Join Our KIVA Team!

We’ve been using KIVA for years as a wonderful way to give back to Costa Rica. KIVA provides micro-loans to small businesses and individuals around the world. As loans are repaid, it’s very easy for you to re-lend those funds and to keep on giving.

Costa Rica Apiaries

We’ve focused our giving to Costa Rica and have decided to form a KIVA Team to help our friends and clients easily give back to Costa Rica. If you’re not already a member of KIVA, we urge you to join, and if you are already a member and want to help folks in Costa Rica, please join our team by clicking here.

Coffee sacks


The Zika Virus in Costa Rica — What You Need To Know.

First off, let me say I do not want to belittle the health concerns and potentially serious consequences of the Zika virus. That said, all current evidence points to the fact that, unless you are a woman already pregnant or trying to get pregnant, the Zika Virus posses very little risk to travelers to Costa Rica.

This communique from the Costa Rican Health Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Executive Office is dated February 8, 2016.

Zika Communique from ICT and Casa Presidencial

For another perspective, here’s a link to an article from our friend Hans Pfister at Cayuga Hospitality (the folks behind Arenas del Mar, Lapa Rios, Kura Design Villas and several other of our favorite hotels and lodges in the country).

Finally, you can always check for the latest information at the United State’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) site.

The Pacuare Lodge

Costa Rica Custom Trips recently got a chance to stay at the Pacuare Lodge, an amazing place on the shores of the Pacuare River. The lodge features beautifully designed rooms on a riverside location only accessible by river. (This is not entirely true: It is possible to drive down a rugged road to a separately owned private tent camp site on the other bank, take a suspended hand-cranked open gondola trolley via a cable across the river, and then hike a couple hundred yards to the lodge).

Pacuare Lodge Honeymoon Suite

Pacuare Lodge Honeymoon Suite

Adventuras Naturales, who run the lodge, are committed to sustainable tourism and practices. The rooms themselves have no electricity. A small hyrdro-electric generator supplies all the lodge’s power, which is enough to offer phone, camera and laptop charging stations, as well as spotty Wi-Fi down at the main lodge area.

Getting to and from the lodge is much of the fun. The class III/IV Pacuare is one of Costa Rica’s most exciting and visually captivating rivers. While overnight trips run the same section as one-day rafting trips, they allow you to do so at a slower pace, with stops to hike into remote waterfall swimming holes.

Rafting on the Pacuare (and other rivers) is one of our most popular tour and activity options. Spending a night–or two or three–on the river makes it even more special. Often the rafting trip can be used as a convenient (and essentially free) transfer opportunity to get to or from San Jose, Arenal or the Caribbean coast. Be sure to ask us about rafting options when planning your Costa Rica Custom Trip.

Costa Rica Health Care Tops International Living’s Survey

Here’s more proof that Costa Rica isn’t just for nature lovers, beach bums, biologists, honeymooners, adventure seekers, river runners, surfers and other assorted tourists. According to International Living Magazine, it is the number one country for US citizens seeking affordable, reliable  quality health care outside of their home country’s borders.

International Living’s Overseas Health Care Roundup 2013

Having lived here for over 20 years, I can attest to the fact. Based on first hand experience and loads of anecdotal evidence, I know that Costa Rica offers up excellent general care, top notch specialists, world-class dentistry and more. I’ve had friends and clients come down for care, saving a bundle and getting a nice little tropical vacation thrown in, to boot.



Urban White (and Black) Waters

Rios Tropicales, the pioneering white water rafting company, ran one the most dangerous sections of river in Costa Rica. The rapids never exceeded class II, but the sewage, garbage and urban blight made their trip on the Rio Torres one of the most challenging trips imaginable.

Wearing heavy protective gear, Rafael Gallo and his crew set off in four rafts and one canoe. The unique rafting trip was organized in conjunction with the Blue Flag (Bandera Azul) campaign for clean beaches and waterways, and the Costa Rican water company (AyA).

This is the second time Gallo has run the Rio Torres. He did it in a kayak alongside his brother Victor back in 1991. While still very polluted and dangerous, Gallo says he did notice some improvement. However, he hopes the river can actually be totally cleaned up and made pristine.










Personally, I wouldn’t send you down the Rio Torres. But if you’re looking to try your luck on the Pacuare, Reventazon, Peyibaje, Toro or Balsa, then drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.

Costa Rica Is Home To The World’s Largest Labyrinth

The Tamarindo Labyrinth, located on the outskirts of this popular Guanacaste beach town, is the world’s largest labyrinth. The winding path here runs a full three kilometers (1.7 miles) from start to finish.

The labyrinth is the work of architect and designer Ronald Esquivel and is said to take advantage of a couple natural energy centers found on the property. The “walls” that define the labyrinth’s path are a mix of prickly pear and other types of cactus. Once fully grown in, this is sure to keep walkers on their toes.

Tamarindo LabyrinthRight now, the walls are still rather sparse, and you can even short-circuit the full labyrinth if you’re in  a rush.

The Tamarindo Labyrinth is open year round, and gently requests a $20 donation to contribute to upkeep. Prior reservations are required.

Driving In Costa Rica: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Driving In Costa RicaI get asked about driving in Costa Rica a lot. I’ve written about it a lot. The fact is there’s no pat answer for visitors about whether or not they should or shouldn’t rent a car and drive on their own.

As the popular refrain and the majority of Facebook relationship status updates go: “It’s complicated.”

There are different types of drivers, and different types of vacations. Some folks can tolerate the bad roads, lack of signs, road closures because of landslides or holes, and the occasional bus barreling down at you in your lane from around a blind curve.

This article from Central America Amateur Traveler has a nice list of 9 Things To Know About  Driving In Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Traffic JamThe first photo above is from a trek to Playa Barrigona in the rainy season. Whereas, to the left, you’ll see a little tree fall on the way home from La Fortuna recently. I need to also scan some shots I have of a Lapa Rios 4X4 Toyota Extended Bed Pickup getting overturned in a flash flood on the Osa Peninsula. I was in the passenger seat.

However, it’s not all bad. Driving around Costa Rica offers almost unlimited chances to explore and enjoy.

So, enjoy.

Tai Chi In Paradise Retreat With Chris Luth

For more than 20 years, Tai Chi master Chris Luth has been conducting his Tai Chi In Paradise Retreats in Costa Rica.

His next Costa Rican Retreat will be held from March 2-10, 2013. The retreat will include extensive instruction in Tai Chi and Chi Gong, in a format accessible to and beneficial to everyone from beginners to long-time practitioners.

There will also be ample interactive practice, geared toward using and applying Tai Chi exercises and principles in a variety of real life situations


The retreat will also offer a range of activities and tours more typical to a Costa Rican vacation, as well as plenty of beach and down time.

I’ve personally known Chris and taken part in his retreats for many years, and can vouch for them. My strong recommendation is based on first hand experience, and over 30 years practicing Tai Chi and other martial arts myself.

An internationally renowned teacher and 2-time U.S. national champion, Chris Luth is considered by many to be a master of these arts, and he will draw upon more than 30 years of experience to guide you through a journey of discovery. Discovery not just of these ancient healing arts but of yourself and your relationship to life.

For more information on this retreat visit Tai Chi In Paradise.


The Travel Channel’s Costa Rica Page

Here’s a load of links/articles/videos and more about Costa Rica from The Travel Channel

I especially like the photos of the amazing team of sand sculptors to work their magic in Manuel Antonio last year. I got to see their work about one afternoon rain storm and one high tide too late…

I’m not sure I agree with their list of top luxury hotels, then again it’s rare I completely agree with other people’s lists, as I’ve got and made lists of my own…


Manuel Antonio Sand Sculpture