Properties in Costa Rica Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2019


An undersea adventure – Diving and Snorkeling in Costa Rica

An undersea adventure – Diving and Snorkeling in Costa Rica

April 17, 2019

Properties in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country with rich wildlife due to its number of ecosystems and not to be left behind, we have one of the most diverse and marvelous marine worlds. Discovering the undersea ecosystem of Costa Rica by scuba diving or snorkeling is a magical experience. The rich-nutrient waters have the perfect conditions for the marine world to coexist. Most tour offices you can rent the necessary equipment since there are snorkeling and diving spots all over both coasts.

Let’s explore some diving/snorkeling places that you must visit along the Pacific Coast!

North Pacific

In the North Pacific coast, you will find plenty of diving and snorkeling spots full of marine life. The best time to immerse into the submarine world is during the months of May to December, nevertheless, each spot has its time-frame due to the winds that affect the visibility. We recommend you calling the tour’s office to check on the visibility previously.

Two remarkable spots that you MUST visit in the North Pacific are Isla Murcielago (Bat Island) and Catalina’s Islands. Located on the tip of Santa Rosa National Park, Isla Murcielago is one of the renown places worldwide for expert divers. Here, you will be able to swim within giant bull sharks, manta rays, turtles and tropical fish.

In the other hand, Catalinas Islands which are a group of 20 small islands for all levels of divers and snorkelers. The islands are known for a large population of all types of manta rays like and during winter, you will most certainly see the Giant Manta Ray of the Pacific. There is also a large population of white tip sharks that live in the rocky caves of these islands.

Humpback whales, pilot whales, whale sharks, and dolphins have also been spotted in both areas. Although the interaction with whales and dolphins has been banned to protect them and not interrupt their natural course, if come across one be grateful to admire their beauty and feel privileged to watch them freely, in their natural habitat. Also, If diving is not your thing, there are reefs and rock formations at a higher level for you to admire the marine life from the surface with your snorkel equipment.

South Pacific – Southern Zone

In the Southern Pacific Coast, you will find some of the best diving and snorkeling spots with good visibility all year round. The famous Biological Reserve of Isla del Caño off the coast of Drake Bay in the Osa Peninsula is rated as one of the prime diving places due to its abundant marine life. The Biological Reserve offers beautiful and accessible places for snorkeling as well, where you will be able to swim between corals, turtles, sea rays and colorful fishes. Nevertheless, El Bajo del Diablo, Paraiso and Cueva del Tiburón are deeper spots for scuba divers where they will be able to see white tip sharks and bull sharks on almost every dive. There are more fish than any diver can handle, you will swim within thousands of schools of colorful fishes of different sizes. The coral gardens found in Isla del Caño create a perfect undersea scenery worth of discovering. There are also daily tours for all levels of divers and snorkelers launching from Uvita beach and Dominical, two well-known beach towns for surfers in the southern zone as well.

Central Pacific

In the Central Pacific, you will find one of the most famous national parks, Manuel Antonio. Here you will find beautiful beaches with crystalline waters and perfect conditions for snorkeling. Marine life includes rays, colorful fishes, bright corals and sometimes you will be able to interact with sea turtles. The best time for snorkeling or diving in nearby rock formations is from November to April.

Protected areas along the coast help to preserve marine life and this is why animals live freely in a natural habitat. During the expedition, you will find coral reefs, atolls, volcanic rock formations, shark caves, shipwrecks, and some of the most beautiful animals. Costa Rica’s has the perfect combination of temperature, clearness, rich-nutrient water, and abundance of wildlife for everyone to explore either snorkeling or diving. The undersea life in our country will surprise you!




Easter Week in Costa Rica

Easter Week in Costa Rica

April 10, 2019

Properties in Costa Rica

Most of Costa Rica’s population is Catholic, so when it comes to easter we are talking about one of the most important holidays of the year. This year 2019, the holy week starts from April 15th to April 21st, being Thursday and Friday the only holidays by law for the private and public sectors. Nevertheless, the celebration begins earlier since most of the people and institutions take the entire week off.

According to a study by UNIMER Central America, 9 out of 10 “Ticos” prefer to travel and discover Costa Rica rather than flying away during the holidays since they choose to visit beaches or other touristic areas. Especially during holy week, the dry season is coming to an end and the climate is perfect to migrate to the Pacific Beach. Tamarindo, Langosta, Uvita, and Jaco are some popular spots. You will find several activities during the week such as live music, dancing places, shows during the sunset, and lots of friendly people enjoying a quick vacation.

It won’t matter if you are in the mountain, central valley or at the beach, the festive feeling will fill the streets. People gather outside and enjoy their off-work time and different traditions with typical food, dancing, masquerades, family and friends.

During these days you will also be able to appreciate Catholic demonstrations with parades. You’ll be surprised to see locals of all ages walking down the streets, dressed up with tunics, carrying a cross and singing church songs, even at the beach with the extremely warm temperatures. On Sunday churches are full. Then, they head to their homes to celebrate Easter with family or close friends.

Now, let’s talk about some considerations for this holiday.

First, most businesses might have shortened hours or be totally closed from Thursday to Sunday, especially banks. Government institutions and businesses will mostly be closed for the entire week.

Plan ahead! This is the peak season and most lodging options and car rentals can be fully booked several weeks before. Also, consider that prices tend to rise during the high season.

If you enjoy alcoholic beverages keep in mind liquor can not be sold legally on Thursday and Friday in certain municipalities. If you want to have a cold beer at the beach or sunbathe while sipping from your favorite cocktail you might have to buy the alcohol in advance.

Traffic jams can be a serious problem if you are not used to driving for several hours. Many of these delays can be caused by religious processions while others are due to the amount of locals heading to the beach. Try downloading Waze if you dont have it to possibly find a route around Jesus. Also, local flights can have higher prices during this week so you might want to consider driving a good alternative.

Take it easy, the wait is worth it!

Soon you will be enjoying crystal clear waters with the perfect temperature under the sun. Costa Rica, during April, has a beautiful climate ready to enjoy the beach and the mountain. It is a time to relax, be grateful and most importantly share with family and friends.




Discover the 5 Active Volcanoes in Costa Rica

Discover the 5 Active Volcanoes in Costa Rica

April 3, 2019

Properties in Costa Rica

Costa Rican volcanoes are one of the main touristic and scientific attractions. The country belongs to a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where most volcanoes and earthquakes are formed. There are more than 200 known volcanic formations, most of them are located in the northern part of the country, and 5 of them are currently active.

1. Arenal Volcano

Probably the most famous volcano due to its constant activity and touristic area. La Fortuna de San Carlos is a populated town right at the base of the volcano with amenities like 5-star resorts, villas and lodges, tour offices and typical food restaurants. At nights, if you have a clear view of the peak you will see smoke coming out of it or even some small orange splashes of lava. During daylight, you will also be able to admire the smoke and the grey tip of the mountain with less vegetation than the rest of it. You will find all kinds of outdoor activities while enjoying the astonishing views of the volcano. Thermal waters are a must! These waters heated by the veins of the volcano are known to be a natural treatment with tons of minerals and multiple benefits like cleaning your blood through sweat, reactivating metabolisms, relaxing and rejuvenating the skin between others. You will also find the Tabacon River and Lake Arenal allowing you to enjoy water sports like kayaking and wake-boarding. There are also activities like horseback riding to through the volcano, zip-lining through the rain forest, hiking to cascades and many more. Come and discover this famous town of La Fortuna and enjoy the amazing views of the Arenal volcano!

2. Poas Volcano

Located in Alajuela, this volcano is only an hour and a half away from the center of San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. It is an active volcano with 8,900 m high and 2 craters, the biggest one measuring 1.5 km with a large green lagoon constantly expelling gases. The national park where it is found reopened in 2018 after the last explosion which led to modifying the park’s hours from 7 am to 1 pm and a maximum of 1000 visitors per day. The ideal time to visit the craters is during the morning since you’ll have more probability of a clear view. In adjacent towns, you will find restaurants with some of the best typical food and street sales with fresh fruits, especially some juicy strawberries! Close to the park, you will also find La Paz Waterfalls, a privately owned ecological park with a chain of waterfalls and an animal sanctuary with more than 100 species. This is a great hiking experience where you will learn both from the volcano and the animals that inhabit the area.

3. Irazu Volcano

Irazu is the highest existing active volcano in Costa Rica measuring 11,260 feet tall with a 500 km2 base. It has the main crater which measures 300 meters long called Diego de la Haya. It contains green waters and fumaroles constantly releasing toxic steam. The name Irazu is an indigenous word which means “thunder and earthquake mountain”. Located in Cartago, you will find the Volcan Irazu National Park open to the public but closing at 3:30 pm. The best time to visit is in the early morning during the months from December to April, the dry season. There is an abundance of vegetation due to the fertile soils that has been nourishing naturally after the last eruption. You will find a chilly climate with a breeze and some rainfall. If you are visiting this volcano be sure to make a pitstop in the gardens of Prusia for a picnic.

4. Turrialba Volcano

This is the most active volcano in the country and the second largest one! It is located in Cartago but not the most popular volcano to visit since there’s not much development nearby. You will find some small hotels and rental villas in the base of the volcano as well as tour offices to visit the national park although they are constantly regulating the entrance since it’s still very active. You will be amused by the abundance of flora and fauna in the area. Animals like giant toads, toucans, howling monkeys can be found in the park as well as green lush valleys with milk farms where they produce the famous Turrialba cheese.

5. Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Located in Guanacaste this volcano is located in a 34,000 acres national park which includes two volcanos and a variety of flora and fauna. There are more than 32 rivers and streams and thus a numerous amount of activities to enjoy the views of the volcano. There are thermal waters, fresh lagoons, zip lines and horseback riding tours through the park. The abundance of animals here is impressive! You’ll some of the biggest felines like pumas and jaguars that inhabit the area. There is a 6-mile excursion to the peak of the volcano where you will find the Von Seebach crater constantly releasing vapor. During the trench to the tip, you will encounter several ecosystems. From the highest point, you are able to admire astonishing views of the Nicoya Peninsula and the Nicaragua Lake, if you are lucky and you get a clear view you can almost admire most of Costa Rica.

Much of Costa Rica’s economy rely on volcanoes which have contributed with the formation of soils rich in minerals. In Irazú and Turrialba you will find fresh vegetables with a big amount of minerals, in Poas volcano you have the juiciest and most delicious strawberries.

Volcanoes also help by producing geothermal energy and provide construction materials for our roads and homes with the rocks expelled from the explosions. One final key detail to remember is that, as a byproduct of these touristic sectors generated around volcanoes, local producers get to grow and expand their businesses.




What are the best friendly places to Retire (or do a sabbatical with your family)? Guanacaste, Dominical, and/or Central Valley?

What are the best friendly places to Retire (or do a sabbatical with your family)? Guanacaste, Dominical, and/or Central Valley?

April 1, 2019

Properties in Costa Rica

The age old question of where the best place to retire is? Well, if we are talking about Costa Rica I feel obligated to give my opinion. I moved here when I was 20 years old and since moved my parents down to retire, moved an uncle down, helped multiple family friends make the move and have lived in six different areas of Costa Rica while running a business. I have seen more people come and go and come back again. I feel at age 38 I could sit down with a couple looking to retire, look at their financials, get a feel for who they are as people and give you a layout of where and what they should do in Costa Rica. Let’s just say it has been a 20 yr schooling of Hard-Knocks University but I am still here and I love everything about my life in Costa Rica.

I am going to talk about three places that I mostly get asked about. They happen to be the three places of the country where you will find great dining, supermarkets with all the goods from home, and enough people to speak English to keep you more informed than most locals. Two of these places are on the Pacific coast which are Guanacaste and Dominical. The third place is the Central Valley.

While everyone wants the beach, mark my word that San Jose, Costa Rica is on the verge of taking its place in future generation’s history books. While most people look at it now and see a capital city overcrowded with cars and old infrastructure, I see the most perfect weather on the planet along with a society on the brink leaping into the future ahead of most if not all developed countries. In short imagine San Jose is going to be the Elon Musk playing ground of electric cars , modern infrastructure, and a life of modern efficiency at its peak. This will ultimately result in San Jose becoming a global attraction not too mention perfectly situated in the middle of North and South America along with two coasts to Europe and Asia.

So do I think San Jose is worth the investment, YES! Do I think it is the right place for you to spend the next 20 years of your life, depends. There are places of the Central Valley (San Jose) that can keep you isolated from the hectic parts. Not too mention if you are retired you should not be doing an 8 to 5 job commuting everyday. The valley is vast and not all of it is hectic. My parents found themselves a small corner of the valley with everything they needed. They had healthcare, great food, church, modern supermarkets, and more. They only had to sit in traffic if they needed to update something at Immigration once every couple months.

One of the main benefits of the Central Valley is you really will have easy access to the entire country. My parents got to see every inch of Costa Rica. Weekend trips were something that were doable because of our close proximity to everything. If you want to enjoy Costa Rica for what it really is, which is an endless amount of pockets of paradise, then the Central Valley is where you need to be.

The other options are similar to each other in that they are the beach but in a sense two different worlds completely. If you compare Guanacaste and Dominical the most obvious would be that Guancaste is dry and hilly and Dominical is more mountainous and greener. I say green because the rain really does not affect beach going if you live there. Your numbers of sunny mornings outweigh your rainy mornings by a long shot.

Here is something to consider. When I was 20, I voted Dominical as the best beach in Costa Rica. You could surf, raft, and rappel waterfalls all in the same day. This all sounds great but now my legs are not what they use to be. I now visit Guanacaste when I want to go to the beach. If you are retired my vote would be Guanacaste although if you want to just sit with jaw-dropping views then go to Dominical. Ask yourself these questions on factors that take an unforeseen toll on people in Costa Rica. Try to answer the questions below before you tell yourself a certain view, color of sand, or style of architecture will make life perfect in Costa Rica.

How much of my day to day life is in a car? Sounds adventurous but not bouncy car rides take a toll on bodies even if broken up into 10 minutes. If you can walk places you will enjoy things more. If you answer more than 5 minutes per day you need to spend less on the house and more on a car to ease the comfort.

How far is the nearest airport? You end up going home much more than planned when you live abroad. If you plan to go home once a year you will be home 2 or 3 times a year.

Don’t let “nearest hospital” be an issue. I have seen too many people base their decision on the nearest hospital. Most cases it bumped their 3rd or 4th choice up to first place. My dad ended up going home for his heart procedures. Having worked on an ambulance for a summer in the US most 911 calls can have a patient in the ER in an incredible 20 minutes. Here in Costa Rica that is not gonna happen. Although Costa Rica has amazing health care that all of my family have used (other than my dad) it is in a sense a mute issue to base your retirement on 45 minutes to 1 hour 911 response time and I am being considerate. The sheer change of lifestyle in Costa Rica is likely to bump a few extra years to your time on Earth so let that be your counter argument.

It is because of those questions I started leaning towards Guanacaste. Easier access to properties, closer airport, and once you find your town the drives are short to and from things. The perfect and my favorite example would be Nosara.

Now if you still want to live in a paradise on steroids then Dominical is your spot. The mountain meeting the sea makes for awe-inspiring views from every angle and a much more jungle feel. Access is a little harder to certain properties, the area is stretched out along the long coastal highway resulting in longer drives, and closest international airport is still San Jose. The warm, year-round temperatures make it an ideal spot for surfing!

Tom Ranieri crrtours.com



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