Travel in Latin America
By: Paul Orr
Considering a romantic or family Costa Rica vacation? You're choosing one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Costa Rica has been called the Hawaii of Central America. A Costa Rica vacation is full of beauty, lush foliage, many wildlife surprises, incredible lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.
Activities on a Costa Rica vacation include bird and butterfly watching, surfing, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, tree top (canopy) tours, four wheeling, snorkeling, shopping, hiking, river rafting, horse back riding and casinos. On a Costa Rica vacation you'll find pristine beaches, tropical jungles, clear blue skies, high mountain rain forest, and tropical sun. That's why Costa Rica was aptly named ‘rich coast’ by Christopher Columbus in 1502.
Nature is Costa Rica's green card. Wildlife diversity and exceptional landscapes merge in a long list of untouched lands and protected areas that will get you involved in as many Costa Rica expedition activities and adventure sports as you can imagine.
Costa Rica is unusually blessed by the diversity of its butterflies. There exists about 20,000 butterfly species worldwide. Of these, about 1,000 or 5% can be found in Costa Rica.
With more than 850 species of birds, all found within a tight geographic area, Costa Rica offers birders of all levels of expertise an unrivaled bird watching experience. Birders out on the trail in Costa Rica's forests should keep an eye out for mixed flocks foraging on certain types of food, especially fruit, in the forest canopy.
Costa Rica is home to roughly 150 species of amphibians, some of which are extremely colorful and exotic. There are tree frogs, which spend their entire lives above the forest floor, breeding in the water of tank bromeliads or in holes in the trunks of trees. Others, like the poison-arrow frog, are exuberantly colored, ranging from bright red with blue or green legs to bright green with black markings. There are over 200 species of reptiles in Costa Rica. The 14 turtle species include both marine and freshwater varieties. The largest of the marine turtles are leatherbacks. Their shells are up to 5 feet and they weigh upwards of 800 pounds! Marine turtles climb up sandy beaches to lay their eggs, a spectacular sight because it happens en masse.
Costa Rica is home to over 9,000 identified species of vascular plants, including over 900 different species of trees. Costa Rica is home to some 1,500 species of orchids. From sub-alpine dwarf vegetation, rainforest flora from sea level to mangrove swamps and seasonal dry forest with its deciduous trees, there is an astounding range of floral habitats for a country so small.
The protection of Costa Rica's natural heritage is managed by the respective national parks and reserves. These areas protect many species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fresh and salt-water fish, and a vast number of identified vascular plants-representing 4% of the world's total floral and faunal species.
In addition, these management groups protect examples of almost all the existing natural habitats such as deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, rain forests, herbaceous swamps, cloud forests, paramos, hilillo forests and marshlands. They also protect areas of historical and archaeological interest, such as pre-Columbian settlements and early battlefields, as well as beautiful areas of scenic interest, such as beaches, valleys and waterfalls. But above all, the areas of particular interest to the conservationist are the zones which protect the last remaining examples of Central American dry forest and the beaches where the sea turtles nest.
The protection of Costa Rica's natural resources has implications beyond its borders because they encompass an incredible biodiversity, including numerous species on the verge of extinction. All of this is the reason the country has become one of the most popular destinations for visiting ecologists and biologists. On the whole, access to these areas and facilities are freely available provided the visitor respects the need to protect them. These protected areas are ideal for hiking and rafting, for watching the birds and other wildlife, for camping and just for enjoying in general, their rivers, beaches, jungles, mountain forests, volcanoes as well as their historic and archaeological sites.
A Costa Rica vacation is fast becoming the #1 romantic honeymoon and family vacation destination in the world. Whether it's your honeymoon or family vacation-- Exotic, Romantic and Nature-- the perfect ingredients for that special get away, what more could you ask for on your vacation. An unbeatable choice for those travelers looking for a combination of relaxation, romance and activity. The atmosphere on a Costa Rica vacation is "Pura-Vida", the pure life.