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Five percent of the earth's diversity huddled together on one percent of its land mass — that's Costa Rica. This tiny country has numerous national parks, sanctuaries, and rainforests where you can catch glimpses of wildlife you never even knew existed.
Costa Rica has magnificent beaches, but turn toward the interior and you will discover unlikely Quaker settlements between cloud forests at Monteverde, and spectacular biking routes at the volcanoes of Arenal and Irazu. Water babies need not be limited to the sea alone, duck and dive under the waterfalls scattered across the country's rainforests or head for the whitewater river rapids. If you must stick close to the beach, there's sea kayaking, scuba diving, and fishing off the Peninsula de Nicoya. For a midnight trip to watch thousands of sea turtles hatch, Tortuguero is the place to go.
Gallo Pinto, the traditional meal of rice and black beans is derived from Caribbean food, with a few local additions like coconut milk to give it a uniquely Costa Rican flavour. Meat dishes are common at most meals but since seafood is a major export for the country, it is quite expensive locally. The local coffee is excellent for an early morning boost, while drinks made from fruit, cornmeal, and seeds are an alternative for those not indulging in the potent guaro alcohol.
American, Continental, Delta, United, and America West are some of the airlines that fly to the capital of San Jose (SJO). For Canadians travelling from Toronto, Air Canada has direct flights to Costa Rica. Travellers from other Canadian airports would have to take connecting flights from US or Latin American airports. If your final destination is in the Peninsula de Nicoya, book a flight to the airport in Liberia (LIR) which will save you on a lot of intercity travel time.
Costa Rica has the climates of several countries all wrapped into one. For most of the year, the days are hot, and humid if you're near the coast, while the evenings are cool enough to warrant a jacket. At the Caribbean end, mosquitoes are plentiful so remember to bring some repellent if you're heading that way. The Central Valley has the best climate, not too hot and not too cold, while the highland areas and cloud forests remain cool for much of the year.
Weather-wise, December to April is the best time to visit but the beaches are busy form December to February with holidaymakers and children on leave from school. June and July are also busy with tourists from North America and Europe. Book a trip for March or April to get the best accommodation rates and flight fares, and if you don't mind getting soaked in the May rains, this is a great time to travel and see Costa Rica in all its green glory. For surfing, fishing, bird-watching, and wildlife-spotting, the peak seasons are quite varied, so check ahead of time to get the best deals for your chosen activity.