups of all kinds.

Be it an intimate and atmospheric immersion on the misty mountainside of a volcano, or embracing the vividness of the tropical beach, Costa Rica is as picturesque a setting as you can find, while also certifying your dream day with an internationally renowned stability and preparedness for visitors.

Retiring in Costa Rica

The idea of flocking to greener pastures during our twilight years has been deeply ingrained in society for ages. Be it leaving town for a secluded cabin in the woods like in the old days, or flying to a warmer climate and more accessible setting with the advent of commercial aviation, migration is something everyone eventually considers as they approach the time for retirement.

Since the United States’ economic boom of the 1950s, a golden age for international travel quickly reconfigured the reach of retiree planning, and Costa Rica has been one of the prime beneficiaries. With the country’s initial steps towards tourism infrastructure and development in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a pioneering set of individuals saw too many perks in tropical paradise, and decided to establish themselves there. These initial expat communities laid the groundwork for the country’s ever growing popularity amongst North American visitors, to the point of being, by far, Costa Rica’s biggest economic asset, both in terms of the tourism industry and growing foreign investment.

Why Costa Rica specifically? Well, this small Central American nation’s astonishing natural beauty has been well documented, boasting pristine beaches, virgin jungles, exotic wildlife, towering volcanoes, green valleys, clear lakes and rivers, and an unparalleled biodiversity. The climate is also a big draw for many, having temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius year-round, and compiling different kinds of atmospheres in short distances. In an hour, you can easily enjoy the best of urban comforts, traverse the scenic mountainside, and reach the iconic paradisiacal beaches that bless the country.

But inspite of its alluring, off-the-grid feel, Costa Rica also has a robust net of conveniences ready to please any lifestyle. One of the most acclaimed is the tico public healthcare system, a highly celebrated and readily accessible option for every resident. Costa Rica also enjoys from a political stability that’s sadly a rare sight in the region.

With an already established expat community spread all around the country, and the unique features that make Costa Rica the quintessential tropical destination, there’s hardly a better place where to lay back and enjoy the inherent wellness I’d the pura vida lifestyle. 

Costa Rica is one of the world’s best January destinations

Travel & Leisure, the prestigious US-based magazine highlights the country’s wonderful summer weather, and wide array of potential activities.

Costa Rica is a fabulous destination basically year-round, but it’s no surprise that the country’s high-season begins around the months of November and December, up until April. The reason is twofold, as this is where the country’s summer season begins, offering fresh breezes in December, and wonderful sunny days throughout the next months. The feared tropical rains only start popping up around May, so your outdoor activities should be safer if you decide to visit Costa Rica during this stretch.

Coincidentally, Costa Rica’s high tourist season is in great part due to the winter months in the Northern hemisphere. As the great cities of Europe and North America begin their descent towards freezing temperatures and layers and layers of clothing, people in the tropics are still rocking shorts and a tank top. Such a contrast makes a nice escapade towards warmer latitudes a common vacation plan for many

Taking all these into account, it makes perfect sense that Costa Rica appears as one Travel & Leisure magazine’s 11 best destinations in the world for January 2023. Travel & Leisure magazine is one of the globe’s leading travel publications, based in New York but read in most parts of the anglophone world as an important reference.

The magazine’s rationale behind Costa Rica’s placing comes in great part due to this small Central American nation’s renowned natural diversity. From adventurous mountain experiences, to paradisiacal beaches and ecological resorts, there’s basically something for all kinds of tourists. Naturally, the magazine also highlights the perks of the dry season in Costa Rica, a time of warm and sunny weather that’s best experienced through the Pura Vida lifestyle of the country’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

The rest of Travel & Leisure magazine’s picks for January are some charming winter destinations like Park City, Utah, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Vienna, Austria, as well as the warmer beach options of Bahamas, Jamaica and Mazatlán in Mexico. Charleston, South Carolina, Las Vegas, Nevada, Queensland, Australia, and Fox Worth Texas round off the remaining selections of the publication.

If you’re looking to escape from the icy landscapes and cold temperature of the northern hemisphere, and favor a country with delicious summer weather and a myriad of potential activities, the experts seem to concur that Costa Rica shines as one of the world’s best options.