A Monteverde primer: an essential guide to one of Costa Rica’s tourism gems

Marshall Cobb | June 9, 2017
Monteverde's mist-shrouded cloud forest.

A typical tourist visit to Monteverde involves a large bus with a yellow “turismo” placard attached to the back. The bus delivers its occupants to one of the several large hotels in the area, then later deposits those same travelers at one of several tourist-centric restaurants. The following morning the bus takes the group to […]

President Solís inaugurates first phase of long-awaited Golfito Marina Village

Karl Kahler | April 21, 2017
President Luis Guillermo Solís, center right, prepares to cut the ribbon for the Golfito Marina Village on Friday.

The president of Costa Rica flew into Golfito on Friday to inaugurate the first phase of a dream a dozen years in the making, the Golfito Marina Village and Resort.

Arenal: If you weren’t looking for adventure, you’ve come to the wrong place

Karl Kahler | April 17, 2017
The author and his girlfriend survive their first try at Zorbing — rolling down a hill in a gigantic, flooded plastic ball at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.

Arenal is the unofficial capital of adventure tourism in Costa Rica — whitewater rafting, ziplining, canyoning, mountain biking, horseback riding, all-terrain vehicles — and all of these adventures are served up with a few spoonfuls of fear.

Despite its dark past, Medellín, Colombia, remains one of Latin America’s great cities

Michael Krumholtz | March 20, 2017

Once synonymous with drugs and bloodshed, Medellín now provides an unbelievably vibrant and colorful stage for an increasing number of foreign visitors.

Here’s a fish story you know is true because we barely caught anything

Marshall Cobb | March 13, 2017
The heavy use of nets has severely depleted the fish population but creative locals have found other ways to bring life, and income, to the zone. One example is this artificial oyster farm. Beneath each float is a weighted line seeded with baby oysters that are later harvested.

A night fishing trip in Costa de Pájaros in the Nicoya Gulf turns into quite an adventure — unfortunately, not one that involved catching many fish.

Caliche’s Wishbone in Jacó is a seafood paradise for the hungry surfer

Michael Krumholtz | February 20, 2017
Caliche's Wishbone

Caliche’s Wishbone in Jacó makes the perfect option for seafood lovers and weary surfers looking for a full meal after a day on the beach.

Fun and free in Costa Rica: Make a new year’s resolution to volunteer

Ilana Long | December 29, 2016
Four generations enjoy a hot meal outside the Escazú church, courtesy of the student-run volunteer organization Feeding Souls.

Here are some opportunities for residents and visitors to donate their time to help needy or disadvantaged youth and adults right here in Costa Rica.

Five good restaurants in Flamingo and Potrero, and one very sad note

Karl Kahler | December 26, 2016
The owners of the Hibiscus Restaurant in Potrero, Marion Ceccarini and the late Allan Vargas, who tragically died on Nov. 28.

I had already chosen the Hibiscus as my favorite restaurant on the Flamingo Coast when I learned of a horrible tragedy that befell this mom-and-pop French bistro in Potrero.

Flamingo Coast real estate: Get your own slice of paradise

Karl Kahler | December 12, 2016
Private residences at The Palms on Playa Flamingo start at $925,000, so start saving now.

Why is the Flamingo Coast a good place to buy property? Natural beauty, great schools, fair prices, close airport and a thriving community in a spot that’s neither too overdeveloped nor too remote. And then there’s that new marina coming….

Bright Lights Boat Parade at Marina Pez Vela is a dazzling holiday show

Karl Kahler | December 2, 2016
Bright Lights Boat Parade 2015.

In a one-of-a-kind holiday spectacle next Friday, the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos will be hosting its third annual Bright Lights Boat Parade, in which watercraft festooned with Christmas lights sail around the marina basin.

San Lucas: Here’s one prison in Costa Rica you might actually want to visit

Amanda Zúñiga | October 7, 2016
For $100, Teatro Espressivo is offering day trips to San Lucas Island, plus a ticket to its play about life on the old prison island.

Teatro Espressivo is offering tours of San Lucas Island, plus a ticket to its play about life on the prison island, for $100.

Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s top destination, and there are good reasons why

Karl Kahler | October 3, 2016
Quepos from the air: Mangroves, town, marina, Punta Quepos and in the distance Manuel Antonio.

With a national park, a marina and a ridge packed with outstanding hotels, Manuel Antonio and Quepos are the king of the hill of Costa Rican tourism. We explore all the reasons why there is so much more to this area than a walk in the park.

Scuba diving in Belize, we were outnumbered by the sharks

Karl Kahler | September 29, 2016
The author and his divemaster get up-close and personal with a bunch of nurse sharks at a dive site in Belize called the Tackle Box.

Twenty meters deep while scuba diving in Belize, we were swarmed by dozens of nurse sharks of all sizes — some as long as me — that seemed as curious about us as we were about them.

Rincón de la Vieja hike shows off geothermal wonders

Jill Replogle | September 22, 2016
bubbling mud

As the names of places sometimes do, Rincón de la Vieja had been calling me. The translation of that name to English is tricky, which is perhaps what intrigued me. Was this national park in Guanacaste the secluded hiding spot or “rincón” of its centerpiece volcano, “La Vieja”? Or was there once an old, witchy […]

Treintaycinco craft brewery opens doors to public

Jill Replogle | September 14, 2016
Salón Comunal

Craft beer lovers in Costa Rica have a new place to imbibe while mingling with kindred spirits, listening to great music and trying out some of Costa Rica’s best street food vendors. Treintaycinco Fábrica Artesanal de Cervezas recently began opening its brewery on the outskirts of Ciudad Colón to the public on Thursday nights. Five […]

Caminos de Osa rural tourism project offers a unique way to see Costa Rica

Jill Replogle | September 5, 2016

Caminos de Osa is a rural tourism project in Costa Rica that helps small businesses get in on the lucrative tourism business around Corcovado National Park.

Inside a Costa Rican pottery workshop, spinning wheels churn out the real deal

Karl Kahler | July 11, 2016
A potter at Cerámica Artística Salitral mashes clay onto a spinning wheel in preparation for making the base for a flowerpot.

Feet get dirty and hands get wet on a tour of a Costa Rican pottery factory in Salitral, where some of the country’s most beautiful handicrafts are made.

INS Travel Insurance helps you stay safe while traveling abroad

INS | July 6, 2016
INS travel insurance

You’ve saved up for months for that dreamed-of trip to Disneyland or to visit family in another country. You bought a new camera and renewed your passport. But there’s one, very important thing you may have missed: travel insurance. Accidents can happen whenever, wherever, so before you head out the door, consider buying travel insurance […]

Why historic Santa Ana is Costa Rica’s hottest boomtown

Karl Kahler | July 5, 2016
A coffee farmer weeds the fields on a mountainside overlooking Valle del Sol.

Welcome to Valle del Sol, the canton of Santa Ana, home to millionaires, onion farmers, traditional pottery makers, urban professionals, a growing number of expats and ordinary Ticos of all descriptions — one of the least known greatest places in Costa Rica.

Edelweiss Air to launch Costa Rica-Switzerland flights

L. Arias | June 22, 2016
Edelweiss route between San José - Zurich. June 20, 2016

Swiss carrier Edelweiss Air announced the opening of a new non-stop route between Zurich and San José starting May 9, 2017. President Luis Guillermo Solís and Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura officially presented the new route Monday evening at a special event held at the National Theater in downtown San José. Flights will depart from Zurich on Tuesdays at […]

Costa Rica launches plan to attract bird-watching tourists

L. Arias |
Bird-watching experts believe Costa Rica has the appropriate conditions to keep growing as one of the world's top destinations for this type of tourism.

There are 925 species of birds in Costa Rica, representing almost 10 percent of the species in the world, and tourism officials are hoping to cash in on the rising market of tourists interested in watching them.

Photos: Off the beaten path at Punta Mala Wildlife Refuge

Lindsay Fendt | June 9, 2016

Tucked away between the major tourist attractions on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, the Punta Mala wildlife reserve goes easily unnoticed, but a new burst of investment in the area could soon change that.

Drinking contraband guaro with Sámara’s living legend, Don Polo

Michael Krumholtz | May 27, 2016
Don Polo playing guitar

Napoleón “Don Polo” Arias of Sámara in Guanacaste is a living legend who spends time drinking contraband guaro on his porch and signing folk songs with friends and family.

Costa Rica Sailing Center in Potrero may just be the world’s chillest sailing club

Michael Krumholtz | May 25, 2016
Costa Rica Sailing Center

The Costa Rica Sailing Center in Playa Potrero combines a down-to-earth, non-pretentious environment with expert guidance from two California-bred sailors looking to spread their knowledge.

Costa Rica zoo can be a depressing sight, but easy alternatives are few

Karl Kahler | May 20, 2016
Kivu the lion stares down a visitor at San José's Simon Bolivar Zoo.

Costa Rica’s Simón Bolivar Zoo has been a lightning rod for animal rights activists, and in fact it can be a depressing place. Yet with new laws poised to change the landscape of wildlife management in Costa Rica, it’s a complicated situation with no easy solution.

Costa Rica’s plan to build major new airport in Orotina advances

L. Arias | May 16, 2016
Juan Santamaría International Airport

Costa Rica’s emerging plan to build a major new international airport in Orotina, an hour west of the capital, took a major step forward Monday with the signing of a $1.5 million contract with a British firm to conduct feasibility studies.

Boat route to Tortuguero National Park reopens after three-day suspension

L. Arias |
Low rainfall levels last week prompted MOPT to suspend boat transport service between La Pavona and Tortuguero.

Public boat service between La Pavona and Tortuguero, the main access route to Tortuguero National Park, was restarted Monday after it was closed because of low river levels, the Public Works and Transport Ministry said.

Expotur travel mart: Costa Rican vendors, international buyers, old friends and new ideas

Karl Kahler | May 12, 2016
A Tyrannosaurus rex rampages through the corridors of Expotur, Costa Rica's annual travel trade show extravaganza.

Costa Rica’s annual Expotur meet-and-greet travel retreat got underway Thursday, bringing together local vendors, international buyers and even a Tyrannosaurus rex.

At Expotur trade show opener, Solís says tourism drives Costa Rica’s economy

Karl Kahler | May 11, 2016
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís speaks at the inauguration of Expotur (with interpreter for the hearing-impaired).

Expotur, Costa Rica’s premier trade show for travel professionals, kicked off Wednesday at the National Theatre in San José with President Luis Guillermo Solís saying tourism is “one of the most powerful engines of this economy.”

10 photos from the Museum of Costa Rican Art, where you can’t beat the price

Karl Kahler | May 5, 2016
The Museum of Costa Rican Art

The Museum of Costa Rican Art, located in a former airport terminal, displays some striking artwork from the 19th century to the present. And it’s free.

Hacienda Barú: Unique EcoTram offers slow-mo, self-propelled tour of the treetops

Karl Kahler | March 16, 2016
Sam Smith, 28, on the EcoTram at Hacienda Barú, with her father, Jim Smith, 74, bringing up the rear.

The one-of-a-kind EcoTram at Hacienda Barú near Dominical, Costa Rica, puts guests in the driver’s seat for a slow-motion ride through the rain forest.

Costa Rica’s Liberia airport announces $10 million expansion plan

L. Arias | March 15, 2016
Liberia airport expansion

CORIPORT, the company that manages the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Guanacaste province, announced it will expand the terminal in coming months prompted by a significant increase in passenger traffic.

Misadventures driving in Costa Rica: Lost, stuck and stranded

Michael Krumholtz | March 3, 2016
A day of frustration driving in Costa Rica began in Pavones, on the far southwest coast.

They often say it’s in the journey, not the destination, where you learn life’s greatest lessons. Those people have never tried driving in Costa Rica, where those supposed lessons will beat you over the head and leave you stuck in a river in the middle of nowhere.

New route to Chirripó puts tiny San Jerónimo on the map

Michael Krumholtz | January 22, 2016

Though it’s the end of a long day for the chain of hikers returning to base camp, it’s the beginning of a new era for the national park that houses Costa Rica’s tallest and best-known peak, Cerro Chirripó.

Costa Rica attracted a record 2.6 million tourists in 2015

The Tico Times | January 16, 2016
Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura, left, welcomed the Kratochvil family, the 1 millionth visitors to Costa Rica from the U.S., on Dec. 18, at Juan Santamaría International Airport.

Costa Rica set a new record for tourism in 2015, attracting 2.66 million tourists from around the world, of whom about 40 percent were from the U.S.

Liberia, Costa Rica’s gateway to elsewhere, is worth a closer look

Paul Foer | January 11, 2016
Parque Central in Liberia, Costa Rica.

Thanks to its international airport and the Inter-American Highway, Liberia is often thought of as a way to get to somewhere else. But with its colonial architecture and clean, tree-lined streets, the capital of Guanacaste is worth a look in its own right.

Costa Rica ecolodge Selva Bananito: I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

Karl Kahler | January 6, 2016
A highly venomous yellow eyelash palm pit viper snoozes on a tree behind horseback tour guide Carlos Mairena at Selva Bananito, Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica ecolodge Selva Bananito is a forest that happens to have a lodge more than a lodge that happens to have a forest. But the lodging is divine.

Lapa Ríos: Luxury in the jungle, with unbeatable rooms and birding, if unpredictable food

Karl Kahler | December 29, 2015
Ocean view from Lapa Ríos.

Lapa Ríos was one of the first and is still among the best of the ecolodges in the Osa, if not in all of Costa Rica.

Surfers get VIP treatment from Nature Air

Michael Krumholtz | December 15, 2015
Surfers León Glatzer and Noe Mar McGonagle.

Surfers León Glatzer and Noe Mar McGonagle will be able to avoid Costa Rica’s notoriously bad roads and congested traffic with Nature Air flights as they travel to some of the world’s best surfing destinations.

Danta Corcovado rain forest lodge lures ecotourists to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

Larry Luxner | December 6, 2015
Danta Corcovado Lodge

PUERTO JIMÉNEZ, Costa Rica — The rustic wooden sign at the entrance to the rickety footbridge separating me from my little cabin in the rain forest was clear as day. “Careful — slippery!” it warned in Spanish. “Watch where you walk. Use closed shoes.” It was the end of a very long day that had begun […]

Turrialba looks for ways to (safely) build on volcano tourism

Zach Dyer |

When Turrialba Volcano erupted last November it sent tourists running, canceling reservations and leaving many businesses in the area wondering if the newly active colossus would ruin them. A year later, Turrialba is acting up again but this time the tourism sector and small ranchers are hoping there’s a way that they can (safely) take […]

Puerto Viejo crime is down, but travel alert is still up

Karl Kahler | November 9, 2015
A man suspected of stealing a bicycle walks away from Tourism Police headquarters.

Many residents of Costa Rica’s south Caribbean coast say that in the area surrounding Puerto Viejo crime is no worse than anywhere else. So why is there still a travel alert about armed robbery from the U.S. Embassy?

Tamarindo lifeguard program saves lives despite lack of funding

Michael Krumholtz | October 16, 2015

They sometimes have to borrow jet skis and paddle out on boards to make rescues because the government won’t fund them, yet Tamarindo lifeguards are still saving lives and making a difference.

Tamarindo: Witch’s Rock acquires Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel

Karl Kahler | October 2, 2015
Tamarindo's Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel has been acquired by Witch's Rock Industries.

The Witch’s Rock surf empire in Tamarindo is branching out with the acquisition of the 29-room Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel, just a few blocks north of the company’s surf camp and a one-minute walk from the beach in northwestern Costa Rica.

Planet, People, Peace conference: How tourism can help save the world

Karl Kahler | September 24, 2015
Exhibitors and attendees at the Planet, People, Peace conference on sustainable tourism Thursday in the Children's Museum in San José.

At the Planet, People, Peace conference on sustainable tourism Thursday in San Jose, speakers addressed how to turn tourism into something that does more good than harm.

Santa Rosa: Costa Rica’s stunning 1856 victory in 14-minute battle

Karl Kahler | September 15, 2015
La Casona, Santa Rosa National Park.

On March 20, 1856, some 400 mercenaries from the U.S., Germany and France arrived at Hacienda Santa Rosa in northwest Guanacaste after a long day’s march, having invaded Costa Rica unopposed four days before. Little did they know they were about to face a lightning battle and a shocking defeat that would give Costa Rica its proudest war story on its own soil.

Santa Rosa: In search of kitesurfing, Oliver North and the value of life

Karl Kahler | September 14, 2015
Bahía El Hachal, looking out on Bahía Cuajiniquil in the remote Murciélagos sector of Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica’s far northwest, I wanted to go kitesurfing, to find Oliver North’s old Contra airstrip and to not get robbed. I ended up at least 1 for 3.

Rivas, Nicaragua: Costa Rica’s most famous battle happened where?

Karl Kahler | September 10, 2015
Nicaragua's Rivas Museum was the site of a battle in 1855 between a Nicaraguan army and U.S. adventurers seeking to seize control of the country.

A history museum in Rivas, Nicaragua, was the site of a key 1855 battle with U.S. filibuster William Walker, but the history is a little hard to untangle.

Santa Teresa: Women sexually assaulted at river crossing

Karl Kahler | September 5, 2015
For illustrative purposes: A picture of the Bongo River crossing on the Nicoya Peninsula at night last month, taken by a Tico Times reporter who met two people on motorcycles there. One of them waded the river to find a shallow place to drive across.

Four French tourists were robbed and sexually assaulted by armed men wearing masks north of Santa Teresa last week when they stopped at a river to see if it was safe to drive across, police and area residents said.

After rafting the Pacuare, President Solís bans hydroelectric dams

Karl Kahler | August 29, 2015
Pacuare River rafters pose for a photo, with President Luis Guillermo Solís in the middle giving a thumbs up.

President Luis Guillermo Solís went whitewater rafting Saturday on the Pacuare River, then signed a decree that bans hydroelectric dams here and on the Savegre River for 25 years.

Santa Teresa: What’s the recipe for paradise?

Michael Krumholtz |
With idyllic waves, Santa Teresa has become a surfer's haven. But what else makes the destination so attractive for 120,000 tourists who come to the area each year?

We went on the hunt for what makes Santa Teresa, Costa Rica’s remote stretch of beach on Nicoya Peninsula’s southwest, one of the world’s most sought-after beaches.

Santa Teresa: A few wrong turns on the road to paradise

Michael Krumholtz | August 22, 2015
Playa Santa Teresa, considered one of the world's most beautiful beaches, is certainly not the most accessible.

What’s so special about Santa Teresa, the surf mecca on the Nicoya Peninsula that’s been called one of the world’s most beautiful beaches? I set out on a long and tiring journey to find out.

Gastronomy plan seeks to make Costa Rican food more distinctive

Karl Kahler | August 18, 2015
Some local foods on display Tuesday at a news conference by CACORE.

The Costa Rican Chamber of Restaurants (CACORE) on Tuesday unveiled its 2015 Gastronomic Laboratory, in which 24 restaurants have pledged to use unconventional local ingredients and nontraditional cuts of meats in their cooking.

Crimes against tourists occur at alarming rate, tourism officials say

Michael Krumholtz | August 5, 2015
CANATUR president Pablo Heriberto Abarca, seen here in a March meeting with President Luis Guillermo Solís, says the government needs to do better in preventing crime against tourists.

A statement by the Costa Rican Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) on Wednesday warned of consistent crimes against foreign tourists, especially in the Cóbano and Puntarenas area.

Was Recreational Ziplining Really Invented In Costa Rica? Yes, Indeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed

Karl Kahler | August 1, 2015
Donald Perry, shown on the back cover of his 1986 book, "Life Above the Jungle Floor," invented the jungle canopy zipline but never turned it into a business.

The jungle canopy zipline was invented in Costa Rica by a U.S. biology student doing research, then reimagined for adventure tourism by a Canadian entrepreneur in Monteverde. And what a tangled web they wove.

Travel Alert: Sarapiquí Highway Open Again

Michael Krumholtz | July 29, 2015
Following damages from recent flooding, Route 4 through Sarapiquí is fully repaired.

Following the devastating floods and road closures that hit the area last month, access to Sarapiquí has returned to normal. Officials from Sarapiquí’s Tourism Chamber said in a statement Wednesday that Route 4 is back to full service within the cantón popular among foreign and national tourists.

Playa Hermosa, the unknown turtle-watching haven

Michael Krumholtz | July 19, 2015
A baby turtle from a 2012 hatching in Playa Hermosa.

On the black sands of Playa Hermosa, just below Jacó on the Central Pacific Coast, turtle-hatching season has begun again. And from an ideal vantage point on the beach, the Sandpiper Hotel on Hermosa’s northern end stands as a symbol for the conservation efforts taken to help get as many baby turtles into the sea as possible.

Record low tourism numbers reported in areas under emergency alert

Michael Krumholtz | July 10, 2015
Cantones like Sarapiquí, noted for its canopy tours, suffered huge losses as a result of the severe weather in the area.

Heavy rains and flooding that caused a national emergency in Costa Rica also brought on record-low tourism numbers for Caribbean and Central Valley cantons for the month of June. The National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) reported Friday that Sarapiquí, Limón, and Tortuguero were among those hit worse with cancelations.

Crocodile Bay Marina: Osa destroyer or Golfo Dulce dream?

Karl Kahler | July 6, 2015
An artist's rendering of the proposed Crocodile Bay Marina in Puerto Jiménez.

The Crocodile Bay Resort & Marina says it will bring Puerto Jiménez and the Golfo Dulce a modern, clean facility to dock, fuel and maintenance boats, with a hotel and condominiums that will create jobs. But a vocal opposition says this project poses major environmental concerns, will not really benefit the community and will make Puerto Jiménez look like Cancún.

High in the hills, Monte Copey coffee farm strives to grow Costa Rica’s best

Michael Krumholtz | July 2, 2015
Owner Enrique Navarro Sr. looks over part of Beneficio Monte Copey's coffee farm in Dota Tarrazú.

Atop the steep, rocky path leading up to Microbeneficio Monte Copey in Dota Tarrazú, I had a second to admire the dreamlike beauty of the hillsides around me. That serene moment quickly evaporated into a half-minute of panic when my car began rolling back down the 45-degree incline even as my foot remained planted on the brake.

Postcards from Naranjo: Where Costa Rica’s best coffee grows

Zach Dyer | May 30, 2015
A town famous for its coffee, Naranjo has a giant coffee cup right next to the church.

NARANJO, Alajuela – Between the arts-and-crafts capital of Sarchí and the reveling festivities in Palmares lies the oft-overlooked town of Naranjo. Bundled into the high hills of the Central Valley northwest of the capital, Naranjo hardly gets more than a paragraph in most guide books. But the small town has its claim to fame: Naranjo is home to the best coffee in Costa Rica.

Toucan Rescue Ranch: The cutest place on Earth?

Robert Isenberg | May 27, 2015
Just hangin' out: a young sloth climbs a tree branch.

Toucan Rescue Ranch is a magnet for cuddly critters, and if you only came for the furry and feathery toddlers, you will leave well satisfied. But the place is more than a mere menagerie: True to its name, the ranch inherits scores of animals, nurses them back to health, and then releases fully recovered specimens back into the wild.

Mexico to Costa Rica: Volaris confirms 2 new routes from Cancún, Guadalajara

L. Arias | May 25, 2015
New routes to Costa Rica also will allow travelers to reach destinations in the U.S. through Volaris

Low-cost Mexican airline Volaris on Monday announced expansion into Costa Rica with the launch of two weekly flights from Cancún and Guadalajara beginning Sept. 10. Volaris’ CEO in Costa Rica, Fernando Naranjo, confirmed that flights from both destinations will depart Thursdays and Sundays.

Expotur travel mart showcases hotels, tours, transport — and guaro

Karl Kahler | May 7, 2015

Some 800 people packed into the Wyndham Herradura Hotel on Thursday for Expotur, Costa Rica’s annual travel trade show extravaganza, where tourism professionals meet to network, make deals and showcase their hotels, tours and transportation options.

Why Costa Rica’s ‘green season’ is the best time to visit

By Lisa Cederberg | May 6, 2015
Even during Costa Rica's rainy season, mornings are typically bright and clear.

Travelers who avoid Costa Rica during its rainy season are missing out on a resplendent time of year — and some great hotel deals. Here’s our list of hotels around the country where you can stay some nights for free.

Hot springs at Purapora, Costa Rica’s ‘fountain of youth,’ get a new lease on life

Karl Kahler | April 29, 2015
Palacio Purapora, just south of Cartago.

The legendary springs fell into disuse and ended up lost, forgotten and buried in a garbage dump for decades — until an Israeli Indiana Jones named Avraham Kotlitzky tracked them down here eight years ago, moved garbage and weeds aside, and thrust his hand into a hot spring.

Tapantí: Tarantulas, tapirs and the end of the road in Costa Rica

Karl Kahler | April 26, 2015
An orange-kneed tarantula at Tapantí National Park.

Tapantí National Park is a wild and beautiful place an hour and a half from San José, popular with Ticos but little known to foreigners, where there are easy trails and tough trails, plus tarantulas, tapirs and torrential rains.

Raiders of the lost tribe: The ruins of Guayabo

Karl Kahler | April 18, 2015
The central mound at Guayabo.

The ancient ruins at Guayabo National Monument offer a fascinating glimpse into Costa Rica’s pre-Hispanic culture, where cacique chiefs and powerful shamans ruled over a peaceful agricultural people who were prodigious builders.

VIDEO: Making mead in Alajuela

Robert Isenberg | April 17, 2015

Take a visual tour of the Costa Rica Meadery in Alajuela, where Michael Lindeman and Alejandra Arraya make their sweet-tasting beverage — and care for their thousands of honeybees.

Costa Rica’s Cerro Chato: Go climb a volcano

Karl Kahler | April 16, 2015
Laguna Cerro Chato.

Cerro Chato is a dormant volcano just southeast of Volcán Arenal that has been inactive for an estimated 3,500 years, with a green crater lake at the 1,140-meter summit. It’s well worth climbing, even if you’re not the kind of person who ordinarily climbs volcanoes.

Nature Air: Can’t beat the view

Robert Isenberg | April 11, 2015

Small planes, big windows, short flights, epic scenery – these are the qualities that make Nature Air so fun to fly. During a recent flight from Bocas Del Toro to San José, we caught a view of this cumulonimbus cloud rising above the Talamanca mountains. The longest Nature Air flight is less than 90 minutes, but the views are always spectacular.

Caution: Dog-sloth-monkey-human Xing

Robert Isenberg | April 9, 2015
animal sign

If you’re accustomed to the same boring “deer crossing” signs, you’ll likely crack a smile at the silhouette of a rain forest creature by the side of the carretera.

Look but don’t touch: the eyelash viper

Robert Isenberg | April 8, 2015
eyelash pit viper

The eyelash viper is one of the most venomous snakes in Costa Rica. Local naturalists are fond of saying that most Costa Rican spiders won’t hurt you, but don’t mess with the snakes.

Monologues on a bus

Robert Isenberg | March 31, 2015

I saw these panhandlers all the time — men and women, all ages and shapes, who stood before the busload of people and recited their grievances in rehearsed monologues. Then they made their way down the aisle, taking coins in their hands. Sometimes they sold things, like breath mints or religious tchotchkes. Other times they asked only for alms.

Latitude Blue: A Buffett-inspired restaurant brings flavor to Tamarindo

Ellen Zoe Golden |
Latitude Blue Tamarindo

If not for Jimmy Buffett, there would be no Latitude Blue Restaurant in Tamarindo. That’s because after seeing over 100 of the rocker’s concerts, Michael Holly decided he wanted to create a place with the tropical feel inherent in Buffett’s songs.  Oddly enough, he also used his experience from the 10 years managing a Wendy’s […]

Video: Top 10 travel spots in Costa Rica

Peter Majerle | March 30, 2015

Looking for succinct, visual ways to explore Costa Rica and plan your trip? Costa Rica Vacations has a YouTube channel with a number of short, informative videos that showcase Costa Rica’s wonders from beaches, basic itineraries, travel tips, and more. The video above runs through ten favorite destinations in Costa Rica in less than three minutes. Enjoy!

Thrills and chills in Rincón de la Vieja

Karl Kahler | March 28, 2015

After the invigorating horseback ride, the thrill of whitewater tubing, the first three ziplines and the heart-stopping drop off a bridge over a canyon in a harness, we sit on a ledge contemplating a Tarzan swing and a rock climb and I think: I’m too tired to climb that rock. But not thinking you can […]

Jungle Jam rocks Jacó

Peter Majerle | March 21, 2015

The jungle on the edge of Jacó played host to the fifth annual Jungle Jam, a multi-day music fest that has brought some big-name groups to Costa Rica this year. The second day of the festival showcased a dynamic lineup, headlined by Thievery Corporation. The event grew in energy – and dancing fans – as […]

Old recipe, new twist

Robert Isenberg |

Black bean soup is as old as the hills – but this version at El Sano Banano made the recipe seem new again. Thick, savory, and delicious, the soup is like a liquid version of refried beans. Add a butterfly drawn with sour cream and the warm glow of candlelight, and even paradise gets a […]

Beer with a conscience

Peter Majerle | March 20, 2015
imperial on the beach

Oh, how wonderful it is to sip a new brand of beer as you explore the tropics. And if you’re traveling in Costa Rica, chances are that you’re drinking Imperial or Pilsen. With a cold one in hand, you’re probably not thinking about much, except perhaps about how freaking nice it is to have a […]

Parrita: How green was the valley

Robert Isenberg | March 19, 2015

Most travelers don’t spend much time in Parrita. Except for an annual Mule Festival, the town doesn’t have much going for it. But Parrita is a great place to stop for gas, grab a casado, and admire the scenery. Oh, it doesn’t have the folded mountains or epic oceanfront of other Costa Rican communities. But […]

Cocal Amarillo: remote beaches, epic surfing – and soon, an airstrip

Robert Isenberg | March 18, 2015

Cocal Amarillo has it all: secluded beaches, spectacular Pacific sunsets, and some of the best surfing in the country. For travelers hoping to get away from it all, nothing beat Bahía Pavones, the bay tucked into Costa Rica’s southwestern coast. There’s just one problem: How do you get there? This region is extremely remote, so […]

Jungle Jam to rock out in Jacó

Robert Isenberg | March 17, 2015

The fifth annual Jungle Jam plays this week at Hotel Doce Lunas in Jacó, and it’s more than just a music festival: It’s a chance for Costa Ricans and world travelers to get together and appreciate the improvisational art form. The nation has its share of concerts and music festivals, but Jungle Jam has become […]

No parking. Unless you want to park there, I guess

Peter Majerle | March 11, 2015
no parking

The sign directly above these two motorcycles reads: Motorcycle parking prohibited. This is in front of San José’s court complex on the edge of downtown. There are time when rules in Costa Rica feel like mere suggestions. This is one of those cases.

The difference between Guanacaste’s summer and winter is drastic

Peter Majerle | March 9, 2015
playa conchal costa rica guanacaste

  Both of these photographs are of Playa Conchal, in Guanacaste. The above photo was taken in June, and shows the shell-laden beach at the beginning of Costa Rica’s winter (invierno). Winter in Costa Rica doesn’t mean polar vortices or deep snow. It just means more rain. Temperatures remain fairly constant year round.     […]

Weekend sunset: Granada, Nicaragua

Peter Majerle | March 7, 2015
sunset granada nicaragua

The first European-founded city in the Americas lies just to our north. Granada, Nicaragua, is famous for its colonial architecture, cobblestone calzada, and great access to many of Nicaragua’s attractions. Check back next week for a photo essay on this fascinating city.

What’s that? An explanation of the plantation towns

Peter Majerle | March 4, 2015
plantation house costa rica

Along the highway that runs along the Central Pacific Coast between Jaco and Dominical, you will see vast plantations of African palm trees, broken up by the occasional group of homes clustered around a soccer field. You may wonder what all that is. Here’s a quick primer:   Plantations What were once vast banana plantations […]

The Biggest Little City in Costa Rica?

Peter Majerle | March 2, 2015
surf shop nicole jaco beach

Jacó needs a moniker. I propose “The Biggest Little City in Costa Rica.” Really. Jacó’s population is only around 12,000, but the nonstop activity that radiates from this town belies it’s modest population. Due to its proximity to San José – just over an hour drive on Ruta 27 – city dwellers flood this once-sleepy beach […]

Friday sunset: Manuel Antonio

Peter Majerle | February 27, 2015
sunset manuel antonio beach

While the polar vortex overs over much of the United States and Canada, this is what it looks like in Manuel Antonio. Enjoy your weekend, and if the winter doldrums get to be too much, remember that this beach is just a short flight away.

A Weekend in Nicaragua, Part 4: Las Isletas

Robert Isenberg and Bill Holman |

In this final excerpt from the “Weekend in Nicaragua” series, Robert Isenberg and Bill Holman paddle kayaks into “Las Isletas” – 365 tiny islands that stand in the shallows of Lake Nicaragua. According to geologists, the islets were created when Mt. Mombacho exploded, hurling giant chunks of rock into the water. We met a man […]

A Weekend in Nicaragua, Part 3: The Cigar Makers of Granada

Robert Isenberg and Bill Holman | February 26, 2015

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes it’s a work of art. In this third excerpt from our Nicaragua travelogue, Bill Holman bikes around the city of Granada and visits the Doña Elba cigar factory. Housed in an elegant colonial building, Doña Elba produces hundreds of cigars from scratch. We talked with one […]

A Weekend in Nicaragua, Part 2: Masaya Volcano

Robert Isenberg and Bill Holman |

When the Spanish conquistadors stumbled into Masaya Volcano in the 16th century, they were horrified by what they found: a lunar basin with a glowing core. They heard stories of the indigenous people throwing human sacrifices into the lava-filled opening. They decided that Masaya was “La Boca del Infierno,” or “The Mouth of Hell,” and […]

‘Travel with Ann’ focuses on language, culture, and women’s empowerment

Robert Isenberg | February 24, 2015

During one of her many trips to Costa Rica, Ann Becker received an unusual offer: a serving of termites. “They said it tasted just like carrots,” recalled Becker recently. “And I thought, ‘I’m just going to go for it.’” This is the kind of fearless experimentation Becker craves when she organizes trips to Costa Rica. […]

A Weekend in Nicaragua, Part 1: City of Artists

Robert Isenberg | February 23, 2015

“In Nicaragua, everybody is considered to be a poet until he proves to the contrary.” – Salman Rushdie, The Jaguar Smile • In November of 2013, I was renting my first apartment in Costa Rica, and I was restless. There was so much to see, not just in Costa Rica, but beyond its borders as […]

Walking Around, sunset edition: Beach and city

Peter Majerle | February 20, 2015
Sunset, Manuel Antonio

The greatest show on Earth takes place all over Costa Rica, every day. On the beach, sunset is a magical time. I always find it amazing that just before the sun dips below the horizon, everyone on the beach seems to stop what they’re doing and watch. There is something that touches the human spirit […]

VIDEO: Anatomy of a trail race

Robert Isenberg | February 19, 2015

(WARNING: Very shaky video. Not appropriate for viewers sensitive to motion sickness, seizures, or generic electronica). Costa Rica is overflowing with natural spaces and rustic paths, so it’s no wonder that trail running is picking up speed. Exchanging hard pavement for rocks, roots, and mud, trail-runners are some of the hottest athletes in the world […]

What’s in store for Costa Rica tourism this year? Industry pros offer insight

Casey Halloran | February 18, 2015

Casey Halloran, the CEO of Costa Rican Vacations, recently conducted a poll of some of Costa Rica’s top travel-industry professionals in order to gauge sentiment regarding Costa Rica’s prospects for 2015. The participants included owners and executives of a wide range of the industry, from hotel and tour operators to ground and air transport providers. So what […]

Guanacaste’s cowboy culture comes alive in this video

Peter Majerle | February 13, 2015

One of our readers, Svεnska, has shared this beautiful video with us. She’s a French video director  based in Tamarindo, and about this video she writes: “Initially from Spain, inspired by medieval jousts, La Carrera de Cintas is a traditional event in Costa Rica, and especially Guanacaste, the province renowned for its “cowboy” (sabanera) identity […]

AltaGracia redefines luxury in San Isidro de El General

Robert Isenberg | February 12, 2015

Even among high-end accommodations, there is a rare breed of hotel that overshadows the others with mind-blowing luxury: AltaGracia has stables full of purebred horses, an infinity pool overlooking a vast valley, and its own airstrip – allowing planes and helicopters to land directly on the 340-hectare property. That alone would make AltaGracia an unusual […]

Wiping Out

Robert Isenberg | February 10, 2015

“Get ready,” shouted Dante as water swooshed around us. “Okay, here it comes! Get on the board, Robert! Now!” I jumped upward and threw my body on the surfboard. My stomach smacked hard and my hands clasped the sides in a talon grip. I pried my eyes upward, toward the beach, because I knew that’s […]

Somewhere under the rainbow

Robert Isenberg | February 9, 2015

This photo was taken in Escazú, but scattered showers and abundant sunlight mean that rainbows could appear almost anywhere. Costa Ricans routinely proclaim that early “summer” (January and February) is the best time of year – increasingly dry afternoons, fluffy clouds, and lots of cooling breezes.

Café Rojo: And here the twain shall meet

Robert Isenberg | February 5, 2015

Café Rojo is cute. The red sign hanging from the iron gate is cute. The one-room dining room is cute. Slatted wood tables out front are cute. The waitstaff and cooks are cute. Even the place settings, with their simple-elegant plates and carafes of water stuffed with mint, gush with cuteness. But it’s not the […]

Costa Rica’s Six Most Popular National Parks

Peter Majerle | February 4, 2015

With nearly 2.5 million visitors in 2013 (the latest statistics available), Costa Rica’s diverse national parks system is the main reason many people travel here. Whether you’re looking for mountain landscapes, active volcanoes, virgin rainforests or white-sand beaches, you’ll find something in the country’s protected lands. Here are the six national parks that received the most […]

VIDEO: First-time scuba dive in Playa Flamingo

Robert Isenberg | February 3, 2015

For every new skill, you first have to get your feet wet – especially if you’re scuba diving. There are thousands of PADI-certified divers in Costa Rica, plus innumerable dive-masters and instructors. But there are so many others who want to dive, but they have no idea what the experience is like. How will they […]

History makes Sibú chocolate tour even tastier

Robert Isenberg | February 2, 2015

When we arrived at Sibú, Julio Fernandez Amón handed us a cup of hot chocolate. But this was not the Swiss Miss cocoa we were accustomed to. No mini-marshmallows bobbed on the surface. The liquid wasn’t heavy on the sugar, nor was it boiling hot. “It’s very different, no?” asked Fernandez, looking pleased. Different. And […]

Poás: A mountain with a temper

Robert Isenberg | January 30, 2015

One of the most-visited volcanoes in Costa Rica is Poás, a 2,700-meter mountain located just north of Alajuela. At the end of long and winding roads, you’ll find an enormous crater with a smoking core, along with beautiful views of the surrounding highlands. The high altitude and strong sulfuric scent make Poás a (literally) breathtaking […]

The ants won this round

Peter Majerle | January 29, 2015

I should have known better. This is the tropics, after all. I mean, even fence posts turn into trees in these hyper-fertile lands. But it was just for a few minutes. I opened my sleeve of Chiky cookies, a wonderful chocolate-covered wafer that goes great with my two favorite beverages, coffee and milk. Unfortunately, I […]

Lazy bears: Just hangin’ out

Robert Isenberg | January 27, 2015

Whether they’re called “sloths” or “osos perezosos” (“lazy bears”), these slow-moving mammals have never earned a flattering name. But sloths are unperturbed by pretty much anything. In the frantic rainforest, where animals are conditioned to leap, sprint, or fly away from potential predators, the sloths take the opposite approach, moving so gradually that other animals […]

El Avión: A restaurant in plane site

Robert Isenberg | January 26, 2015

The Fairchild C-123 in Manuel Antonio is shocking on many levels: The first thing you notice is that the nose of an airplane is sticking out of a restaurant. Its presence is so surprising that your car might weave a little as you drive past. The plane is old and rugged-looking, painted the olive-drab color […]

VIDEO: Turtle-spotting in Ostional

Robert Isenberg | January 22, 2015

There are plenty of endangered marine animals, but sea turtles capture the imagination. They swim with Taoist calm, patiently drifting thousands of kilometers over the course of their lives, just as they have done for at least 100 million years. To think that sea turtles have unhurriedly wandered the oceans since the days of T. […]

The Old Port: A low season snapshot of Puerto Viejo and the southern Caribbean

Joe Baur | January 21, 2015

  They say Puerto Viejo is a party town. Surfers lazily flip flop around the old port toward the infamous waves of Salsa Brava, take a siesta, and come out once more to party through the evening and into the morning. Bob Marley’s greatest hits can be heard throughout the day and into the night, […]

Eight official rules for getting your free refill at McDonald’s

Peter Majerle | January 19, 2015

If you’re from the U.S. or Canada, you likely understand the concept of  free refills quite well. You order a soft drink. When you’ve finished, you can either request another one from your waitperson or, if you’re in a fast food joint, you walk up to the dispenser and get it yourself. This has long […]

Pacific coast craft beer La Selva hits San José

Robert Isenberg | January 16, 2015

You hear it all the time: Some bearded guy from Oregon decides to brew beer. He loves beer. He loves gastropubs. He reads all the beer blogs. He has dreamed for years of building his own mush tun. Finally he gets together with some buddies and they try some recipes in the basement. They throw […]

Annual “Little Devil Games” play out in Boruca

Robert Isenberg | January 12, 2015

Each year, the men of Boruca cover their faces in elaborate balsa masks and pretend to fight a bull. Los Juegos de los Diablitos (“The Little Devil Games”) are centuries old, symbolizing indigenous defiance of Spanish conquistadors. Participants drink chicha, an earthy beverage made of fermented corn, which enables them to run, leap, shriek, and […]

Las ferias: Cheap, Locavore Markets Abound (And You Won’t See Any Hipsters)

Peter Majerle | January 10, 2015

I find no better way to spend my Saturday mornings that going to a local farmer’s market (feria del agricultor). Because I’m still getting settled into my new digs, I don’t have a lot in the way of foodstuffs in my empty pad. So this morning I set out to the feria en Guadalupe, just […]

Tropical Sand Reaches Wall Street, Costa Rica Pleased

Peter Majerle | January 9, 2015

The Costa Rican Tourism Board’s latest campaign, “Save The Americans,” has reached Wall Street. This sand sculpture, which features such Costa Rican personalities as the howler monkey, sloth, and sea turtle, appeared in the heart of the United States’s financial world. The campaign is predicated on the idea that many North Americans are overworked, don’t use their […]

National Geographic Says Costa Rica Has Two Of The Top Eco Lodges In The World

Peter Majerle | January 8, 2015

Two Costa Rican lodges have some serious bragging rights.  The Pacuare Lodge, in Talamanca, and Lapa Rios Lodge, in the Osa Peninsula, have made National Geographic’s list of Unique Lodges of the World. This prestigious collection of accommodations looks not only at the gourmet meals, guest experiences, and beautiful settings that these lodges offer. National Geographic’s rigorous […]

VIDEO: Festivities wrap up in Zapote

Robert Isenberg | January 7, 2015

After 11 days of bullfights, carnival rides, and junk food, Las Fiestas de Zapote finally drew to a close on Sunday, allowing the spotlight to shine on January’s other regional festivals. No Costa Rican New Year is complete without a fistful of churros and some bone-crunching rodeo injuries, but now the barrio of Zapote will return […]

The Five Most Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica

Peter Majerle | December 22, 2014

With nearly 300 beaches to choose from, finding a beautiful beach in Costa Rica is easy. Here are five of our favorites.   Punta Uva – Limón. Located halfway between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, this is a spectacular slice of Caribbean heaven. Turquoise waters, white sand, and a great local restaurants make Punta Uva a […]

Holiday Color, On Your Doorstep

Peter Majerle |

I was a bit surprised to find a slice of my Midwestern Christmases right outside my door in San Jose. On the surface, it doesn’t feel like the holidays when I’m down in the tropics. Palm trees, brilliant sunshine, and bougainvilleas bursting with color simply don’t remind me of those December days when I trekked […]

Tico Times Travel Beta: A New Beginning

Peter Majerle | December 15, 2014

If you’ve clicked here, you’ve stumbled across the beta version of The Tico Time’s new travel site. We’ve decided to share it with those intrepid cybernauts who happen across in hopes that you’ll share your thoughts with us. And if you don’t see much new material over the next couple of weeks, don’t let that […]

Southwest Airlines announces new routes to Costa Rica, Mexico

Peter Majerle | December 12, 2014

Southwest Airlines could start offering service to San José, Costa Rica, from Houston, Texas, as early as October 2015, according to a statement from the company on Thursday. San José is among six destinations for which the airline is seeking permission to serve in Latin America, along with four locations in Mexico and Belize. More…

Understanding Rip Currents

Peter Majerle | December 9, 2014

Rip currents (more commonly known as rip tides or undertows) are one of the most dangerous and ubiquitous members of Costa Rica’s beach communities. While many factors, including weather, alcohol and misinformation, contribute to ocean-related deaths, the root of most tragedies is rip currents. Before entering the ocean in Costa Rica (or anywhere) it is […]

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