Snowbirds Costa Rica

A small country with a lot to offer

With a population of 4.6 million, Costa Rica is well-known for its eco-focus. This Central American nation has coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific. Although making up 0.03 per cent of the planet’s land mass, Costa Rica boasts six per cent of the earth’s biodiversity – one-quarter of its total area is natural, protected territory. From rainforests and volcanoes to beaches, this Latin American country offers several microclimates as well as a year-round average temperature of 25 C. —WH

A Place To Nest

When Paul and Jeanne Marsh travelled through Costa Rica in 2003, they fell in love with the country’s solitude, beaches and tropical forests. With Paul, 68, winding down his IT business and Jeanne, 63, retired from dentistry, it seemed the ideal place for this Toronto-based couple to buy a second home. Never ones to follow convention, they finally settled on a “tree house” located in the small village of Paraiso.

While not a tree house in the strict Swiss Family Robinson sense, their arboreal abode is located high up in the jungle canopy. A teak wood and glass structure supported by forest-green steel beams, the bedroom is enclosed by glass, while the living room is open to the jungle with magnificent views of the valleys, mountains and Pacific coast a few kilometres away.

“We’re surrounded by birds and monkeys,” says Paul. “It has great air flow, incredible views and is only an hour’s drive from the urban amenities and international airport in Liberia.”

While Paul and Jeanne are back in Toronto, they rent out their property to other adventure-minded snowbirds who, for as little as $1,300 a week, can find out what life is like high up in the trees. (See it at

—Peter Muggeridge

Snowbirds need to know
• Costa Rica is Spanish for rich coast

• The country has high standards of banking, health care and safety • Costa Rica has not had a military since 1949

• Tourist visas are not needed by Canadians. If your pet is a traveller, a visa costs US$40

• Travellers can fly direct via Air Canada to the capital of San Jose, centrally located in the country, where many locals are bilingual (Spanish and English)

• Well-known Ticos (Costa Ricans) include artist Francisco Amighetti, astronaut Franklin Ramon Chang Diaz, musician Walter Flores and Nobel laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez