Thursday, 28 May 2015

Two oceans, Rainforests, volcanoes and a new smile? What's your Costa Rican vacation going to include?

Did you know Costa Rica ranks amongst the top 10 countries for Medical Tourism?

According to a May 14 , 2015 report, published by Gulf Bussiness, "The Medical Tourism

Index (MTI), developed by the International Healthcare Research Centre and Medical Tourism

Association, measured the attractiveness of a destination or a country based on three key

dimensions including its environment, medical tourism industry, facility and service" and

Costa Rica ranked # 5.
It is no surprise, dental and medical treatments are a fraction of the costs here in the


Why not allocate just a day or two of your vacation to take care of your dental needs and

save so much money that it more than pays for your trip?

Look at this sample list of common dental treatments and the approximate costs of these

treatments in Costa Rica:

Popular dental deals
Consultation  $70
Dental Cleaning $70

Options for crowns
Metal fused crowns $350
All Porcelain or Zirconium Crowns $450
Teeth Whitening with laser $350

Common procedures

Surgical placement of a dental implant $850
Crown over dental $850
Sinus lifting $1300
Periodontal gum surgery with laser $350

Dental fillings with laser $70

Invisalign or clear braces $5500

Plan your trip flying into San Jose with several nights in a top area hotel, like the

Barcelo San Jose Palacio Hotel, close to where you'll see your dentist, next head out for

some adventure to Costa Rica's rainforest and beaches!
Prices shown for dental services in this blog are based on current prices as of May 2015 by

highly acclaimed professionals in their field at one of Costa Rica's top medical

For more Information, contact

Monday, 18 May 2015

The thrifty tourist guide for bargain souvenirs in Costa Rica

Don't get stuck buying overpriced souvenirs at the San Jose International Airport at the last minute.
Follow these tips and collect unique souvenirs at bargain prices before heading to the airport.

Everyone wants to bring home some Costa Rican coffee. With airport prices at a minimum of $8.95 for less than a 1 lb bag, stopping by any local supermarket will help you save big!
Look for Cafe Rey, Sanchez and Cafe 1820. You probably won't pay more than $5 for a 1 lb bag. There are 4 major supermarket chains in Costa Rica so buying your coffee at the right one will increase your savings.
Of them, Pali Supermarket generally has the lowest prices, even better than Walmart. (Yes, Walmart is in Costa Rica!)

Did you know Costa Rica is home to a variety of stingless native bees that produce a medicinal quality honey, that isn't sold in the U.S. but can be purchased at Costa Rica's leading pharmacy chain called Fischel Pharmacy.
Look for the brand Miel de Mariola and it's bright yellow fabric tops on these little honey jars sold for less than $10. The honey is used in a variety of ways for different benefits from healing burns snd cuts to alleviating the effects of surfers eye. This is a really unique and useful souvenir!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

3 things you must do in Costa Rica

There are just over 800 species of birds in Costa Rica and about an equal number of tours and attractions visitors need to browse through in planning  a great vacation experience.
But of all the things to do, these 3 are a must.

Sky Tram Sky Trek Tour at Sky Adventure Park, Arenal Volcano.
You get the sensation that something exciting is going to happen from the moment you arrive to the Sky Adventure Park visitor station. The electricity of the guides enthusiasm, the funny looking harness gear one has to slip into and the amazing volcano just in front of you somehow provide the inspiration to do what might be the most exciting thing you have ever done! Yet, the tour starts out nice and easy on the The slow-paced Sky Tram. These open air gondolas soar smoothly through the rainforest, offering up endless views during their mountainous ascent. Accompanied by a bilingual guide, tour takers will have the ability to stop the tram at any point, a feature that allows for magnificent, one-of-a-kind photographs to be captured and tropical birds to be spotted.

Once the top is reached, visitors are invited to explore the observation deck, where they’ll enjoy magnificent views of the Arenal Volcano’s southern face. From here, one can also see Lake Arenal and the rolling hillsides that surround it. Visitors can spend as much time as they please on the observation deck before heading back down.

There are two ways to return to the Sky Tram’s base. You can ride the tram down the same route that you ascended or sign up for a fast-paced zip line tour to the bottom. Those seeking an adrenalin rush would be wise to choose the second option, which will have them flying along a series of secure cables connecting one mountain to another.

There are 8 cables, the longest of which is over 2,000 feet.
Min. Age 8 years
At the tram’s base there is another large observation deck as well as a restaurant. The views from this deck compliment and contrast the one from the mountain’s peak.

Costa Rica Combo: Doka Coffee Estates, Poas Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Coffee, volcano, waterfalls and rainforest come together in this fantastic full day tour. Starting with a drive by the city of Alajuela passing by the Agriculture Monument, the Monument to Juan Santamaria and the famous Mango Park we make our way out of the Central Valley.

As we ascend towards the Poás Volcano we will notice the change in temperature and vegetation, palm trees are replaced by pine and cool air overcomes the lowland heat. We will see coffee plantations as well as fern, flower and strawberry farms along the way, creating a beautiful landscape that paves the way to our next stop, The Doka Estates Coffee Plantation.

Upon arrival at Doka Coffee Estate enjoy a delicious breakfast followed by a coffee tour, in the actual coffee plantation. Here, we will learn about the ancient techniques used by the experts to produce one of the best coffees in Costa Rica. Learn about the careful process involved on the cultivation, harvesting and roasting of the Golden Bean.

Next, we will continue to Poás Volcano where we will not only admire the impressive main crater with its sulfur fumaroles, but also learn about the different ecosystems in this beautiful national park.

Following the visit to the volcano we will continue to La Paz Water Fall Garden for lunch and tour. On arrival to the La Paz, we will walk through a trail, leading to a spectacular waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.   Inside the park we will also visit the largest butterfly observatory in the country, the impressive hummingbird gallery, the serpentarium, the bird house and the frog’s exhibit.

Arenal Volcano by Night with Tabacon Hot Springs
The Arenal Volcano with Tabacon Hot Springs tour is one of the most popular tours in Costa Rica.
This tour offers the best of both worlds, in terms of the raw untamed beauty of the imposing Arenal Volcano, which is juxtaposed against the lush and soothing thermal waters of Tabacon Hot Springs. All this set against a backdrop of lush vegetation and breathtaking views of the nearly perfect conical shaped lines of the volcano.
Situated in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica and about a 2 hour ride away from San Jose, the impressive Arenal Volcano is a magnificent natural wonder that attracts thousands of tourists who come to see an active volcano which on clear days allows one to witness white plumes of smoke that emanate from this conical shaped behemoth. It should be noted, that the volcano had previously been assumed to be dormant, until in 1968, when to everyone’s amazement it experienced a major eruption.

Enroute to the Arenal Volcano there will be a stop in the famous town of Sarchi, known as the birthplace of Costa Rica’s Artisans. In Sarchi, you can see many of the handicrafts that Costa Rica has to offer, as well as the possibility of feasting your eyes on the world largest ox cart. The cart is made of cedar and is painted with several coats (4) of orange paint and is multicolored. The design is typical and intricate, indicative of traditional oxcarts. The oxcart is two stories high and took nearly 70 days to construct and paint. For the record, according to the Guinness book of world recorded, the cart is nearly 45 feet long (14 meters) and weighs 4400 lbs (2 tons).

The journey will then continue, traversing diverse plantations with agricultural products, including pineapple farms, and mango groves, ornamental plants and cattle ranches until arriving to the small town of La Fortuna, and stopping to enjoy lunch at a cozy restaurant with a magnificent view of the volcano.

Then you will go on to relax at one of the best hot springs in the area where you will revel in the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of the thermal waters. Tabacon is nestled at the base of mighty Arenal with a view of the Volcano towering in the background. Here, thermo-mineral springs flowing from Arenal run at a soothing 102 F through a maze of pools, waterfalls and exotic tropical gardens. You'll love exploring the springs many nooks pulsating with these magic hot waters!

Tabacon Hot springs combines the four elements of nature; the heat of the volcano, the flowing waters of the hot springs, the pure air of the rainforest, and the fertile earth of the Fortuna de San Carlos Region, to provided visitors with a first rate experience.

And for a perfect ending, before going back to San José, Tabacon's signature buffet dinner will be served with a great view of the volcano so that you do not miss any opportunity to look at the magnificently shaped volcano..

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

3 foods you must try in Costa Rica

Costa Ricans have a very healthy diet. Breakfasts are always hearty, lunch is always a well balanced plate and dinner usually the lightest meal of the day.
Fresh produce gathered at the weekend farmers markets provide the base for the weekly menu. A visit to one of these markets is a real treat. Strawberries picked from the flanks and fields of the Poas Volcano, cheese from the dairy farms of San Ramon and handmade Costa Rican tortillas from the Provence of Cartago can all found here amongst a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables, some familiar others not.

Peak into the refrigerator of most Costa Rican homes and you will find bottled beverages replaced by pitchers of freshly made fruit juices like maracuya (passion fruit), carambola(star fruit), naranjia, Cass, Tamarindo, flor de Jamaica and many others.
You are sure to also find a container of cooked white rice and another of prepared black beans, this for the staple dish eaten daily called Gallo Pimto (recipie follows)

Here are 3 food you must try while in Costa Rica (actually. 4 since since 3rd place was a tie)

Topping the list at number one, Gallo Pinto. This is a savory rice & beans breakfast staple.  No matter what your economics are or where you live in 
Costa Rica, chances are Gallo Pinto is on the breakfast table along side  ... Which brings us to #2 number two on our list,
Salsa Lizano. This tangy "party in your mouth" condiment is used in many dishes but most commonly with Gallo Pinto. Pour a little on top of your Gallo Pinto, you'll be glad you did. Bring some home, it's found in every supermarket and pulperria (produce/mini market stands) throughout Costa Rica.
Ceviche and Chifrio tie for 3rd place. 
With an abundance of fresh seafood, Costa Ricans have authored a very unique way of preparing this popular dish. Fresh diced sea bass tossed with lime juice, minced onions, sweet bell peppers and cilantro served with Soda crackers makes for delicious appetizer. Ceviche is the most popular seafood dish in Costa Rica.
Chifrio truly endemic to Costa Rica and traditionally served at local cantinas and bars is a hearty bowl layered with rice, beans (cubasis), pieces of chicharron (fried pork), pico de gallo, avocado and crispy broken tortilla chips crowned with a spicy vinegrette. You won't find this dish anywhere else in Latin America so make sure you try it on your next trip to Costa Rica.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Sunny Land Tours Inc is celebrating its 50th Anniversary !!!

I would like to share with you the biography of the company I started 50 years ago in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Sunny Land Tours, Inc. was formed in 1965 as an inbound Tour Operator for the Middle East with a Branch office in Jerusalem. In the aftermath of the '6 Day War' in June of 1967 between Israel and the combined armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt that resulted in sweeping victory by Israel, the geographical map of the Middle East was changed, and it was no longer possible for my office in Beirut conduct business with our office in Jerusalem, since Lebanon and Israel had a state of War with no communications.

As a result, my company could no longer handle touring arrangements in the Old City of Jerusalem from Beirut, and made it necessary to establish an office in the U.S. as an outbound wholesale Tour Operator by incorporating the company in 1969 in Hackensack, NJ.
Sunny Land Tours continued to diversify and expand with an office in Athens, Greece in 1974 and Cairo, Egypt in 1975.
With a steep shortage of cruise boats on the Nile, in 1976 Sunny Land Tours commissioned a 25 cabin cruise boat 'The Nile Explorer' built to American standards, in Chattanooga TN, and shipped to Egypt to begin 3 & 4 night weekly cruises on the Nile. The cruise has visits to Historical Sites, and Pharonic Temples in Upper Egypt. The demand was extraordinary in that all cabins were sold 6 months in advance.
In the 80's and 90's Sunny Land Tours continued diversification and expanded its operation to cover South America and in early 2003 the Head Office was moved to Palm Coast, FL, with a new Central Operations and Service Center in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Sunny Land Tours continues to diversify and refine its product and services to over 25 destinations worldwide.
At the age of 74, I am still running the business as actively as when I was 24!


Elie Sidawi
President & CEO
Sunny Land Tours