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When life nudges you to go to Costa Rica in only 3 weeks, BUY THE TICKETS! 🙌
I was feeling the usual itch to travel, and found out that my cousin, Hannah, had a few weeks off from the school she was attending in San Ramon. She was supposed to go backpacking, and it got cancelled. SO, I bought a ticket, went to Chicago and expedited my passport, packed, and went down!
The following will include tips on everything from flights to hostels to places to visit!
TIP 1: Always, and I mean always, keep your passport on you as they will do random checks to make sure you are legally traveling. If you go somewhere like the hot springs, keep your passport in a safe or locked in your room or in the glovebox in the locked car. TIP 2: Take lots of bug spray for the mosquitos and benadryl. I unfortunately got stung by a scorpion (best guess) as my elbow was all swollen and red about 3-4″ radius and benadryl was my bff! 🤦♀️🤦♀️
You can book through any agency that finds cheap flights on pretty much any app, but Skyscanner is one of the easiest apps to use, is great for international travel, and they always find the best prices.
In this blog you will find an area to look up flights if you are starting to get antsy to get away! Please click this link to get to skyscanner to book flights! It gives my blog credit, and is of no charge to you! 😊
Flying into San Jose is really the only good airport to fly into. Liberia has an international airport, but it’s really small. Prices are usually better through San Jose.
I flew with Copa Airlines, and it was honestly a FANTASTIC experience. The prices were on point, and you get a free checked bag, a meal, and unlimited non alcoholic drinks. The staff were exceptionally nice, and every announcement was made in Spanish and then in English. That was incredibly helpful because: sé un poco de español…meaning I know a little Spanish 😏 I recommend learning a little Spanish before you go, because obviously it’s easier to communicate, order food, and find out how much everything costs.
You do not need to take a lot of cash, because you can use your ATM Debit card at most ATMs and banks, and get back colones which is their currency. Make sure to let your bank know before you go, and they will put a travel notice on your card. Using colones is better than USD because you’ll get exact change back, and the locals will be easier to deal with because they don’t have to translate prices to USD. Use Banco Nacional for ATM services, they are the best bank and have the most ATM’s. You will also feel really rich because $1 = 612 colones. I usually took $50 out at a time, and I would have about 30,000 in colones 😳
CITIES TO VISIT
San Jose is a beautiful city to go around in, but if you want more of the Costa Rica non commercialized feel, go to towns outside of the city. I spent some time in San Ramon with Hannah, who is studying to be a doctor! School is also a great way to travel there if that’s an option. She is tagged on my social media posts if you have any questions!!
A rental car is a MUST. Get a 4 wheel drive vehicle if you can! It seems like an expensive thing to do, but public transport can be a little unpredictable and in my opinion, a little shaky on mountain sides! Avoid going straight over a mountain if you can (go around), if you must go over- leave early in the day as traffic can be standstill for hours and it’s a little treacherous at night time! We had to drive over one in the Braulio Carillo National Park, on Ruta 32. It got a little shaky, and I may or may have not had a panic attack, but Hannah got us through!
We traveled to La Fortuna, and it is a must see. This is the exercise adventure portion of your trip! The Arenal Volcano is one of the most active volcanos in Costa Rica and is constantly smoking. It is a fantastic hike, and there is even a hidden lake, Chato. You aren’t supposed to hike to it 🙈, but it is beautiful once you find the correct trail!
I recommend hiking to Chato from outside the Observatory land, there were a lot of workers and the hike is near impossible with all the fences that are in place within the Observatory. The hike is about 3-4 hours one way, and is not for the weak. Prepare to get muddy! But the hike around Arenal is really gorgeous, and there are hanging bridges and waterfalls to swim in and is 110% worth it.
Make sure you take a backpack that has a camel pack. You can usually fill it up at your hostel. It stays cold for hours, and you can keep your camera, phone, keys, passport, snacks, and money in it.
In La Fortuna there are a few good hostels, such as Selina (country wide popular hostel), and the one we stayed in- Hotel La Choza Inn. There was free delicious breakfast every day, and they helped with booking activities.
We booked at Baldi Hot Springs, and received a fantastic dinner with our booking. There are several different pools that get hotter as you go up (some up 140°!). There are several cooling pools too, and bars in the middle of several as well. Bring cash for drinks! There are free hot springs as well, not as nice as Baldi, but still great for relaxing! To get there go to the yellow gate next to Tabacon Springs, and leave your belongings locked in the car, but take a flashlight if you go at night!
The BEST pizza place EVER, Latina Pizza, is about a block from the hostel, and says “De lo bueno bueno”. Go. You will not be disappointed.
Puerto Viejo: MUST SEE
Stay at the Selina Hostel. In my opinion it is the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at. Right on the water, and the sunrise is gorgeous! If you like air conditioning I recommend getting your own room instead of a common room unless you like staying up all night!
- Talk to locals and get surf lessons.
- Meet people from other countries at the bar
- Go swimming in the pool
- Use the kitchen to make food
- 5 minute walk to a beautiful beach
- 5 minute walk to town to get local food and go shopping at little shops or go to a bar
- Ladies nights at local bars are SO much fun and a great way to meet people. Ask around about ladies nights.
I also recommend going to Panama for a day or two, right over the border to Bocas del Toro. Leave early in the morning (7am-ish), it is a 3 hour drive. Once there you will water taxi to the island! There is a Selina there and it is a blast in a glass! If you are anything like me or my spirit animal Kristen Wiig…you’ll have fun!
If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I write based on my experience, but I have contacts and other useful information! But if I write everything…this blog post will be a 30 minute read 🤷♀️
Thank you all for your unending support, and stay tuned because I will have SO many more posts. I also will be posting about traveling solo as a woman, and traveling when you have crippling anxiety! If I can do it, so can you! 😊🤗