Are you desperately craving a break from your mundane life? Does the idea of lazing around on a sunkissed beach sound amazing? How about going surfing in the crystal-clear Pacific waters or even indulging in snorkeling and scuba diving?
Add some enigmatic volcanoes and exotic wildlife to that mix and you have the perfect Central American holiday. But what’s the best place to experience the most of Latin America as a tourist? Ask most avid travelers and they’ll echo a unanimous answer – Costa Rica.
Why Visit Costa Rica?
Nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica is every travel lover’s dream come true. The tiny country has been endowed with spectacular beaches, diverse wildlife, and charming rainforests.
On top of that, it boasts a diverse and vivid cultural heritage, as well as lip-smacking culinary traditions. With nearly 2 million tourists visiting Costa Rica every year, it’s unarguably one of the most popular destinations in Central America.
It’s one of the few places on this planet where you can witness the beauty of both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. But planning the perfect Costa Rican getaway isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
While the internet is replete with a plethora of Costa Rica travel tips, there’s also plenty of misinformation and myths floating around. Also, with the abundance of travel advice pouring in from all corners, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and spoilt for choice.
That’s why in this blog, we’ve handpicked the most useful Costa Rica travel tips to let you make the most of your time in this tropical paradise. Let’s take a look.
1. Get Your Timing Right
As with most parts of Central America, Costa Rica is blessed with the quintessential tropical climate. The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April when the days are bright and sunny with little chance of rain. But these are also the months when most tourist attractions in the country are flooded with tourists.
What’s the best way to avoid a swarm of selfie-obsessed tourists, you ask? Plan your trip during the off-peak season, i.e. the monsoons. This is because the mornings are dry and sunny even during the rainy season. It typically becomes cloudy in the afternoon and rains during the evening.
Considering that you’ll be doing most of your sightseeing during the day, a trip during the monsoon isn’t a bad idea. You’ll have most of the tourist attractions all to yourself and even get great deals on flight and hotel bookings.
2. Ditch Those Traditional Hotels
You’ll find a treasure trove of awesome resorts, villas, condos, and other accommodation options almost everywhere in Costa Rica. But as with all-things-mainstream, most of these places tend to be crowded during the peak tourist season.
If you’re looking for a more unconventional and peaceful accommodation option, explore offbeat properties, such as Selina Hostels in Costa Rica. From community kitchens and wellness centers to awe-inspiring locations and the friendliest staff – these hostels will take your holiday up a notch. It’s as close as you’re going to get to experience Costa Rica like a local.
3. Pack All Your Essentials
Here’s the thing about Costa Rica – it can rain at any time of the year. Even if you’re visiting at the peak of winter, you should expect occasional showers in the rainforests. That’s why it is important to pack an umbrella, gumboots, as well as dry bags for your camera and other travel gadgets.
Also, make sure you carry plenty of sunscreen lotion, comfortable cotton clothes, and a hat. Other essentials, such as a portable phone charger and spare batteries for your camera, are a given.
Your list of Costa Rica packing essentials would be incomplete without a few tubes of mosquito repellant cream. This is mandatory considering the prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and Zika virus disease in the country.
4. Don’t Miss the Local Food
You’ll find numerous fancy pubs, eateries, and fine-dining restaurants all across Costa Rica. But your trip would be incomplete without gorging on a plate of drool-worthy gallo pinto (beans and rice) at one of the locally-run sodas. From eggs and fish to beef and pork – make sure you try different variations of Costa Rica’s national dish.
Other culinary highlights include empanadas, tamales, ceviche, Sopa Negra, Casado, and lots more. Dine at local restaurants and street-side stalls for the most authentic gastronomical experience. Also, don’t forget to ask your tour guide or hotel staff for local food recommendations.
5. Don’t Skip San José
Most tourists use San José as a base to explore other nearby tourist attractions in Costa Rica. While the country’s capital doesn’t boast plenty of natural wonders, it still deserves a couple of days’ visit.
This is because of the plethora of vivid cultural treasures packed into the city. If you have a penchant for history, you’ll fall in love with the San José splendid museums. These are some of the best you’ll find in the entire country. Also, don’t forget to check out the gorgeous National Theater while you’re in the city.
Do you have any other Costa Rica travel tips for first-time visitors? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.
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