Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Surfers sunset in Guanacaste

Surfers leave the Pacific Ocean during sunset in Santa Cruz de Guanacaste, 250 miles (402.34 km) northern of San Jose, April 28, 2008.
REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tabacon's beauty

Bruce Thompason took the beautiful picture of this cascade in Tabacon Hot Springs in La Fortuna de San Carlos, Alajuela. He has taken several stuning photos of Tiquicia while living and travelling across the country. To see more of his flickr photos click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Costa Rica's best beaches

Manuel Antonio BeachThe Beaches around Playa Samara: Playa Samara itself is nice enough, but if you venture just slightly farther afield, you'll find some of the nicest and least developed beaches along the entire Guanacaste coast. Playa Carrillo is a long, almost always deserted crescent of palm-backed white sand located just south of Sámara, while Playa Barrigona and Playa Buena Vista are two hidden gems tucked down a couple of dirt roads to the north.

Playa Montezuma: This tiny beach town at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula has weathered fame and infamy, but retains a funky sense of individuality. European backpackers, vegetarian yoga enthusiasts, and UFO seekers choose Montezuma's beach over any other in Costa Rica. The waterfalls are what set it apart from the competition, but the beach stretches for miles, with plenty of isolated spots to plop down your towel or mat. Nearby are the Cabo Blanco and Curu wildlife preserves.

Malpais: While the secret is certainly out, there's still some time to visit Costa Rica's hot spot before the throngs arrive. With just a smattering of luxury lodges, surf camps, and simple cabinas, Malpais is the place to come if you're looking for miles of deserted beaches and great surf. If you find Malpais is too crowded, head farther on down the road to Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa, and Manzanillo.

Manuel Antonio: The first beach destination to become popular in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio retains its charms despite burgeoning crowds and mushrooming hotels. The beaches inside the national park are idyllic, and the views from the hills approaching the park are enchanting. This is one of the few remaining habitats for the endangered squirrel monkey. Rooms with views tend to be a bit expensive, but many a satisfied guest will tell you they're worth it.

Punta Uva: Below Puerto Viejo, the beaches of Costa Rica's eastern coast take on true Caribbean splendor, with turquoise waters, coral reefs, and palm-lined stretches of nearly deserted white-sand beach. Punta Uva and Manzanillo are the two most sparkling gems of this coastline. Tall coconut palms line the shore, providing shady respite for those who like to spend a full day on the sand, and the water is usually quite calm and good for swimming.

Information provided by Frommers

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A renovated Barcelo Rincon del Valle Hotel reopens

San Jose, Costa Rica (PRNewswire) - Barcelo Hotels & Resorts announced the reopening of The Barcelo Rincon del Valle Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. The hotel has doubled its size and has upgraded its services and amenities to become an upscale Barcelo Hotel.

The expansion includes the addition of 22 new guestrooms and suites bringing to 42 the total number of guestrooms and suites. The new guestrooms include 16 junior suites with kitchenettes. In addition, all existing guestrooms have been refurbished and upgraded with new furnishings and amenities.

Additional hotel services include a meeting room that can accommodate up to 30 people, and a board room that can seat eight people. The hotel also added a new mini-fitness center, a buffet restaurant and bar, as well as room service. The Barcelo Rincon del Valle Hotel is equipped with WIFI and offers additional business services such as airport transfers

The Barcelo Rincon del Valle Hotel is located in the Southern Sabana area, across from Sabana Park in the main tourist area of San Jose.

For more information and reservations visit www.barcelo.com or call 1-800- BARCELO.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Some practical notes on travel to Costa Rica

by Chris Welsch
Minneapolis Star Tribune

GETTING THERE
From January to March, Northwest offers direct flights to the town of Liberia near Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Last week, Continental was advertising round-trip fares (with connections) to Liberia for as little as $600. Costa Rica's biggest city, San Jose, has the country's other major airport.

GETTING AROUND
The roads are rough and signs are few, but some turistas brave them in rental cars. Opt for the bus or one of several shuttle services that connect towns and parks with low-priced fares, about $48 from San Jose to Monteverde, for example (www.costaricashuttleservice.com).

WHERE TO STAY
In Monteverde, I stayed at the Hotel Fonda Vela, a tastefully furnished resort with rooms for about $100 a night. The upper-level bar has a veranda with views that extend to the Gulf of Nicoya, at least 50 miles away (www.fondavela.com). At Arenal, I stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, with unobscured views of the volcano and trails that lead into the national park. Rates range from $58 to $150 (www.arenalobservatory lodge.com).

CURRENCY
Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America. One U.S. dollar equals about 500 colones, the local currency. In tourist areas, costs for food, taxis and lodging are comparable to those in the United States.

GUIDE SERVICE
I hired a guide/driver through Preferred Adventures of St. Paul. Costs vary depending on group size and itinerary, but figure on about $100 per person per day (www.preferred adventures.com).