Maybe you are an experienced traveler or maybe it is the first time far away from home. A bit of general knowledge about your destination always come in handy. You might have planned your first day to the last or you only booked your plane ticket. Either way, a holiday in Costa Rica will guarantee you adventure, nature, wild life and beautiful beaches. Learn more about what to expect.
You must have heard the words ‘pura vida’ before. No, they don’t just say it for the tourists, the Ticos (the Costa Ricans) truly live by it. In a situation that would cause grumpy people in Western society you will hear ‘calm down, it is going to be alright’ or they make a joke about it. It is about enjoying every day and there is always time for a chat.
Going to Costa Rica means that you love nature. With eight different micro climates the landscape is diverse: from cloud forests to mountains, from the Caribean beaches to the pure jungle of Corcovado. You will see the landscape changing while you are driving. There are so many different animals, with the different climates you will see different species across the country. Seeing animals is depending on several factors: the time of year, the weather, the time of day, your patience and a little bit of luck…
The best way to get to know the country is with a rental car. It is the ultimate way to discover the less touristy places of the country and you will have a lot of freedom. Costa Rica has decent public transport, but you will have to transfer more often in order to reach your destination. Pay attention when you have to transfer: the connection is often on another bus station.
Take your time to get to know the country. The activities, the impressions, the different climate and traveling from one location to the other… It is exhausting. Costa Rica is not that big, but travelling takes time because of the height differences for example. If you want to continue traveling to the next destination, ask the day before you leave at your accommodation what the estimated travel time is. Your navigation isn’t always right about this. The road from our place to the nearest village, the shortest route, doesn’t exist on Google Maps for example. Most of the time travel guides and organisations offer standard routes, ‘places you have to visit’. But Costa Rica has so much more to offer. Don’t plan your trip from a to z, but leave some room for pleasant surprises. Ask hotel owners and locals for recommendations, who knows the area better?
Don’t be afraid to visit Costa Rica in the rainy season, it actually has some advantages. There will be more flowers for example and therefore it is easier to see birds. When it has been raining and it is more humid it is easier for guides to locate frogs because they are more active and make more noise. The rainy season is the low season, it will be less busy. So don’t let the rainy season stop you, but make sure you are prepared. Pack your rain coat and if you want an umbrella. Normally it rains for a couple hours, the mornings are usually dry. But if it is raining, it can be pouring down. Because Costa Rica has different micro climates there is a big chance that it is raining on your location, but 10 kilometers away it can be dry. Leave some space in your itinerary so you have the freedom to relocate when it is too wet. Besides the rain also be prepared for the sun: it is very strong and you can burn quickly.
Spanish is the main language in Costa Rica. On the touristy places they will speak English, so it isn’t a bad thing if you don’t speak any Spanish. For the experience it will be more fun though, if you know some words or phrases. The Ticos are very helpful and are always in for a chat. You will experience so much more and it will be easier for you to go off the beaten track and to eat in the local restaurants (the sodas).
And just say everywhere you go: pura vida!