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15 Issues I Want I Knew Earlier than Visiting Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise. With tons of opportunities to hike, zip-line, kayak, and partake in all kinds of outdoor activities, it’s no surprise that ecotourism is so mainstream there. It’s also a gorgeous place to simply hang out at the beach, relaxing the day away. I did a bit of both, making for […]



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Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise. With tons of alternatives to hike, zip-line, kayak, and partake in every kind of outside actions, it’s no shock that ecotourism is so mainstream there. It’s additionally a stunning place to easily hang around on the seashore, stress-free the day away. I did a little bit of each, making for an unbelievable journey all through the nation.

However after almost a month of touring right here, I spotted there have been just a few issues I want I knew beforehand.

These are some tidbits of knowledge, items of recommendation, and normal issues to know earlier than you journey to Costa Rica, so you possibly can have an superior time and hopefully not repeat my errors and pretend pas:

1. Costa Rica will be very costly.

La Fortuna is without doubt one of the costliest locations in Costa Rica.

I anticipated this earlier than my journey, however I used to be shocked at how costly it was to journey by means of Costa Rica, even with prior information that it was pricier than different Latin American nations. Particularly in vacationer sizzling spots like Manuel Antonio and La Fortuna, the costs for lodging, meals, and actions is corresponding to some cities within the US. It’s fairly robust to seek out free issues to do in Costa Rica, and entrance charges for the nationwide parks begin round $15 per day; excursions begin at $60.

Not all hope is misplaced for backpackers, although. There are many inexpensive hostels in Costa Rica, lots of which embody breakfast and have inexpensive tour choices.

2. For reasonable eats, go to the sodas.

A technique to economize whereas touring by means of Costa Rica is to dine within the sodas, aka mom-and-pop eating places. These are all the time clearly marked as such, and serve up hearty meals that seize the essence of every day Costa Rican delicacies. The most common plate is named a casado, which incorporates the standard gallo pinto, aka rice and black beans, with some type of meat or fish and a salad. These often price round 4,000-6,000 colones ($6-9 USD) and are very filling.

To save cash on meals, you too can select a hostel or lodge that features breakfast after which go to sodas for lunch. Contemplating that entrees at eating places in touristy areas can price $10-15, sodas are a cut price.

3. The climate can change instantly.

A rain shell and waterproof boots are musts.

Though I went to Costa Rica prepared for nearly any sort of climate, I couldn’t consider how sunny skies might change within the blink of a watch into a whole downpour. Particularly in case you plan to go to Costa Rica within the wet season (Could to November), flash rainstorms are widespread. This doesn’t must put a damper in your journey, although.

Go to Costa Rica ready for heavy rain, mud, and each cold and hot climate. Have not less than one pair of waterproof footwear, a rain shell, a water-proof bag, and layers for cold climate in case you go someplace like Monteverde, the place the altitude means colder temps. For those who plan to spend the day in nature at a nationwide park, all the time deliver your rain gear with you, even when it doesn’t appear to be it is going to rain.

4. Renting a automotive is the way in which to go…

Having a automotive generally is a recreation changer in Costa Rica. Lots of the locations I needed to go to have been both too far (and costly) to get to through taxis, or there was no public transport accessible. I met a neighborhood in Uvita who advised me that having a automotive isn’t only a luxurious, it’s a necessity. This made a number of sense to me after I noticed how far aside most of the sights have been.

If you wish to get to a spot earlier than the tour crowds arrive, having a automotive is the one strategy to do it. For instance, after I visited the La Fortuna waterfall on a tour, I didn’t have the liberty of selecting when to go to and there have been already so many individuals there. We additionally encountered rain once we arrived, which I might have averted if I had had a automotive.

The massive down aspect of renting a automotive in Costa Rica is the worth. I discovered that charges begin at $80 a day. Reserving on-line is a bet, too, as typically vacationers are given a a lot greater price than what they have been quoted after they decide up the automotive. A rule of thumb: if the quote is lower than $80 per day, there’s a great likelihood that there will likely be hidden charges you’ll must pay when choosing it up.

5. …however public transportation is affordable and simple.

I received to Playa Ventanas close to Uvita through public transportation, however received stranded there and needed to hitchhike again.

For those who’re alone and touring on a price range, counting on public transportation to get from place to put in Costa Rica is a good alternative. Though renting a automotive permits for extra flexibility for the place you go and when, public transportation is completely doable between cities. Plus, it’s extremely low-cost and simple to navigate.

For those who’re beginning your journey in San José, you possibly can simply hop on a bus to any of the foremost touristy areas within the nation. For instance, to get to Uvita on the Pacific coast, it solely price me about $7 USD, and the 7:30am bus arrived round 11am, forward of schedule. Nevertheless, as soon as I received to Uvita it was difficult to get from place to put through public transportation, therefore why I received stranded at Playa Ventanas (read about it here).

Plus, in case you get someplace like La Fortuna, the place most of the principal sights are onerous to get to with out taking a tour, you possibly can lease a automotive for only a couple days. I want I knew this beforehand, as it will have taken my expertise in La Fortuna from good to nice.

6. The nationwide parks are improbable.

Tenorio Volcano Nationwide Park close to La Fortuna was certainly one of my favorites!

Being from the States, I've been spoiled all my life with wonderful nationwide parks. Let’s simply say, the bar is fairly excessive. Nevertheless, Costa Rica’s nationwide parks blew me away with their preservation, accessibility, and general magnificence. From the wild trails by means of Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park to the waterfall in Tenorio Volcano and the Amazon-like canals of Tortuguero, these locations have been astounding.

Since Costa Rica is residence to six% of the world’s biodiversity, it’s no shock that the parks are bursting with life. Though I knew this, it by no means ceased to amaze me after I noticed it with my very own eyes.

There have been two nationwide parks that I didn’t go to this time, however actually will likely be again for: Cahuita and Corcovado. I imply, what number of extra causes do I would like to return?

7. There are wild animals almost in every single place.

Talking of Costa Rica’s spectacular biodiversity, nationwide parks aren’t the one locations to seek out wild animals. From mischievous monkeys to roadside sloths and the occasional bathe drain scorpion, there appear to be wild animals in every single place right here.

I want I might have recognized how widespread critters are inside lodging. After discovering a few them in my bag, I spotted that it was essential to preserve these zipped always. Fortunately I wasn’t stung or bitten by something, however there have been a few shut calls.

8. The 2 coasts are very totally different.

Seeing the dawn on the Caribbean aspect of Costa Rica

Since I visited each the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, I noticed how various such a small nation will be. For one, the seashores are very totally different.

The Pacific coast has small coves, with rocky cliffs and waves splendid for browsing. The sand is generally golden and glistens fantastically when the solar units. I additionally observed that the Pacific coast was way more Americanized, with costlier eating places and general extra touristy.

The Caribbean coast, however, has a bigger Afro-Latino inhabitants and due to this fact a unique cultural panorama than the Pacific coast. Tortuguero, for instance, gave me way more of a Jamaican vibe, with bolder flavors and reggae music blasting in every single place. In case you are excited to dive into Costa Rican tradition, the Caribbean aspect is a perfect place to do it.

9. Addresses aren’t actually a factor.

Even within the largest metropolis, San José, addresses don’t actually exist in Costa Rica. Even on official paperwork, Costa Ricans give descriptions of their tackle as an alternative of a quantity and a avenue. For instance, anyone would possibly describe their tackle as “an enormous white home subsequent to the Catholic church.”

This won't be a difficulty whenever you journey to Costa Rica, as most taxi drivers know principal landmarks and motels. Nevertheless, in case you keep in an Airbnb, it may be tough to explain its location to a driver. In any occasion, ensure you have an offline map (I take advantage of the app so you possibly can present your driver the place you need to go.

10. Generally excursions actually are definitely worth the cash.

I skilled sticker shock when trying on the costs for a few of the excursions in Costa Rica. After doing just a few, although, I spotted that a few of them have been positively price it (whereas others weren't).

I like to recommend reserving by means of Get Your Information when you possibly can, because the platform provides an in depth description of what's included within the tour and what you possibly can anticipate by way of how lengthy it is going to take, what to deliver, the place you’ll be going, and many others.

For those who wait to guide your excursions till you get to your vacation spot, all the time make certain to take action on the tour workplace itself. I talked a bit about this in my Costa Rica safety guide, however principally, there are scammers on the road who attempt to get vacationers to guide with them. Reserving immediately with the corporate is barely cheaper than reserving by means of a 3rd occasion, however there’s a bit extra thriller concerning the tour itself.

Total, one of the best expertise I had on a tour was in Tortuguero. I booked immediately with the information himself, and his experience, kindness, and quirkiness have been what made the tour worthwhile. Plus, reserving immediately with the information meant the tour was way more inexpensive than if it have been with a big firm.

You gained’t discover this type of direct supply in every single place in Costa Rica, however you possibly can positively preserve your eye out for mom-and-pop tour firms which have a extra down-to-earth really feel.

11. Put together your self for vacationer traps.

Past the abovementioned tour scams, there are fairly just a few vacationers traps all through Costa Rica. I discover this gorgeous unsurprising, contemplating how touristy the nation is general.

One lure is dear shuttle providers that aren't a lot quicker or extra dependable than merely taking the general public bus. In case you are not renting a automotive, take a look at the general public transportation choices earlier than going for a shuttle. In case you are going from San José to just about wherever in Costa Rica, the general public bus will possible be simply as simple. For different routes, like between La Fortuna and Tortuguero, a shuttle is certainly a terrific choice, as a result of public transportation takes twice as lengthy. I take advantage of Rome2Rio to get a normal thought of public transportation routes, however needless to say that it isn’t all the time 100% correct.

Different vacationer traps in Costa Rica embody hokey eating places with Americanized menus and astronomical costs, and overpriced memento outlets, which you’ll possible discover on the exit of nationwide parks and ecological reserves.

12. Get to locations as quickly as they open.

Even in the course of the off-season, from Could to November, there's a regular stream of vacationers in Costa Rica. That signifies that one of the best locations get packed within the late morning and early afternoon. In case you are like me and luxuriate in being in nature with out too many different individuals round, make certain to get to your vacation spot very first thing within the morning.

The solar rises round 5am throughout many of the yr in Costa Rica, which meant a number of very early wake-up requires me. It was completely price it, although. I loved visiting the waterfalls, swimming holes, and jungle paths — and even simply strolling down the road — at this hour. Going to those locations early additionally meant that I might spend extra time there, simply soaking within the stunning environment, with none distractions.

Additionally needless to say tour teams are inclined to arrive at huge sights across the similar time. I observed that locations would get busy round 9 or 10 within the morning, then filter out round midday, then get busy once more round 2 or 3 within the afternoon earlier than the park closed at 4pm. Provided that, one of the best time to go to busy spots, just like the La Fortuna Waterfall or Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park, is correct after they open (often 7am) or throughout lunchtime.

13. Be certain that to hold sufficient money.

Some smaller and extra distant locations in Costa Rica, like Tortuguero, for instance, don’t have ATMs available. Contemplating that some motels and hostels cost a 2-5% price to pay for lodging with a card, having money available is a good suggestion. Carrying massive quantities of money will be nerve-wracking, certain, however in case you unfold it out amongst a number of luggage and pockets, you reduce the chance of dropping it multi functional go.

Additionally attempt to have colones (the native foreign money) as an alternative of {dollars} when doable. Though Costa Rica makes use of {dollars}, some small eating places and outlets desire that patrons pay in colones. I by no means received a transparent reply on why that is, however I can think about that having colones is extra helpful for them.

14. San José is price a few days.

Too many vacationers go up the chance to spend a couple of days in Costa Rica’s capital city, San José. It has a repute for being a grimy, even harmful metropolis, with little to do. I disagree with this, and really actually loved exploring San José at the start and finish of my journey.

To begin with, it’s Costa Rica’s cultural capital. There are nice museums, a thriving artwork scene, and a few of the nation’s greatest eating places and bars. I cherished visiting the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden and venturing out to the Hacienda La Chimba and trying out the close by metropolis of Cartago.

15. Uber Is prohibited however cheaper than taxis.

In bigger cities like San José and even La Fortuna, Uber is obtainable and even cheaper than taking a taxi. Nevertheless, it’s unlawful all through Costa Rica. Due to this fact it’s widespread that drivers will ask you to take a seat within the entrance seat, in order to not increase suspicions that they're driving for Uber.

Though I often advocate taking Ubers as an alternative of taxis, it’s difficult to say if it’s truly safer to take action in a spot the place it's unlawful. However it's sure that they’re cheaper. Additionally, contemplating the purpose above about addresses, Uber is way simpler to make use of, as a result of your driver has your actual location and that of your drop-off level. In any other case, it may be onerous to elucidate to a taxi driver (particularly in case you don’t converse Spanish) the place it's worthwhile to go.

Pin me for later:

There are some issues which are onerous to arrange for earlier than heading to a brand new place. I kind of assume that thriller could make a visit extra thrilling. Nevertheless, the following tips have been all issues I both didn’t know or solely knew a little bit bit about earlier than I went. I hope they show you how to put together to your journey so you possibly can benefit from the magic of Costa Rica.

For those who’ve been to Costa Rica, what different useful ideas do you want you knew earlier than you went?

Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE

This post is originally published at Be My Travel Muse blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!