No menu items!


HomeNews4 Insider Tips for an Unforgettable Costa Rica Vacation

4 Insider Tips for an Unforgettable Costa Rica Vacation

An acquaintance from high school. Your best friend’s brother’s extended family. The daughter of some lady that your mom knows from work. These people are planning on visiting Costa Rica, and they want the inside scoop. I usually respond to these information requests with what turns out to be an incredibly long initial email followed by a series of somewhat shorter follow-up emails.

Today, you’re in luck. You don’t need to know me from science class and your mom doesn’t have to work with my mom to get the goods. I’m going to give you some blanket good advice for your vacation to Costa Rica.

1. Rent a car and go to more than one place

Can you get around on public transportation? Sure. Could you have a fantastic time staying in Tamarindo for the entirety of your trip? Absolutely. But my advice is to skip the bus, rent a vehicle, and visit a few different destinations. The public buses in Costa Rica are just fine, and you can save cash on your vacation by using them, but if you want to get to here from there as quickly and efficiently as possible, rent a little car.

Plus, how can you have the story about the crazy driver, or getting lost in the middle of nowhere, or that cow-based roadblock if you don’t drive yourself around? As for seeing multiple destinations within a single vacation, Costa Rica is ideal because it’s a small place packed with different climates, landscapes, and things to do.

2. Do not leave anything in your car! Ever!

If you take my advice and rent a car, please take this advice. Do not leave anything that you care about in your car. Nothing ruins a vacation like having to try to figure out what to do when you no longer have a passport. Things get stolen from cars, especially around beaches. I know this, and it still happened to me.

I had spent the day hiking through the jungle with an old guy retrieving SD cards for a camera trap study. I thought I had earned a beverage at the end of the day, so I stopped at a store. I returned all of five minutes later to find most of my equipment stolen. I know I pushed the ‘lock’ button, but I didn’t jiggle the handles to make sure. Well, I’m a handle-jiggler now!

3. Save up. It’s not cheap.

There are ways to travel cheaply in Costa Rica, but most folks are interested in nice air- conditioned rooms and fine meals, especially on vacation. The good news is that there are plenty of beautiful places to stay and quality restaurants that will provide you with a truly delicious meal. The bad news is that it’s not going to be cheap. Even trips to the grocery store to buy regular amounts of standard quality food aren’t cheap. If you want a fancy holiday, prepare to pay fancy prices.

4. Rapid Fire Miscellaneous Items

Do I need to use Colones? – You can use Colones. You’ll get them in change if you use US currency, but just like many places, everybody seems to use their cards these days.

What should I bring that’s hard to get/expensive? – I don’t know why, but sunscreen and bug spray are usually wildly expensive, so bring those with you.

Do I need to speak Spanish? – You don’t need to speak Spanish to have a nice vacation, but it definitely would help you to connect with people while you’re here. Also, you may run into situations where just don’t know what’s going on.

There are a thousand and one ways to design a memorable vacation to Costa Rica. The items I mentioned in this article are just a little insight from a guy who has lived in Guanacaste for a few years.

Costa Rica is an incredible country full of wonderful people, so the odds are stacked in your favor when you visit if your goal is to have a good time. So do some research, plan your trip, be nice to everybody, leave big tips, and have a great time.

About the Author

Vincent Losasso, founder of Guanacaste Wildlife Monitoring, is a biologist who works with camera traps throughout Costa Rica. Learn more about his projects on facebook or instagram. You can also email him at:

Weekly Recap

Costa Rica Coffee Maker Chorreador
Costa Rica Coffee Maker Chorreador
Costa Rica Travel Insurance

Latest Articles