San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Christmas Shopping in The Tropics: High-Quality Gifts for the Holidays

RESIDENTS and visitors in Costa Rica will have lots to look forward to this holiday season as businesses here roll out their goods for shoppers looking for that perfect gift or seeking bargains on the highest- quality products the country has to offer.


From traditional Costa Rican products and original handmade crafts to goods

imported from every corner of the world, Costa Rican merchants offer a world of shopping opportunities for both those who like to get out and shop and those who prefer the comfort of their computer chair and a warm cup of hot chocolate.


People who crave another hot beverage might be interested to learn that Sunburst Coffee is now selling a wide variety of products plucked straight from the soil of this coffee-growing nation, through the Web site The Costa Rican-based company ships its coffee directly to the United States, and is featuring a special holiday package of four pounds of coffee for $32, shipped free anywhere in North America, including Alaska and Hawaii. Coffee can also be bought at store locations in the western San José suburb of Escazú and in Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste. For more information, call 355-7786.


Café Milagro, based in the central Pacific coastal town of Quepos, is offering its customers the opportunity to give a bit of Costa Rica this holiday season with its special holiday coffee packages. Many of these include kits for making coffee the traditional Costa Rican way – by filtering the grounds through a cloth “sock” hung from a chorreador, a method that will leave you wondering what that other stuff was from the machine you used to use every morning. The packages can be purchased online at, or by visiting Café Milagro locations in Quepos and nearby Manuel Antonio.


A great companion gift to all this coffee might be the original Costa Rican liqueurs of Salicsa Liquors, sold through- out the country at major supermarkets and liquor stores. The company’s flagship product, Café Rica, runs about ¢4,000 ($8) and differs from other coffee liqueurs in that it is made from all-natural products and aged in special barrels.


THE outstanding deals on original Costa Rican products don’t stop with coffee and liquor. features an online catalog of products native to Costa Rica that can be shipped anywhere in North America and Western Europe. The organization offers its customers coconut jewelry, handcrafted woodwork and premium hammocks.


It also manages a showroom in Curridabat, east of San José, and will take your orders over the phone at 234-7524.


Those who want to shop in person for high-quality, traditional Costa Rican souvenirs to bring home to family and friends need look no farther than the Central Valley for a vast array of options in Costa Rican handicrafts and keepsakes.


The Green Turtle, behind the Hampton Inn in Alajuela, northwest of San José, boasts one of the country’s largest collections of handicrafts and jewelry, and employs more than 1,000 craftsmen from all over the country. The store is offering 15% off on selected items throughout the holiday season, and can be reached at 430-0211.


The Centro Turístico Plaza Esmeralda, in the western San José district of Pavas, has a huge selection of traditional Costa Rican jewelry available, and offers a 10% discount on all purchases made in cash. The gift-shop emporium also carries a wide selection of leather suitcases, wallets and purses, and can be contacted at 296-0312.


Shoppers venturing into Multiplaza mall in Escazú this holiday season will be happy to know that high-quality Costa Rican crafts and souvenirs are readily available at Congo. Though specializing in wood products, the store offers handcrafted jewelry and other products from all over the country. For more information, call 228-6423.


IF you have friends or family looking to incorporate a foreign theme to their houses, San José is home to Costa Rica’s top importers of goods from every corner of the globe, and some are offering great sales throughout the holiday season.


La Casa de Ali Baba in Escazú, Latin America’s only direct importer of Moroccan products, offers mirrors, rugs, lamps and tables for every room. The importer is offering a special 15% discount for cash sales. For more information, call 289-4860.


Matahari Isidro Camín in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser sells furniture, antiques and other home and office decorations imported directly from Indonesia. The store has an interior-decorating staff on hand to help give your home or office a touch of Far East elegance. For info, call 291-4943 or visit


Alfombras Persas in Escazú offers one of the largest selections of authentic Persian and Middle-Eastern rugs in the country. Customers can choose rugs in silk, cotton, wool and other fabric blends as they browse for a gift that will retain its value for years on end – and almost all of them are currently 50% off. For more information, call 289-5401.


Can’t quite decide on a specific country from which to buy that special person a present? Antigüedades Inperio, with locations in Escazú and Guanacaste, covers the gamut of foreign antiquities with pieces from Costa Rica, Japan, China and Europe, some going as far back as the 18th century. Prices ranging from $2-1,000 offer something for everyone on the list. For more information, call 228-6664.


Trying to find a gift for that do-it-yourself decorator who loves to add original furniture to the home? Atocha Home Furniture and Accessories, in the eastern San José neighborhood of Los Yoses, offers mirrors, chairs, sofas and tables, among a world of furnishings. Using all natural fibers in its cloth weaves, solid wicker design and other methods “at the heart of tropical living,” the professional furniture builders at Atocha have created a style they describe as “tropical contemporary.”For information, call 288-2193.


THOSE passing through Manuel Antonio National Park might want to make a slight detour to Hotel Costa Verde to check out its selection of leather-backed chairs for the home and business. For more information, call 777-0584.


Can’t quite adapt to the Internet shopping age? Aerocasillas has just the solution. The shipping company rents its clients P.O. boxes in Miami, where they can receive Internet orders that are then sent directly to Costa Rica, arriving within 24-48 hours of delivery in Miami. The company will even take your orders for you and do all of the shipping and payments at no additional cost. From now until Christmas, the group is offering free P.O. box rental for one year. For information, call 208-4831.


Costa Rica is home to a nice selection of kosher food for families celebrating Hanukkah. The Little Israel stores in Pavas and Curridabat offer the finest in Israeli pita bread, grape juice and salads, as well everything needed to celebrate Hanukkah, including menorahs and candles. For more information, call 283-3303.

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