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Santa Cruz Overview

With a population of over 15,000 people, Santa Cruz is one of the largest Tico towns in the area. It offers “big city” amenities for the Ticos and expats settled into the more remote neighboring towns, who have to come here for all of their basic shopping, banking and postal needs. The services and stores provided here are not geared toward tourists but things needed for daily Tico living. Visiting here is a chance to really capture a true Tico town in action. Unfortunately, as is true in almost any town anywhere, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything exciting to see.

The Plaza de los Mangos is the center of town and for those visiting today, it might be hard to understand why it was given the distinction. A fire in 1993 wiped out three historic blocks, including the plaza and the three mango trees for which it was named. Today, it is little more than a grassy square with some phone booths and a small basketball court. The Parque Bernebela Ramos, a few blocks south of the plaza, was created as a replacement shortly after the fire. Although this new park is more appealing, the Plaza de los Mangos remains the cities focal point.

Santa Cruz is considered the folklore capital of the region. The National University has recently opened a building here for researching and preserving traditional song, dance and instruments. Sadly there is nothing at the moment for tourists to visit to learn about these rich traditions.

The local restaurants and hotels are, in general, nondescript. A decent place to spend the night and an adequate place to grab a meal are mainly what you can expect. There are, of course, a few noteworthy exceptions like the lush hotel La Calle de Alcalá or Panadería Santa Clara’s fresh-baked treats. Most travelers, however, will find themselves here only long enough to change buses or to use it as a base for visiting nearby Guatil.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Santa Cruz: Accommodation Summary and Things To See And Do.

By Bramble Heidt
11 Nov 2010

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