A Week in Costa Rica
It’s pretty much paradise.
If you’ve always wanted to go to Central America or if you’re looking for a tropical getaway, Costa Rica is a once-in-a-lifetime trip you won’t soon forget.
My friend Kristine and I saw an incredible flight deal at the end of April, and decided to book it on a whim. It all came together beautifully, and I can’t wait for you to experience the incredible atmosphere and nature of Costa Rica too!
1. Our Flight
Using our favorite cheap travel site (a more detailed post about this to come!), we found a flight from Seattle to Liberia for $370 round trip (about half what you’d usually pay!) Because we went to Costa Rica just as the rainy season was wrapping up, the prices for our excursions, flight, and accommodations were all discounted. And on top of that, we made almost $400 in perks, miles, and cash by haggling (here's how you can do it too!)
2. Our Airbnbs
The two incredible places we laid our heads were in Atenas (about an hour outside of San Jose) and Nosara, on the West coast right by the beach. Costa Rican Airbnbs offer the incredible ability to stay in gorgeous places for not a lot of money (we spent $100 and $67 a night, respectively. If you’re looking for great hosts and properties, these are it!) Both properties came with our own private pools -- our house in Atenas was on the side of a mountain with spring water, offering incredible rainforest thunderstorms and views; our house in Nosara had these beautiful lightning bugs on the property and was a short drive from the beach. If you’ve never had the Airbnb experience, I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s $40 off just for my readers to get you started!
3. Toucan Rescue Ranch
Approximately a 10 minute drive from San Jose, the Toucan Rescue Ranch is an incredible home for rehabilitating animals. With sloths, toucans, owls, macaws, and more, TRR is truly not to be missed. Other so-called “reserves” let you hold these animals (you’ve probably seen videos online), but TRR is committed to releasing all their animals back into the wild, and does not want to promote human contact. So cool! For only $60 per person, we enjoyed “Breakfast with the Babies,” where we ate a wonderful meal at the same table as (wait for it) BABY SLOTHS.
While they were being fed their breakfast, we ate ours, and learned about their history and characteristics. And after, a tour of the entire property was included, where we learned about every single type of animal TRR assisted. I felt so great about giving my money to an organization doing such outstanding work, and I encourage you to do the same!
4. Llanos del Cortés Waterfall
My friend and I literally kept turning to each other, saying “This can’t be real life.” This waterfall provides a truly bucket list experience, just outside Liberia. Hike down 5 minutes and you’re suddenly face to face with a beautiful waterfall, whose temperature is perfect for swimming. We got dozens of pictures, and who wouldn’t?! We didn’t want to leave -- after 2 hours, we kept looking back to the falls on our hike up...
READ MORE: 10 Tips for Women Traveling Solo
5. The Food
We had two great dinners in Costa Rica, one at the Liberia Social Club and the other at La Luna in Nosara. I highly recommend doing at least one nice dinner out, and ordering sangria and ceviche -- Costa Rica is known for both, and they did not disappoint. I also ate my weight in plantain chips, which you can buy at any grocery store or market. The real highlight? The incredible fruits, which grow all over Costa Rica. Beautiful oranges, mangoes, avocados as big as your hand...some Airbnbs (like ours in Atenas) had them growing on our property. If you’re not quite as lucky, buy them at roadside markets or pick them as you’re driving.
What We Learned:
1. Costa Rica is BIG
This may seem really obvious, but it wasn’t to us: Costa Rica is way bigger than it looks. You’ll drive 8+ hours to cover the entire country, over these rugged dirt roads that you’d be crazy to take on in a compact car (we did and we regretted it.) If you’re there for a week, stay in just one or two places that are close to the things you want to do.
2. Get a hotspot
If you don’t have an international phone plan (we didn’t, too much $$$), having access to wifi while on the road is a must. Do not skimp on this, because without Google Maps or a traditional GPS, you WILL get lost.
3. Air conditioning!
Costa Rica is hot, there’s no getting around that. A tropical climate plus rainforest humidity can equal hell. Look for accommodations with air conditioning, or stay in the mountains where you get a lot of natural breeze. If you want to sleep (which we didn't our last night because it was so hot), it's required.
All in all, this was a vacation we won’t soon forget, full of incredibly surreal experiences. Pura Vida, y’all!