Fun Facts

Hey... I didn't know that!

This section is dedicated to those of you who strive to do well at Jeopardy or maybe Trivial Pursuit! You just can’t help yourself in your continual quest for knowledge about the places you visit. Either that, or you have been left in the condo, there’s no power… so no TV, or you’re sunburnt… so no outdoor activities and you are so ridiculously bored that you’ve reached for this little book to pass the hour away. Whatever the reason, here are some fun facts about Costa Rica… sure to impress your friends or fellow travelers!

Enjoy... just think, you’ll be able to pass yourself as a “learned” voyager!

Let’s start with a few easy ones...

Hey, did you know that...

  • The national currency of Costa Rica is called the colone (ko lo nee) however U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
  • The national language is Spanish though many of the more commercial towns and tourist attractions will have English speaking guides and employees.
  • Pura Vida pronounced “pura bida” (v’s become b’s here) means pure life and is said a billion times a day by everyone. It means that everything is all good!!!
  • Buenas pronounced “bwe nas” is a casual way of saying hello and is used often in stores and restaurants by staff.
  • Sodas… no these are not fizzy drinks, but are the small restaurants found throughout the country that serve “typical” Costa Rican food.
  • Gallo Pinto means simply rice and black beans, a staple meal in the locals’ diets.
  • Ripe coffee beans are RED when they are picked?
  • Tico or Tica is a way to say that a person is Costa Rican. It’s not considered derogatory to use this term and remember that ticos are males and ticas are females. Don’t mix them up!
  • Although Costa Rica may be considered a 3rd world country, many are now considering it a developing country due to the technology firms such as Intel Corporation that have made Costa Rica their new home.
  • Costa Rican government has been a democracy since 1940.
  • The elected candidate is called the President (not Prime Minister).
  • Costa Rica is often referred to as the “Switzerland” of Central America.
  • You will find a higher standard of living here than in many Central American countries.
  • The temperature of the ocean is the same as the air (test it out, we dare ya!)
  • Summer begins in December and runs through to the end of April (5 months... beat that!)
  • The Costa Rican school system runs from February through to early December (Summer holidays are from December to the end of January)
  • Adult literacy rates in Costa Rica are 97%.
  • Population of Costa Rica is 4.4 million people, approximately 3 million live in the Central Valley near the capital city of San Jose.
  • Green season (rainy season) is from May through November though the two heaviest months of rain happen in September and October. It rains like you have never experienced rain before!!! At times we’ve watched as much as 10 centimeters came down in one hour! Can you say... flood! The rest of the months we enjoy fabulous sun in the mornings and short showers in the afternoons.
  • Costa Rica has two international airports. One in the capital of San Jose and the other is up north in Liberia.
  • The various territories of the country are divided up into Provinces and NOT States.
  • Within this tiny country, there is 12% of the world’s biodiversity found here... huh? Biodiversity: a term that describes the number of different species that live within a particular ecosystem. Okay, there is an unusually large number of plants, insects and animals that make Costa Rica’s jungles their home. (Wow didn’t think you’d ever get that one!).
  • Many Costa Rican families rely on peddle bikes as their primary mode of transportation in rural towns. We’ve witnessed as many as 5 people balancing on one bike… a true talent! (Dad peddling, mom sitting on the cross bar holding a toddler, son sitting in back in a child seat, newest baby in front basket!!!).
  • Did we mention that the Spaniards brought Catholicism when they conquered the country and it has remained the primary religion?
  • Imperial, Pilsener and Bavaria are the national beers manufactured in country. You can normally find a beer for fewer than two dollars in the local cantinas. (No one really says “cantina” so don’t embarrass yourself by asking where to find one!)
  • Flora de Cana is a Nicaraguan rum that is widely consumed, of good quality and known to provide excellent hangovers when consumed in excess!
  • Guarro (gwarro) is an alcohol that is super inexpensive and commonly consumed by the locals. POTENT and TOXIC! Yuck! (The guys are definitely going to go in search of some now.)
  • Costa Rica, like many developing countries, is not widely familiar with the concept of spaying and neutering their pets. The result is that there are hundreds of street dogs and cats that are always looking for good homes. There are local vets that have begun educating pet owners and they do occasionally supply free spay/neuter clinics in order to help with this epidemic... to learn more or become involved with the McKee Project here in Jaco check out the website at
  • Due to the fact that in Jaco most of the restaurants and bars are open-air, you will often see people bring in their pets; who are always welcome!
  • Drinking in public is LEGAL! Go figure!
  • Drinking and Driving is STILL illegal!
  • Wearing your seatbelt is mandatory.
  • High tide happens twice a day and it changes daily so you’ll need to pick up one of the free local magazines that publish the tide charts in order to figure out when you need to plan your surf time... we recommend the Info Jaco!
  • Costa Rica and Playa Hermosa in particular have some of the best surfing in the world, which is why our national surf team trains here.
  • Have you noticed that most of the fences are made out of live trees? That’s why they call them “living” fences. They prune them annually though otherwise there is little maintenance. Pretty smart!
  • Costa Rica’s largest export items are bananas, pineapples, coffee, cocoa, cattle and sugar.
  • If you aren’t a resident of Costa Rica then you need to leave the country for 72 hours every 90 days. The gringos call it a forced holiday! Boo hoo right?
  • Foreigners have the same rights when it comes to land ownerships as a national does.
  • On 90% of the Costa Rica coastlines, the first 200 meters of land from the high tide line is called concession land and is owned by the government. Costa Ricans believe the beaches should be enjoyed by everyone. Concession land may be leased from the government for up to a 25 year term.
  • Jaco is an exception to this concession rule (as are a few other small beach towns) as in the 70’s the ocean front property in the bay became titled from 50 meters back of the high tide line. That is why you see all of the buildings so close to the beach.
  • This information is available in PDF format within our Concierge Guide.