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A delicate chain linking the US and Mexico to the north with South America to the south, Central America is roughly the size of Texas, but it packs a whole lot into a relatively small space. Sitting not far from the equator, it’s got a definite tropical paradise vibe, with sparkling turquoise ocean (laidback Caribbean on one side, pounding Pacific on the other) along its lengthy coastline and lush green rainforest cloaking its interior, punctuated by the giant peaks of more than 300 volcanoes. There’s supreme surfing and sublime scuba diving in all that briny blue, while on land you can explore national forests packed with chattering, squeaking, squawking wildlife or travel 4,00 years back in time at some of the most magnificent Mayan ruins you’ve ever seen.
Costa Rica, the “rich coast” can be found at the southern end of the Central American chain, and its people have made laidback living their specialty. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, have a favorite phrase, Pura Vida, which translates as “pure life”, but which is basically about being relaxed, carefree and living life to the fullest. Adopt it as your vacation greeting, add in a sprinkling of Spanish phrases and you’re all set for a warm welcome from the easy-going locals.
Make the most of that gilded coastline, lounging on golden beaches, surfing up a storm in Pacific swells or nursing a rum punch on Caribbean sands. Trek through the jungle spotting jaguars and toucans, hike to a volcanic rim or zipline above a misty cloud forest – it’s hard to be bored in this small but mighty vacation gem.
So when’s the best time to hit Costa Rica? Well, really the question is when is the best time for you because it depends which treasures you’re hoping to find. Broadly speaking, there are two seasons: dry (roughly mid-November to April) and wet (roughly May to mid-Nov). In the peak, dry season things can get pretty busy, with all those North American and European vacationers flying south for the winter, but most would agree that the beaches bathed in sunshine from dawn till dusk are worth sharing.
Beaches in the popular Guanacaste region can see the mercury hit 90, so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and a big old floppy hat. In the wet season, you’ll have afternoon rains and sunny mornings, with the heaviest downpours in September and October. It’s often referred to as the “green season” because of all that jungly glory, but keep in mind, unpaved roads can become impassable in more remote areas when it rains. In June and July, there’s a respite from the rain, and it’s a good time to explore the animal kingdom of the rainforests, while August sees peak turtle nesting season in Tortuguero and swells starting to form, making the Pacific coast a surfer’s paradise through to the end of October.
It takes between 3 and 7 hours to fly to Costa Rica from most US cities, and most international flights land in either Juan Santamaría International Airport in the country’s capital, San José, or Liberia's Daniel Oduber International Airport in the northwest of the country, near the beaches of Guanacaste.
Belize is another small but perfectly formed treat. It’s known for being an outstanding diving destination, with a barrier reef that’s the second largest in the world – not bad for a country roughly the same size as Massachusetts. Rainforest rambles will uncover big cats, a rainbow of feathered friends and Mayan monoliths telling stories of a great ancient civilization.
If it’s a hammock and a swaying palm that call your name, then head to the hundreds of tiny islands dotted along the Caribbean coast. The largest of these is Ambergris Caye, and it’s a deservedly popular destination where you can sit back and soak up some rays by day, and party in the warm tropical nights.
Belize’s subtropical climate sees a high season from late November to mid-April, when rain is scarce and the average daytime temperature on the coast and cayes is around 80 degrees. But watch out from December through February, when sporadic gusts of wind blowing from the north, known as "northers" can hit the coast and islands hard and hang around for a few days at a time. The rainy season runs from June to mid-November, and the hurricane season overlaps it from July to October, with the most active months being August, September, and October. Perhaps the best time to visit is between January and early April when it’s not quite as hot or humid, and the sea is clear, calm and perfect for strapping on that snorkel mask.
It takes around two hours to fly to Belize from four major cities in the US: Miami, New Orleans, Houston or North Carolina, while flights out of Los Angeles connect through Guatemala and El Salvador. From the main points of entry, the Philip Goldson International Airport and the Belize City Municipal Airstrip, you can catch a local flight to Ambergris Caye – around 15 minutes by air from mainland Belize – or you can take a speedboat water taxi from downtown Belize City.
So you want to bask on the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, scale the Arenal volcano and explore the misty Monteverde cloud forest? Then our Costa Rica rentals are just what you’re looking for. Choose from jungle hideaways in the trees or beachside villas overlooking Pacific waves, all beautifully appointed for a luxury vacation to remember.
Our rentals in Belize give you access to the charms of Ambergris Caye and the best diving in Great Blue Hole and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, while magnificent Mayan cities are waiting to be explored at Lamanai, Altun Ha and Caracol on the mainland. Find secluded island romance at our Cayo Espanto villas, or chill out by your private pool at one of our properties in Ambergris Caye.