Costa Rica is a treasure trove of exotic fruits that tantalise the taste buds and provide significant health benefits. With a wide variety of unique flavours, textures, and colours, there is something to suit every palate.
The Rich Biodiversity of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a small Central American country with an incredibly diverse ecosystem, making it one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The country boasts over 60,000 plant species and an impressive density of wildlife. In addition, Costa Rica is home to numerous unique and delicious exotic fruits that are native to the country.
The Role of Climate and Geography
Costa Rica’s geographical location and varied climate contribute to its rich biodiversity. The country is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and its terrain varies from tropical rainforests and misty cloud forests to arid plains and even volcanoes. Costa Rica’s fertile soil and warm climate create the ideal environment for a large array of fruit-bearing plants to thrive.
Due to its location near the equator, Costa Rica has a tropical climate with a year-round warm temperature. This makes it perfect for producing a variety of fruits throughout the year. Costa Rica’s diverse microclimates mean that certain fruits can thrive in specific regions, contributing to the country’s vast array of exotic fruits.
The Importance of Sustainable Agriculture
Costa Rica is widely recognised for its commitment to the environment, with sustainable agriculture playing a crucial role in the nation’s efforts to preserve biodiversity. Many local farmers practice organic farming methods, which not only produce healthier, more nutritious fruits but also help to protect and conserve the surrounding ecosystems. Responsible agricultural practices contribute to the quality and abundance of Costa Rica’s exotic fruits, further enhancing the country’s rich biodiversity.
A Guide to Costa Rican Fruit Markets
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the flavours of Costa Rica and support the local economy is by visiting the numerous fruit markets scattered around the country. From bustling city markets to rural roadside stands, there’s something to discover everywhere you go.
Navigating Local Markets
Costa Rican fruit markets, known as “ferias,” often feature a vibrant array of exotic fruits that may be unfamiliar to foreign visitors. With seemingly endless options, it can be helpful to know how to navigate these markets like a pro. Confidence and curiosity are important when exploring these fruit stalls, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The majority of vendors are more than happy to share their knowledge of the fruits they are selling, and they may even offer a free sample!
When choosing fruits, make sure to select ones that are ripe and free of blemishes or bruises. Some fruits may require careful handling, as their skin may be delicate or prone to staining. To avoid purchasing more than you need, consider bringing a reusable bag to carry your purchases and refrain from taking more than you can eat or give away.
Seasonal Availability of Exotic Fruits
While many fruits are available year-round in Costa Rica, some are highly seasonal and their availability will depend on the region, weather, and time of year. Understanding the seasonal nature of some exotic fruits will ensure you don’t miss out on the freshest and most flavourful selections during your visit. We recommend researching which fruits are in season before heading to the market, and if you are unsure, ask the vendors for guidance.
Must-Try Exotic Fruits in Costa Rica
With so many exotic fruits readily available, it can be challenging to decide which to try first. Below are some of our favorites, which we highly recommend exploring for their unique flavours and potential health benefits.
The Sweet and Tangy Guanabana
Guanabana, also known as soursop, is a large green fruit covered in spiky bumps. The flesh inside is soft, white, and creamy with a sweet and sour taste that is reminiscent of strawberry, pineapple, and citrus. Guanabana is often used in fruit juices, smoothies, and ice creams, and is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.
Aside from its delightful taste, guanabana is believed to have numerous health benefits. Some of these include offering natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, possibly helping to combat cancer cells, and improving digestive health.
The Unique Flavor of Mamon Chino
Referred to as rambutan in other countries, mamon chino is a small fruit encased in a spiky red or yellow shell. The flesh inside is translucent and delightfully juicy, with a sweet, slightly tart flavour. Mamon chino is an excellent source of vitamin C and contains other important nutrients, such as manganese and niacin.
When consuming mamon chino, make sure to separate the flesh from the seed, as the seed is not edible. The refreshing taste and high water content make mamon chino a favorite snack among locals and tourists alike.
The Versatile Breadfruit
Breadfruit is a large, round, green fruit with a bumpy, thick skin. When cooked, its starchy inside has a texture similar to that of bread, hence its name. Breadfruit is a versatile food that can be boiled, fried, baked, or roasted and offers numerous nutritional benefits, including high levels of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C.
Breadfruit is often used as a starch substitute in place of rice, potatoes, or yucca. Not only does it offer a wealth of health benefits, but it’s also an essential staple for many communities around the world thanks to its abundance and nutritional value.
The Refreshing Pejibaye
Pejibaye, also known as peach palm fruit, is a bright orange or yellow fruit that grows in clusters on palm trees. When cooked, pejibaye has a slightly sweet taste and a firm, creamy texture. It is a good source of fibre, vitamins A and C, and essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Pejibaye is typically consumed after being boiled in salted water, but it can also be incorporated into soups, stews, or salads. When preparing pejibaye, remember to remove the tough outer skin and the seed before consuming.
Health Benefits of Costa Rican Exotic Fruits
Costa Rican exotic fruits offer more than just unique flavours and textures; they also provide a range of valuable health benefits that have garnered these fruits the well-deserved label of superfoods.
The exotic fruits of Costa Rica are known for their high nutritional content, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health. Adding these fruits to your diet can help to ensure you are consuming a wide range of essential nutrients that are sometimes lacking in more common fruits found elsewhere.
Boosting Immunity and Energy Levels
The high levels of natural vitamins and minerals found in Costa Rican exotic fruits can help maintain a robust immune system, supporting your body in fighting off illness and infection. Additionally, these nutrient-dense fruits can contribute to increased energy levels by providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal functioning.
Supporting Digestive Health
Many of Costa Rica’s exotic fruits, such as guanabana and breadfruit, are high in dietary fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and can aid in maintaining healthy body weight. Regular consumption of fibre-rich exotic fruits can help support regular bowel movements, promote a healthy gut flora, and reduce the risk of developing various digestive disorders.
The enticing world of Costa Rican exotic fruits awaits you. Whether you’re exploring local markets or trying them at a roadside stand, the unique flavours and significant health benefits of these fruits will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and your well-being.
Travel to Costa Rica with GVI
Mouth watering yet? Want to travel to Costa Rica to try all this delicious fruit – and have an adventure? A popular tourist destination, you’ll be spoilt for choice when visiting Costa Rica. If you’re looking for beaches, you’ve come to the right place. Head to Punta Uva beach, where you’ll find kilometres of white sand lined with palm trees, excellent surfing conditions and eateries. The famously advanced surfing spot known as Salsa Brava can also be found here. If you’re looking for something more off the beaten track, head to the neighbouring beach towns of Cahuita or Manzanillo.
Other activities you can take part in include snorkelling among a coral reef, hiking, ziplining and white-water rafting. You could also spend a weekend visiting nearby beach resort towns or numerous stunning national parks.
A Guide to Exotic Fruits in Costa Rica? ›
Purple on the outside and white on the inside, caimito is one of our favorite seasonal Costa Rican fruits.What is the dark purple fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Purple on the outside and white on the inside, caimito is one of our favorite seasonal Costa Rican fruits.What is the pink spiky fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Pitaya or dragon fruit is a beautiful exotic fruit locally grown in Costa Rica. The exterior is vibrant pink, and the inside is white and dotted with tiny edible black seeds. There are however several varieties of dragon fruit. Pitaya is a fruit that many pass up because they don't know what it is or how to eat it.What is the little green fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Costa Rican Guava/Cas
It's the most traditional way many consume the green little fruit as well as an addition to smoothies. It boasts a bit of a guava flavor with a smooth yet tart taste and is abundant in antioxidants and vitamin C.
Maracuya, which is commonly translated to “passion fruit”, is very well-loved in Costa Rica, and for good reason. You couldn't be blamed for thinking that the maracuya named for its sweet, yet tangy and sour flavor.What is the most delicious exotic fruit? ›
- Durian. ...
- Pitaya or dragon fruit. ...
- Jackfruit. ...
- Lychee or rambutan. ...
- Kiwano or horned melon. ...
- Gold kiwifruit. ...
- Persimmon. ...
- Cherimoya or custard apple.
Where is pitahaya from? Ancient Chinese legend claims that “dragon fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit.” But historians believe it originated in Central America. Pitahaya is widely available in Costa Rica and throughout Central America.What red fruit is white inside Costa Rica? ›
Guanabanas. Guanabana is one of the most popular smoothie flavors in Costa Rica. This delicate white-fleshed fruit has the flavor profile of a pear with just a touch of pineapple or strawberry. It's refreshing, subtle, and highly nutritious.What is golden berry fruit Costa Rica? ›
This antioxidant-packed superfruit is also known as the golden berry, cape gooseberry and Aztec berry, and is a cousin to the similarly shaped tomatillo. Native to the Andes of South America, Physalis peruviana is cultivated in small pockets of Costa Rica, and is prized for its unique taste and nutritional benefits.What is the milk fruit in Costa Rica? ›
In Costa Rica, the star apple is typically in season from late January through April. You may have also heard it referred to as cainito, aguay, or milk fruit; it's known as caimito here in Costa Rica.
What is the red Dragon Fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Hylocereus costaricensis Dragon Fruit is also known as the Costa Rican pitaya. This is a cactus species native to Central America and northwestern South America. This plant is known for having some of the largest stems made by any Dragon Fruit variety. They are extra large, three-sided growth with medium size spines.What is Costa Rica's favorite fruit? ›
Pineapple… the deliciously sweet and refreshing yellow fruit is a favorite in Costa Rica and around the world. Piña is a national obsession, as is the piña colada cocktail made with fresh pineapple (not canned).What is the fuzzy red fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Rambutan trees bear fruit twice yearly: once around July and August, and again between November and February. During this time, they are available in almost every supermarket, farmers' market, and roadside fruit stand in Costa Rica. Look for bright red "fur' and a firm, slightly spongy fruit.What is the egg fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Tropical Fruits Of Costa Rica: #1 Maracuya (Passion Fruit)
Popularly known as Passion Fruit, maracuya is a tropical fruit shaped like an egg.
Crescentia alata, variously called Mexican calabash, jícaro, morro, morrito, or winged calabash, is a plant species in the family Bignoniaceae and in the genus Crescentia, native to southern Mexico and Central America south to Costa Rica.What is the largest fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Did you know that Jackfruit or "Yaca" is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world (up to 55 kg or 120 lbs)?Is there mangosteen in Costa Rica? ›
The mangosteen has a very short season in Costa Rica and is available for about one to two months a year. The size of a small tangerine, this fruit has a hard outer leathery shell the colour of mahogany wood. The fruit inside is bright white with each individual section having a small seed.What is the sour orange fruit in Costa Rica? ›
It is a Sundrop or Guayabilla and is used to make juice or jam. We ate this one in a smoothie yesterday and it was delicious mixed with bananas and pineapple.What is pink pineapple from Costa Rica? ›
Also known as "Pinkglow", this exotic fruit is grown in the rich, fertile volcanic soil of south-central Costa Rica. Pink pineapple is famous for its candy sweetness and juicy texture.What is the king of exotic fruits? ›
The southeast Asian plant Durian has been called the King of Fruits but, like Marmite, it sharply divides opinion between those who love the taste of its custard-like pulp and those revolted by its putrid smell.
What is the most luxurious fruit? ›
The pinnacle of Japanese luxury fruit, the Yubari King melon sells for roughly $200 each. The sweet melon, which has become a status symbol, is grown exclusively in the small town of Yubari in Japan's Hokkaido province.Which is the top 1 expensive fruit in the world? ›
- Yubari King, an exceptional melon. ...
- Ruby Roman, a grape with no equal. ...
- The Densuke watermelon. ...
- The Taiyō no tamago mango or “egg of the sun” ...
- Square watermelons. ...
- The mysterious white strawberry. ...
During rainy season there are three iconic Costa Rican fruits that ripen, and available to try right in Las Catalinas. They are the Mamon Chino (Rambutan), the Maracuya (Passion Fruit), and Carambola (Starfruit).Do blueberries grow in Costa Rica? ›
Vaccinium consanguineum or Costa Rican blueberry is a species of Vaccinium found in the montane forests of southern Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama at altitudes of 2100-3100 meters AMSL. In Costa Rica it is found in the Talamanca mountain range and the Central Volcanic mountain range.What nuts grow in Costa Rica? ›
Ojoche (Brosimum alicastrum), as it is known in Costa Rica, also goes by many other names, including breadnut or Maya nut. It is a tree that has a wide geographic distribution, from Mexico to the Antilles to South America. It grows best in hot, humid or sub-humid areas, but is also drought resistant.How do you say banana in Costa Rica? ›
Banano: Originally called banana, but is now called banano.What is the national food of Costa Rica? ›
“Gallo Pinto literally translates as 'spotted rooster' but is the name given to Costa Rica's ubiquitous national dish of rice and beans. The name most likely originates from the speckled appearance of the black beans against the white rice.”What is the peanut butter fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Botanically, Peanut Butter fruit is known as Bunchosia argentea and grows in colorful orange clusters on a small tropical tree. When the fruit turns red it is ready to eat. The fruit has the distinct smell of peanut butter when it is ripe and is similar in shape to a grape tomato or large olive.What fruit is Miracle Berry? ›
Did You Know? The fruit of the Synsepalum dulcificum plant has been dubbed 'miracle berry' for its amazing ability to make sour foods taste sweet when consumed. This effect is due to miraculin, a glycoprotein found in the berry. When eaten, miraculin binds to a specific sweet receptor on cells in our taste buds.What fruit is Costa Rica known for? ›
In Costa Rica, you'll find two varieties of passion fruit: maracuyá and granadilla. You can tell the difference between these fruits right away by looking at the exterior. The exterior of a maracuyá is purplish-green and wrinkly when ripe, while a granadilla has a harder, orange exterior.
What is rambutan fruit Costa Rica? ›
A close relative of the lychee, the rambutan is actually native to regions of tropical Southeast Asia, and is therefore known in Costa Rica as the “mamón chino”.
1. Tres Leches. Considered by some to be the national dessert of Costa Rica, this dessert is by far the favorite of many. Tres leches, meaning three milks is moist, rich, creamy, and indulgent.What is the national flower of Costa Rica? ›
The national flower of Costa Rica is called the purple country girl, or Guaria Morada in Spanish. It is a stunning orchid shining with purple hues and thin, rounded petals.What is the sweetest dragon fruit in the world? ›
Yellow dragonfruit (hylocereus megalanthus) also known as the yellow pitahaya, is the sweetest dragon fruit of all. It is part of the cactus family – and is by far the most popular cactus among the world. The yellow pitahaya is smaller than the red-skinned species, but sweeter and juicier. Try it yourself!Is pink dragon fruit real? ›
The fresh of dragon fruit can vary from white (with pink or yellow skin) to hot pink or deep red with tiny black seeds. Flavor is associated with the color of the flesh: whitish dragon fruit often has a mild taste while darker, redder fresh can be sweeter and juicier.What is the red hairy fruit called? ›
Rambutan got its name from the Malay word for hair because the golf-ball-sized fruit has a hairy red and green shell. Its unmistakable appearance is often compared to that of a sea urchin (1).What is Costa Rica's number one food? ›
Gallo Pinto (Rice and Beans)
Locals consider gallo pinto to be the national dish of Costa Rica. It consists of a mixture of cooked rice and beans which is sautéed with vegetables to the right consistency.
Pinto and beans are a staple of Costa Rica and common denominator among different culinary tastes in different regions of the country. As a whole, the three most famous dishes of the country are Casado, Gallo Pinto and Arroz con Pollo.What is the stinky prickly fruit? ›
Durian's smell is so pungent that the spiky-skinned, custard-like fruit is even banned from public places in Singapore and Malaysia. But for its fans, there is nothing better in this world.Why don t they refrigerate eggs in Costa Rica? ›
In many countries the eggs are cleaned while dry, and transported at room temperature. If the eggs stay dry, they keep their natural protection against pathogens,” Cardoza said. Costa Rica requires eggs to be stored in clean, dry areas, and transported at room temperature out of extreme heat.
What is a fruit juice called in Costa Rica? ›
Many sodas (mom-and-pop cafés) and homes around Costa Rica serve a natural fruit drink called fresco de cas.What is Chesa fruit in English? ›
Tiesa (Tagalog)/Chesa (English)/Canistel Fruit (English)/ Egg Fruit (English). Exotic tropical fruit that tastes best when fully ripe.Can you eat jicaro fruit? ›
The fruits are sometimes eaten or made into a drink[301 ].
It is not toxic and very tasty for all animals and human beings. It can be baked and can replace partially wheat flour. The jicaro oil-cake can be compared with the oil-cake of soy beans. Thousands of recipes are available to prepare and eat the jicaro oil-cake: Bread, cookies, cakes, noodles, ice-cream, etc.Can you eat calabash fruit? ›
Calabash tree facts make clear that the fruits are not edible to humans, but they are used for a variety of ornamental purposes. For example, the shells are used to make musical instruments. Horses, however, are said to crack open the hard shells.Is fruit expensive in Costa Rica? ›
In season, native fruit is very cheap.What fruit is granadilla Costa Rica? ›
Granadilla - Passion Fruit is a very common fruit you can find throughout Costa Rica. There are two varieties of passion fruit: the granadilla and the maracuyá. The difference between them is kind of like that of red and green apples; however, passion fruit tastes nothing like apples.What is Pejibaye fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Pejibaye is the fruit of the peach fruit palm tree and available readily across Central & part of South America. The fruits are harvested from large clusters and then boiled for several hours to cook them completely. Then the skins are peeled away and the large seed inside is removed.What is the large green fruit in Costa Rica? ›
Guanabana (Sour Sop)
This native fruit grows big and I mean, you can find ones over 5 pounds or 2 kilos! Guanabana smoothies are one of my favorites! You can find them in most local restaurants, called sodas in Costa Rica. You can also eat it raw but it's a bit slimy so you'll need a spoon.
Jocote or Mombin | Jocote
While many of us think of Costa Rica fruits as a sweet treat, many Ticos actually prefer to eat jocotes when “green,” or unripe: Slice them open, squeeze out a touch of lemon/lime juice and salt, and enjoy!
What are 3 popular foods in Costa Rica? ›
Pinto and beans are a staple of Costa Rica and common denominator among different culinary tastes in different regions of the country. As a whole, the three most famous dishes of the country are Casado, Gallo Pinto and Arroz con Pollo.What food is hard to find in Costa Rica? ›
In Costa Rica, there are the basic cuts of meat for beef, pork and chicken. Only some stores have a seafood section (or they have a frozen seafood section) and it's hard to find things other types and cuts of meat like ground chicken, ground pork and turkey products in most supermarkets.What is Costa Rica most famous dish? ›
This classic combination of rice and beans is Costa Rica's most famous dish. Gallo pinto actually means “spotted rooster”, which perhaps stems from the color combination of black or red beans and white rice.
Though Costa Rica is famous for its coffee, agua dulce is the traditional breakfast drink of choice. This hot beverage is made by boiling water or heating milk and adding a piece of tapa de dulce, which is made from a liquid extracted from sugarcane that has been heated and placed in a mold to harden.Can you drink tap water in Costa Rica? ›
Yes. It's completely safe to drink the tap water over the majority of the country. That includes your luxury vacation rentals in Guanacaste! Costa Rica is quite notable in Latin America as 92.5% of the population has access to drinking water.What is the most popular drink in Costa Rica? ›
Costa Rica's known for guaro, the nation's most popular liquor, made from sugar cane. Guaro is a clear liquor with a neutral flavor similar to vodka, and you'll see the famous brand of Cacique Guaro sold across the country.Can I bring fruit on a plane to Costa Rica? ›
Continue on to the customs area. Your luggage will be scanned and in some cases hand searched. Please be aware you may not bring plants, seeds, vegetables, or fruits into Costa Rica.Can I bring fruit back to the US from Costa Rica? ›
Almost all fresh fruits and vegetables (whole or cut) are prohibited from entering the United States because of the potential pest and disease risks to American agriculture. This includes fresh fruits or vegetables given to you on your airplane or cruise ship. Please plan to leave them behind.Which fruit is very expensive? ›
- Yubari King, an exceptional melon. ...
- Ruby Roman, a grape with no equal. ...
- The Densuke watermelon. ...
- The Taiyō no tamago mango or “egg of the sun” ...
- Square watermelons. ...
- The mysterious white strawberry. ...
The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April, when the weather is at its driest and brightest. We'd also recommend traveling in the country's green season, from May to June or in November. This is when you catch the seasons in transition, and the national parks are quieter.
What is the national drink of Costa Rica? ›
Guaro is the national alcoholic drink of Costa Rica, and has become the trademark liquor associated with the country, much like Pisco is in Peru. The name is derived from 'Aguadiente', which literally translates as 'burning water'.What is the main meal in Costa Rica? ›
Traditional Costa Rican fare, for the most part, is comfort food, consisting largely of beans and rice, fried plantains and the occasional slab of chicken, fish or beef. Recently locals have started to experiment more with the country's fresh and plentiful produce. The results have been inspiring and delicious.