When Christopher Columbus named this « rich coast » (costa rica) in 1502, he couldn’t have anticipated the variety of reasons that people would find to dispute his title. Bereft of gold and ruins, the country’s principal riches proved to be its endless armies of mosquitoes and its unforgiving jungles, neither of which colonial settlers found in short supply.
Costa Rica Travel
These days, however, most visitors to Costa Rica would probably attest that its initial name was not such a misnomer after all. Its well-oiled tourist industry is only too happy to recount the country’s impressive statistics: though it covers only 0.03% of the world’s territory, Costa Rica is home to six percent of its plant and animal species. Much of this six percent is usually out in full pageantry, and Costa Rica’s native sons (and birds, and beetles) will show you the marvels of natural selection proving and amusing itself—from perfectly camouflaged vine snakes to Jesu Christo lizards that “walk on water” in fantastic 50-yard dashes.
Many Costa Rican creatures come off as natural performers, and there is something decidedly exhibitionist about their homeland as well. The terrain challenges visitors to find something that it doesn’t have: volcanoes, jungles, beaches, hot springs, coral reefs, hidden caves, and lush deserted islands all lie within a day’s (or even an hour’s) travel of one another.
Sometimes it feels like the only thing this country can’t offer is a corner that travelers haven’t already found and conquered—leaving fusion bistros and high-tech canopy tours in their wake—but rustic spots never lie too far from range, and Costa Rica’s national character has remained surprisingly visible beneath the trappings of its tourist infrastructure. Poison dart frogs might get their coloring dubbed “blue jeans” because of their bright indigo legs, but many corners of the country have managed to resist this kind of norteamericano influence.
Though you’ll find plenty of gringos lounging on the sparkling beaches of the Pacific, you’ll find tons of vacationing tico families enjoying them as well, testing their luck with watersports or coaxing spider monkeys from the trees. In fact, it’s pleasantly impossible to separate Costa Rica’s postcard-perfect horizons from a diverse population for whom these stunning vistas are just another part of daily life. Visiting dusty Guanacaste, you might find yourself eating a mid-afternoon dinner once you drift onto campesino farming time, and your memories of the Caribbean will probably come attached to a different kind of local rhythm— the unofficial reggae sound track that floats across its stilted patios and swamplands.
Costa Rica might entice you with the convenience and flashy superlatives of its tourist industry, but its more informal moments—a sudden jungle rainstorm or an unexpected roadside chat—are those that will probably end up capturing your heart.