My husband and I love traveling and every year we go to a new place to celebrate our marriage anniversary. Last year we visited to Costa Rica. I am that kind of person who doesn’t believe in planning because almost every time I have something on my mind for a long time, something goes wrong and it never happens – same thing happened with Costa Rica. We thought it’d be fun to visit this country, but weren’t sure if we were going to make it. We were choosg between New York and Costa Rica. The first option was nice, but we wanted to go for a crazy adventure, so the at the end we said “why not to go farther? Let’s give a try to Costa Rica”. And we did it. The next day we were super excited to buy tickets and couldn’t wait to celebrate our love in that beautiful country.
We stayed in Costa Rica two weeks and discovered most of the things we were going to. And we have finally experienced that “Pura Vida” (Eng. Pure Life) way of life Costa Rica generously offered: the idea was to enjoy life and be happy without worries, stress or fuss – just another “hakuna matata” kind of lifestyle;))
Here are some tips I wish I knew before I went:
– Speaking Spanish in Costa Rica helps a lot: when locals see that you speak and understand, they don’t try to fool you;)
– If you are the same picky when it comes to comfort as we are – chose the hotels you stayed in. Also check out the blogs, reviews and articles about the places you are about to choose (we stayed in Aloft Hotel in Downtown of San Jose and weren’t disappointed).
– Costa Rica is eco friendly, so forget about AC and Internet once you leave the hotel: if you use GPS, make a road before you leave.
– Think twice before renting a car: all the roads were extremely curvy, and it was
very easy to get lost even using GPS; not to mention the road conditions and the fact that there were plenty of single lane paved roads in Costa Rica. I was lucky to be next to my husband, who is an excellent driver, because there was nothing that would prevent us from sliding down in case you got nervous and went over your line. Also,
I have never seen such a foggy weather in my entire life! You don’t even see where you step, not talking about driving.
– If you are a picky eater like I am, it may be kind of a problem for you. I don’t say that food is bad, but no matter where you go and what type of cuisine you try – most of the ingredients are going to be chopped and will have lack of spices! I didn’t taste the difference in food until we came back home.
– Costa Rica is not cheap: tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors of
the country, so staying in a nice hotel is expensive, and you will probably get the same bill you usually get in California after a nice dinner for two, same bill for a cup of coffee or lunch near the ocean. I was surprised how much we spent on taxi: 5 minutes ride may cost you 10$ or even more.
– If you are a coffee addict – you must come and try local beans. I actually liked it so much, that instead of traditional souvenirs I brought bags of coffee with me
to the USA.
– Always double-check your bill: in most of places the gratitude is already included, but it never hurts for the waiters to say “tips are welcomed only if you enjoyed the service tonight”.
– Beaches are awesome and water in the ocean is warm: you won’t be willing to leave the beach once you come, but be careful with the sun – if you usually use SPF40, make yourself a favor and take SPF60. I didn’t know that, so I look red on most of the pictures)))
– Departure tax: we had no idea that we had to pay 29$ before we left, so you probably will experience two lines – one to pay the tax and the other one to drop off your bags. It takes a lot of time, even though airlines are supposed to include tax in the ticket according to the law announced in 2014. So make sure you arrive super early, because there are plenty of people in the airport.
So what is a must see in Costa Rica?
Arenal Volcano (one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. It was absolutely beautiful and every time I think of Costa Rica – that is the first thing what comes to my mind) and Poás Volcano (it was erupted 39 times since 1828; I’ve never seen such a beauty).
Whether you are a fan of it or not, you must go. I doubted if I wanted to go because I was more excited by the ocean, but I swear I would regret if I didn’t follow my husband. We chose the ones not far from the volcano (Arenal Hot Springs), so the temperature of water heated by it ranged from 83F to 103F, the view was breathtaking and don’t forget about the beautiful nature! We spent the whole day there and had dinner at local restaurant.
Manuel Antonio National Park (it felt like I was in “Jurassic World” movie because everything that surrounded me was magnificent – huge trees, unique animals and absolutely unknown landscapes. I was amazed by it and I swear my phone ran out of battery, because I wanted to shot everything for me to come back to this place in memories later =))
La Fortuna Waterfall (Catarata Fortuna) not only allows you to experience the beauty of it, but you can also swim; and it is located not far from Arenal Volcano, so there won’t be a problem with driving.
With the limited time that left, we still made it for Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. It was founded in 1994 and specialized in contemporary Central American art and design as well as international work.
What would I explore if I had more time? I think I would go for hiking, I would visit many more parks and museum and wouldn’t forget about the beaches. There so many activities you can do and the beaches are absolutely different but they take everything you knew about them to a new level. They make you hungry for adventure and you want to do nothing, but explore, explore, explore…