Properties in Costa Rica Blog

The Costa Rica Christmas

The Costa Rica Christmas

December 9, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

The birth of Jesus Christ, a worldwide celebration where Costa Rica is no exception. The traditions and feelings during this time of the year are in some dimensions, universal. Yet, this country has some interesting accents that can be very special to experience these days to come.

But before going into exploring the particular traditions of the Tico culture during Christmas, there are two important events that happen this same month that add cheerfulness to the environment felt all around. The first one is that during the first two weeks of this month, aguinaldos – an extra wage one month worth – is paid to all workers giving all economic activities a nice bump along with the season’s sales. The other wonder is, that after a tough rainy season, the dry season – or summer – as locals call it, finally settles. Blue skies, crisp afternoons and spectacular sunsets pamper the damp souls of the people.

The Costa Rica Christmas is celebrated with the local version of tamales. It´s a cornmeal paste stuffed with chicken or pork meat, vegetables, rice and sometimes raisins, all wrapped in banana leaves. Then, they are steamed for hours, usually in a huge pot over a bone fire. The making of this specialty involves a long assembly line where the family members are included, all under the rule of the matriarch. Recipes and variations are as many as the houses where they are made and it’s common to get into arguments with other families claiming that their tamales are better.

Since is mainly a Catholic country, the weight of all religious ceremonies is important. The posadas (a Spanish version of the Christmas carols) are represented with customs of Saint Joseph and Saint Mary looking for a place to give birth to baby Jesus. The night of the 24th the rooster mass is celebrated, where they commemorate the precise time when Jesus was born at midnight, so, after this, gifts are exchanged and dinner is served. The nativity scene also has a more important place in many houses compared to the Christmas tree.

The 25th of December becomes a day to share with the family and enjoy the smile of the children and their new toys.

The rest of the week has a very important place in San José especially, with holidays festivals and activities very typical to Costa Rica. The “Tope” is a horse parade where all riders like to show off their horses and their skills.

December is really a nice time to visit Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to get this cultural experience and get to know the best places of this tropical paradise at its peak.

Wildlife in Costa Rica

Wildlife in Costa Rica

December 6, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known to be the home of 5% of all living beings in the world. For a tiny country that covers only 51000 square kilometers (a similar area to West Virginia) entitles the country as megadiverse. Not only its position in the tropics, two coasts in different oceans and a challenging geography, allows this condition. Also, the conservation efforts along Costa Rica’s history have yielded the chance to the people to have contact with wildlife every day almost everywhere!.

A special bounty for the bird enthusiasts is found in any fruiting tree. 900 species from the resplendent quetzal, to colorful macaws or the traveling warblers that fly away from the winter; like many tourists that come and enjoy the sunshine can also hear their songs in this tropical latitudes, instead of the white, quiet and cold landscapes near their homes. For those looking for a unique sight, the country is a sanctuary to many endemic species. The volcanoes that crown the north part of the central valley are great places to look for them.

Some of the rainforest emblems, frogs, and crocs, are common on your way to the central Pacific beaches. A popular stop, the Tarcoles river bridge, allow you to see dozens of fierce crocodiles sunbathing. The nearby Carara National Park is home to the popular blue jeans frog, a visit to this place on your way to Jacó is worthed. The red eye tree frog, almost a national symbol, might be harder to find, but after a rain shower in the afternoon or at night, they can be spotted near any creek in the southern Pacific.

The beaches in Guanacaste are great to start a fishing adventure but also a few of them have a special visit during the new moon nights: olive ridley and green turtles come to lay their eggs to the beaches near Sámara. But Playa Grande, next to Tamarindo is visited by the leatherback turtle, a huge and endangered reptile that finds the last refuge in this beach.

Mammals are sometimes difficult to see, but several places have night tours where you can spot kinkajous, ringtail cats or raccoons trying to find a late night meal. Nevertheless, there are parks, such as Manuel Antonio where is always easy to enjoy the company of the squirrel monkeys and even a deer that feels very comfortable with people. Peccaries, large cats, tapirs and other forest dwellers are more difficult to see. A trip to the Turrialba mountains with a local guide could be the way to get this kind of adventure.

If your thing is to relax and contemplate your tropical garden being visited by butterflies and hummingbirds, don’t hesitate to explore all corners in Costa Rica. The perfect place for you might be waiting for the next turn.



December 3, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

According to most of the scholars in Costa Rica, the name of Escazu comes from the indigenous word Itzcatzu. The closest translation is “a place to rest”. It’s easy to imagine that in pre-Columbian times, the beauty of the area was so intense that it was considered a reward to rest here. Good news is that much of it is still found in all of the roads climbing the surrounding mountains. The most unique houses and properties are found here. From any angle, you can enjoy amazing views towards the Central Valley and the Volcanic Mountain Range with its emerald green hills. A treat for your eyesight.

Another important part of the charm is that the town is known as the city of the witches!. Two versions of the origin of this name are told among the locals.

The first one states that Jewish women that lived many years ago used to wear veils and lit candles on Shabbat. The locals interpreted this as witchcraft and the name – Ciudad de Las Brujas- stayed until this days.

The other version is more intriguing and claims that a famous witch -Zarate- used to live in the white boulder near the church.Minor witches, such as “La Tulevieja” and the “Maria La Negra” lived there too and tormented the people with their magic in the old times…Some claim that they still around so they wear their shirts upside down to keep them away. Most of the people cherish this stories and feel pride and identity about them, therefore, it’s common to spot stickers and signs with this paraphernalia in the streets of this town.

Nowadays this county of San Jose has not only wonderful places to visit, a rich history, colonial houses and special places to spend good quality time but also a thriving economic activity that allows to please the most demanding and fanciful tastes or the very particular service that you need. Restaurants for the most sophisticated customers, jewelry with the most special pieces, hotels for the rich and famous are next to the most skilfull doctors or dentists or the most professional firms needed for your business. Also avant-garde developments in the country with concepts that mix commercial, leisure, and residential needs are being built here. Anyone looking for investment opportunities would know how to take advantage of this trends.

Definitely, Escazu has a lot to offer for all kinds traveler, business person or for those who want to find a place to rest.

Grateful for the Pura Vida Lifestyle

Grateful for the Pura Vida Lifestyle

November 21, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Traditions and holidays such as Thanksgiving day are worthed to celebrate anywhere in the world, and Costa Rica is no exception. Warm waters and sand between your toes, spectacular views of the rainforest or a volvcano and the comfort and excitement of a new life as a retired person really boost anyone’s gratitude.

Black Friday and Halloween have found some attention but from all imported celebrations, Thanksgiving really has an echo among those who care for values, culture, and history. The first two dates are more a commercial opportunity for many in this country but this one really gives space for the true spirit that comes with the end on November.

Some space to remember and honor the legacy of the indigenous people is very welcomed, after all, their generosity was the beginning of this celebration.

Although is not celebrated by the majority of the population, some have decided to do so as an excuse to get close to family. Others, have ties with people that give an important meaning to the date but especially, an important number of expats, maybe nostalgic, have the spirit that will become the most important ingredient they need to have a proper celebration with a few tropical adaptations.

Some restaurants around the country, especially in the central valley and the touristic spots, will offer all the right plates to feel like in the United States. Indulge yourself with all the holiday specialties but please consider to reserve before you get out of your house with an appetite for a turkey breast, or you might end having tamales.

Supermarket chains will offer the right goods to prepare all the traditional recipes, but many opt to give space to local ingredients like ayote – a super-sized squash -, the Costa Rican purple yams and a well-fed chicken instead of a turkey. The point is to get together with friends and family and be grateful for all good things in life, even if cranberry sauce is missing.

The best part about these days in Costa Rica is that the weather is getting to be heavenly pleasant, the perfect time to explore around and make a solid move to settle in this small but generous country. Don’t hesitate to ask for the right help finding that special place that you’ve been searching for.

Six top beach destinations in Costa Rica

Six top beach destinations in Costa Rica

November 8, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

With almost 1500 kilometers of coast in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, getting to know every single beach in Costa Rica, can be a real challenge. But to make a stand about the six top beach destinations in the country, can be a real source of debate. Too much beauty, tropical exuberance, warm waters and perfect sunsets are found in almost all of them, but special details allow us to propose the six top beach destinations according to Properties in Costa Rica:

  1. Tamarindo.
  2. The perfect place for those looking for great waves that offer superb surfing. Nestled in a setting that offers all kind of indulgences, not only for those looking for fun in a cosmopolitan atmosphere but also the opportunity to enjoy some of the special Costa Rica wildlife.

  3. Conchal
  4. The calcified remains of marine sea creatures accumulate in this place creating the most spectacular sand that you can find in the costa ricans coasts. Located in a place that requires some effort to reach, this fact also can be interpreted as guarantee of privacy in one of the most paradisiac beaches in the country.

  5. Santa Teresa
  6. Another great place for surfers but also yielding the most spectacular sunsets in any beach of Costa Rica at any time of the year. A special vibe unique to this place is felt as soon you enter the southern part of the Nicoya peninsula, the best way to describe it is something that you have to live it by yourself.

  7. Manuel Antonio
  8. The world known national park located here has not only a great variety of wildlife, but also a group of the most charming beaches that you can visit in Costa Rica. Enjoy one of the national emblems while you enjoy the company of the endangered and cute squirrel monkeys that live in this protected area.

  9. Uvita (Whales tail)
  10. The most intriguing formation that you’ll find in any costa rican beach is here: a reef connected by a sandbar to the main land resembling a whales tale. Incredible enough, humpback whales come to the surrounding waters to give birth to their offspring, giving the perfect name to this place. The picture is completed with the view of impressive mountains going up to the clouds where dreams of the perfect property come true.

  11. Manzanillo
  12. The image of a white sand beach with a coral reef in front full of colorful fish becomes true in this part of Costa Rica. The jamaican culture and the lush rainforest will convince anyone that this place belongs to one of the top six beaches in Costa Rica.

Biking trails in Costa Rica

Biking trails in Costa Rica

October 29, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

The sunshine, warm temperatures, wildlife, ocean views and the laid-back atmosphere are part of a perfect setting for an adventure on two wheels.

Most of the country can be explored on a bike, depending on your skills and physical condition, or become a time saver trying to move around the traffic jammed San Jose. Either way, biking has all benefits mentioned before and the preference of many people as part of their life.

The adrenaline rush of the mountain bike trails, the challenge of the road cycling or a relaxing ride in a banana bike along Caribbean beaches is great ways to get some of the best joys of Costa Rica.

With no intention to determine which trail or route is better, these lines are meant to encourage the bike fans, as well as an enthusiast that can keep balance on top of an iron horse to enroll on any of this routes that offer more than exercise and speed but also a real taste of this country:

The coast to coast ride, is famous for being the hardest mountain bike race in the world goes across the country from the Pacific coast, up to the central valley, then going around the Irazu volcano and then finishing in the Caribbean coast in the way the Spanish conquistadores explored the country in the sixteenth century but backwards. A ride for the braves but also an inspiring trail for those who really want to test them self.

For those who like to develop speed on the highways, Costa Rica has many options. One that is recommended on many sites is a road cycling route that goes from La Fortuna to Zarcero. An option that will give you a great challenge since you’ll be climbing 1500 meters above the sea level from the northern plains of San Carlos to a cool green mountain where the end line is located. After a strenuous exercise, a rewarding treat is to stroll around this misty town that boasts one of the most beautiful parks in the country and beyond.

An adventure that is suitable for all the family is to rent bicycles in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo and drive along the coast to the village of Manzanillo. Fruit vendors on the edge of the road will assist you with the best of the tropics harvest. The Jamaican culture atmosphere, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and an intense nature surrounding is the perfect setting for one of the most memorable and delightful rides that you can have in Costa Rica.

For any advice on this sport drop us a note we will make sure you get good information from one of our avid mountain and road bikers in our office. At Properties in Costa Rica we work not only on getting the right investment but making sure you get the lifestyle you are looking.

Five Top things to do while in Costa Rica

Five Top things to do while in Costa Rica

October 26, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Finally, your time in paradise has come. Either for a short vacation or to start a new life in your golden years, there are things to do in this country that really belong to the bucket list. Many lists have been written, most of them aiming to put you on the road or trying to sell you something. This one, in particular, can offer you the core of an experience that can truly show you the best five things to do in this wonderful country.

  1. Visit the central valley coffee plantations and typical towns

    San Jose, Costa Rica’s intense capital is surrounded by cool, green peaks, which is perfect for coffee production and home to pretty, traditional towns. Get to know the beautiful plantations and learn about how coffee is cultivated, processed and roasted; you can even consider buying one as an income producing property.

  2. Enjoy the astounding fruit variety that Costa Rica has.

    Get up early in the morning in San Jose and visit the Mercado Borbon, or the dozens of fruit stalls near the Mercado Central, both of which can be explored on. Or go to the open-air produce and fruit markets held on weekend mornings, in almost every town on the Central Plateau, to see and taste the season’s harvest. Along the highways and main roads will be vendors of all kinds of fruit and fruit drinks.

  3. Contemplate Costa Rica’s biodiversity

    Covering just 0.05% of the planet surface, Costa Rica holds 5% of all living species, for this reason, is called the most biodiverse country in terms of area and living beings. National parks and preserves offer the best views but even in the most common areas, this fact jumps to your eyes.

  4. Explore the beaches of Costa Rica

    Almost 1500 kilometers of coast in this country represents the best reason to feel in a place called Rich Coast…The variety and beauty of the beaches are definitely one of the greatest to do. From the idyllic white sand Caribbean setting of Manzanillo to the surf paradise of Santa Teresa, each place has a unique feature to discover.

  5. Clear your mind with the view from one of the mountain tops
  6. Flatten up Costa Rica and it will be bigger than Russia. The fact is that this country has a very interesting topography allowing to have wonderful views from many different points and even larger variety of landscapes. The city at night, the many crops harvested in this land, an inspiring ocean view or a humbling glimpse of the jungle-covered mountains must be part of your experience in this country.

The Centipede Traveling on the Bus From Santa Cruz to Playa Negra

The Centipede Traveling on the Bus From Santa Cruz to Playa Negra

September 23, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Each morning at 5:30 a.m. Pedro, the bus driver from Playa Negra, starts his engine after checking the oil. Then he begins his long journey navigating the “huecas” (Way-KOS),or the ruts, in the unpaved road between Playa Negra and Santa Cruz. He makes the pass though Playa Negra again at 1 p.m. and departs from Santa Cruz st 6 p.m. to arrive in Playa Negra after dark between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

There are approximately 31 km or 25 miles between the two cities in Guanacaste, Province, in northern Costa Rica. It is a largely rural area with beautiful white sandy beaches at Playa Negra, Avellenas and Hacienda Pinella with waves which are popular with yogis and surfers internationally. The affiliation between yogis and surfers may not be evident at first glance, but a wipe out on the waves can cause spinal issues that yoga helps adjust where Guanacaste is a destination for both surfers and yoga practitioners.

The drive to Santa Cruz from the renown beaches for surf and yoga at Avellenas and Playa Negra takes one through rivers and jungles to grassy valleys. There, the beautiful Guanacaste trees grow in the fields and Hibiscus line the lanes where cattle, horses and goats graze. Horses often and wander unbridled like a scene from the Swedish Pippi Longstocking.. It is not uncommon for the bus to stop to allow a pig, horse or chicken to cross the road or beach there is a pig known as “Lola” who is namesake for the famous beach bar in Playa Avellenas and daily strolls the beach..


“Paranando” is one of the first words you will learn traveling the bus from Santa Cruz to Playa Negra. It means “stop” and there are many strings pulled on the trip between the cities -Playa Negra, Avellenas, Pinella, 27 de Avril, and Santa Cruz. The bus costs c1250 or $2.50 each way and is the most economical form of transportation as many Costa Ricans do not own vehicles. Motorcycles abound along with daily bread and vegetable deliveries and farmers markets Saturday’s in Tamarindo.

People get on and off along the route between the towns and villages and the bus is wheelchair-equipped with a lift located in the middle.

On a recent trip to Santa Cruz from Playa Negra, I met an English teacher offering lessons to Marriott employees in Hacienda Pinella, and a landscape worker who boarded the bus and sat down beside me with his machete sheathed in newspaper and his backpack. He got no argument from the driver, or anyone else on the bus, including me!.

My search for lye for making goat milk soap st Peace Retreat ( led me on a bus trip from Playa Negra to Rancho Avellenas and Tamarindo to make a deposit for the “leche de cabras”. A local restauranteur suggested I check the pharmacy in Tamarindo for lye.

The two senioritas at the Farmacia, in Tanarindo referred me to a veterinarian who magically appeared as I boarded the bus from Tamarindo to Playa Negra. I learned she was from Santa Cruz and sold the lye. Karina Is a 26 year old woman and Graduate of Escuela de Saint Francis of Assisi in San Jose. She promised the “pastilles” I needed to make soap or “jabon” if I stayed over in Santa Cruz. A brief tour with her upon arrival in Santa Cruz led me a few blocks from the terminal to her office and the hotel Calle Acala.

A Stay in Santa Cruz at the Calle Acala

If one is in Santa Cruz for an evening, Calle Acala is close to the bus terminal although it is more expensive at $57 a night than its competition down the street.

A nights stay is worth it just to walk through the corridors as the doors are carved works of art that illustrate Costa Rican history. The beds and baths are comfortable and the rate includes breakfast beside the pool with a bar in it.

The hotel is down the street and over a block from the bus terminal and College of Law. There are shops that line the street next to the bus terminal and across the street from the bus terminal is the post office, the Correro, and Super Compro grocery store.

Mail in Costa Rica

Mail in Costa Rica from Guanacaste is slow and may take 22 days to arrive in the United States while $32 gets you an envelope certified with tracking to the US.

In Tamarindo, there is UPS next to ReNax Real Estate if you need to ship packages, it is an alternative to the Correro, or Postal Service. Mr. Tom’s in Tamarindo functions as the local Fed Ex Office with copies and printing near Arenas Surf Shop in a strip mall between the Bank of San Jose and Nordica Café. There is another Post office in Villarreal between Tamarindo and Pinilla, but no Post office in Tamarindo which is a a more popular destination for tourists. In Tamarindo you will find shops filled with Quicksilver, Hurley and surf boards and shops that cater to tourists. The Driha Hotel and Casino keeps those well-heeled in Tamarindo occupied in style. Yogi’s will find Mermaids and Sailors a yoga studio for Guanacaste practitioners opposite Surf Central on the second floor of an office building down the hill from the taxi station and ATMs. Marbella’s hotel near Aqua offers reasonable overnight rates $40-$50.

Rental Cars

The role of the bus driver in Guanacaste is important because the cost of rental vehicles usually requires a $1000 deposit for a week rental which is justified by the “huecas”that challenge drivers and car axles. The bus driver’s role requires patience as he daily navigates ruts in the road and even must forge rivers often at a centipede’s pace. The ride could be one at an amusement park attraction with the drama, terrain and characters who occupy the seats on the bus. Climbing hills that are unpaved in the “Green Season” with heavy rains and high humidity requires slow and steady pressure on the accelerator and the downshift of gears on the curvy grades and descents through the Costa Rican countryside to the jungles that lead to the beaches in Pinella, Avellenas and Playa Negra.

The ride on the Centipede is memorable, but requires flexibility, patience and balance if you are standing – qualities surfers and yogis possess. The rewards of a ride on the Centipede include the scenic views during the day though towns with green soccer fields, roadside restaurants and the people you meet along the way. The best of these is Dennis the Driver from Playa Negra who can help you save a bundle and make your connections!
Spend a day riding the bus and you will find yourself in great company!

For those arriving in Santa Cruz from San Jose by the El Faro bus lines, the terminal in Santa Cruz is convenient and clean and connects to Playa Negra with early morning departures and a 11 am and 6 pm departure daily. Tickets sell out, so it is important to buy a ticket an hour before departure and get in line as it queues up a half hour before departure. The Tralapa terminal for buses arriving from San Jose stops at a terminal across town as you first enter Santa Cruz, so you will need a taxi to the other side of the small town to pick up Route 571 local to Playa Negra from Santa Cruz. It is an hour and a half ride of pleasure.

Perhaps the best reason to ride the Centipede or Ruta 571 is that it saves $30 each way which is the cost of a taxi from Tamarindo and Santa Cruz to Playa Negra. In the high season a Surf Shuttle runs from Tamarindo to Playa Negra for $6 from the center of Tamarindo near Arenas Surf Shop where taxis and ATM services are available.

For more information check online for bus schedules.

Independence Day

Independence Day

September 15, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Celebrations are already underway in Costa Rica for its Independence Day. While the 15th is marked as the annual day of celebration, the patriotic party begins on September 14th, when the “Independence Torch” arrives in Cartago.

The torch is a national symbol in Costa Rica and was carried from Guatemala to Costa Rica when the Central American countries gained their independence from Spain in 1821. Since then, this historical event has been reenacted with a torch being passed through the five countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and finally, Costa Rica.

One of the most beloved celebration is the “desfile de faroles” or the traditional lantern parade. Children make “faroles” or hand-made lanterns and parade through the streets on the evening of September 14th when at 6 p.m. the Costa Rican national anthem is broadcast nationally. On the 15th, the celebrations continue with parades filled with people in traditional dress and performing traditional dances. Every Costa Rican enjoys the festivities with patriotic displays on the streets throughout the day.

Independence day is also a time to reflect on heritage and find patriotism in our history—about national identity. Costa Ricans are commemorating not just their freedom, but everything that Costa Rica Stands for. They know that on this day, their army is their children dressed up in school uniforms. Students march March in front of the government offices, including the President, shouting their joy and wearing the three main colors of the Costa Rica national flag: Red, White, and Blue. The mottos shouted is “vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz” or “may work and peace live forever.”

A Great Small Town Feel in Paradise

A Great Small Town Feel in Paradise

September 14, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

The areas of Playa Flamingo , Potrero, Brasilito, and other nearby communities are a great example of small beach towns with a wonderful community feel. Located in the northwest Pacific corner of Costa Rica, these areas have a uniqueness that you feel as soon as you get here.

Grocery shopping usually consists of the going to the smaller “Supers”. Super Massai in Flamingo, Super Wendy in Potrero, or Super Conchal in Brasilito. These family run stores carry almost everything you need to stock your pantries. For fresh veggies, fish, and bread, there are two Ferias (farmer’s markets) each week. One near Flamingo, the other in Potrero. Not only can you get your favorite fresh foods, it’s a great opportunity to see the familiar faces and friends from the area and do a little socializing. Of course, there’s also “the fish guy” in Brasilito where you can get fresh fish like Dorado, Red Snapper, or Tuna every day of the week. And “the veggie guy”, who sets up shop most days of the week between Flamingo and Potrero, and always has a wonderful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t feel like making your own dinner, there are numerous great and unique restaurants serving everything from the traditional and inexpensive Casado, a Costa Rican meal using rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and tortilla, which may include chicken, beef, pork, or fish, to a few “upscale” restaurants offering steak, lobster, fresh pastas and more. Try Sol y Mar in Potrero by the soccer fields for great local food. El Castillo in Surfside (between Potrero and Flamingo) for those delicious back home meals like ribs, country fried steak, and hamburgers. Or Angelina’s in Flamingo for a romantic night out where you can enjoy filet mignon, fresh seafood specials, and your favorite cocktail. And whichever you choose, you’re bound to see a friend or neighbor while you are out.

Of course, after enjoying your homemade meal or an outing at one of the restaurants, you may want a little exercise. This area has several beautiful beaches that are great for taking long walks or a jog. If you go in the late afternoon you’re likely to see one of the beautiful Pacific sunsets this area is known for. And don’t be surprised if you’re sharing the walk with one of the local cows, as they seem to enjoy wandering the beach as well. For something a little more extreme, there is over 30 km of world-class coastal single-track mountain bike and hiking trails with scenic ocean views that will astound you. Located just north of Potrero, these trails have been developed since 2010 and continue to grow every year. Bring your own bike or rent one at the nearby bike shop.

These are just a few of things that make this area feel warm, welcome and convey a great sense of community. Always seeing friends, or making new friends while out and about is wonderful. We hope to see you soon at Properties in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

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