Over the last ten years, the reputation of Costa Rica as a travel destination has grown leaps and bounds. Good places to visit include San Jose and Tamarindo.Costa RicaLocated in Central America, Costa Rica is a country with a lot to offer. The country is unique because the costal areas present some of the nicest beaches in the world, while a few hours inland you can find towering mountains with volcanoes, pristine rivers for white knuckle rafting and a rain forest par excellence. Costa Rica is a hot bed of ecosystems and I won’t even try to describe it. Just pull up some pictures on the net and you’ll get the idea.The people of the country, Ticos, are exceedingly friendly and you’ll find more than a few ex-pats populating the country. With no military, Costa Rica has invested heavily in education and has the highest literacy rate in the Americas. Yes, the rate is higher than the United States.San JoseSan Jose is really the only big city in Costa Rica. Located in the center of the country, the city has taken a beating over the years from the occasional earthquake. You’ll understand when you visit. The city is surrounded by mountain ranges populated with a number of volcanoes. Every so often, this combination of geography leads a good shaking.For a city in Central America, San Jose is surprisingly organized and lively. You can spend an evening in the cafes or just walking about. Crime isn’t much of a problem. There isn’t much to see per se, but this is where most of the international flights land. In traversing the country, you can expect to pass through San Jose a few times, so enjoy yourself.TamarindoNot long ago, Tamarindo was a quiet little beach community on the western coast of Costa Rica. Over the last 15 years, the town has become a hot spot for ex-pats with accompanying development not far behind. Although some of the luster is gone, Tamarindo is still worth a visit if for no other reason than to compare it to the rest of Costa Rica.Tamarindo is as good a place as any to experience Costa Rica beaches if you need a little civilization. The beaches are clean and tranquil, but lined with cafes, restaurants and hotels. The water is warm and good surfing can be found in certain locations. To the north, one can occasionally see rare sea turtles laying eggs on the beaches late at night. Unfortunately, turtle watching has become such a rage that you may be standing with a lot of people. There is definitely a voyeuristic feel to it and one can help but feeling sorry for the turtles.If you’ve never been to Tamarindo, you’ll love it. If you’ve visited in the past, you might be disappointed with the development.