Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica extends majestically in the map from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and its distance is barely 200 miles. Its land portion occupies only 20 thousand square miles.

If you travel throughout the provinces of Costa Rica, it’s easy to notice that in no other place you shall find fields with so many variations in their landscape and climate as here.

Costa Rica is one of most highly valued tourist destinations in this planet. This small piece of land includes all of the necessary components to satisfy the taste of thousands of travelers visiting each year.

Costa Rica’s territorial division includes 7 provinces, which are: San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limón. Together they offer an attractive tourist destination, of almost limitless possibilities, that include extensive rainforests, volcanoes, rivers traveling through the mountains, beaches and natural resources safeguarded by an important organization of national parks and forest reserves.

With a marine surface that is 10 times bigger than the terrestrial and an immense biodiversity, Costa Rica is the perfect place for diving fanatics. The majority of these places belong to wildlife protected areas around the country, such as the famous Cocos Island National Park, also a World Heritage Site. Costa Rica´s Pacific coast was even considered by Rodale´s Scuba Magazine as one of the top 5 destinations around the world for advanced scuba diving.

Located 532 kilometers off the Pacific coast, Cocos Island was in old times a refugee for pirates, merchants, whalers and even colonizers. Today is known for its natural treasures that include the very peculiar and endangered hammerhead shark, as well as humpback whales, bottle nose dolphins, hawksbill turtles and a variety of coral species, just to mention some. The famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau deemed Cocos Island “the most beautiful island in the world”.

But the Caribbean coast has its own wonders too. For example, the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refugee is unique because of the amazing species found there. In only 5 square kilometers of coral reef, scientists have discovered 600 species of mollusks, 10% of which are unique in the world. In general, the Costa Rican oceans shelter at least 6,777 species, representing 3.5% of known species in the planet and also making the country a real paradise for diving enthusiasts.

It seems like every surfer who visits the country agrees that Costa Rica it is one of the best places in the world to surf; not by chance the country is the third most popular destination for this sport after Hawaii and Indonesia. The reasons are simple: beaches with excellent year-round waves, pleasant weather, warm water, friendly people and reasonable prices.

Last year, even the biggest surf competition in the world, the 2009 Billabong World Surfing Games, took place in Costa Rica with the participation of 35 countries.

To be the host country for the games, Costa Rica beat out countries like Brazil and South Africa, two renowned surf destinations, thanks in part to the increasing role that Costa Rican surfers are having overseas.

The country is also one of the few ones in the world where two great oceans are within a 6-hour drive of each other. This makes it possible to wake up for surf in the Pacific and finish the day riding the Atlantic waves in the afternoon. Definitively, a perfect paradise for surf lovers!

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