9 Interesting Things About Costa Rica You Probably Don’t Know

Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and diverse, beautiful landscapes. But, it has plenty more to offer. Here are 9 interesting things about Costa Rica.

Interesting Things About Costa Rica 1

What’s some interesting Costa Rica trivia?

Costa Rica has numerous active volcanoes, beautiful birds, vast biodiversity, hundreds of different species of butterflies, four UNESCO world heritage sites, delicious coffee, and 12 climatic zones. It’s also one of the happiest countries on earth.

Located between Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and the country offers unique and memorable travel experiences. 

And, this can be attributed to its numerous attractions like lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, river valleys, cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife, just to name a few.

Also, it has world-class hotels and restaurants, where you can stay as you explore its various attractions.

So, whether you are planning a family trip, a solo vacation or a getaway with a loved one, there’s something for everyone in this Central American country, and many tourists have confirmed this as much.

However, there are plenty of other interesting things to know and discover about Costa Rica. In this guide, we will take you through 9 interesting things to know about this amazing country.

One of the Happiest Countries

Interesting Things About Costa Rica 1 1

Costa Rica ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, according to a survey conducted by Happy Planet Index.

In fact, it’s currently only second to Bhutan when it comes to happiness. So, if you are visiting Costa Rica, you can expect a friendly welcome and smiles wherever your adventures take you.

Besides its happy population, Costa Rica also enjoys a high life expectancy. The life expectancy in this country is currently 80 years – which is one of the highest across the globe.

This Central American country also boasts one of the top five blue zones in the world.  A blue zone refers to an area where the residents live longer than average lives. 

Costa Rica’s blue zone is in the Nicoya Peninsula. People living over 100 years old are commonplace here.  

Numerous Active Volcanoes

There are five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. These are Poas, Turrialba, Irazu, Rincon de la Vieja and Arenal. 

Also, there are around 200 other extinct or dormant volcanoes here. Arenal used to be the country’s most active volcano for many years. However, it has been quiet since 2010.

You can find most of the country’s volcanoes within three mountain ranges. These are the Guanacaste Volcanic Range located in the northern part of the country, close to its border with Nicaragua.

You can find the Arenal here. Others in this range include Miravalles, Rincon de la Vieja, Tenorio and Orosi, just to name a few.

There’s also the Central Volcanic Range. As its name suggests, this range is located in the center of Costa Rica.

You will find mountains like the Poas, Irazu, Turrialba and Barva, among others. The third volcanic range is the Talamanca, located in the southern part of the country. Here, you will find the El Viejo Volcano.

The Poas Volcano, located in the Central Volcanic Range, has the second-biggest volcanic crater globally.

Its crater lake measures approximately 900 feet deep and over a mile wide. If you will be in Costa Rica for a couple of days, a day trip to the Poas Volcano will be worth your time.  

Plenty of Beautiful Birds

Interesting Things About Costa Rica 2

Costa Rica is home to more than 900 species, both migrant and resident. You will also find some of the most beautiful birds in this country, including various species of toucans, parrots, parakeets, macaws, and tanagers.

You will also find lots of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. Currently, there are approximately 50 species of hummingbirds here. 

So, there’s a high chance you will see a couple outside your hotel room during your vacation in Costa Rica.

The coppery-headed emerald hummingbird and the mangrove hummingbird are totally endemic to this country. 

You can find hummingbirds almost anywhere in this country. However, the biggest populations reside in and around the cloud forests like Bajos del Toro, Monteverde and Paz Waterfall Gardens.  

For prime viewing, you should head to La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, located on the northeastern side of the Poas Volcano. Here, you can catch around 26 species of these small and extremely beautiful birds.

Vast Biodiversity

Despite being such a small country, Costa Rica is extremely diverse when it comes to animals and plants

It’s home to more than 500,000 different species of plants and animals. In fact, this country makes up around 5% of the global biodiversity, contained in its forests and the sea.

Furthermore, National Geographic declared the country’s Corcovado National Park as the most biologically-rich place on earth.

It’s currently ranked in the top 20 when it comes to biodiversity.

Some of the animals that you can see in the forests include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars, sloths, ocelots, whitetail deer, squirrels and Iguanas. 

And in the sea, you can see animals like sea turtles, lizards and crocodiles, just to name a few.

The best places for wildlife viewing in Costa Rica are the Corcovado National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Tortuguero National Park, Palo Verde National Park, La Amistad International Peace Park, and Santa Rosa National Park.

Home to a Vast Population of Butterflies

Interesting Things About Costa Rica 3

Costa Rica also boasts a huge population of beautiful butterflies. Studies show that approximately 90% of Central America’s butterfly species are in Costa Rica. 

It also has around 18% of all butterfly species in the world as well as around 66% of butterflies in the neotropical region.

If you love watching and photographing butterflies, then the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the rainy season, which falls around mid-June to November. During this time, you will spot almost all the species endemic here.

Some of the most beautiful butterflies here include the blue morpho, owl butterfly, glass wing butterfly, malachite butterfly and the variable cracker. 

You can watch butterflies in any of the country’s rainforests.

But for the best experience, you should check out the Butterfly Observatory in El Castillo, Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, La Paz Waterfall Gardens Butterfly Observatory, and the Butterfly Farm. 

While you may have to part with some money in these butterfly farms and observatories, the experience will be worth it.

Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Despite being such a small country, Costa Rica has four designated United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) sites. These locations have been granted this status due to their natural and cultural significance.

The four UNESCO sites in Costa Rica are the La Amistad National Park, the Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements and the Stone Spheres of Diquis, the Guanacaste Conservation Area and Cocos Island National Park.

Each of these places is open to the public for anyone who wants to visit.

The La Amistad National Park is an untouched and pristine rainforest, shared between Costa Rica and Panama.

It’s renowned for its fascinating array of flora and fauna. Cocos Island National Park is located off the country’s Pacific coast. It’s home to numerous endemic animal and plant species.

And if you are a history lover who loves exploring ancient sites, then you should check out the Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements and the Stone Spheres of Diquis, located on Isla del Cano, Golfito and Rio Terraba.  

Twelve Climate Zones

Another interesting thing about Costa Rica is that it has 12 climatic zones, which is quite a surprise, considering its small size. 

These different micro-climates range from hot and dry to cold and frosty.

The Guanacaste region located in the northwestern part of the country is the driest, despite being along the Pacific coast. As you may expect, the conditions in the highland regions such as the Central Valley are misty and cold while the Caribbean coast is hot, humid and wet.

You may be wondering why there are so many microclimates in Costa Rica. 

According to experts, the main reason why this nation has so many microclimates is its proximity to both the Caribbean Sea on the country’s eastern side and the Pacific Ocean on its western flank, combined with the various mountain ranges separating these two water bodies.

So, if you travel from one side of this country to the other, for instance from the mountains to the coast, you will experience a totally different microclimate. 

Consequently, the best time to visit the country will depend on the region you are targeting.

But generally, December and January are among the best months to visit Costa Rica, since the weather is friendly almost anywhere in the country.

The weather is sunny, the countryside is green from the rainy season, and the rivers have a decent flow for rafting. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then you should visit between May and June.

There are Eight Indigenous Groups

Costa Rica is home to around eight indigenous groups. They include the Bribri, Boruca, Matambu, Guaymi, Maleku, Cabecar, Terraba and Huetar.

The Costa Rican government has recognized these eight indigenous groups, through the Indigenous Law, which was signed into law in 19777. The nation is also a signatory of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

The eight indigenous groups in Costa Rica have gradually started reclaiming their cultural heritage, land rights and languages. 

And while they make up only 2% of the country’s population, they’ve managed to keep their traditions going over the years.

If you will be visiting Costa Rica between December and January, then you should check out the Festival of the Little Devils or the Fiesta de Los Diablitos. It’s a cultural festival hosted by the Boruca Indians, which runs for three days, from 31 December to 2 January.

You should also plan to visit the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, a key reservation for the Bribri people. Here, the indigenous people will teach you how to make hot chocolate. 

And if you can afford to spare more time, then you can also do some rainforest trekking in the reserve.  

Enjoy Delicious Coffee

Costa Rica is one of the biggest exporters of coffee in the world. As you may expect, there’s an abundance of this beverage in Costa Rica. 

From coffee sold at local shops to free coffee offered in hotels, you can never go wrong with a cup of Costa Rican coffee. Also, high-quality coffee is largely available.

You can also go a step further and book a coffee plantation tour. Such tours help visitors to learn more about the country’s connection to this popular beverage. You will learn about the growing and harvesting processes, as well as the conversion of beans to coffee.

Some of the tours that offer the best experiences include Espiritu Santo, Café Monteverde, Finca Rosa Blanca, Don Juan, El Toledo Organic Coffee Farm, Café Britt, Hacienda Alsacia, Santa Maria de Dota Coffee Plantation, and Doka Estate, among others.

Key Takeaways

  • Costa Rica has plenty to offer
  • It has numerous wildlife species
  • Its landscapes are among the most beautiful and diverse
  • You can never run out of things to do or see in Costa Rica