Costa Rica

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Surfer at Punta Cocles (Photo: Costa Rica Tourist Board)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 15, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Costa Rica, Jessica Labrencis, Malaysia, Munich, San Diego, seasonality, Seattle, vacation package.

Costa Rica is an affordable destination year-round. Perhaps the most popular country for tourists in Latin America, Costa Rica is still a bargain for Americans, with hotel rates starting well under $100. May 1 marks the beginning of "green season," Costa Rica's off-peak rainy season, when hotel rates tend to drop even further and remain low through November. Rain shouldn't be a deterrent though, as it rarely rains all day.

With beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and a plethora of adventurous activities, Costa Rica appeals to all types of travelers. Soft adventure activities include canopy (zip-line) tours high above treetops in national parks, white-water rafting on the Sarapiqui River near La Fortuna, and hiking Poás, an active volcano. Surfers head to Tamarindo, Jacó, or any one of several beaches known for great waves. Tourists can hike and interact with wildlife (including friendly white-faced monkeys) at Manuel Antonio National Park, and bird-watch for quetzals at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

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Though many areas of Costa Rica are very popular, visitors can find secluded spots with pristine beaches and lush jungles. On the Pacific Coast, the Osa Peninsula and the Nicoya Peninsula offer off-the-beaten-path experiences.

On April 5, Spirit will begin the first low-fare service to San Jose, initially three times weekly, and increasing to daily service in May.

Accommodations in Costa Rica are inexpensive year-round, but you can save even more by visiting during the off-peak months. I found late-spring savings of up to $50 per night.

Hotel Room type Off-peak rate Peak rate
Arenal Observatory Lodge Standard room $55 (May 1 to November 30, 2007) $68 (December 1, 2006, to April 30, 2007)
Bosque del Cabo Standard room $140 (May 2 to November 15) $150 (January 3 to May 1)
Hotel Belmar Main build room $76 (May 1 to November 30, 2007) $95 (December 1, 2006, to April 30, 2007)
Sueño del Mar Queen bed room $145 (May 1 to 31, September 1 to October 31) $195 (January 1 to April 30, June 1 to August 31, November 1 through December 31)

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and were found on each provider's website.

For more information about visiting Costa Rica, check Costa Rica Tourism and Travel Bureau's website, or GoVisitCostaRica.com.

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