This post was last updated on May 9th, 2018
Is Central America on your list of places to visit? It should be, starting with Costa Rica. A rainforested region drenched in divine natural beauty, this country merges a cultural capital – San Jose – with volcanoes, rugged coastline and biodiverse jungle. Get the most out of your adventure by knowing what makes this Central American country so special.
Maximizing Your Experience in Costa Rica
One of the most common mistakes that travelers will make is not setting aside enough time to prepare for a vacation. Researching the area, the climate, the culture and the attractions will set you up for a thrilling time. Failure to do this means that you could miss out on opportunities to really immerse yourself in a different way of life.
Costa Rica is steeped in Spanish culture and history. Tradition runs deep amongst the local people, many of whom talk communicate in indigenous languages. With so much to discover, such as the music, arts, food and customs, you’d benefit from taking the following travel tips on board:
1. Anticipate an Adventure – Costa Rica is an adventurer’s playground and unlike other countries around the world, there may come a time when a volcanic eruption or rainstorm affects your plans. This is all part of the experience and by keeping an open mind, you can still enjoy your time, even if your itinerary doesn’t exactly go as planned.
2. Take it Easy – The unique terrain of Costa Rica offers something for everyone. Plan an itinerary that includes all of the activities you want to tick off your list, such as surfing, ziplining through forests and hiking near volcanoes. However, don’t miss out on the sheer beauty of the place by doing everything too quickly. Allow yourself a day to relax poolside, on the beach or in a hammock, as this will open your eyes to the natural splendor that surrounds you.
3. Pack Simple Things – Don’t worry too much about looking ravishing every time you step foot outside of your hotel door. The hot climate and diverse environment means that your makeup is probably going to sweat off and your clothes will get dirty. Pack light garments and minimal luxuries, but remember to pack multi-functional tools that will aid you in your exploration quests, too.
4. Value Your Safety – The staff at whatever hotel you choose to stay at will likely give you tips about safety. It is up to you to use those tips wisely. Theft is a common crime committed amongst tourists. Hide valuables and don’t flaunt your belongings to avoid this. Although the police are always monitoring the roads and streets, walking alone at night is not recommended.
5. Prepare Your Tummy – The last thing you’ll want to experience during a trip to Costa Rica is food poisoning! Stock up on medication, just in case this happens. Avoid it from happening by drinking bottled water (tap water may be contaminated,) eating fresh foods, cleaning up your diet prior to traveling and using a quality probiotic. Plenty of rest will help you to prepare your tummy, too.
6. Have an Open Mind – You never know who you might meet when you embark on a journey through the wilderness of Costa Rica. Keep this in mind and be slightly flexible with your travel plans to make it really memorable.
7. Sensitize Your Senses – Make a habit of hearing, tasting, seeing, smelling and touching as much as possible in Costa Rica. You can do this at places like La Fortuna Waterfall, San Gerardo de Dota, Jaguar Rescue Center Foundation, and the cloud forest reserves of Santa Elena and Monteverde.
8. Learn Some Spanish – Practicing the local lingo will earn you respect from the locals and could get you out of a spot of bother, should the unfortunate happen. Basic words to remember include Hola (Hello), Adios (goodbye), Tiene…? (Do you have…?), Donde esta…? (Where is…?), Cuanto cuesta? (How much does it cost?) and Habla Inglés? (do you speak English?).
9. Please Your Palate – Don’t let the thought of an upset tummy prevent you from sampling the variety of traditional foods on offer in Costa Rica. Specialties include spicy coconut soup (Rondon), rice and beans (gallo pinto) and ice layered with condensed milk, powdered milk and syrup (Granizados).
10. Join the Art City Tour – Last, but by no means least, I recommend participating in this tour. Ranked as one of the best attractions in San Jose Metro, the Art City Tour will expose you to Costa Rica’s thriving arts scene at the area’s museums and galleries. It is free of charge and usually happens in February.
Treat Yourself to a Good Night’s Rest at Costa Rica Hotels
Finding Costa Rica hotels on Expedia that are surrounded by palm trees and situated just footsteps from golden sands will not be difficult. The tropical environment makes this Central American country an appealing choice. Enclosed by palm trees and greenery, Hotel Robledal is a recommended place to put your feet up by the pool and admire the wilderness. The Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn is another indulgent option, offering complete solitude with its private location, massage rooms and minibars.
You also have the option to take the more urban route. Plonk yourself in East San Jose and shop to your heart’s content at Momentum Pinares when you stay at Hyatt Place. You’ll find a swimming pool at Hotel Colonial in Chinatown, which is less than a mile from Jade Museum. Perhaps you want to be based near the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden? Then Hotel Palma Real is the place for you. If you are a travel blogger, or even if you just use social media, Costa Rica offers excellent opportunities for amazing video blog content.
Allow yourself time to search for hotels by location, price and amenities. Traveling Costa Rica can be expensive (if you are willing to spend a lot) or it can be very cheap. Remember, it’s all in the planning!
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