Travelling around Central America can sometimes be daunting – you hear those rumours and stories and it's enough to put anyone off. However, the actual reality of it couldn't be further away from the truth, with nearly ten million tourists visiting the vast region every year, experiencing epic landscapes, adrenaline-pumping activities and thriving cosmopolitan cities.
And a great place to head to if you're a Central America virgin is Costa Rica. Why? Well we're glad you asked...
Safety is paramount!
To put it simply, Costa Rica is as smooth as it gets outside of North America, making you feel comfortable and at ease when on your travels. There's a reason why over two million tourists visit the country every year, particularly attracting expats, adventure seekers, backpackers and surfers.
Safety, of course, is all relative, and any country you go to will have its own issues, so like everywhere, you just need to be aware of your dos and donts. Always keep a close eye on your personal belongings and don't leave valuables unattended. But this piece of advice would be dished out if you were staying back at home in the UK, to be fair!
Add to this the fact that major natural events like earthquakes or hurricanes are rare, and you're pretty sorted.
Size isn't everything!
Many Central American countries may boast about their size, but Costa Rica proves that it's more about quality than quantity. In its just 19,700 sq miles (it is actually the 70th smallest country by landmass in the world!), it boasts gushing waterfalls, glimmering crater lakes, lush rainforests and towering volcanoes – this is a land for the eager adventurer and explorer.
Due to its relatively small size, it's possible to squeeze a lot into just two weeks. For example, our 13-day Costa Rica BLT allows you to hike in the Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve to see the 420 species of bird that call this place home, come face-to-face with sloths at the Tortuguero National Park, snorkel along coral reefs, hike up the Arenal Volcano, rush down a 1,300-foot mountain water slide through tropical rainforests, and then laze about on the pristine Hermosa beach. Phew.
A friendly welcome!
Unlike some of its neighbouring countries, Costa Rica has, over the years, become quite Americanised, meaning that it's a much more comfortable environment to be in if you're worried about travelling alone. If anything, the Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they call themselves, live what they dub 'pura vida' – meaning 'the pure life'. Living life with a laidback and easygoing approach, Ticos help Costa Rica's image of being the happiest country on earth; so much so that you're sure to see a smile wherever you go.
Random fact: Costa Rica hasn't had an army since 1949 – if that doesn't scream peaceful to you, we don't know what will!
Are you ready for an adventure?
If you enjoy holidays with a bit of an active streak, then look no further. Whether it's hiking through dense rainforest, ziplining across forest canopies, braving it across hanging bridges, or white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, this country offers virtually anything extreme you're looking for.
All of this is in the stunning landscape that Costa Rica offers; white sand beaches to sink your feet into, rainforests and national parks that hold around five per cent of the world's biodiversity and make up a quarter of the country, five listed active volcanoes and ample wildlife viewing. What else could you really ask for?
So does Costa Rica sound tempting? We thought so. We're pretty sure you'll all love this extraordinary country and if you want to see the colourful sights and sounds check out our Go on your own Costa Rican adventure and learn more about this charismatic country, and while you're at it, have the time of your life.