Overview

Introduction

Sandwiched between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica (‘Rich Coast’) is widely regarded as one of Central America’s notable success stories. Stable, democratic and relatively prosperous, this small nation boasts a particularly enviable reputation for ecotourism coupled to spectacular wildlife. Costa Rican holidays also embrace both adventure and relaxed luxury while tours and itineraries can be specifically designed around bird watching or honeymoons. 

It was early 16th-century Spanish conquistadores, perhaps even Christopher Columbus himself, who labelled this tropical land ‘Rich Coast’ after reputedly seeing ‘natives’ weighed down by chunky jewellery and gold. These stirring reports proved largely unfounded. There were few indigenous people (for it was sparsely populated) and little in the way of natural resources. Even under Spanish colonisation until independence in 1821, Costa Rica remained an isolated and little-fancied backwater.

First planted in the early 1800s, it was coffee and later bananas that helped build and support the nation. Ironically Costa Rica has also proved rich in ways the Spanish conquistadores never imagined. This is widely considered to be among the most biodiverse regions on the planet – an astonishing 4% of the earth’s species can be found here on barely 0.5% of its landmass, and many are endemic. More than a quarter of the country is either a national park, or protected area or wildlife reserve and ‘Ticos’ (as Costa Ricans are popularly known) are rightly proud of this unmatched dedication to nature.

So, for good reason, this is one of the world’s premier eco-tourist destinations with almost unrivalled easy access to wildlife in its natural habitat. Its extraordinary biodiversity is a factor of geography. Situated just north of the equator with the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, a predominant tropical climate is tempered by terrain and rainfall. Lush tropical and mangrove forests on the coast and its hinterland give way to deciduous uplands, misty cloud forests and an array of microclimates. There’s no shortage of scenic drama either; a mountainous spine with around one hundred identifiable volcanoes – a handful of which remain active – peaks at 3820m-high Chirripó Grande.

This remarkable variety also means Costa Rica offers far more than high-minded ecotourism. The core ingredients for exciting adventure holidays are here too: wonderful hiking, white-water rafting, mountain biking and even horse riding. Ranging from turquoise-tinged sandy arcs to dreamy lagoon-like shallows, its picturesque coastline – particularly the Pacific – offer myriad opportunities to surf or simply idle on idyllic beaches.


A Costa Rica holiday at a glance

  • Beautiful and compact country.
  • 25% of country is National Park or protected area.
  • Jungle, beaches, cloudforest and active volcanoes.
  • Easy to get around – perfect for self-drive.
  • Dry season December to April, but most areas can be visited all year round.
  • Amazing selection of wildlife- including turtles, monkeys, sloths, butterflies, caiman, crocodiles, iguanas, poison dart frogs and armadillo.
  • Excellent bird watching – over 800 species including hummingbirds, toucans and scarlet macaws.
  • Wonderful flora – including 8,000 species of orchid, 150 species of edible fruits and  ‘walking palm trees'.
  • Excellent boutique hotels and jungle lodges available across the country.
  • Ideal for Costa Rica adventure holidays, activities include white water rafting and horse riding.
  • Perfect for honeymoons and romantic getaways.
  • Great for families.
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Getting there

There are direct flights with British Airways from London Gatwick to San Jose.  Iberia operate  from London Heathrow to San Jose via Madrid.  Other options from London Heathrow include Air France to San Jose via Paris and Avianca via Bogota.  Also there are flights from London Heathrow to San Jose via the United States (Houston, New York/Newark and Miami) with United or American Airlines.  Any flights via the US require an ESTA application. Regional departures include Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham.

Combinations

Combine the wildlife of Costa Rica with the fascinating indigenous communities of Panama or the rich and colourful cultures and archaeological sites of Guatemala and Mexico,

Useful information

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It is a nature-lover’s paradise. I love the fact that 25% of its land is protected by national parks and reserves. Seeing a puma or a vivid flash of morpho butterflies in Corcovado is a real thrill! Rafting a river is a must!

Lloyd Boutcher
Lloyd Boutcher
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT - 6hrs

Currency

Costa Rican Colon or US dollar

Language

Spanish

Average flight times

11 hours. BA direct flight from London Gatwick.

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Talk to our Costa Rica expert

Lloyd Boutcher
Lloyd Boutcher

It is a nature-lover’s paradise. I love the fact that 25% of its land is protected by national parks and reserves. Seeing a puma or a vivid flash of morpho butterflies in Corcovado is a real thrill! Rafting a river is a must!

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

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  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
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  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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