Paradise Found: Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a playground for the big kids. The sandboxes are enormous, someone is always willing to push you on the swings, and you can ride the merry-go-round as much as you want and never get sick.Put these factors together with an average air temperature of 80 degrees, an average water temperature of 81, and 72 in the mountains and you’ve got a full blown amusement park.Costa Rica is roughly the same size as West Virginia and is sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama. It is seen as the success story of Central America because of its ability to maintain a stable, efficient democratic government due in large part to good technology exports and tourism. The standard of living is relatively high so the land is well distributed amongst the population.Due to the fact that tourism is such a large part of the Costa Rican economy, help is available from anyone who can understand your English or your high school Spanish. The people are accommodating and helpful at any hour of the day.When arriving in Costa Rica the dramatic landscape that meets both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea make an awe-inspiring first impression. Lush green tropical rainforests coat the sides offertile mountains and dead volcanoes from left to right and top to bottom. The abundant green converts to a warm teal color when the ocean meets up with the land in a scene that is straight out of a Corona commercial. Paper white sand coats the 774 miles of coast line that Costa Rica has to offer.Aquatic activities are plentiful in Costa Rica. From sailing to scuba diving to surfing to kayaking, you can spend all your days on the water and never feel like you’re getting enough of it.Some of the best surfing in the world is done in Costa Rica. From the soulful village of Tamarindo where ‘Endless Summer II’ was filmed to the legendary Witch’s Rock, surfing is a culture and a lifestyle of all its own. The laid back and hospitable attitude of most of the natives and shop owners, many knowledgeable locals are willing to spend a little time with you and figure out where you want to go, and when. And then they’ll provide a board for you that will handle wherever you go. The scuba diving and snorkeling is something not to be missed when visiting Costa Rica. A private dive boat with a guide can be chartered for as little as $200 a day with all the equipment included. The boat will take you to a multitude of spots depending on your preference of water depth and what you want to look at. While you’re under water ranging from depths of two to eighty two feet don’t be surprised if while you’re looking at the manta ray with a five foot wing span you suddenly find yourself engulfed by thousands of 18 inch tropical fish who will let you swim amongst them. ?? ? ? ? ? ? While a good majority of the coast is covered in sand, the rest is occupied by volcanic rock that could be as young as a thousand years old. Kayaking from beach to beach is a great way to spend a day discovering the diverse coast line.?? ? ? ? ? ? When the water activities make you want to go inland then Costa Rica has active and non-active volcanoes to satisfy your volcanology itch. Of the nine volcanoes in Costa Rica, two of them are still active. The Poas volcano is inactive but has the second largest crater in the world. Tours on horseback or by foot can be taken up boththe active and inactive to the boiling hot springs and clay pits that thrive off the heat of the volcanic molten lava. Zip line tours are also a popular and thrilling way to tour the rainforest. Thick steel cables suspend you one hundred feet over the rainforest floor as you whiz from treetop to treetop like a bird riding the gentle breeze. This experience is once-in-a-lifetime for most and should not be passed up.?? ? ? ? ? ? Possibly the greatest thing about traveling to Costa Rica are the variety of accommodations that one can experience while there. On the upper end of the spectrum are the all inclusive resorts where all food, drink and activities are included on one flat rate. Just below that are full functioning huts with running water and electricity that are available through time-shares or through private rentals. There are also many clean and safe hotels from the larger known chains like Holiday Inn and Marriott. But perhaps one of the more interesting options would have to be camping. Camping in a tent is completely legal and almost encourage for the traveler looking to rough it a little more than crisp cotton towels and margaritas at ten in the morning. Camping is allowed one hundred feet from the ocean almost anywhere in Costa Rica and due to the low crime rate, is sometimes just as safe as staying in a hotel. The currency conversion ends up being about four Costa Rican collones to one U.S. dollar. Round trip airfare can be found on US Air for about $500 during the summer and $700 during the winter.