Costa Rica Travel Guide
Welcome to beautiful Costa Rica, a country so laid-back and stress-free they have their own phrase for the lifestyle here: pura vida (pronounced poo-dah vee-dah.) It translates to “the pure life” or “the simple life,” and it’s so much more than just a catchy mantra—it’s the country’s cultural identity.
Visiting Costa Rica: Land of la pura vida
Pura vida means waking up every day on the right side of the bed, cherishing the who and what in your life, and leaving your worries of yesterday at the doorstep of today. As soon as you touch down in Costa Rica, you’ll feel pura vida everywhere. It’s in the hustle and bustle of a San José market, the joy of young ticos playing a mejenga (the term for a pick-up soccer game), the kindness of a fourth-generation soda owner (in Costa Rica, soda is the term for a family-owned café), and in the enthusiasm of a zipline instructor telling you to “go for it!” moments before you’re soaring through the clouds and over treetops.
Nature, culture, and wellness
Pura vida is an always optimistic outlook fueled by delicious Mesoamerican-inspired cuisine, the freshest coffee, the occasional guaro sour cocktail, and an abundance of natural beauty unmatched anywhere else in the world. Costa Rica is scenic AF. Rainforests, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches, coral reefs—this is a #nofilter paradise if you’ve ever seen one. All those epic landscapes and dramatic terrains are playgrounds for adventurous, thrill-seeking travelers. And as the adrenaline wears off, you’ll soon find yourself reaching maximum levels of relaxation—be it basking in a natural hot spring after a long hike, doing yoga on the beach as distant surfers shred the waves, or enjoying an organic, farm-to-table meal that enriches the body and mind. Costa Rica is a remedy for whatever ails you—an elixir made from passion fruit, mangoes, guava, papayas, and then topped off with the unadulterated warmth of its people.
Climate and biodiversity
In Costa Rica, the average temperature year-round hovers between 70-80° F. It’s the perfect setting for a lazy day at the beach or a trek up a mountain—the choice is yours. With a tropical and sub-tropical climate, you won’t find your classic four seasons here. Instead, Costa Rica has a dry season (December to April) and a rainy season (May to November). But this unique climate and variety of ecosystems contributes to a profound scale of plant and animal life, to the tune of 4% of the world’s total biodiversity—that’s half a million different species. (Yeah, we paid attention in biology class.) The incredible wildlife and vibrant flora can turn even the most novice Instagram feed into National Geographic, as you snap photos of monkeys, sloths, toucans, ocelots, sea turtles, and more against a lusciously green forest backdrop or the colorful orchids the country is known for.
Sustainability and ecotourism
Mother Earth has hashtag blessed Costa Rica with plenty, so it’s only fitting that the country goes to great lengths to protect its most vital asset. Costa Rica has become the posterchild for ecotourism, with 29 national parks, 19 wildlife refuges, and eight biological reserves. Visitors enjoy remarkable landscapes and habitats in their most natural form. Costa Rica is dedicated to going carbon-neutral soon, investing heavily in reforestation efforts. When you visit Costa Rica, you see firsthand the stunning results of this preservation. But beyond the land, sustainability is practiced through the country’s organic agriculture, unique cuisine, arts, crafts, and ultimately through the spirit of the local communities. With every hand-made souvenir you buy, every meal you eat from a mom-and-pop restaurant, and every conversation you have with a local—you’re helping assist with Costa Rica’s cultural sustainability. You’ll no doubt leave this magical place with a better understanding of your own environmental and cultural footprint.
For a small country, Costa Rica packs a big punch.
Leave your comfort zone behind and explore nature like never before.
Swim in the river flowing into La Fortuna Waterfall
Destress, unwind, and find your inner pura vida.
Relax on the tranquil beaches of Puntarenas
Experience firsthand the history of Costa Rica and the passion of its people.
Browse the food, souvenir & craft stalls at San José’s Central Market
Flights. Accommodations. Activities. And a rockstar Tour Director that knows a hidden beach with the perfect Instagram backdrop.
This is group travel with EF Ultimate Break. Expertly crafted itineraries, everything included. We keep your stress levels low and holy-s#!t-that-was-awesome levels high.
Capital: San José
Staple Meal: Gallo Pinto
Cool Down With: Imperial Lager
Cool Off At: La Fortuna Waterfall
Can’t Miss: Manuel Antonio National Park
Can’t Un-hear: Howler monkeys
Pura Vida: Pure life or simple life
Tico/Tica: Local Costa Ricans
¡Qué chiva!: Awesome!
Guaro: A sweet, sugar-cane liquor
Soda: An authentic, local café
Chunche: Anything you don’t know the word for
Eat like a local
Bonus points if you eat with a local.
National dish of Costa Rica: rice-and-bean breakfast combo eaten with scrambled or fried eggs.
Travel to Costa Rica safely with EF Ultimate Break
Costa Rica Adventure
10 days. 4 cities
Nature’s calling. You up? Experience the greatest hits of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast on this 10-day adrenaline bender, jam-packed with jungle hiking, whitewater rafting, ziplining through rainforests, splashing around in waterfalls—and soaking up that pura vida culture along the way.
We know a spot or two
Costa Rica doesn't have a bad side. But come with us and explore the coolest spots of its