World Oceans Day, Costa Rica

Costa Rica observed World Oceans Day with beach cleanups and similar events. This is the day people around the globe celebrate and honor the world’s 5 great oceans. No matter which continent you live on, you have an ocean for a neighbor. Costa Rica is blessed to have 800 miles of shoreline divided between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. So it behooves us to care for these closest neighbors since our lives literally depend on them.

poster for World's Ocean Day in Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

How is that, you ask? The ocean produces most of the oxygen we breathe and cleans the water we drink. It is an important food source and a pharmacopoeia of medicines. These giant bodies of water regulate the climate on which healthy life depends.

Those of us who have the privilege of living by the ocean in Playas Hermosa and the surrounding towns can gladly add to the list of benefits the ocean offers us. Playa Del Coco had it own celebration with a beach clean up and parties and events raising money for various ocean projects.

Volunteers cleaning up Playa Del Coco for Oceans Day

How did World Oceans Day get started? The concept of setting aside a specific date to focus attention on the oceans was originally proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It wasn’t until 2002 that The Ocean Project began to globally promote and coordinate World Oceans Day development and activities.

“Initially there were only a handful of events in a few countries,” according to the World Oceans Day official website. https://www.worldoceansday.org “Now there are thousands of events in over 120 countries and a social media reach into the several billions.”

Warning to not put plastics in the Oceans for Oceans Day

The website continues: “To help grow recognition of World Ocean Day, together with the World Ocean Network and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, from 2004 to 2008 we developed and widely circulated a petition urging the United Nations to officially recognize World Ocean Day as 8 June each year. As a result of working with hundreds of our partner organizations, and thanks to tens of thousands of people from all parts of the world who signed online and paper copies of the petition, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2008 , officially recognizing 8 June as World Oceans Day each year.”

Costa Rica used the special day to launch a project to protect its corals from the impact of climate change. President Carlos Alvarado signed a decree for the “promotion of restoration and conservation initiatives for the recovery of coral ecosystems,” which are home to a large part of the world’s biodiversity.

The decree, signed on World Oceans Day, establishes guidelines to recover existing corals and create artificial reefs. Playa Hermosa already has 9 artificial reefs that were built over 9 years ago. Today they are teeming with life.

Coral reefs of Costa Rica

“Costa Rica has 970 kms of coral zone on both coasts, but more than 90% is threatened by human activities, including climate change,” said Deputy Minister of Water and Sea, Haydée Rodríguez, at the signing of the decree ceremony.

Map of Costa Rica's shorelines

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica’s Minister of the Environment, explained that coral reefs function as natural barriers that protect coastal communities from storms, hurricanes and tsunamis.

How can you help the oceans even if you don’t live by one?  The World Oceans Day website says “making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends, and community will benefit our blue planet even more!”

Expat Who Wants to be One in Costa Rica

This scenario has repeated itself many times: I have friends visiting, and the first morning they wake up to fresh coffee, a homemade breakfast and a beautiful view from my balcony, and they say dreamily but decidedly, “I could SO live here and be an expat in Costa Rica!”

a cup of Costa Rica coffee with a cookie

I have to agree with them, even though most of us could happily live anywhere in a house we didn’t pay for, sleeping in a bed we didn’t put sheets on, and enjoying coffee and breakfast we didn’t prepare. I have personally made that statement almost everywhere I have traveled to on vacation.

But is Costa Rica really livable? Is it an endless vacation? Is being an expat in Costa Rica as good as it seems that first morning?

Well yes, no and almost. If you are really prepared! Costa Rica is a very livable country. With its famous ‘pura vida’ lifestyle and the potential of a lower cost of living, it’s not difficult to understand why Costa Rica is consistently in the top 10 of the Expat Insider Survey’s best places for expats.

Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste

Costa Rica is a surprisingly diverse country for its size, with tropical rainforests, mountainous regions and of course, breathtaking coastlines.
With so much geographical diversity, picking the right place to relocate to ultimately comes down to personal preference. But I highly recommend the northern Pacific region—Guanacaste province—and specifically the area around Playa Hermosa for those of you who need the conveniences of North America.

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

The Guanacaste region is popular with expats because of its pristine, beautiful and safe beach communities. The area is a fisherman’s and surfer’s paradise and offers a variety of outdoor (mainly water-based) activities, as well as abundant flora and fauna. Housing can be found at any price point, and a teeming expat population makes for quick friends, fun activities, and availability of familiar products.

Rafting trip in Costa Rica

What makes Costa Rica very livable? It is not a large country, so everything is close, although the rough roads make travel time a bit longer than the distance would indicate. U.S. products are becoming increasingly more plentiful, so although you are going to want to integrate more and more Costa Rica products into your life as time goes by, at first you will be able to find familiar brand names and foods. Your long-term goal should be to live like Ticos live and eat what Ticos eat, and the closer you get to that goal, the lower your monthly budget will go. Of course, you will never be 100% Tico—you may still need to air condition your bedroom and not be able to eat rice 3 times a day—but you will find a cornucopia of inexpensive fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and more filling your refrigerator each week. All Costa Rican beef is grass-fed, and the pork is so low in fat you have to add liquid or oil to keep if from sticking to the pan when you cook.

Costa Rica Casado

Ticos themselves are what make Costa Rica livable. They are unbelievably tolerant of me butchering their language. It is important for you to learn Spanish out of respect for the country you live in, and to that end you should study it rather than just think you will “pick it up.” Only children and the occasional linguistic savant can do that. The rest of us have to study, practice, fall flat on our faces, and keep studying. But miraculously, Ticos will patiently bear with you throughout the process. I didn’t get that level of tolerance from the French!

Costa Ricans are extremely kind and helpful. If you are ever in an emergency in Costa Rica, people will help you to a degree you might not believe possible. I have put it to the test and I am pretty sure I could stop at any home in the middle of nowhere and ask for a cup of coffee and get a “Claro que si!” (Of course!)

Just another expat in Costa Rica

Where an expat in Costa Rica finds expectations go unfulfilled is when they have, well, expectations. Especially when they expect Costa Rica to be just like the North America but cheaper with better weather. Only the latter is true. The cost of living can be lower here, depending on where and how you lived in the States, and where and how you live here. Do your research and get a good real estate agent. Use him or her as your first and most valuable resource in the area you are thinking of. Visit the area extensively and ask a lot of specific questions of everyone you come across. As you Know that’s what I do. I help people make the right choice. I don’t force or push a sale, That’s why I have been in this business for almost 12 years.

It has been stated accurately that Costa Ricans don’t worship time like Americans do. You will drive yourself crazy if you want to expedite everything like you did back home. Get used to waiting a little longer, and find ways to keep yourself busy. As frustrating as it is, that slower pace is one of the reasons you are coming  to Costa Rica. Embrace it and it will reduce your stress. Allow it to complete its work on you.

The take away? Do your research and keep an open mind. There is no perfect world. Paradise does exist, you have to be open to accept it. That said, if you embrace the differences from what you are used to, Costa Rica can come very close to being your personal perfect paradise.

Costa Rica Dry Season Is Over in Guanacaste

Whew! The Costa Rica dry season has finally ended in Guanacaste! We all love the clear, blue skies of the dry season, but by the month of May a break from the heat and relentless sun is welcome. After almost 6 months of dryness, the rains bring cooler temperatures and welcome relief. The change Guanacaste undergoes each year in May is stunning. The dry brown landscape becomes green and lush. The trees’ bare branches fill with fresh, new leaves. The parched riverbeds babble and sparkle with water again. The dust is beat down, and the humidity rises some and the temperature falls.

Dry landscape of Guanacaste during the Costa Rica dry season

The typical weather pattern during the months to come consists of morning sunshine with clouds beginning to gather in the early afternoon. Then comes the big show as tropical thunderstorms burst forth with all the accoutrements: streaking lightning, booming thunder and heavy downpours.

Rain falling on the Pacific near Costa Rica

 

If you think you wouldn’t like the rainy season, you have never read a book while in a hammock under a tin roof during a tropical downpour and inevitably fall asleep. Siesta!! It is one of life’s sweet pleasures!

After your little afternoon nap, enjoy watching the incredible sunsets. This time of year, with clouds in the sky, take in the hues of orange, red, and blue.   With the sun’s rays peeking through, the colors are just jaw dropping. If you’re lucky, look to the west and you may catch a glimpse of a rainbow as well.

Rainbow off the Coast of Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

Although I am happy for the rains just now, I will welcome when they come to an end in December. Just how dry is the Costa Rica dry season? The Playa Hermosa area receives an average of approximately .93 inches of rain during the month of December, and by January this figure falls even lower. In my 11 plus years living here, it has only rained once in January. Compared to May thru November, which sees an average of 55 inches of rain, December’s climate is remarkably dry.

So do not let the weather man or some weather news channel tell you “Stay away from the Playa Hermosa area during the rainy season, the Costa Rica dry season is better”.  They are doing you a disservice.

Costa Rica’s Green Rainy Season Kicks off with a Blast

WOW, what a kick off to the green season. The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica was socked in for eleven days of thick clouds and rainy weather. I felt sorry for those that came to vacation as they may not have seen the sun, but heck it is the tropics and you can’t control Mother Nature.

Green season Playa Hermosa
Costa Rica was experiencing a very strong low-pressure system country wide that just would not move off the Pacific coast and was dormant over Guanacaste. It started on Saturday May 18th, with clouds moving in. By Sunday the rain started.

Playa Hermosa Rain
Sunday the 19th of May started off with a bang. I thought a bomb went off out side of my condo. The thunder clap was so loud and incredibly strong, the windows starting rattling and shaking. Then the rain started and by the time the end of the day came we had received over 4.1 inches of rain.

Playa Del Coco Rain
If you know me or have read past blogs from years ago, you may know I have a strange but interesting hobby. I have been measuring rain since I was a kid. It is not “Official” but I have rain gauges and log it every day it rains. This all started one year just before summer vacation, I think I was in firth or sixth grade, the teacher gave an assignment to the class; “For the beginning of next year’s science class I want each of you report on something that happens during your summer vacation”. That’s when it all started.
I have now lived in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste for almost twelve years. From the day I landed, I I set up my rain gauges and have been tracking it ever since. I have seen some pretty heavy rains in September and October, which are the rainiest months of the year. I also have experienced a few years of drought as well.

Playa Hermosa Beauty
The Normal average for this part of Costa Rica, is between 40 and 60 inches of rain a year. To some that’s a lot but here it normal. This year May has been the wets I have ever recorder or seen. As mentioned before, it rained for 11 straight days, not all day long but rained none the less. For the month of May I reordered 15.7 inches of rain at my condo in Playa Hermosa.

the Beach Playa Hermosa

Have no fears, there was no flooding or damage as everything just flows to the ocean. As of writing this blog it is sunny, just a few puffy white clouds in the sky and is just beautiful, green and lush. Off the beach I go, it has been a few days, see you soon in Playa Hermosa.

KLM Costa Rica flights to Liberia International Airport

KLM Costa Rica flights are being expanded to a second airport.  KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will commence service to Liberia, Costa Rica, on October 19, 2019. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will depart Amsterdam Schipol Airport Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:35 a.m. and land at the Daniel Oduber Airport in Guanacaste at 8:10 p.m. after a 2-hour intermediate stop in San Jose 5:15-7:15 p.m. After just one hour on the ground, the plane will depart out of Liberia at 9:15 to begin the flight back to Amsterdam, arriving there at 1:20 p.m. the following day.

KLM to Guanacaste

KLM Costa Rica service began two years ago with flights to San Jose, but Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, explains why Liberia was added to their routes: “Guanacaste is the second largest region of Costa Rica. The region is known for its beautiful nature, which makes it a unique holiday destination in combination with San Jose. All this makes Guanacaste Liberia a valuable addition to our KLM network.”

KLM Costa Rica

“Amsterdam Schiphol airport is the third busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume,” Elbers continued. “We are confident that this connection will increase visits to Guanacaste and will stimulate a new era of growth for the region.”

President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado concurs. “Tourism is the engine of our economy, and this new connection represents an opportunity of growth not just for Guanacaste but also for Monteverde and La Fortuna, two destinations visited by those who arrive in Costa Rica through the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia.”

Playa Ocotal, Guanacaste

The flight’s intermediate stop in San Jose will give tourists the unique opporunity to start their vacation in one part of the country and end it in another. They will save time and money on ground transportation. So you can start your vacation at the beach and end it in the mountains, or the other way around!

Guanacaste Beaches

The aircraft used for the KLM Costa Rica flight is the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a new aircraft designed to increase passenger comfort and also fuel efficiency. It features a 3-class configuration with 30 seats in World Business Class, 45 seats in Economy Comfort, and 219 seats in economy class.

The Dreamliner is a $120 million aircraft. CNN Travel lists a few of the reasons why the plane is special:
* It is made of 50% composite materials that make it lighter than other aircraft.
* More fuel efficient, allowing for longer ranges.
* The cabin pressure and humidity are higher than other airplanes cutting down on passenger fatigue, dry eyes and headaches, according to Boeing.
* There may not be more legroom in all classes compared to other airlines, but the cabin configuration feels roomier.
* Windows are 30% larger and have electronic dimmers rather than plastic shades.
* All seats have AC power outlets and On-Demand TV.
* On long-haul flights, the business class features lie-flat seats.

The flag carrier of the Netherlands currently serves more than 160 destinations worldwide. In an age of airline mergers and name changes, it is noteworthy that KLM, founded in 1919, is the oldest airline in the world still in operation under its original name. KLM’s performance in terms of fuel efficiency is one of the best in Europe.

Here’s a fun fact: The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, has been moonlighting as a KLM pilot since 1996. Despite talking over the intercom to passengers, no one has ever realized that the Dutch king was at the controls. “I speak on behalf of the captain and crew, so I don’t have to say my name,” says the king. “But then most people don’t listen anyway.”

King Fly KLM

Will royalty be piloting the Amsterdam to Liberia flight? Sadly, no. The king only flies short haul flights twice a month in case he needs to be able to return to the Netherlands “in case of an emergency.”

If you are a Mokummer and are thinking you might want to escape this year’s rainy winter and bathe in warm tropical sunshine, KLM Costa Rica is the answer.  Book your AMS-LIR flight now!

Uber in Costa Rica–Now Available in Playas del Coco

Uber in Costa Rica was born in August of 2015. Is it a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between? It all depends on who you ask. Passengers love it and say it is much better and cheaper than taxis. One user reports, “Uber is the absolute cheapest way to get around (besides buses). We use Uber at least once every few weeks to go out to dinner if we want to have some drinks. It is cheap, reliable, and we have never had a bad experience.” Another Uber client provided this example. He took an Uber downtown in San Jose recently and it cost $5. When he went back home he took a taxi because his phone had died. The same route without traffic cost $26. With prices like these, it’s no wonder that in the first three years of operation, Uber in Costa Rica registered 738,000 users and contracted more than 22,000 drivers.

Uber in Costa Rica

However, if you ask a Costa Rican taxi driver, you’ll get a completely different opinion about Uber. Taxi drivers hate Uber! They contend that unlicensed private taxi services are not legal in Costa Rica. Last year they went on strike multiple times protesting Uber. They set up road blocks or organized hundreds of cabs to slow drive, impeding traffic on major highways. Confrontations and even violence have marred some of the protests. It has been reported that taxi drivers have identified Ubers in traffic, forced them to the curb, and taken out their frustrations on Uber cars with rocks and tire irons.

Taxi Costa Rica

Where does the government stand on Uber? In August 2018, the directors of the transportation ministry (MOPT) and traffic police announced the court’s decision that Uber and other ride sharing enterprises are illegal under current laws. Nevertheless, Uber continued operations and requested that the government consider changing the laws. After lengthy discussions, a bill was introduced on January 22, 2019 that would legalize Uber and similar ride sharing platforms, thus allowing them to coexist with taxis.

Uber in Guanacaste

Costa Rican president Alvarado explained: “As a Government we have the responsibility to work to ensure the well-being of all people. We are taking a step in that direction today, introducing a bill that regulates the digital transportation platforms such as Uber”. According to the transportation minister, Rodolfo Méndez Mata, Costa Rica must accept the reality of the new technologies and economic models that are already regulated in other parts of the world. Their comments seem to indicate that Uber is here to stay.

What was the outcome of the proposed legislation? According to the terms, Uber will be legally recognized if it meets the following requirements:
1. Pays a registration fee of almost $14,000,000.
2. All drivers register with the Costa Rican Social Security service (CCSS).
3. Pays 13% sales tax on all ride services.

Although Uber in Costa Rica has stated its willingness to pay taxes to operate legally, it has yet to comply with the government imposed regulations. So where does that leave the potential Uber passenger? Uber continues to operate and has even expanded to areas outside the Central Valley (San Jose) region. On April 15, 2019, it announced service in several tourist areas including Liberia, Nicoya, Manuel Antonio (Quepos) and Jacó. Ubers have been seen in Tamarindo and Playas del Coco, popular Guanacaste beach towns.

What does an Uber ride cost in Guanacaste? The rates for some recent rides:

Liberia to Liberia airport $9
Liberia Airport to Playas del Coco $18
Liberia to Playa Hermosa $25

These are substantially lower than the Red Taxis.

taxi

Uber in playa Hermosa Costa Rica

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to use Uber.
* The transit police usually ignore Ubers. However, if they do detain an Uber for operating illegally, passengers are usually told that they are free to go.
* If you request an Uber at the San Jose airport, it makes sense to avoid a conflict between the taxi drivers and Uber driver. So when you’re picked up, put some distance between yourself and the line of orange taxis.
* If you don’t know the exact address of your destination (that’s common in Costa Rica), choose a landmark nearby.

Follow these tips if you decide to use Uber in Costa Rica, and you’ll be on your way, inexpensively and conveniently, to fun in paradise.

Liberia Airport Just Keeps Growing

KLM Airways announces arrivals from Amsterdam to Liberia Airport starting in late 2019. This is exciting news for Europeans as it is now easier to get to the Pacific Northwest of Costa Rica, and I am sure the airport will impress.

Libiria Costa Rica

Some people seem to have a love/hate relationship with airports. For some an airport can be an exciting portal to exotic international destinations and cosmopolitan crowds affording fascinating people-watching opportunities. But it is also a crowded maze of long lines and tense TSA inspections through which you haul everything you own on your back or drag it behind you. It seems you either love or hate airports.

Playa Del Coco

The Liberia Airport (LIR) will win you over to the airport team. As airports go, it is a refreshing experience and gets you on your way to your rainforest adventure or perfect beach vacation with little or no stress. It is big enough to handle several international flights per day, and small enough to be uncomplicated and efficient. It is the best airport to use when visiting the province of Guanacaste and the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the city of Liberia.

LIR Airport

More importantly, it is just a 25-minute trip to the pristine beaches of the Gulf of Papagayo: Coco, Hermosa, Panama, and Ocotal. It is the perfect landing spot for visiting all the other popular beaches and tourist attractions of Guanacaste, most of which are just one hour away. Flying in or out of Liberia airport may give you an extra night in your beautiful condo and a bit more beach time. Compare that to 5 hours of driving in heavy traffic and a noisy night in a San Jose hotel. The choice is obvious!

Playa Hermosa

It may cost a bit less to fly into the San Jose Airport since it has more flights, but you will need to either take a 5- or 6-hour bus ride or a 4-hour car trip to get to your beach destination. However, as the number of airlines serving Liberia increases, tariffs decrease. Fares as low as $89 each way to Denver were found recently!

Liberia Airport is not as busy as its sister in San Jose, but it is still a full-amenity airport with a duty free store, car rental kiosks, souvenir shops, and a few food vendors. Currency can be exchanged right after you finish immigration. After passing through customs you can purchase a prepaid SIM card at the Kolbi kiosk in order to be able to use your unlocked phone locally. There is also an ICT Costa Rican Tourism Board office where you can get free Costa Rica maps.

Liberia

The Liberia Airport is officially named the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport after the country’s president who worked to develop the area during his term 1974-1978. Though initially conceived during the government of its namesake president, it was called Llano Grande at first and then later Aeropuerto Tomas Guardia. In October 1995 the airport was re-inaugurated as an international airport. The runway was re-paved and special landing lights were installed. Initial response from commercial airlines was unremarkable; however, after one year the airport went from having only one weekly charter flight to one almost every day. The tarmac capacity of the airport was expanded in 2006 and a parallel taxiway was added. Shortly thereafter a new waiting area and airport counters were opened. A new contemporary terminal opened in January 2012 and was expanded in 2017 to handle increasing demand.

airport

Major US airlines have daily flights: Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country and United. Canadian airlines serving Liberia are Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, and WestJet. Aeromexico and Copa arrive from Mexico City and Panama City respectively. Air France and TUI bring visitors from Europe. Just recently it was announced that KLM will be arriving from Amsterdam. Additionally, you can catch any number of domestic flights or charter planes to take you to the farthest corners of Costa Rica.

A few times in recent years both of Costa Rica’s international airports have been closed due to ash from the Turrialba volcano interfering with airport operations. It’s highly unlikely that Liberia Airport would ever be shut down permanently by volcanic activity. The nearest active volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, is much quieter than Turrialba and is far enough away that prevailing winds are less likely to send ash our way.

Here are a couple of reminders: Always arrive 2 hours early for an international flight to allow time for check in and security inspections. Most airlines include a departure tax in the ticket price, but not all. Be sure and check with your carrier. See you soon in Costa Rica!

10 Things to do in Playa Hermosa Guanacaste

It is not easy to sort through the hundreds of activities available to you during your visit to Playa Hermosa Guanacaste, but in an effort to just start somewhere, here are 10 popular ones that I loved doing, all located within a one-hour drive.

Canopy zip lines. Who of us hasn’t wondered what it would be like to fly like a bird? If hang gliding is too extreme for you, the next best (read: safer) option is zip lining. El Diamante, Trip Advisor #1 Adventure Park in the area, has an incredible superman zipline that is almost 1 mile long. In addition, there is the animal sanctuary with sloths, various different monkeys, and big wild cats like the jaguar. In to beach activities and horseback riding? It all at El Diamante. Or try The Congo Trail Canopy Zip Line Tour which has a network of 11 exhilarating zip lines, rappelling, Tarzan swing and hanging bridges that “fly” you around the forest canopy. There is also an area where you can play with howler monkeys. Add a horseback tour to see the area from a different angle for just over $50. Both are exhilarating and a lot of fun–I know I have been to both.

Playa Hermosa Zip Line

Scuba diving. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to swim like a fish? Then you should scuba dive! Playas del Coco is one of northern Guanacaste’s most celebrated dive and snorkeling spots, just a short 10-minute drive from Playa Hermosa Guanacaste. There are many dive shops in town that give PADI certification courses or offer boat tours for certified divers. What the ocean in the area lacks in coral, it makes up for in its abundance of marine life. The local waters team with marine life–giant schools of fish, rays, sharks and sea turtles. January through March there are enormous schools of manta rays, whereas March through November is shark season.

Costa Rica Scuba Diving

Palo Verde Mangrove Safari. Palo Verde River is a sanctuary for migratory birds and a year round home to crocodiles, monkeys, herons, egrets, king fishers, and scarlet macaws. Tour vendors pick you up at your hotel, and after about an hour and a half drive you begin your 2-hour boat tour of the mangrove swamps. The tours costs about $88 per person and are perfect for any age.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Palo Verde

Area Catamaran Tour. Several outfits offer a tour of the beautiful Papagayo Bay. Most tours cost about $75 for 4 hours and include a meal prepared by the crew and tropical drinks. The catamaran drops anchor from time to time in peaceful bays to give everyone a chance to dive into the crystal clear water and snorkel. My favorite is the Marlin Del Ray. It’s a nice big catamaran with bathrooms and a awesome staff. Wildlife sightings include dolphins, sea turtles, flying fish or even a breaching whale if the time of year is right.

Playa Del Coco Catamaran

Jet Ski and/or Banana Boat Ride. Riding a jet ski can be an extreme sport or a peaceful cruise—it is all up to you! Take yourself out to the nearby islands or find your own private beach. Rentals are usually for 30 minutes and cost $60. Guided tours of 2 hours or more are also available. You can’t miss them–just walk the beach and you will see them.

Playa Hermosa Fun

If you like the idea of mountain biking but not necessarily pedaling, Electric Bike Costa Rica has a solution—a bike with an electric motor! Bike rentals start at $10 an hour. They also offer several group tours to local sights and landmarks. For example, for the Tour Las Pilas you will be picked up from where you are staying, and after coffee and a briefing, you will begin the 2 to 3-hour guided tour through the forest, across rivers, arriving at the Las Pilas waterfalls for a cooling swim. The tour costs $90.

Playas Del Coco Bikes

Horseback riding. Several local outfits rent horses for trips to waterfalls, hidden beaches and tours through the forest. Very inexpensive rates may mean overworked and unhealthy horses—beware!

Costa Rica

Float trip on the Corobici River. This is a leisurely raft trip that is ideal for families with young children or people just wanting to relax and enjoy the scenery. Along the river banks you will spot monkeys, iguanas and birds. Project Expedition has a tour that lasts 2 hours for $65. It is easy to find, just head back towards and past the Liberia International airport to Interstate RT1 and head south a half hour and it is on the left side of the highway.

Rafting Costa Rica

ATV tour. Let’s face it: Four wheelers are fun. But let’s also face it: When you are laying on the beach trying to relax, a passing group of screaming, un-muffled four wheelers is annoying. That said, if you stick to the back roads and mountain trails, an ATV tour can be a blast! Xtreme Adventures has a 2-hour ATV Tour for $75. Prepare to eat dust and get really dirty.

Playa Hermosa ATV

If you want to take the easy way, contact Tico Tours Guanacaste and Bernal can arrange everything for you.

Speaking of laying on the beach relaxing, that is actually the Number One Best Activity at Playa Hermosa Guanacaste. Highly recommended and absolutely free. Enjoy!

Playa Hermosa Guanacaste

Best Places to Experience Costa Rica Animals

Most of us love animals, and most of us want an up-close-and-personal encounter with Costa Rica animals. Here are some of the best places for that:

Costa Rica Animals

Right here in Playa Matapalo, only 17 minutes south from Playa Hermosa, is the El Diamante Adventure park. The park is an incredible wildlife animal sanctuary with jaguars, pumas, and various species of monkeys. Of course, you cannot forget about those cute faced sloths. In addition, there is a bird aviary that you can stroll in and a butterfly farm. For the brave at heart, there is a serpentarium with many different kinds of vipers and other creepy things–but all in cages. The park is staffed with bilingual guides and a biologist that are very helpful explaining the natural habitat of the animals. You can almost see it all in one place.
However, for the adventurous that like to drive there are more options below to encounter Costa Rica animals.

Costa Rica Butterfly
Jaguar Rescue Center is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center near the Caribbean hamlet of Puerto Viejo. Sadly (and fortunately) you will not be able to interact with jaguars here. Being a transitional animal center, the number and species housed there varies. There are 130-200 resident animals at any given time. Visitors are informed about the process of rescue and release of the animals, and you are able to enter the enclosure and interact with the monkeys. There are friendly parrots all around ready to perch on your shoulder!

Playa Del Coco Monkey

The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica is a privately owned sloth rescue center located near the town of Cahuita on the Caribbean coast. The center is dedicated to the rescue, research, rehabilitation and release of injured or orphaned sloths. Though holding and touching the sloths is prohibited, many sloths can be viewed up close as you tour the facility or during a 45-minute canoe ride on the shallow Estrella River.

Sloth Costa Rica

A rarely-seen, biological wonder takes place each week before a new moon from August through December at Ostional Beach in Guanacaste. Hundreds—sometimes thousands—of Olive Ridley sea turtles come ashore to dig a hole and lay their eggs in the soft black sand. Days or weeks before the mass nesting, the turtles begin to group offshore. At a moment only they determine, the turtles begin to stream ashore and this continues for the next 3 to 7 days. The turtles generally ride in on the high tide after dark and continue until the wee hours of the morning. You should keep your distance so as to not “spook” off the mama turtles, but once they begin laying their eggs, they go into a “trance” and you can approach and observe the miracle without fear of frightening the mother. The baby turtles hatch at night after 45-54 days, although it is not unheard of for them to pop out of the sand during daylight hours. At this point you can accompany the hatchlings as they clamber toward the sea, protecting them from vultures and dogs. However, do not pick them up and carry them to the sea since they need the exercise to develop their lungs. Those babies may travel as far as India, but their natural navigation system will carry them back to their place of birth in Ostional to lay their eggs when they are adults.

Guanacaste Tucan

La Paz Waterfall Garden (near the Poas Volcano) is a wonderful place for close encounters with many Costa Rica animals: toucans, frogs, sloths and hummingbirds. Check for feeding times at the front desk. The toucans will take fruit from your hands; the hummingbirds will buzz your head and land on hand-held feeders; you can put your head right up next to a sloth as it eats; take a selfie with the neon red-eyed tree frog.

Territorio de Zaguates was featured in Episode 5 of the Netflix series “Dogs.” Located in the mountains high above Alajuela, this 347-acre refuge is home to 1,300 stray dogs. The Territorio is not open to the public right now as they work to meet government requirements, but they plan to open soon. When they do, you will be able to walk the refuge’s trails with hundreds of happy dogs that take turns jumping on you and putting their muzzles in your hand in a bid for attention.

Land of the strays

If you are interested in more long-term encounters (read: volunteer work), the Territorio de Zaguates, Sloth Sanctuary, and Jaguar Rescue Center all have arrangements for volunteers. Check out their websites for more information. Just copy and past the name in a web browser. It’s a great way to interact with Costa Rica animals and help them at the same time.

Costa Rica Law 9416 Requires Shareholder Registration

Costa Rica law 9416, know as the “Law to Improve the Fight Against Fiscal Fraud” (Ley para Mejorar la Lucha contra el Fraude Fiscal), requires that all shareholders and owners of legal entities ( ie corporations that hold property) register their identity with the government. The Banco Central has been tasked with recording the identity of all natural persons that are final beneficiaries of Costa Rican corporations.

Costa Rica Law

They want to know who holds ownership of, exercises control over, or participates significantly in the activities of the legal entity. The only exceptions are corporations that are already under the control of governmental institutions. Examples of such exceptions are pension funds, public trusts, and financial institutions.

Like thousands of other expats, you want to own a piece of paradise in Costa Rica. Of course, you want your property—home, condo, or farm–to be legally registered. What does Costa Rica law require? Can a non-resident fulfill those requirements and thus legally own property in Costa Rica? Those questions are related to recently enacted law 9416. It was passed by the Costa Rican legislature on December 14, 2016 and went into effect on the 30th of that month.

Playa HermosaWhy does that matter to someone who owns property in Costa Rica? Because often a legal entity is used to hold ownership of that property. The “sociedad anonima” (SA), or Limitada similar to the LLC in the United States, is the legal instrument that is most commonly used for property ownership because it facilitates the transfer of title. According to Law 9416, the president of the SA is the only officer that is authorized to register. And the president must have a “firma digital” (digital signature) registered with the Banco Central in order to comply with the requirement.

Here’s where it gets tricky for non-residents. Only Costa Ricans and foreigners who have permanent residency status can obtain a digital signature. So what do you do if you’re an expat without legal residency and you want to hold property in Costa Rica through a sociedad anonima? How can you legally register it? There is a work-around, but it involves some expense. You can go to a notary public and assign a special power-of-attorney to a third party who will serve as your representative. The person you authorize can be an attorney but doesn’t have to be. As long as the person is a citizen or legal resident of Costa Rica in good standing with the government, they can represent you for registration purposes.

Law

 

What about just ignoring the Costa Rica law that requires registration? The fines for not filing the information are expensive. Current penalties for failure to register start at $2,250 and can go up to $75,000. Is the law being enforced? That’s a valid question. If you already own a Costa Rican SA or Limitada or are considering the purchase of a property in that is held by either one, it’s smart to check with an attorney. They can provide up-to-date information on Costa Rica law 9416, it’s enforcement, and how it applies to your individual situation.

Why was the law enacted in the first place? Costa Rica is attempting to comply with the rules established by the global financial system. Registration is mandated in order to insure transparency of ownership and to prevent fraud. This, in turn, helps Costa Rica remain in good standing with the international banking institutions that are in important source of funding for Costa Rica’s government.

Playa Del Coco

 

So do not hesitate if you happen to be a share holder of a Costa Rica corporation. Contact your legal representative here in Costa Rica and get the ball moving as you do not want to deal with penalties or other issues.