The tourist brochures tout the country's Caribbean coast as "the other Costa Rica." Everything about this part of Costa Rica seems different: different culture, different history, different climate, and different activities. Expect different prices, too. Your travel dollar goes further here than elsewhere in the country. This region was long ago discovered by European adventure seekers—you're quite likely to hear Dutch, German, and Italian spoken by the visitors here—but is much less known in North American circles.
The ethnic mix differs markedly here, as it does all along the Caribbean coast of Central America. The region was first settled by the British, and then, throughout the 19th century, by the descendants of Afro-Caribbean slaves who came to work on the banana plantations and construct the Atlantic railroad. That makes the Caribbean coast the best place in the country to find English speakers, although the language is disappearing as Spanish takes over.
It is rainier here than in other parts of Costa Rica, and the rain is distributed pretty evenly year-round without a distinct dry season—though October (when the rest of Costa Rica is getting deluged with rain) is the driest month. The region will never draw the typical fun-in-the-sun crowd that frequents the drier Pacific coast, but it does offer a year-round forested lushness and just as many activities at a more reasonable price.