Costa Rica, a land of beauty and abundance
Where rivers and lakes, mountains and volcanoes, oceans and a seemingly endless supply of wildlife all thrive. Costa Rica is a small Central American country that is bursting at the seams with a rich array of biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes to discover. Even the name Costa Rica means “rich coast,” or “beautiful coast.”
It’s no surprise why our country is one of the top vacation destinations in all Latin America for people seeking sunshine, adventure and relaxation. Costa Rica has it all, served up with a friendly smile from its wonderfully happy and laid-back people called Ticos who love meeting new visitors and sharing a bit about why life is so great here.
Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas is located on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast, on a secluded part of Playa Langosta, which is just steps from the pretty beach town of Tamarindo. Our location is known as the ideal place to watch Costa Rica’s world-famous sunsets, where the sky becomes illuminated in bright violets, peaches, salmon, pinks and oranges while waves crash against black volcanic rock. Many locals adopt a mission to never miss a sunset, and we encourage you to do the same during your stay with us.
Costa Rica: A pandora’s box of natural wonders
It’s well known that although Costa Rica is a tiny country, it contains almost 5% of the planet’s biodiversity – and has the most dense biodiversity of any country in the world. That means there is a huge abundance of wildlife and unique and exotic plants to see. In addition, a large number of the species that exist in Costa Rica are located only here, and cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
The fact is, Costa Rica, though small, has a varied geography with several different types of ecosystems, including cloud forests, rain forests, Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, mangrove forests and dry forests.
Bird watchers and animal lovers flock to Costa Rica in droves to see this stunning biodiversity, so much so that tourism to the country has been increasing at a steady pace, despite softening economic conditions that are affecting North America and Europe. The result is that this country has remained a paradisiacal destination to escape the worries of back home and relax among the natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle that exists here.
A word about the weather in Costa Rica
Frankly, the weather in Costa Rica is wonderful year-round – especially in the province of Guanacaste, where Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas is situated. City folk from the capital of San Jose flock to Guanacaste to take advantage of the 365-days-a-year sunshine and warm temperatures.
Our region of Costa Rica has two seasons: a dry season and a wet season (sometimes called green season).
The dry season is approximately from November to May, and corresponds with a high rate of tourism. Temperatures during the day can be anywhere from 28 degrees Celsius (82º F) to 35º C (95º F) and at night, it can cool down to 22º C (71º F). The hottest months are usually March and April. In the dry season, flowers bloom and fruits ripen, and the ocean temperature is around 25º C (77º F) – perfect for cooling off after a day bronzing in the sun or surfing sans wetsuit.
On the other hand, the rainy season (which is sometimes also called the wet or green season) from May to October is marked by mostly sunny days, although it sometimes rains in the afternoon. Generally, it does not rain all day, every day, as some people might tell you. In May, afternoon rains make the landscape do a 180º, morphing from brown to bright green, as the leaves return to the trees and leafy tropical plants spring out of the ground. The color of the hillsides change from a dusty gold to lush emerald. It’s a truly spectacular time to visit the country. Temperatures don’t vary much in the rainy season, staying around 28º C to 30º C (82º-86º F) day and night, and stepping into the ocean feels something like slipping into a warm bath. The humidity in the air increases substantially during these months, so you can leave your moisturizer at home. The most rain falls in September and October, and this is also the time to watch spectacular lightning storms roll over the Pacific ocean.
Whether you’re planning to visit us at Cala Luna in the dry or green season, you’ll be treated to a breathtakingly beautiful country with magnificent weather.
For more info and facts about Costa Rica’s geography, environment and biodiversity, check out www.visitcostarica.com (LINK).
Facts and general information you should know before your trip
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, to the north of Panama and south of Nicaragua. All of Central America, including Costa Rica, is in the Central Time Zone – that means that in winter, the time here is the same as Texas, Louisiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. There is no daylight saving time in Costa Rica, so in the summer, the time here is the same as Utah, Colorado, Montana and Arizona.
The local currency in Costa Rica is called the colon (co-LON). If you’re referring to more than one colon, it’s called colones (co-LON-ays). Though the exchange rate changes slightly from time to time, 1 US dollar ($1) is equivalent to about 500 colones.
Nonetheless, the US dollar is accepted almost everywhere in the country, especially in places frequented by tourists, such as the Tamarindo area. You may choose to pay in dollars while you’re here, but if you do, you’ll often get your change back in colones.
Here are a few examples to help make the conversion easy.
10,000 colones = $20
$10 = 5,000 colones
$50 = 25,000 colones
150,000 colones = $300
To convert from colones to dollars, multiply the amount by 2 and remove the last 3 zeros.
To convert from dollars to colones, divide the amount in half and add 3 zeros.
Government and culture
Costa Rica has an ancient, rich and unique culture that stems from its native tribes that once roamed this land. Music, food, family, friends and peace are staples in the culture here and have been vital to the country throughout history and in modern times.
Some people call Costa Rica the Switzerland of the Americas. That’s because in 1948, after WWII, the country banned its military in favor of peace, and diverted the funds the government once spent on its army to security, education and health. As a result, education including university is now free for Costa Rican citizens. Hence, the population of Costa Rica is highly educated and boasts a 95% literacy rate.
Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are proud to have a constitutional democracy and the population is keen to discuss politics and the state of their government. They hold fair elections every four years to choose a president and representatives to speak for the regions where they live.
The capital city is San Jose, located approximately in the middle of the country. It’s a modern, cosmopolitan city with highrises and shopping malls. About 300,000 people live in the actual city limits of San Jose, but the greater capital area which includes several other cantons, holds more than 2 million people – almost half the population of the entire country. The population of Costa Rica is about 4.8 million people.
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, although you’ll find that most people speak at least basic English and many speak English fluently.
Thanks to tourism booming in Costa Rica over the last 10 years or so, the country has become progressively safer and does not have the same security issues that plague some other Central American countries.
In Tamarindo and other hot tourism destinations along the Pacific coast of the country, the locals know that tourists drive the economy and are very respectful towards visitors. You may even feel more safe here than you do at home – Ticos are very friendly and kind people.
That said, it is always important to exercise caution when you’re on vacation, no matter where you go. We recommend that our guests not be flashy with their cash and always be mindful of their valuables – don’t leave bills or cellphones loose in your pockets. When you’re at the beach, especially Playa Tamarindo, do not leave valuables in your beach bag as things that are left unattended have been known to go missing. During your stay at Cala Luna, we encourage our guests to always leave all valuables securely locked inside the safe box, located in your room.