Wedding Destinations for Dreamy Photo Ops

Groom holds bride's waist tenderly standing in the middle of old

*Today I’d like to welcome Sarah Caulfield from Nixplay for a guest post on gorgeous settings for beautiful weddings. 

Getting married is a big deal – something to remember for a lifetime. Naturally, you’ll want the occasion of your wedding to be memorable, not just so it sticks in your mind, but so you can bring back fantastic photos to share with people who weren’t able to be there, or to keep so everyone can see how beautiful the occasion was in every way. You can display your memorable pictures in a beautiful photo album, or if you’re more on the tech-savvy side, a digital picture frame; regardless, these pictures are some of the most precious mementos you’ll have. And some places are just better than thers when it comes to picturesque wedding venues.

Of course, there are the standard places to go, like Hawaii, or the still-risque and almost shockingly vibrant Las Vegas, but there are many, many other places you can get married where the photos taken can inspire deep feelings for years to come. Some of them are hidden treasures you may not have ever considered otherwise.

Sea Island, Georgia, USA

Imagine the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, expansive private beaches, beautiful resorts with golf, horseback riding, boating, spas, and so much more – without ever going to the Caribbean. This is Sea Island, in the state of Georgia. If you head to the Caribbean, you’ll have to deal with tourists. Here, you can have a perfect beach wedding, without a tourist in sight, since the only people on the island are visitors to the two resorts placed there.

Park City, Utah, USA

What about an Alpine winter wedding, no travel to the Alps required? Ski season in Park City, Utah provides a beautiful snowy landscape not only great for a picturesque wedding, but for skiing. Once a mining town, it’s now the site of a number of glamourous resorts, easily the equal of what you’d find if you went to Europe. If skiing isn’t your thing, summer is a wonderful time to come, with plenty of outdoor activities to occupy you and your guests both before and after the nuptials.

Florida Keys, USA

If hot environs don’t bother you and your wedding party, a Florida Keys summer wedding can a great venue. With more than 100 miles of islands from which to choose, it’s almost impossible to not find one to your liking. These islands are an absolute paradise when it comes to wildlife and natural surroundings, which can provide you with many amazing photographic opportunities. If you really want to go for the unusual and exotic, look into an underwater ceremony in Key Largo – just remember to invest in underwater cameras!

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Spectacular fall foliage is not just found in New England. Get married on Mackinac Island in Michigan for a unique experience. A National Historical Landmark, Mackinac Island has a distinctly 19th century vibe. In fact, you’ll have to travel on the island by horse and buggy, or bike, because there isn’t a car to be found on the entire island. With venues ranging from the Victorian era to colonial forts, you can have a wedding transported backward in time to an earlier era. The northern locale can make weather tricky, so it’s best to plan your trip in October to catch the changing colors of autumn.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Leaving the U.S. behind, there are few countries as full of great wedding venues as Italy. While places like Rome or the Tuscan region will always have its share of visitors, there are some (slightly) less traveled places, like the Amalfi Coast that will give you the Italian wedding experience with somewhat less of the bustle. Being located in Italy, you can be sure you’ll have superb catering at your wedding. As for photo opportunities, the cliff-side vistas of the Mediterranean are truly spectacular.

Loire Valley, France

While Paris is lovely, it’s not the only place in France to get married. One place you might put into your list of considerations is the Loire Valley, about two hours from the City of Lights. Though popular in mid to late summer, visitors to the region outside that time frame can enjoy a memorable wedding experience without contending with large crowds. Centuries-old castles and villages are just a few of the places and memories you can capture if you choose the Loire Valley to celebrate your union.

Costa Rica

If you’re looking to have your wedding in late winter or early spring, Costa Rica may be the perfect place for you. It offers two coasts – the Caribbean and the Pacific, either one of them the perfect balance of tropical wildness and modern amenities. Naturally, it’s perfect for beach weddings, on one of the pristine stretches of white sand, but if you venture into the nation’s interior, there are mountaintops, lush rain forest reserves, and other places of natural beauty for those who want to get married close to nature in its purest form.

Australia

This is, of course, more than a place for venues. It’s a whole continent, which means you have almost unlimited options to explore for the picture perfect wedding. For those who like to stay close to city comforts, Australia offers spectacular skyscapes and architecture in many of its cities around its coasts. Those looking for more natural settings can turn to the starkly beautiful Outback, or to the teeming colors and wildlife of the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s truly unique ecology can offer some truly unique photo opportunities for your wedding.

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Laura O’Donnell writes smart content on behalf of the digital picture frame experts at Nixplay. As an avid writer and learner, she loves to use her skills for engaging others in important topics in creative and effective ways. When she is not working, she loves meeting new people, traveling, and bringing her Pinterest dreams to life. Find her on LinkedIn.

Real Wedding – Maggie & Thibault, Hacienda Pinilla

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Maggie and Thibault know how to have a lot of fun. She’s Costa Rican, he’s French, they live and work in London and have a joie de vivre that is universal. Not surprisingly, they had close to 100 people from all corners of the globe descend upon Hacienda Pinilla to celebrate this celebration de amor. Mil gracias to Madison Baltidano for her gorgeous photos.

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Lisianthus, hydrangeas, orchids and baby’s breath created an ethereal bouquet.

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What a megawatt smile!

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Love the structured lines of this dress. Did I mention Maggie is an architect? No wonder her wedding had such great design!

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One stylish looking groom! Thibault relaxes outside the Church before the ceremony. Love his navy linen suit and bow tie.

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Hacienda Pinilla has a small chapel on its grounds which we used for the Catholic wedding ceremony. The chapel features typical Guanacaste architecture and decor, with it’s whitewashed walls, rich wooden doors and beams and clay tiled roof.

 

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Going with an all-white floral theme, hydrangeas, calls and baby’s breath created simple yet structured arrangements for the Church entrance.

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Guests were greeted with white Chinese fans and cones of rose petals.

wooden bench in Church

Inside the Church, the wooden benches are carved in typical Guanacaste-style. Such a quaint chapel!

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Being a ring-bearer can be a daunting task for a little girl but she did her job beautifully.

Church wedding Costa Rica

White-washed walls, wooden beams and a view to the mall lake make the chapel at Hacienda Pinilla a lovely space for a religious wedding.

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Happy hour featured a mix of fun cocktails, including a lychee mimosa (recipe below).

Lychee Mimosas

  • 2 tbsp lychee juice
  • 6 oz Brut Cava
  • 1 lychee fruit

Place lychee fruit at the bottom of a champagne flute.  Spoon lychee juice into glass.  Pour champagne over fruit and juice.

IMG_0473Each dinner table on the lawn overlooking the beach featured ivory crinkled overlays, gold chargers, gold Chiaveri chairs and custom-made golden flower holders that evoked an Art Deco theme. A riot of light, fluffy flowers such as lisianthus roses, hydrangeas and orchids created a lush counterpoint to the architectural lines of the floral base.

ivory and white table arrangement

wedding reception Las Palapas Hacienda PinillaWhite Chinese lanterns were strung over the tables and colorful LED lights lit up the trees around the dining area.

kids table at wedding Costa RicaWe set up a table just for the kids, covered in craft paper with small pots filled with markers, crayons, stickers and small toys. Professional nannies kept watch, allowing the parents to enjoy the party while the children had their own fun. Win win for everyone!

white wedding cake with ombre petalsHow beautiful is this all white cake with ombre pink rose petals? Fabulous design!

cigar roller Costa RicaCigars, get your cigars. As a surprise to their guests, the bride and groom hired a cigar roller to demonstrate the fine art of creating the perfect stogy. Fun fact – the tobacco in Costa Rica is grown from Cuban seeds, making these robustos smooth smoking.

Carnival dancer Costa RicaCarnival!! The fun and surprises continued with a group of drummers and dancers known as Carnival or comparsa, similar to the tradition found in Rio. Befeathered and bedazzled dancers shook their tail feathers to booming drums and then had the wedding guests up dancing and shimmying in a conga line. Too. much. fun!

little girl dancing at carnivalEveryone was up dancing, regardless of age!

bride and groom on beach Costa RicaWhat a celebration! Felicidades to Maggie and Thibault on one fun-filled festival of love.

Real Wedding – Neda & Stan at Punto de Vista, Manuel Antonio

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Cross-cultural weddings are always so memorable and Neda and Stan’s definitely was one of a kind, with a Persian &  Jewish ceremony overlooking the rainforest. Neda is a wedding planner in LA so needless to say, her own wedding had loads of style.

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Love the invitation set with the gold foil.

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Neda opted for long curls, which showed off her luscious locks.

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Seriously, this is the best idea ever! Nike running shoes that are platforms! The ultimate comfy shoe that works under a wedding dress. Brilliant.

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Transparent Chanel chairs gave an airy feel to the ceremony. A garland of eucalyptus and flowers outline the jacuzzi where the sofreh was set up.

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Close up of the elegant yet modern sofreh.

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Cool refreshments and Persian sweets awaited guests as they arrived at the ceremony.

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Beautiful shot of Neda!

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Calas, lisianthus, roses, orchids and a touch of eucalyptus created a soft, romantic bouquet with some added bling.

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Stan sported a boutonniere of orchids and eucalyptus on a dove-grey suit.

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Live music always adds a special element to the ceremony.

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So happy together!

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During the cocktail hour, we turned the 5th floor where the ceremony had been into the dining space, complete with hanging flower beds!

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Ivory sequined tablecloths added a modern yet elegant touch to the tables.

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A gilded cake sat atop a glass pedestal cake base and a white sequined tablecloth.

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How adorable are these custom dessert forks, with their wedding date? Perfect for sharing their first piece of cake.

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Although we did see some rain during the ceremony, the sky created a dramatic backdrop for their first-look session.

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Put a flower in it! Nothing says a tropical cocktail hour like a Coco Loco in a fresh pipa.

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Custom-made Persian delights were sent all the way from New York .

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Mmmm, champers…

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Imperial tables, decked out in ivory sequined tablecloths,  garlands of eucalyptus, candles and mercury vases of romantic flowers sat under hanging beds of roses, hydrangeas, lisianthus and orchids with crystals and hanging candles. Wow!

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Gold Bride and Groom signs adorned the chairs at the sweetheart table and matched the table numbers and cake topper.

View More: http://jennysmithandco.pass.us/nedaandstanCocktails, dancing and speeches all happened before dinner in the ballroom.

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Love is sweet!

View More: http://jennysmithandco.pass.us/nedaandstanMazel tov and تبریک  to Neda and Stan! Was an incredible experience working with you and wishing you both many years of happiness!  Huge thanks to Jenny Smith & Co. for the great photos!

Real Weddings – Yvonne & David at LOS SUEÑOS, MARRIOTT

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A little bit of rain didn’t dampen Yvonne and David’s spirits or their colorful wedding celebration at Los Suenos Marriott near Jaco! El Velo Photography captured all the bright fun for us to enjoy here.

rose bouquets, wedding bouquets, orange rose bouquet

Orange roses created a bright contrast to the bridesmaids’ cobalt blue dresses.

Wedding dress, wedding dress on hanger

Yvonne’s dress was perfect for a tropical beach wedding with it’s deep-V back and flowing skirt.

getting ready for the wedding, wedding preparations, bride before wedding

One beautiful and happy bride!

wedding ceremony, tropical wedding,

Due to the rain, the ceremony was held on the Sandia terrace overlooking the pool and gardens which still made for a beautiful setting.

wedding ceremony, wedding vows, wedding altar

 

white and salmon wedding reception, white and salmon room decor

Working with a white canvas of Chiavari chairs and linens, we brought in hits of orange through the napkins and flowers for an understated tropical vibe.

seashell place holder, seashell name tag holder

Seashell name-card holders gave a nod to the beach location.

wedding reception, table number, table number picture frame

Seashells were found on the frames with the table numbers as well as scattered on the table arrangements.

bride by reflection pool, lonely bride, bride under arches, wedding bride

The architecture at the Marriott offers up many unique locations for photo sessions.

place cards

 

floating flowers, flowers in glass cylinders, flowers and seashells, seashells on glass

Round mirrors were a base on which cylinders with clear stones and submerge orchids and calas with floating candles were set. The mirrors reflected the water and candle light, imbuing the room with even more soft lighting.

wedding reception room, wedding reception lighting

LED panels were set around the rooms to uplight the walls, creating a more intimate, romantic feel to the room. The new Carara room at the Marriott has a wall of windows and features wood and natural stone throughout as well as lower ceilings than it’s other ballrooms, making it a warm space .

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Cannot say enough about including uplighting to any space, as it really adds a totally different dimension.

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Bright orchids, roses and lilies brighten up any day.

 

floating candle and flower

Orange roses continue in the decor, this time as a bed of petals for the floating candle.

floating candles, floating candles and flowers

 

wedding reception, table decorations, festive lighting

 

wedding cake, white and blue wedding cake, maritim wedding cake

A seashell-covered cake base held a cake with blue ribbons and decorated with orange roses and white lisianthus.

 

wedding dance, bride and groom dancingFelicidades to Yvonne and David! Wishing you many happy years in Club Wed!

Real Wedding – Lia & Reza at Reserva Conchal Beach Club

bride and groom walking down the aisle, bride and groom, tropical wedding, destination wedding, weddings costa rica

Marriage is a blending of not only the couple but their families and cultures and some of the most lovely ceremonies are those incorporating various traditions. Lia and Reza’s wedding did just this, weaving the groom’s Persian heritage with touches of the bride’s Chinese background. The result was absolutely one-of-a-kind and magical.

wedding preparations, getting ready, bride on phone, wedding bouquets, weddings costa rica

The Westin at Playa Conchal hosted the guests in grand style.

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Lia is absolutely stunning in a floral wreath.

aisle decorations, flower arrangement in jar, jarred flowers, weddings costa rica

Using a palette of purples, lavender, white and greens, we created a lush setting with a vintage feel. Mason jars houses cheerful bouquets of lisianthus, orchids and greenery as aisle markers.

wedding ceremony, flower covered aisle, wedding aisle, tropical wedding, weddings costa rica

Although the day before had been sunny and hot, the rains started at noon on the wedding day and didn’t let up. Being August, we’d planned for the possibility of the wet stuff and moved the ceremony to the covered restaurant area at the Reserva Conchal Beach Club where the reception was to be held.

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Persian ceremonies feature blocks of sugar being rubbed over the couple’s heads to wish them a life of sweetness together.

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A family bible of the brides alongside a Quaran of the groom’s family, family photos and traditional wedding items all decorated the sofreh.

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hydrangea, rose bouquet, bridesmaids bouquet, weddings costa rica

Purples and greens popped against the lavender of the bridesmaids’ dresses.

wedding altar, tropical wedding, bride and groom under palmtrees, wedding ceremony, weddings costa rica

The happy couple enjoys a moment at the sofreh.

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Tags with the couple’s initials prettied up the signature cocktails.

Elegant table setting, pool reception, purple and white table decor, weddings costa rica

Imperial tables were set with gorgeous Italian lace runners, a beautiful fabric find the bride had made at her work in the fashion industry.

hydrangea flower arrangement, purple hydrangeas, classic wedding decor, crochet table runner, weddings costa rica

Silver julep cups mixed with mercury vases to create a romantic look.

Purple rose arrangement, purple bouquet, weddings costa rica

Succulents added texture and a contrasting shade of green to the table.

pool side reception, wedding reception, wedding table arrangement, weddings costa rica

Lines of twinkle lights festooned with crystals bookended chandeliers suspended over the tables.

seating chart, weddings costa rica

Blackboards are an environmentally-friendly alternative to paper seating cards.


wedding dinner, table setting, table setting by pool, pool reception, weddings costa rica

 

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Ribbon with lace added an elegant touch to the napkins.

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View More: http://comfortstudio.pass.us/lia-rezaReserva Conchal  Beach Club all lit up for the celebration. Such an incredible setting!

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Simple white cake with a bouquet of flowers atop an antique glass cake stand.

wedding dance, bride and groom dancing, wedding reception, dancing at wedding, weddings costa rica

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A day after-shoot with fun in the pool? Yes please!

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beach wedding, tropical wedding, destination wedding, bride and groom on the beach, weddings costa rica

Playa Conchal is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and is a stunning backdrop for any photo session.

bride and groom on horseback, horseback wedding, beach wedding, wedding couple on horseback, weddings costa ricaLove the inclusion of horses!

View More: http://comfortstudio.pass.us/lia-rezaBeautiful!

Big thanks to Comfort Studio for all the incredible photos and felicidades to Lia and Reza!

Financing Your Wedding

Weddings Costa Rica is pleased to announce our partnership with Promise Financial, the only consumer lending platform dedicated to weddings and honeymoons. Paying for your dream wedding and honeymoon should be just as easy as planning it!

To learn more, please click here.

Promise financial WCR photo
​Apply with a convenient online process

Receive funding electronically and securely

Make monthly low-interest loan payments ​

 

 

Zika Virus and Costa Rica

UPDATED JUNE 30, 2016

Zika is still making the news, now that Rainy Season has hit the tropics and summer is underway in North America. Overall, the rate of infection in Central America is DECREASING, indicating that government steps to combat the mosquito have been effective. Here in Costa Rica, we’ve experienced an intense start to the Rainy Season this May and June after the longest drought in 70 years. Subsequently, there has been an uptick in cases, bringing the total to 107, of which 14 were contracted abroad. The cases are concentrated in the areas of Nicoya (Guanacaste), Garabito and Parrita (Puntarenas) and Alajuelita (San Jose). The government has stepped up its program of fumigating, educational campaigns and collecting refuse that could collect standing water (i.e. old tires). The cases have been in concentrated areas and the majority of the country has not been affected.

Although the US has not recorded a locally-transmitted case yet, 935 cases have been recorded throughout most of the country, as per this map and another 2026 (including locally-transmitted) in US territories.

Zika in USA map

The most comprehensive study to-date on the known locations of the species combined with information on environmental conditions across the globe shows a less appropriate habitat in Costa Rica than much of the U.S. for the Ae. Albopictus species mosquito. Looking at this map, Costa Rica has less mosquito habitat than the Eastern half of the USA.

Zika Mosquito map

Approximately 60% of the US population lives in an environment where Zika transmission can take place. Another study of where the  Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been found over the past 11 years includes California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, DC and even New Hampshire.

This past week, a bill to allocate $1.1 billion towards funding anti-Zika health measures did not pass Congress, causing concern as many areas with the highest risk, such as Alabama, do not have funds to effectively combat the Zika threat. With the onset of summer and mosquito season,there is a high probability for an outbreak in the USA.

Although I am not a medical professional, looking at the research and data, it would seem that there is a potential risk of contracting Zika in various areas of the USA, perhaps equal to or mores0 than in most of Costa Rica.

What is Zika?

* It is a virus transmitted through bites from the same kind of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, that can spread other tropical diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. It is not known to spread from person to person. The only areas in the Americas without this mosquito are Canada and Chile. There are no vaccines for it at present time.

* 80% of people infected show no symptoms. Those who do experience mild, flu-like symptoms, with  fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, which last no more than a week. Symptoms typically occur about two to seven days after the mosquito bites. If affected, the WHO recommends rest, liquids and acetaminophen for fever and pain.

* The virus is gone from the bloodstream within five to seven days There is no evidence to suggest it would lie dormant and pop up again. If you get it, you likely won’t know, will have mild symptoms and then will be immunized for life.

* Deaths and hospitalizations caused by the Zika virus are rare. Fetuses and newborns are particularly at risk, though. The disease is suspected of causing two serious complications: neurological problems and birth defects in babies born to infected women. But while there appears to be a connection with Zika, researchers have not definitively confirmed a causal link.

* It’s spreading in many different countries where people are in close quarters, lots of mosquitoes are more present, and where there is a lack of screens on windows, air conditioning in buildings and insect repellent (which are not the conditions found throughout Costa Rica)

In short, the Zika virus will likely have NO effect on those whom may contract it.  The biggest concern is with pregnant women and the possibility of the baby contracting microcephaly.  CDC says that “knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving.” Until more is known, it recommends “special precautions for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.”

What About Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a tropical country however, we do not have the same issues with mosquitos found in other countries, such as Brazil where it is epidemic, for a few reasons:

a) Costa Rica has the highest population of birds and bats in the Western Hemisphere, which keep the bug population in check – bats eat between 600 – 1000 mosquitos an hour.

I’ve honestly had way more problems with mosquitos in Canada than I’ve ever had in Costa Rica. Because we have low urban populations compared to other countries, there are more bats all over the country. And the beach areas are not densely built so Mother Nature keeps the bugs in check. 

b) the areas of Brazil with the highest concentration of Zika are cities with standing water, which proliferate during the wet, hot summer. Costa Rica does not have similar urban conditions as Brazil nor as the other countries with high Zika rates.

c) Costa Rica spends over $6 million USD a year fumigating the country, which is the size as West Virginia. Because dengue is present, the Health Department  is very diligent with fumigation, on-going educational campaigns as well as door to door inspections to minimize standing water/breeding grounds. 

d) Costa Rica has been focused on iradicating Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmits dengue and Zika) for years already. This is one reason why surrounding countries have Zika but Costa Rica has not yet a case of infection caused in-country. 

e) hotels and resorts spray their grounds on a regular basis to keep the mosquitos away.

f) repellent is very effective when applied regularly

How to Prevent Contracting Zika

* wear insect repellant. Apply it AFTER you’ve applied sunscreen

* stay in a location with air conditioning or screens on the windows

You can also go one step further and wear clothing that contains permethrin, which is a synthetic insecticide that started showing up in consumer products in 2003. These products have been tested by the EPA and determined to be effective at deterring pests, and safe for children and women who are pregnant or nursing.

If anything, Costa Rica is better equipped to deal with mosquitos than many states and countries, as we have on-going anti-dengue campaigns to keep the mosquito population down. 

Costa Rica is working hard to keep Zika out of the country and non-pregnant visitors taking regular precautions against insects should have no issues. 

Consult your health professional and check out the CDCWHOBBC in order to make an informed decision on your travel plans.