Where should I go?
Depending on what you’re looking for. The best surf is on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. If you’re looking for something like a sea turtle rescue you might want to try the Gulf Coast.
What should I do (tours/places to see)?
There’s a TON of things to cover but here are the top 5:
- Ziplining (some of the most epic views in the world via zipline) Especially at Ocean Ranch Park in Jaco
- Visit Arenal Volcano and the different hot springs
- Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the country with lots to see
- Monteverde Cloud Forest
- La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Looking for local advice (what do locals recommend to do/see)?
Here are a few secret spot suggestions:
- Piscina de los Pobres – Eight miles from La Fortuna, right next door to the mega-resort Tabacon, two thermal rivers merge and create the free natural hot springs known to locals as the Piscina de los Pobres or Pool of the Poor. Not many tourists are aware of this place, which is marked only by a yellow gate and requires a bit of hiking. The current here is strong, so wear water shoes and leave young kids at the hotel.
- Cabuya Island – The people most familiar with Cabuya are supposedly dead. At the very end of the Nicoya Peninsula, this tiny island that doubles as a cemetery can be reached only at low tide, and according to local legend, it’s haunted by ghosts. At night, people occasionally take candlelit walks on the island for funerals, casting an eerie glow over the water.
- Bahia de los Piratas – This lengthy stretch of rose-colored sand and rocks used to be a hiding spot for pirates, hence the name. Ensconced in dry forest, the beach still has a clandestine feel and just one lonely hotel. Activities include kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. It’s also possible to horseback ride to this secluded beach for the day.
- Barra Honda – Costa Rica isn’t well known for its caves, but boy does it have some great ones, and they’re all in Barra Honda National Park. Although just one of the 42 known caves is accessible to the public, the area is an ideal stopping point if you’re driving from San José to Guanacaste. Beneath a majestic dry forest, the deep limestone cavern features stalactites and stalagmites. Around the caves, cacti are everywhere. Monkeys and bats, too. It’s weird, man.
- Playa Zancudo – This enormous but virtually unknown beach stretches for 6 miles on the shores of the Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica, dotted with coconut palms and almond trees and adjacent to a mangrove lagoon. Wildlife abounds, as do tiny, relaxing accommodations. The only other humans you encounter will be hotel staff, local fishermen, and a handful of lucky travelers.
What's the weather like during specific times of year?
|Costa Rica Weather Chart|
|North Pacific Coast||December to April||May to November|
|Nicoya Peninsula||December to April||May to November|
|Central Pacific Coast||December to April||May to November|
|Central Valley||December to April||May to November|
|Arenal Volcano & Northern Lowlands||May to November
(September & October best to see volcano)
|December to April|
|Monteverde (Area)||January to May||June to September
|Caribbean North (w/ Tortuguero)||February, March, September & October||November – January, April – August|
|Caribbean South (w/ Puerto Viejo)||February, March, September & October||November – January, April – August|
|Osa Pennisula & Drake Bay||December to April||May to November|
|San Jose Highlands||December to April||May to November|
|San Jose Metro (w/ Airport Area)||December to April||May to November|
|Southern Costa Rica (w/ Golfito)||December to April||May to November|
|Rincon de la Vieja Area||December to April||May to November|
Transportation from San Jose (what's the best, bus/van/taxi/best car rental company?)
According to Nomadic Matt of nomadicmatt.com…
“Transportation – Public transportation here is cheap. Short trips (3 hours) are about 1,600 CRC while longer trips are no more than 5,330 CRC. There are a number of private coach operators who go directly between major cities and tourist attractions. Those buses are about triple the price of the local public bus. The best way to get around is the bus.”
What holidays are celebrated in CR?
Official Costa Rica Holidays:
- January 1st: New Year’s Day
- March/April: Easter Week
- April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
- May 1st: Labor Day
- July 25: Annexation of Guanacaste Day
- Aug 2: Patron Saint Day
- Aug. 15: Mother’s Day
- Sept. 15: Independence Day
- Nov. 2: All Soul’s Day
- Dec. 25: Christmas Day
- – See more at: http://costarica.com/culture/holidays-festivals/#sthash.HtZPjQmw.dpuf
- ***Expect some things to be close… Ocean Ranch Park is open 7 days a week all year round!
Where to find the best food?
Here is “A Foodie’s Guide to Costa Rica” from Forbes.com : http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2013/11/15/a-foodies-guide-to-costa-rica/#2bbce6bf44ab
Where to find the best waterfalls?
La Paz Waterfall Gardens have epic views of stunning waterfalls.
Best phone service/what to do with your phone data?
According to costa-rica-guide.com the best way to go about using your phone in Costa Rica if you’re not opting for the wifi only option is to buy a Sim Card and/or a Prepaid phone in Costa RIca. Check here for more info: http://costa-rica-guide.com/practical/sim-card-local-phone/
Authentic Tico recipes
Check out our Pinterest page for authentic Tico Recipes.
Here are a few to witness:
- Study the Mystery of the Stone Spheres – The island of Yap has stone money. Easter Island is known for its moai. And Costa Rica, few people know, has its own mysterious stone carvings too: petrospheres, or stone spheres. Ranging in size from less than an inch to nearly seven feet in diameter, the stones are believed to have been carved between 200 B.C. and 1500 A.D. and were discovered by workers clearing jungles for banana plantations.
- Buy Pottery — or Make Your Own – Observe the ancient art and buy pieces from the artists themselves at Guaitil Artisan Village, in the Carrillo community in Guanacaste. Or take a five-day workshop at Guaitil Pottery Studio to learn how to create your own pottery, starting with harvesting the clay and ending with crafting your own work of art. Costa Rica has a fine history of artisanal crafts. Archeologists have discovered pottery dating back more than 2,500 years to pre-Hispanic days. In the towns of San Vicente de Nicoya and Guaitil in Guanacaste, you can observe artisans, who are descendants of Chorotega Indians, creating earthenware using the same techniques as their ancestors.
- Learn How Coffee Is Made – Costa Rica is well known for its coffee, which revolutionized the small country’s economy (that’s why it’s known locally as grano de oro, or the “golden grain”). Heck, coffee has revolutionized the world — you try going to work without chugging a cup in the morning. Seeing how the ruby-colored coffee berry is converted into the most important of all beverages is quite remarkable.
- Village of Cahuita – The city of Cahuita is located in the southeast of Costa Rica, within the Talamanca Canton of the Limon Province. As a small city, Cahuita has a very small but very lively year-round population that has been largely shaped through a shared Afro-Caribbean culture. This makes for excellent local cuisine, in particular its famous dessert crepes made with locally grown bananas, strawberries and chocolate.
- Immerse in the Local Culture – A visit to Costa Rica during Limon Carnival is the perfect way to immerse oneself in the local culture. Throughout the week, many typical dishes from the region are served, including “Rica and Beans” a unique take ofgallo pinto Caribbean style, a popular dish consisting of beans and rice with coconut and Caribbean spices. Tourists can purchase this delicious fare at a variety of stands while also checking out the exhibits of local artists who view the festival as an opportunity to showcase their work.
Non traditional experiences?
- Help at a sea turtle rescue
- Learn to surf
- Go for a fishing tour
- Stay in a treehouse
- Visit a hot spring
Best Ziplining in Costa Rica?
If you’re near Jaco… OCEAN RANCH PARK
Camping adventure spots?
Great article about camping in Costa Rica: http://costa-rica-guide.com/travel/lodging/campin
What to pack for rainy season?
- Clothes for warm and cold weather, be prepared for anything
- Waterproof backpack
- Waterproof casing for electronics
- Plastic bags become very useful
- Ziplock bags
- Water shoes/sandals
- Rain jacket/windbreaker
- Or a poncho!
- Quick dry travel towel
- Waterproof map
- Any waterproof/resistant clothing
- Optional: Umbrella, Rain boots, Extra Battery Pack
- DON’T FORGET: Sunscreen and bug spray
Do beaches ever close?
Usually only if they’re in a National Park for some holidays.
Rainfall according to region in CR?
See question above: “What’s the weather like during specific times of year?”
Best Places to eat in Jaco?
What is an authentic dish to ask for at a restaurant?
- Gallo Pinto (Rice and Beans)
- Fried Plantains
- Batidos and more here…
Wildlife conservation volunteer programs?
Here is a list of wildlife conservation volunteer programs: https://www.gooverseas.com/volunteer-abroad/costa-rica
Bus schedules for transportation?
Good reference: https://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/bus-to-puerto-viejo.php
West or East Coast of CR?
It would seem like west coast but east coast has more of the culture, it just gets more rain than the west coast more often. Good commentary: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-central-america/costa-rica/costa-rica-east-or-west-coast
Best places for scuba diving:
Best Car rental Places:
Dollar, Mapache, Poas, Vamos, and Adobe are some of the best rental places for Costa Rica. Vamos seems to include everything in the quoted price even car insurance, which others may leave out until final purchase.
How much money should I bring?
As low as 1500 and as high as 5500 dollars. This site also has money saving tips: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/costa-rica-travel-tips
Should you book ahead or on the go?
Most people said definitely book ahead especially in the main cities, but in smaller towns and during the off season you can book as you go.
Any good Costa Rican Craft Beers?
Archiduque, La Pelona, domingo 7… check out CASA brewgarden