San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Year in review 2014

The best and worst of Costa Rica in 2014, according to everyone else

Every year travel magazines and survey authorities across the world hurl accolades at Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and seemingly happy people. This year was no different, but the predicted wave of praise was also accompanied with an unforeseen amount of criticism.

To acknowledge this, The Tico Times has adapted last year’s “The Best of Costa Rica in 2013, according to everyone else” to include not just the good, but the bad and the ugly as well.

Bing’s list praises Costa Rica’s natural beauty and calls the country a “dream destination” for beach lovers and adventurers.

(Screengrab via Bing)


As always, Costa Rica was recognized this year as a top tourist destination. International Living Magazine still ranks Costa Rica a top retirement destination, and the country was ranked the most recommended travel destination by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey. In 2014, more people searched for Costa Rica on the popular search engine Bing than any other vacation destination. TripAdvisor included Costa Rica in its Traveler’s Choice Awards, ranking Manuel Antonio as one of the best beaches and the Nayara Hotel in Arenal as one the best hotels in the world.

But not every traveler was enamored in Costa Rica in 2014. The editors at Ethical Traveler dropped Costa Rica from its list of top ethical travel destinations due to perceived transgressions in human rights and environmental protection.

Untreated runoff from businesses and homes and untreated sewage are the leading causes of pollution in San José’s Río Torres.

Alberto Font/The Tico Times


Costa Rica’s green image took a hit in 2014 as the country tumbled from fifth place to 54th in Yale’s Environmental Performance Index due to changes in the index’s criteria. But, at the same time, according to Costa Rica topped the region in the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index, which ranked the country’s ability to adapt to climate change.

Human rights and quality of life

As in years past, Costa Rica ranked as the world’s happiest country in 2014, according to the Happy Planet Index. The country also ranked near the top of America Quarterly Magazine’s Social Inclusion Index, beating out the United States, and Costa Rica beat out a number of European countries in the Social Progress Index. The country’s capital of San José was also shockingly ranked the second-best city in the region for doing business, according to the World Bank.

But while Costa Ricans are supposedly happy, their reporters are not. Reporters Without Borders dropped Costa Rica’s press freedom ranking three spots and recent government spying scandals will likely warrant an even more significant drop next year.


Contact Lindsay Fendt at

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As usual, when reporting on Costa Rica you are unable to report facts, rather you try to sugar coat it. One would begin to think you are owned and operated by the government. Or your paper is government mouth piece.

All the companies or agencies you sighted as making favorable comments have a conflict of interest or a vested interest in Costa Rica. Some of the foreign agencies are relying on self serving false data provided by Costa Rica.

You failed to point out how more foreign companies have closed up shop in Costa Rica. You did not talk about the thousands of people who were affected by theses closures which added to an ever growing unemployment rate.

The fact more foreigners have moved out of Costa Rica than are moving in is also missing in your article.

Yes, Costa Rica may enjoy ripping off a few companies and travelers who have more money than brains and have failed to do their due diligence beforehand. I was one of them.

Fact, you cannot compare Costa Rican beaches to the beaches of Florida, California, or of those in Mexico. Costa Rican beaches do not have the infrastructure, facilities, or the means to clean the beaches daily. Then there is the issue of the polluted tributaries dumping into the ocean at or near your beaches.

This report is bogus at best. It flies in the face of the common sense of how the Costa Rican citizens perceive corruption in their country.

We know how corrupt the court system is. Yes they may trial and convict a president, but he does not serve his time in prison.

Simple cases, car accidents, civil and fraud cases take years to adjudicate.

If a government agency such as the state insurance company or a prominent citizen is a defendant, the court will bend over backwards to protect them. Yes, the government passes laws but there is no rule of law. The people and the media fear the government and it’s corrupt politicians and burocrates.

How the government insurance company uses claims as a profit center, how laws are written to benefit the criminal not the victem. Corrupt banks. The most expensive Central American country.

The issue of a media afraid to report the true facts about the corruption in the country’s institutions. When these agencies commit crimes against it’s citizens, the media “sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil”.

If a foreigner speaks out against a government wrong doing, or on the ever growing crime and corruption, the media defends the government’s actions, and minimizes these issues rather than condemn them.

Then you have both foreign companies and foreigners moving out of the country faster than they are moving in.
If Panama Is so corrupt, why have more foreigners who have left Costa Rica moved to Panama. Why have so many companies either relocated to Panama or expanded in Panama rather than in Costa Rica? Does Intel, Coke, and several call centers come to mind? I think these people and companies from their personal experiences are more informed than all the ill informed agencies who have no idea about any of the countries they are trying to report on because of false data and manipulated reporting.

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Marvelous Marv

True enough, Mandingo, but what is your solution?

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Daphne Mathieu

Well said Mandingo!!!!

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