Costa Rica is a beautiful country that needs to be visited as soon as possible! It has been a long trend for the youth in Canada and for vacationeers to travel there for a cheap, but fun holiday! Check out my AdventureFaktory guide to Costa Rica and make sure to share it to your friends!
General Information for Costa Rica
Currency: Costa Rican Colon (Colones) or USD Dollars are quite used. (575 Colones is around 1$US)
Where To Fly ? You can either fly into the city of San Jose (SJO) which is pretty central to Costa Rica, or you can fly into Liberia (LIR) which is north of CR. They’re approximately the same price. It’s more about what’s more convenient for you and the itinerary you have drawn. My flight from Montreal was 350$CA (~280$US). Never pay more than 500$CA for your ticket, it would be considered as expensive.
Visa information for Costa Rica
As a Canadian, American and British citizen, you don’t need a Visa to enter Costa Rica. People of all nationalities holding valid US, Canada, Japan, South Korea or Schengen visas do not need a prior visa to get to Costa Rica (we recommend to still call the embassy of your country of residence to verify, better be safe than sorry). Check out their embassy website for further more information regarding your nationality. Don’t forget to contact them to double check please, we would hate for you to be denied entrance!
Car Rental in Costa Rica
Car rentals are VERY expensive. Even though you might get insurance through your credit car/home car, you still have to pay for liability, which is very common in Central America. For 3 weeks, it cost us approximately 1000$CA (~800$US). I would definitely recommend renting an SUV, as the roads are very harsh and sometimes you have to river cross. You will not be able to cross a river with a small car, which would limit your journey. How cool is it to river cross in an SUV?… you don’t want to miss doing that!
Local Food in Costa Rica
Gallo Pinto is a typical dish of Costa Rica. It consists of rice and beans stir-fried together in a pan. It is usually served for breakfast along with scrambled or fried eggs and sour cream or cheese. Basically, anything made out of rice and beans is considered local haha!
Where to go in Costa Rica
Located in the province of Puntarenas, Playa Dominical is a small town on the Southern Pacific Coast. Once we landed at the San Jose airport, we picked up our car and drove to Dominical, which is about 3h30 south the coast. It’s a very small town with not a whole lot to do. It’s well known for its year-round waves. There are a couple of surf school/camps in the area. So if you want to surf, Dominical is definitely the place to be whether you’re a beginner or an advanced surfer.
For accommodation, we stayed at Cool Vibes Beach Hostel which was 14$US/night. If you’re wondering how it was that cheap, here’s why: for that price, my friends and I got to share a dorm room together. How cute (that’s hostel life anyways!) We also didn’t have AC… I don’t know if you are aware but Costa Rica is between 30-35°C (86-41°F) with a humidex of 200%. So trust me we had the fans on all night. Although it was way too hot at night, it was awesome because that’s where all backpackers are staying, which guarantees meeting chill and laid back people. The place is cool and with relaxing vibes. We played card games and drank every night!
If you like waterfalls, Cataratas de Nauyaca’s are very pretty and it’s only a 15 mins drive. It’s located in a canyon and you can swim/jump into the falls. Like I said, Dominical is very small, you can walk on the main street and experience the local shops/restaurants.
We also went to the Oxygen Jungle Villas which was a 30 mins drive. You can relax next to the elegant infinity pool overlooking the splendour of the Pacific Ocean. Before heading to our next stop, we decided to treat ourselves with a more lavish night at the Pacific Edge Eco Lodge, a beautiful mountain cabin. The lodge is located in the area known as Escaleras de Dominical a wooded rainforest wildlife sanctuary. It was 120$CA (~95$US) for the night but well worth it as we had the entire lodge for ourselves.
After a 6h30 drive from Dominical, we arrived in the famous town of Santa Teresa, known as a party town. This was most definitely my favourite stop of the trip. It’s a bit more develop and there’s way more activities to do. It’s a very good place to surf as well. There’s also tons of good local restaurants/boutiques. You can rent ATV’s and drive around town, but the best thing in Santa Teresa are the sunsets. Make sure to grab beers and watch them at the beach. We stayed at Sitting Bull Hostel (20$US/Night/Person). It was perfect because it was the 4 of us and they had a studio for 4. It was nice because this time we had some AC and even had a TV!
You also absolutely cannot leave without spending a day at Tortuga Island located in Montezuma. It will be the best 60$US you’ll invest in your trip. A van will pick you up at your hostel and will bring you back around 4-5 PM. Throughout the day, you will get to snorkel at different spots, you will get free lunch as well as free beers. The island is amazing, you feel like you’re on a private island in the middle of nowhere. You can play volleyball and enjoy the sun !
For our last week, we went to Nosara, which was a 4h30 drive from Santa Teresa. Originally, we were supposed to stay at The Wave Hostel, but once we arrived there and dropped off our bags, we realized we were the only ones staying there and there wasn’t any staff. It felt super sketchy and we decided to leave. Even though Costa Rica is safe, you’re still in Central America and have to be smart. We ended up staying at 4 You Hostel for 20$US/night. Located just 10 minutes walk to the beach, surrounded by lush nature. That’s where you’ll find tons of surfers and yogis. It is an awesome place if you want to make new friends and relax. The owners are super friendly and are always there to make you feel comfortable.
Playa Guiones is a fun beach with consistent waves, enjoyable for both advanced or beginner surfers. You will also find plenty of certified surfing schools and instructors everywhere around the beach. Playa Guiones is well known for yoga lovers. There are plenty of options/places to enjoy and practice Yoga. I went to Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort every day. This place is just great for it, truly is the finest yoga resort and retreat sanctuary around. You can enjoy the high-end accommodations (which we didn’t do because it is quite expensive), the food, the pilates studios, the gym, the pool, the spa, the juice bar and the boutiques. The Bodhi Tree Yoga resort was designed around nature leaving you surrounded by the jungle. It didn’t get any better than doing yoga in the jungle hearing the sound of the rain and the monkeys right besides you. They have a weekly schedule that you can pay each time you do a class. I would recommend doing Zac’s classes. He’s the person that made me want to get into Yoga.
You can also enjoy a variety of other activities including horseback riding, canopy tours, fishing trips, quad rentals tours, massages and spa treatments.
Hope you enjoyed reading this and that will inspire you to travel to Costa Rica! Just remember, my friends and I travelled the cheapest way possible and it was still expensive. Central America is super cheap except for Costa Rica. Why? My guess is that it got very touristic and americanized, unfortunately.