Arenal Volcano and swimming pool.
Where is Costa Rica?
A Mantled Howler monitoring action on Playa Grande beach. Photo by Cephas.
North of Costa Rica lies Nicaragua and to the south Panama. Neither region offers much in the way of tourism interest though slightly further north are Mexico and Guatemala, both diverse and loaded with attractions, while serious wildlife watchers with fat wallets could head down to Ecuador and cruise out to the magnificent Galapagos Islands.
It’s not difficult to get to CR overland from North America though Texas is 2500 miles north; Peñas Blancas on the west coast is the main border crossing from Nicaragua.
Arenal, like many Central Americans, hasn’t given up smoking. Photo by Javier Losa
The best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to May when it’s cooler and drier, unless you’re a committed surfer in which case the big stuff appears on the Pacific side from April-October. The rest of the year is a variably wet season, though it doesn’t usually rain all day, mostly a heavy hour or two in the afternoon.
The coasts – both Pacific and Caribbean sides – are pretty much always hot, ranging from the low 20Cs (70F) to high 30Cs (90F+), with high humidity (which is more tiring than the heat). San José, the less-than-inspiring capital has a much more comfortable climate due to its altitude of 1100m (3770ft) with temperatures ranging from 15C (60F) to 26C (80F).
Manuel Antonio beach by Eric Gunther.