How Should I Prepare For A Trip To Costa Rica?

Hiking in Costa Rica Jungle Tropical Forest

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Costa Rica is the type of destination that has something to offer to everyone. Here, you will find both natural corners to admire and relax at as well as interesting adventures to bring up some excitement to your trip. Costa Rica has at its north border Nicaragua, the Caribbean Sea on the north-east, Panama at south-east, as well as the Pacific Ocean on the south-west, and Ecuador on the south. 

If you plan to explore this beautiful country for your next vacation, I have a few important aspects and tips that you will find useful. So, keep reading and get ready to feel the Costa Rica vibe! 

How to travel to Costa Rica

You can get to Costa Rica by plane or by land, according to the transportation means you choose. The country allows visitors from all corners of the world and there are several airports you can land at. The airport in San Jose, known as Juan Santamaria International Airport, is the best option as well as the most popular. To make sure you are booking your flight for the airport in San Jose, choose the SJO code.

Once you get to the airport, you will have several transportation options to reach your accommodation, including taxis and shuttle services. Some hotels offer a free shuttle from the airport, so make sure you check this option as it will save you some hassle after you land. 

How safe is Costa Rica?

As a general rule, you should be able to count on the fact that Costa Rica is a safe country to visit. But it is important to take the most common-sense safety norms here too, just like you would respect such norms everywhere else. 

While the dangers that have potential here might not be significant, you can still be a victim of a scam or a fraud and muggers. Here are a few tips to stay safe at all times and avoid such risks while you are in Costa Rica:

1. Stay on circulated areas

Even if you might be interested to explore backside roads, know that such adventures come with their risks. Most assaults or rubbery events take place on paths that are less traveled. Try to stay on the main roads and don’t get too far from the crowds, especially if you are in a big city like San Jose. 

2. Don’t expose your jewelry or other shiny objects

Keep your valuable items out of the sight of potential muggers. You don’t want to show off your jewelry, phone, or any other items that might attract unwanted attention. This aspect is even more important if you are walking alone, at night, in a big city. 

3. Keep an eye on your belongings

If you are traveling in Costa Rica, you will spend time at the beach and this is the perfect time to get rubbed. It is important to keep an eye on your belongings and if you get in the water have someone else watch them. Take only what you need with you and try to carry your purse or backpack at all times if possible. Besides the beach, public transportation is another environment that exposes tourists as well as locals to petty theft. 

4. Only take authorized taxis

You will find that taking a taxi is the fastest and most secure way to get around Costa Rica, regardless of the city you are in. But in order to enjoy the comfort and safety of a taxi, you need to pick one that is authorized. It is also important to watch the meter and check if it is running during your ride. Many local taxi drivers claim that the meter is broken so that they can scam tourists for some extra $. 

5. Invest in a travel insurance

Every time you travel to a new country, it is recommended to invest in travel insurance that will cover unexpected situations. Such insurance will most often cover illness, accidents, and injuries as well as different cancellations that might appear along your trip. 

What’s an appropriate daily budget?

The budget for your Costa Rica trip will vary greatly according to what part of the country you visit and what do you plan to do during your stay. But keep in mind that if you want to get a fair idea about what Costa Rica is all about, you might want to plan to stay more than a week. There are so many things to see and experience here and the entire country is simply beautiful so you will find it hard to leave too soon.

READ MORE ABOUT: THE COST OF LIVING IN COSTA RICA

If I refer to a minimum budget per se for one person, aside from the accommodation, you will be looking at about $40 but this will most likely not cover the fun activities. There are three ways you can plan your budget for Costa Rica and they all depend on what you want to do while you are in the country. 

Backpacker budget

The backpacker budget is clearly the cheapest one. With this budget, you can find accommodation for about $10 and food for just the same amount. The transportation shouldn’t cost you more than $10 either and you can use another $10 for some basic activities. All this will lead you to roughly $40 per day but keep in mind that the fun activities are not included in this basic budget.

READ MORE ABOUT: HOW TO TRAVEL CHEAP

Mid-range budget

If you are willing to invest a bit more in your Costa Rica trip, you are looking at about $110 to $165 when it comes to your daily budget. In this case, you can find decent accommodation for $25-$35, enjoy some good food for $15-$25 and spend $15 or more on transportation. You will also be able to enjoy some fun activities within a budget of $55 to $90 and your trip will be both comfortable and interesting. 

Expensive budget

The luxury budget starts at $185 to $205 per day and you can expect to experience Costa Rica differently on this type of budget. Your accommodation in this case can be $40 or more and your daily food menu could range from $35 to $45. when it comes to transportation, count on spending at least $20 and if you are looking to experience different local adventures you might spend about $90 per day.

If it is your first time in Costa Rica, most likely, you will be tempted to go for the expensive budget if you can afford it since you will want to try out many new things that are specific to this country. But for a revisiting trip of the country, the second and even the first type of budget should do as well.

READ MORE ABOUT: HOW TO TRAVEL FOR FREE

Things to do in Costa Rica

You will find plenty of things to do while you are in Costa Rica. There is a little bit for every type of traveler in this peninsula and you will definitely not get bored while you are here. So, if you want to establish some main things to do, here is a useful list to keep in mind. But you will find other activities as well when you are in Costa Rica so be prepared for spontaneous opportunities to create unique memories here! 

1. Nicoya peninsula

Nicoya peninsula Costa Rica beach

In the Nicoya peninsula, you will find both inviting beaches and attractive towns to explore. Here you will also find dense forests that you can explore and plenty of fishing communities you can join. So, if you are looking for a more rustic vibe in Costa Rica, this part of it is definitely for you. This peninsula is split between the Puntarenas province and Guanacaste province. On the other hand, if you want to try some surfing, these waters offer you just the perfect opportunity for that. 

2. Guanacaste

Guanacaste Beach View in Costa Rica

The secluded beaches you will find in Guanacaste are simply charming and you will definitely want to spend a few days here. This region is dry and it comes as an alternative to the more humid areas of Costa Rica. Besides the raw beaches, you will also find plenty of hotels and fishing villages that you can enjoy and even some very charming volcanoes. Also, here you can visit the preserved site of the battle of Santa Rosa from 1856 which is a UNESCO World Heritage too. 

3. Jaco

Jaco Costa Rica

Jaco is the closest beach town to San Jose, which is the capital of Costa Rica. In this small city, you will find different shops to purchase interesting gifts for your loved ones back home as well as restaurants with delicious food. Playa Mantas as well as Playa Blanca are the most relaxing beaches here and you can even plan on having a romantic vacation in one of these areas. If you are looking to experience some of the local wildlife, the Pura Vida Gardens is the perfect place for that. 

4. Tabacon Hot Springs

Tabacon Hot Springs Costa Rica

You simply can’t go to Costa Rica and skip a bath in the thermal springs of Tabacon. You will find these waters in the area of the Arenal Volcano,k which is quite impressive by itself as well. You can easily spend half a day here but if you like it more than you expected, staying an entire day will definitely be worth it. These springs contain 3 percent magma and 97 percent rainwater and they will relax you more than any other spa treatment. 

5. San Jose

San Jose Costa Rica favelas overview

Are you looking for a more urban experience in Costa Rica? Then the capital of the country is the best place to start. San Jose has plenty of fun activities you can join and some impressive sites to take unique pictures. Chances are that you will land in San Jose anyway so you could definitely spend a few days here. The Amon neighborhood in San Jose is one of the most popular among tourists as it has impressive architecture and museums you can check out. But everywhere you turn in San Jose, there is something interesting to do and see. 

6. Puerto Viajo de Talamanca

Puerto Viajo de Talamanca Costa Rica

If you are into surfing, this little village is perfect for that. Not only that you will find great waters to try your surfboard on but you will also be able to experience the best parties during the evening and late into the night on these beaches. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca comes with reggae music, great food, and an intense nightlife to enjoy with your friends and loved ones. 

7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve Costa Rica

Another area where you can find yourself right in the middle of the wildlife of Costa Rica is Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Here you will find over 400 types of birds, 100 mammals, and an impressive number of 2.500 plant species. You can find plenty of trails to hike on here as well as zip-lining and hanging bridges to try out for some amazing experiences. And if you want to join a guided tour in this biological reserve, there are many options to choose from as well. 

Accommodation options

When it comes to accommodation options, the sky’s the limit. You can find cheap hostels for $10 a night, medium-range hotels for $25-$30 per night, and even luxurious accommodation for more than $40. if you want, you can stay at an Airbnb and get a more genuine experience of what it’s like to live in this amazing peninsula. 

All you have to do is set your available budget and you will most likely find some type of accommodation that compliments your financial possibilities. 

Best time to visit

If you want to plan your trip to Costa Rica, the good news is that you can go there any time of the year. But most likely you will want to visit it during the dry season which is between December and April. 

However, if you are interested in the green side of Costa Rica, such as the forests and wildlife, you will find the green season quite charming, even if you might encounter rain as well. The green season starts in May and ends in November. Keep in mind that September and October are the months with the most chances of rain so you might want to avoid this period in particular.

Costa Rica forest

However, having an overall tropical climate, rain can happen in Costa Rica any time of the year, which is why it is best to be prepared for it. The lowest temperatures in Costa Rica range from 59 degrees F to 63 degrees F and the high values go from 74 degrees F to 79 degrees F. 

What to pack

When going to Costa Rica you want to pack clothes that you would wear during the spring and summer seasons. So, shorts and t-shirts as well as light dresses are more than welcome but also add some long pants and a jacket in case you catch a few chili days. Don’t forget your umbrella as the chances of rain are hard to predict here. 

If you are planning to explore the wildlife, make sure you add thicker clothes as the weather in the forest can be windy and chillier than at the beach. Also, bring hats and caps to protect your head during the hot days when you are planning to explore the country.

Costa Rica wildlife. Toucan sitting on the branch in the forest, green vegetation

And since you are at it, it will help you to bring a Spanish phrasebook with you, if you don’t speak the language so you can have a smoother interaction with the locals. Don’t forget your flashlight, sunscreen, and a mosquito repellant to stay protected at all times during your adventures! 

Final thoughts

Costa Rica is one of the best countries for an interesting yet relaxing vacation. You can choose to explore this destination by yourself or along with your friends and loved ones. It can easily be a family destination as well and your kids will be fascinated by all the wildlife reservations and the beautiful beaches they will find here!