MaximoNivel > Destinations > Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is by far one of the most exotic places on Earth. The country offers unparalleled natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests, and a wide range of national parks and eco-tourism.

Costa Rica Flag

Costa Rica is located in Central America and borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. A chain of volcanoes and mountains—part of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain—runs the length of the country and separates the Caribbean Sea on the east coast from the Pacific Ocean on the west coast. In addition, Costa Rica has over 1,000 miles of gorgeous white and black sand beaches, copious amounts of sunshine, world-class sport fishing, surfing and scuba!

Population: 4,160,000
Geography: 51,100 km² (19,730 square miles).
Costa Rica is approximately the size of West Virginia. The highest point is Cerro Chirripo 3,810 meters/12,460 feet above sea level
Capital: San Jose
Founded: 15 September 1821
Currency: Colon (₡)
U.S. dollars are accepted in all places of business and are available at most ATMs. Other currencies can be easily exchanged.
Languages: Spanish
Time Zone: UTC -6:00

Costa Rica San Jose

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and it’s the gateway to both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts as well as Costa Rica’s rainforests. The city is located in the Central Valley and has a population of 1.2 million people. Situated at 1,150 meters (3,773 feet) above sea level, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains with several nearby volcanoes. San Jose has all the amenities of a large capital city, and offers museums, parks, markets, plazas, and theaters, as well as plenty of shopping and nightlife.

Costa Rica Official Taxi

Getting Around San Jose

San Jose uses a modern grid system for its streets and avenues, so it’s generally easy to find your way around. Note that people do not use street numbers, but instead use landmarks and other buildings to refer to where something is located, but with a little practice the system works quite well. You can use public buses or taxis which are easily available. Most public buses are around $0.50 (USD). Both Uber and official taxis are available and easy to find, allowing you to move safely from place to place both day and night. For trips and tours, there are various transportation options including buses, semi-private shuttles, and Nature Air (small passenger planes).


Manuel Antonio

The Manuel Antonio/Quepos area is a beach town and marina located just 3 hours west of San Jose. The population of Manuel Antonio/Quepos is approximately 12,000 people. The entire area is a tropical paradise where the rainforest meets the ocean and white sand beaches stretch for as far as you can see. The entire Manuel Antonio region is a high priority eco-conservation area and there’s easy access to the Manuel Antonio National Park—Costa Rica’s largest protected rainforest, established in 1972.


Getting Around Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio and the pueblo of Quepos occupy the same min metro-area and are connected by a single road just 6 kilometers long (3.75 miles). There is easy bus service between Quepos and Manuel Antonio every 15 minutes and costs less than $1.00 (USD), and there’s a bus stop right in front of the Maximo Nivel institute. Taxis are also very easy to find in both in Quepos and Manuel Antonio.



Costa Rican gastronomy is based on rice, black beans and tortillas. With its tropical location, fresh fruit and vegetables are also always available. If you are a smoothie lover you are in good luck because Costa Ricans typically prepare fresh fruit juice and smoothies every day. The most common dishes are Gallo Pinto and Casados. Gallo Pinto consists of rice and beans and is usually served for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs and coffee. Casados are plates of steak, pork, or chicken, loaded with white rice, and black or red beans, served with a side of summer squash or coleslaw, and fried plantains. There are a number of other traditional dishes that you can try including tamales, arroz con pollo, ceviche, olla de carne, and mondongo.



Costa Rica is a fairly conservative country, but at the same time very cosmopolitan. “Ticos” are very friendly and love to welcome visitors to their country. If this is your first time traveling abroad, you can easily adapt to the culture. While in San Jose, dress like you are in the capital city. In Manuel Antonio, shorts, bathing suits, and sandals are the norm. Some cultural recommendations include:
– Dress conservatively in San Jose
– Avoid open displays of affection in public
– Do not bathe nude at the beach
– Do not slam doors, it is considered extremely offensive
– Never raise your voice in anger
– Wear shoes or sandals at your family-stay
– Understand that “tico time” is often flexible
– Avoid direct confrontation and accusations
– Avoid topics such as pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy

Costa Rica Shopping


San Jose and Manuel Antonio have a number of shops, malls, and art galleries, and you can buy excellent souvenirs, clothes, cigars, and coffee. In downtown San Jose, you can find the artisans’ market and the Central Market, both of which shouldn’t be missed!

Costa Rica Food

Eating Out

San Jose and Manuel Antonio offer an excellent selection of both traditional Costa Rican food and international fare. In both cities, you can enjoy delicious and inexpensive local meals at a number of restaurants and at the central market in San Jose. Prices range from as little $5.00 (USD) for a big plate of traditional food to $50.00 (USD) for elegantly prepared international dishes. And of course, don’t forget to try Costa Rica’s world-famous coffee. Note, in Costa Rica you are not obliged to tip as a 10% gratuity is always added to your check.

Costa Rica NightLife


San Jose and Manuel Antonio offer a wide variety of restaurants, cafés, bars, and clubs. Both cities have a lively nightlife with great places to dance, drink and listen to live music.