An A-Z Of...Costa Rica (Part Two)

An A-Z Of...Costa Rica (Part Two)

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 12th May 2017

Last month, we posted a blog about all the things that you can do in Cape Town, South Africa (view that A-Z by clicking here.) We’ve decided to go one bigger this time around, offering you 26 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica!

Ready for 13 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica? Check out part two of our A-Z by reading below! (If you missed part one, you can catch up by clicking here.)

N is for… National Anthem

Costa Rica is a very proud nation; something which is made apparent in many ways, but namely in way that all radio stations play the national anthem at 7am. The song is certainly one of the more up-beat anthems belonging to any country, and its message of patriotism and unity (rather than military or sovereignty) is deemed to be rather inspiring to the country’s inhabitants, reminding them to be proud of their peaceful home.

O is for… Open Air Restaurants

Want to experience Costa Rica in style? Check out some of this country’s best outdoor or open-air eateries! What could be better than digging into some delicious ceviche tico while feeling the sea breeze flow gently through your hair? We’ll leave it up to you to do the research, but check out Sobre la Olas (in Cahuita); Koki Beach (in Puerto Viejo de Limon); La Pecora Nera (on the Caribbean coast); or Product C (for the perfect people-watching experience in San Jose.)

P is for… Pura Vida

‘Pura Vida!’ This is a term you will hear often throughout Costa Rica and, since this is the happiest place on earth after all, it’s no surprise that such a jovial term can be used to interchangeably between hellos, goodbyes, thank-yous and pretty much anything else. Translating to ‘pure life’, Pura Vida is considered to be more of a state of mind than anything else, and is a symbol for the simplicity of life, as well as a reminder to just enjoy yourself and let go. Pura Vida indeed!

Q is for… Quetzal

The quetzal (its full name being the resplendent quetzal) is a beautiful tropical bird native to the Americas. It is arguably Costa Rica’s most recognisable animal, thanks to its brightly coloured plumage and beautiful, long feathered tail. So beloved is the quetzal, that there are entire blogs and websites dedicated to the best time of year to visit Costa Rica in the hopes of spotting one of these elusive birds (for the record: the best time to visit is apparently at the time of year when avocados and figs fruiting, since the birds love these tasty treats – and that time of the year apparently falls between February and May, which also happens to be nesting season!) No matter when you visit Costa Rica, however, head to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – this is an absolute avian paradise on earth, and its 26,000 acres are home to plenty of beautiful bird species, including the quetzal.

R is for… Reforestation

Reforestation is of much importance in Costa Rica, with the governments running initiatives to protect the land. In fact, any tax money made from the sale of fossil fuels is put straight back into the protection of forests, as well as reforestation efforts.

The need for reforestation unfortunately comes down to the damage done in World War II: before the war, 75% of Costa Rica was covered in forest land, with national coverage plummeting to just 21% after the fact.

Since 1983, however, tree planting and conservation activities have resulted in an impressive 26.3% of lost forest land being reclaimed, which ultimately amounted to 52.3% of land being covered in forest by 2010, and efforts have only continued since then.

S is for… Sloths

Costa Rica = sloth paradise. These adorable creatures are a staple of internet folklore, often cropping up as memes or smash-hit viral videos – particularly those which depict sloths being rescued and cared for in sanctuaries! So beloved are sloths that many tourists include a sighting of these laid-back buddies high up on their ‘to do’ lists. If you’re somebody who loves sloths and wants to make a difference to their lives, you might just want to stick with us over the coming weeks…

As much as we may adore sloths, however, we must remember that they are still exotic animals. Steer clear of any organisation which puts financial gain and tourist entertainment ahead of actual care, conservation and fundraising efforts – if we want to continue sharing our planet with such wonderful animals, we must continue to aid their wellbeing (as well as protect their habitats.)

T is for… Travel For All

The Great Projects are proud to offer volunteer experiences in Costa Rica – we will soon be a brand-new project in the country but, for now, why not check out our Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Experience? This project is open to volunteers across all ages and capabilities: families with children as young as 13 years old will love learning about the Olive Ridley turtle, as well as aiding conservation efforts to protect the species; and whether you travel as a group, solo or as a couple, there are multiple enjoyable experiences to take part in, such as night patrol of the turtles and the education of local school children. Our upcoming project (we can’t give too much away just yet!) will, too, cater to people of all ages and capabilities – all we ask is that you’re passionate about conservation, and if you are, you’ll have an incredible time travelling with us.

U is for… Uvita

Uvita de Osa is a small village which can be found in southern Costa Rica, and is renowned for hosting a number of annual music events. The village is also home to a cluster of guesthouses, farmer’s markets, and tiny shops in which you can purchase traditional brickabrack, or simply peruse at your own leisure.

That said, Uvita's main attraction is the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena: a pristine marine reserve famous for its migrating pods of humpback whales and its virtually abandoned wilderness beaches. Beautiful waterfalls can also be found nearby, and once a year it holds the country's biggest hippie-fest, the Envision Festival.

V is for…Volcanoes

Costa Rica is home to a bunch of incredible volcanoes…many of which you can visit! The most famous of all is Poas (though a recent eruption does mean that tours are being held off for the time being): as arguably the most popular destinations in the Central Valley, Poas is also one of the world’s largest active volcanoes.
Across the whole of the country, though, the Arenal volcano is perhaps the favourite amongst visitors. Part of its allure may be down to its close proximity to coffee plantations and other such attractions, but the main draw has to be the stunning natural location in which Arenal makes its home. Nestled amongst trees and surrounded by fertile landscape, this volcano makes for the perfect backdrop for your Instagram shots, or even as a great base for adventure touring and trekking.

W is for… Windsurfing

Not interested in trekking up near a volcano? Thrill-seek in other ways by going windsurfing! Like kayaking, windsurfing is a popular water-based activity for those looking for something a little different with their spare time. As previously mentioned, Lake Arenal is a wonderful location to take an excursion, with its surrounds being incomparable. Other areas have harsher winds and waves, which are great for experienced surfers to get a little practice (or just to have good fun!), while locations such as the Golfo de Papagayo are known for their calmer waters and overall less intensity – a great selection for novices.

X is for… Xandari Plantation

The Xandari Plantation is a unique resort and spa in Costa Rica which, admittedly, will loosen those purse strings somewhat (a night’s stay in June will typically set you back a cool £185); that said, the resort is simply stunning. Set in Tacacori de Alajuela and overlooking the majestic Central Valley, Xandari is not only heaven on earth, but seems to be a world away from the considerable hustle and bustle of Costa Rica.

In addition to its rustic aesthetic, Xandari is also something of an eco-lodge with conservation in mind. A nature reserve makes up much of the property’s grounds, and care for the land (as well as recycling) is paramount. The resort also runs a plant-a-tree program, in that guests are provided with a tree (and the know-how of an accompanying expert!), then taken to a location to plant their tree. The tree then grows into a reminder of their stay, providing hope and motivation to the guests who plant it and, of course, the tree itself provides shelter and shade to local animals – as well as contributing to the fight against global warming. Pretty neat, huh?

Y is for… Yoga

Yoga is an increasingly popular pastime, gaining new fans and admirers the whole word over. However, it seems as if Costa Rica has long-since been ahead of the trend, with many resorts offering retreats with mindfulness in, erm, mind. With scenery as tranquil and serene as it is in Costa Rica, the country really does lend itself to relaxed activities such as yoga and meditation.

Z is for…Zip Lining

Finally, why not keep your head in the clouds and experience Costa Rica from above? We’ve spoken a lot about thrill-seeking activities during this guide, but this particular pastime deserves a section all to itself. Ziplining in Costa Rica offers fantastic panoramic views, a unique sense of adventure, and provides the perfect emotional rush to end your holiday on a high. There are countless tour operators who can provide zip-lining adventures across a range of brilliant locations, from way above the canopies down to the wilderness below. Embrace the metaphor that so easily lends itself to this awesome activity, and experience the ultimate high on your zipline adventure.

Check out part one of our A-Z of Costa Rica by clicking here, or head to our destination page to see which projects you could be a part of!


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