Why 2017 is the Year to Go to Costa Rica
Why 2017 is the year to go
Costa Rica’s reputation precedes itself as one of the top destinations for adventure travellers and surfers, and in 2017, it will be even easier for Canadians to get there thanks to new seasonal flights from Air Canada and Air Transat to the capital city of San Jose. And, at a time when it’s costly for Canadians to visit other beach and tropical destinations, the Canadian dollar is strong there, making next year the time to see Costa Rica’s natural beauty firsthand.
Plus, nonstop flights from Toronto and Montreal are both less than six hours, making it easy to swap snow for sand underfoot in just one short travel day, with no jet lag. The Central American country is on the same time zone as the Saskatchewan.
What it’s known for
The beautiful ecosystems in Costa Rica are as diverse and plentiful as the locals are warm and welcoming. This tiny Central American country is a true nature lover’s paradise as over a fourth of the country is protected -- and most of these places are easily accessible for travellers, allowing them to see a variety of habitats in just one visit.
In addition to kilometres of picture-perfect beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, national parks teeming with wildlife, the iconic Arenal Volcano, and luxurious resorts and ecolodges, visitors will find a laid-back lifestyle they’ll want to take home with them.
Note: From Canada, most flights come into the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), which is centrally located near San José, where you can then travel anywhere in the country. But for those looking for a quieter vacation on the Pacific Coast, consider flying into the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Guanacaste.
One insider tip
Opt for the 4×4 when renting a vehicle. Secondary and mountain roads can be narrow and rough -- especially when rains cause potholes or washouts. You should also get the GPS -- road signs aren’t common outside the main cities, and even then it’s spotty.
Best time to visit
Dry season runs from December-April, and beach towns swell with visitors, meaning popular tours and resorts can be booked up months in advance. Savvy travelers often visit during shoulder season (May-July and November) to save some money, but roads can get muddy and become harder to navigate. Surfers brave the low season (August-October) to stay on the Pacific, where the rainfall makes for the best swells. However, during this time, rural roads can by impassable across the country, limiting how much people can see during a stay.
Considered by connoisseurs as some of the best beans in the world, Costa Rica’s coffee has largely shaped the country’s tourism industry and history. Visitors to the Central Valley region (where growing conditions have rich volcanic soil at a high altitude) can see the plantations and the process for themselves through educational programs, where guests can learn to distinguish between varieties while sipping some of the freshest cups worldwide.
- Passport needed: Yes, but visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least six months after their trip dates.
- Money used: As of November 2016, $1 is about 410 colones (₡). Tipping is not the norm across the country, but a service charge of 10% is almost always included.
- Visa needed: There are no visa requirements for Canadians for stays of 90 days or shorter.
- Plugs: Voltage and plugs are the same as in Canada
- Internet availability: Wi-Fi is common in most 3- and 4-star hotels as well as more budget accommodations. There are far fewer Internet cafes than in years past.