Adventures in Costa Rica A Journey through its Unique Traditions

From its vibrant festivals to its ancestral customs, Costa Rica holds a treasure trove of unique traditions. This post takes you on an adventure through the country's rich cultural landscape, offering a deep dive into the traditions that make Costa Rica truly special.

Adventures in Costa Rica

Costa Rica traditions

Hello, my Costa Rica esteemed travelers! Adventures in Costa Rica is just what you need. You are here because you’re curious about the adventurer and diverse cultures of Costa Rica, first of all Welcome to BuyCostaRicaLLC.com, our goal is to educate, inform and entertain with as much detailed information, pictures and videos as possible. We welcome feedback and comments on everything you like, dislike or we just completely missed.    

Today, our focus is on the Culture & Heritage, traditions, Festivals, traditional music, dance, and my favorite food. Then provide the most common frequently asked questions on   Culture & Heritage gem of Central America the captivating land of Costa Rica. In the end you will understand why this country is a national treasure trove with a little something for everyone. I have a confession; it is one of my favorite places in the world. With the amazing verdant rainforests and towering volcanoes to breath taking pristine beaches that are sure to leave you breathless too.

So, let me try to share and show why Costa Rica is more than just a place; it’s absolutely a way of life (good life). I have embraced the Pura Vida (Pure Life) ethos, which is evident in the undeniable abundant biodiversity that boasts an array of exotic animals such as toucans, sloths, sea turtles and capuchin monkeys.

Once you truly get beyond its natural beauty, that is no minor task. Discovering Culture & Heritage is an even greater charm – the warmth and hospitality of the Costa Rica people – in local slang as Ticos. Or, more specially Tica for the girls and Tico for the guy. Their unique cultural diversity resulting from Spanish colonization coupled with indigenous and African influences that offers visitors a very exquisite insights into this amazing tropical paradise of unique traditions resulting mouth-watering food, pulsating music scene and fascinating social norms only found in this Central American country.

It is my absolute pleasure to share some time introducing you to the beautiful customs during my stays and visits to ensure your stay is most present and enjoyable. So. whether it is exchanging kisses or just firm handshakes during you first greetings or try to get used to Tico Time (translation no schedule) that is world renowned for its laidback attitude towards punctuality. You’re guaranteed an unforgettable trip filled with enriching experiences in this amazing place called Costa Rica. Now, normally would say a once in a live time experience, but if you are like me. A return visit will happen or relocation for retire maybe, but for now let’s stick to Discovering Culture & Heritage of Costa Rica.

So, warn you to brace yourselves for an exciting virtual cultural voyage as I do my best unfold the many layers of Costa Rica’s vibrant unique traditions, warm captivating customs, and the effervescent human spirit of its people. In this guided adventure I promise not just an exploration of a country, but a vivid deeper understanding of a lifestyle that cherishes simplicity, nature, and above all, the pure joy of living the Costa Rica lifestyle. If, we have success, and my mind melt works you will learn to live the “Pura Vida” lifestyle no matter where you are in the world.  Let go traveling!

Traditional Festivals

In Costa Rica, life is a celebration! Festivals, known as ‘fiestas’, are a cornerstone of Costa Rican tradition, each with its own unique flair and significance.

  1. Palmares Festival: This is Costa Rica’s biggest party! Held in January, this two-week festival features everything from horse parades and carnivals to concerts and traditional Costa Rican food. Imagine a grand carnival with music filling the air, people dancing on the streets, and laughter echoing around every corner.

  2. Fiesta de los Diablitos: Held between December and January, this festival is a beautiful representation of the struggle between indigenous people (the ‘little devils’) and the Spanish conquistadors (represented by a bull). The ‘diablitos’ wear burlap masks and dance around a fire, recreating historic battles through their movements.

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Traditional Music and Dance

Costa Rican music and dance mirror the country’s cultural diversity, combining indigenous, Spanish, and African influences.

  1. Marimba Music: The marimba is Costa Rica’s national instrument. It produces a melodic, percussive sound that can make you sway with its rhythm. Imagine yourself in a lively Costa Rican market, the sound of the marimba creating a delightful soundtrack to your adventures.

  2. Traditional Dances: Costa Rica’s traditional dances, like the Punto Guanacasteco and the Tambito, are filled with energy and passion. They’re often performed in traditional attire, with women wearing long, vibrant dresses and men in white pants and shirts, a red belt, and a hat.

Traditional Foods

Gallo Pinto

Costa Rican cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors, offering a gastronomical journey you won’t forget.

  1. Gallo Pinto: This is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish made from rice and black beans. It’s often served with eggs, sour cream, and tortillas. Imagine starting your day with this hearty and delicious meal!

  2. Casado: A classic lunch dish, Casado includes rice, beans, salad, a protein (like chicken, beef, or fish), and fried plantains. It’s a beautiful mix of flavors that represents the country’s agricultural heritage.

Traditional Clothing

Traditional Clothing

Traditional Costa Rican clothing is a colorful display of the country’s cultural heritage.

  1. Women’s Attire: Women traditionally wear long, ruffled dresses called ‘golas’, usually adorned with bright, tropical colors and floral patterns, echoing the country’s vibrant flora.

  2. Men’s Attire: Men typically wear white cotton pants and shirts, a red belt (representing love for their country), and a black hat.


Q: What is the official language of Costa Rica?

A: The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. However, many Costa Ricans are bilingual, with English being the second most common language.

Q: What is a popular sport in Costa Rica?

A: Soccer, or ‘futbol’ as it’s known locally, is the most popular sport in Costa Rica. It’s not just a game, but a significant part of the nation’s identity.

Q: Are many homes without central hot water?

A: Yes, many traditional houses don’t have central hot water and instead use showers with on-demand heaters, and dish soap and laundry detergents formulated for use in cool water. However, there are plenty of modern, American-style homes equipped with hot water tanks.

Q: Are there any famous Costa Ricans?

A: Yes, among them: Franklin Chang-Diaz, a NASA astronaut and record-holder for most space flights; Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former two-term president; Claudia Poll, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer – the only Costa Rican to ever have won gold; Nery Brenes, as of 2010 one of the world’s rising superstars in track and field; and Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica’s current sports sweetheart and star soccer forward for Holland’s Twente.

Q: Does every town have a farmers’ market?

A: Almost every town has its own farmers’ market, known in Costa Rica as la feria. In general, markets are held on a Friday and/or Saturday. You can shop for a huge variety of goods, including fresh produce, cheese, meats, baked goods, flowers and even handicrafts at very reasonable prices.

Q: How do Costa Ricans dress?

A: Costa Ricans take pride in their appearance and dress well. In business situations, both men and women dress conservatively. Outside the office, locals dress informally, though men rarely wear shorts except at the beach. Women of all sizes may wear tight and revealing clothing, though females in rural areas dress more conservatively than their urban counterparts.

Q: How do Costa Ricans greet each other?

A: It is common to greet friends, relatives and even acquaintances with an air kiss on the cheek. A handshake is normal etiquette in business situations.

Q: Is Costa Rica a Catholic country?

A: Studies report that 70.5% of Costa Ricans are Roman Catholic, but only 44.9% are practicing Catholics. There is no legal separation between church and state, so the Catholic Church has influence over national politics. However, Costa Rica is not extremely conservative: for example, abortion is illegal, but birth control is widely available.

Q: Is Costa Rica gay-friendly?

A: In general, Costa Rica is more gay-friendly than other Latin American countries. However, gay marriage is not legal in Costa Rica and sexuality can be a sensitive topic since most locals are Roman Catholics. San Jose and Manuel Antonio are the most open-minded destinations for gay travelers.

Q: Is it true that Costa Ricans never say no?

A: Not exactly. Costa Ricans are less direct than most North Americans and Europeans, so they’re less likely to respond with a flat out no. For example, if you ask a friend to dinner and he doesn’t want to go, he will probably answer with a maybe, just to be polite.

Q: Is there a strong indigenous influence?

A: There are at least nine indigenous cultures in Costa Rica, but they represent just 1% of the country’s entire population. Rural tourism initiatives have allowed travelers to visit these communities, learn about their way of life and even contribute to local economies.

Q: What are Costa Rica’s most traditional meals?

A: Gallo pinto – black beans and rice, seasoned with onion, sweet pepper, cilantro and Lizano sauce – is considered Costa Rica’s national dish. Two of Costa Rica’s most typical holiday foods – miel de chiverre (squash honey) and tamales – are true delicacies worth trying.

Q: What are macrobioticas?

A: They’re everywhere! Macrobioticas are health food stores where Costa Ricans buy herbal teas, natural remedies and homeopathic goods. Natural medicine isvery common in Costa Rica, and some doctors prescribe natural remedies alongside pharmaceuticals.

Q: What are the five most important holidays in Costa Rica?

A: In calendar order: Holy Week (the week leading up to and including Easter Sunday), the Annexation of Guanacaste (July 25), Our Lady of Los Angeles Day (August 2), Independence Day (September 15), and Christmas (December 25).

Q: What cultural activities are unique to Costa Rica?

A: Horse parades, known locally as topes, are prevalent throughout the country from December-April. Hundreds of riders gather to show off their beautiful horses, riding skills, and fancy cowboy outfits.

Q: What does “pura vida” mean?

A: Directly translated from Spanish, this iconic phrase means pure life. In reality, it is more a state of mind: Costa Ricans take every opportunity to enjoy life, and this carefree term expresses general satisfaction. Pura vida is used as greeting or farewell, to express thanks, and as a response to “how are you?”

Q: What is the local attitude toward women?

A: Machismo is part of Costa Rican culture – traditional gender roles exist and men are more brazen when pursuing women. However, this stereotype does not hold true for the entire culture, particularly for the younger generation. As the gender gap closes, women are becoming more independent – marrying later, earning more degrees, and supporting themselves. In 2010, Costa Rica elected Laura Chinchilla, the nation’s first female president.

Q: What is Tico time?

A: Tico time is a somewhat affectionate reference to the Costa Rican habit of arriving late for appointments, dates and even business meetings. The best way to combat this propensity is to prepare for a late arrival – or schedule appointments for 30-60 minutes earlier.

Q: What kind of music is popular in Costa Rica?

A: Costa Ricans enjoy Latin, American and British contemporary rock, and have a special affinity for tunes from the 80’s. However, when it comes to dancing, most prefer the traditional Latin rhythms of salsa, merengue, cumbia, lambada and soca.

Q: What role does family play in Costa Rica?

A: Family is extremely important to Costa Ricans, and family members are very affectionate with one another. Many Costa Ricans live in multi-generation households, and it is common for families to get together as a group every weekend.

Q: When is Costa Rica’s Independence Day?

A: Costa Rica earned its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Each year, this holiday is celebrated with fireworks, parades and marching bands.

Q: Why are Costa Ricans called Ticos?

A: Tico and Tica (male and female) are colloquial terms that Costa Ricans gave themselves, due to their linguistic tendency to add the diminutive “tico” to the end of words. For example, “un poco” means “a little” – in standard Spanish, the diminutive is “un poquito” (a little bit), but Costa Ricans often say “un poquitico”

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