Discover some of the tropical fruits found in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known mostly as an eco-tourism destination, but it’s slowly gaining as a reputation for its sustainable food scene. Part of that stems from the Central American country’s tropical climate and rich volcanic soil that create the perfect conditions for crops to flourish, including a wide array of fruits.

Most visitors are familiar with mango, papaya and coconut, but Costa Rica is home to several other nutritious and tasty tropical fruits that don’t get exported very often. If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, be sure to stop by one of the many roadside fruit stands to sample some of these delicacies recommended by the Costa Rica Tourism Board:

Nance
The Nance is a small yellow berry with delicate skin and a white pulp. It grows in clusters, which acquire a penetrating aroma. They are sweet and slightly bitter. The tree can be found in Costa Rica’s dry forests, savannas and coastal areas, such as Alajuela, Puntarenas, and Guanacaste. Nance fruit is often used to prepare beverages, craft liquors, ice cream and desserts. It is a rich source of vitamin C and fiber.

Guaba


In Costa Rica, Guaba is synonymous with luck. When someone is particularly lucky, they are called “Guabero”. Not to be confused with guava, the Guaba tree can measure up to 50 feet high and produces beautiful flowers. The fruit pods vary in size and shape, but have a woody bark that contains black seeds covered in a white cottony layer of delicate sweet flavor. Due to its flavor and texture, it is also known as the “ice cream bean.” Guabas are usually available during the rainy season and are often used as an ingredient in salads and ice cream. Its seeds are often used to create jewelry, usually necklaces or earrings, which can be found in craft markets throughout Costa Rica. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, fiber and other micronutrients.

Cas

Cas is a small round green fruit that can be found throughout Costa Rica. The skin is thin and the pulp is fleshy and juicy. Cas juice, which is made with ripe Cas, is tart—somewhat similar to lime or lemonade, but has its own unique flavor. It is a Costa Rican staple during mealtime. Cas is available throughout the year, but is most common from November to August. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and potassium.

Mamón Chino

Mamón Chino, also known as rambutan, is an exquisite round fruit covered in an intensely bright red skin, which is protected with soft thorns. The trees grow in clusters and can reach up to 65 feet in height. Mamón Chino is typically found in the southern regions of Costa Rica, where small and large producers, especially from the Corredores area, produce high quality fruit. The sweet and juicy pulp is consumed fresh, and is the ideal ingredient for the preparation of desserts, salads and drinks. Mamón Chino is a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, vitamin A and other beneficial components for health.

Pitahaya

Pitahaya belongs to the cactus family, is native to Mesoamerica and is also known as dragon fruit. The plant grows in dry stony areas, and is resistant to drought. In Costa Rica, it is found in tropical dry forests—mainly north of Puntarenas and Guanacaste. It is also possible to find the plant in some dry areas of the Central Valley. The Pitahaya fruit is oval-shaped with a bright pink and scaly surface. The pulp is soft and translucent, with multiple tiny black seeds—similar to that of grapes. The fresh pulp is a common ingredient in desserts, drinks, salads and ice cream. On the Costa Rican Colón, the Pitahaya appears as a symbol of the country’s natural heritage. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber; it is also a rich source of antioxidants.

Costa Rica: Welcome to the Jungle

You could spend an entire vacation in Costa Rica soaking in the sun on a beautiful beach, but most come here to explore the vast areas of untouched wilderness that make this tiny Central American country one of the most biodiverse in the world.

Costa Rica has transformed itself into a premiere eco-destination by setting aside almost one-quarter of its land as nature reserve, allowing visitors to enjoy animals in their natural setting. And to make sure that these areas are available for future generations, Costa Rica has pioneered sustainable tourism practices that leave minimal impact on its ecosystems.

“We are a very green-oriented country and if we start compromising the goose that laid the golden egg, then we don’t have a lot to fall back on. Costa Rica, unlike Peru or Guatemala, doesn’t have a great history of Indian empires, but we do have a great history of democracy and sustainable practices,” says Jim Damalas, president and CEO of Greentique Hotels, a company that operates four Costa Rican eco-hotels. The hotels adhere to the country’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism program, which recognizes businesses that follow sustainable practices.

Read the rest of the story on The Ottawa Citizen Style Magazine’s website.

Photos: Colossal views of Costa Rica

It’s been more than 20 years since I was in the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica. I have fond memories of my time there so when I was invited by their tourism board for a quick trip down, I jumped at the chance.

Compared to some of its neighbours, Costa Rica is an oasis. Its commitment to protecting natural habitats for wildlife and in turn using that as a tool to attract tourists is commendable.

I was only there for a few days in the central highlands and on the Pacific Coast, but the diversity of creatures and experiences we had was amazing.

Here are some of my photos that will give you an inkling of what I saw and did.

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Hasta luego, Costa Rica! Gracias por todo!

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