Do's & Dont's: Costa Rica Edition
by Savas Abadsidis on 2012-08-20
Costa Rica is as close to paradise as any where we've been. Herein Escape Republic offers our tips for your stay!
1. Do rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle to tour the country. Except for the capital city of San Jose and a few highways that traverse the country, the roads more closely resemble a patchwork of dry river beds. The mountainous terrain makes for some amazing vistas, but also for some heart-wrenching drops. A little extra traction goes a long way in Costa Rica.
2. Do plan on visiting the different corners of Costa Rica. For a country the size of Vermont, Costa Rica packs a lot of diversions into a small space.
Want to weave through markets of local fisherman and artists selling their wares? Or surf 20-foot waves? Or dine on the best fish tacos in Central America? Make a stop in Guanacaste.
Feel like relaxing on white-sand beaches by day and partying late into the night? Then the resorts of Manual Antonio (where locals from land-locked San Jose come to vacation) are for you.
Feel like falling completely off the grid? Land yourself in a bungalow at one of the beach towns on the Caribbean coast. Want to gaze up at a million stars and feel like you’re the last person left on Earth? Try the solitude of the pristine ecological preserves in the Oso Peninsula.
3. Do bring a pair of earplugs if you are a light sleeper. Those aren’t gorillas screaming outside your bungalow at 5am. They’re howler monkeys. Though similar in size to a raccoon, their throaty cries can be heard for miles. While the locals might consider them the roosters of the jungle, tourists hoping for a little extra shut-eye should take precautions.
4. Do leave your fear of heights at the border. Taking a propeller flight from the international airport in San Jose to one of the other regions of the country is the best way to face your fear of heights. Then take a zip-line through the jungle canopy in Puntarñas and rappel down a 90-foot waterfall in Quepos.
5. Don’t be surprised if your bananas are a little brown and your morning coffee is instant. Costa Rica is a country whose economy depends on exports. And many of their best products are sent overseas. If it bothers you, think about touring one of the many banana plantations or coffee farms in the country. Come prepared for samples and beat them at their own game.
6. Do plan on visiting Arenal and spending a night at one of the artisanal spas located in the vicinity. The volcano is one of the most active in the world, spewing lava and ash overhead daily. Grab a drink and watch the scene from one of the hot spring resorts where the water is heated by the volcano.
7. Don’t feed the monkeys. Monkeys are highly susceptible to diseases that are carried by human hands. Also, monkeys get fat when they sit around and wait for tourists to hand over half a banana. Have you ever seen a fat monkey? Not pretty.
8. Don’t plan on learning how to swim at the beach in Costa Rica. Never surfed before? Take a class taught on one of the Pacific coast beaches where waves break ten feet overhead. Make sure you have plenty of SPF and more than basic swimming skills. The sun is killer during the middle of the day and the undertow tends to get gnarley.
9. Do study the exchange rate and how much a taxi is supposed to cost to get you from here to there.
10. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dreaming about a new life just north of the equator. While official estimates of US expatriates in Costa Rica hover around 8,500, the number is probably much higher. Low crime, near-perfect weather, an emphasis on environmental sustainability and, of course, kick-ass surfing are all reasons to overstay your visa. It’s probably best to tie up any loose ends back home before you depart. Who knows if you’ll ever make that return flight.
Are you an avid traveller to Costa Rica? Let us know some of your tips for visiting this beautiful country in the comments below.