The time has come to bid farewell to a wonderful country and an amazing trip. Although we mostly became beach bums while we were here, I am glad that we didn’t do everything so we can come back. We have already been talking about next time. But there are also lots of things to write upon that were great and notes to others to aid in future travels.
First of all, there are many different types of accommodations to consider whenever you take a vacation. Lately on a few of our adventures we have opted trying AirBnB instead of all-inclusives or hotels. We decided to try it in a foreign country to see what would happen and were pleasantly surprised. We got little condos in Quepos, which is outside Manuel Antonio Park, and one in Tamarindo. What was great about both is that we got the sense of vacation with beaches and things to do but at the same time had a small home feeling. The convenience of going to a small grocery store and making your own meals at your own time and to your flavor; hey, why not. It gave our vacation a simplicity feel that even though we were in a strange new place it felt comfy and cozy. Don’t get me wrong, we still went out to restaurants a bunch, and I highly recommend a coconut on the beach for lunch. People are always walking up and down the sand trying to sell things but the coconuts are worth it. Refreshing in the midday sun and afterwards they will break them open for you to eat the meat inside. Yum!
Now when it comes to getting around there is plenty to choose from. We wanted a bit of our own freedom so we decided on renting a car for the time we were there. Pluses equal freedom, minuses equal cost. If you rent a car online as we did, you will find prices extremely cheap and very appealing. I do travel with a credit card that will cover insurance. However, there is a Costa Rican law that will not except those unless you have some kind of written letter from your bank that they will except any damage costs that occur. Therefore, if you don’t have this, you are required by Costa Rican law to take their minimum insurance. You can not reject this. This is where the money comes in. It costs about as much as the rental itself if not more. Although a bit of a cost, I would recommend getting the full insurance as our vehicle did look like someone tried to get into it at some point. If you do get the full insurance, you could bring it back in pieces and you would not pay an extra dime.
A note on driving in the country. Roads are good around the cities and the main roads between them. However, there are a fair share of beat up dirt roads that I would highly recommend a four wheel drive vehicle if you plan on getting off the beaten path. Also, getting around can be interesting. For some reason, even with a good data plan, Google Maps does not seem to work well here and is not updated on a lot of their roads. I would encourage the use of the app Waze on your smartphone, or getting a GPS when you rent your vehicle.
Of all the animals we saw throughout our trip, like crocodiles, monkeys, and lizards, the infamous sloth eluded us. We know that we could have gone to some of the nature reserves to see them. Probably even held one for a price. There is just something about seeing creatures in the wild and not in a zoo or park. I do hope the next time we come we hunt a little bit more in the wilderness. We ran into other tourists who claim they did find them just napping in the trees. They are so slow and usually nap all the time, that they don’t move that much and blend right into their environment.
I also think I would like to venture to the Caribbean coast. I hear many stories about how calm and peaceful it is and not as touristy as the Pacific coast. Of things I have read the Parque National Tortuguero sounds beautiful. I have been to other parts of the Caribbean sea and its waters are so warm and calm. Also heard that a lot of this coast line has black sand beaches, which are beautiful even if they are a little hotter on your bare feet.
Banks and cash are available everywhere and easy to get. We did find that bring some US dollar with us resulted in a better rate to exchange for their colones, however US dollar was widely excepted. Of course you can always use credit cards in a lot of major places although you may be out of luck at the small establishments. And you don’t want to miss our on them!!
Random thought that came in very handy for us was the use of bug spray. You are going to tropical country and of course you should bring bug spray if you are trekking into the jungle. However, whenever you get into your place, especially those around the beaches, we found ants and things making their way into our rooms. So we took our bug spray and sprayed a lot under our entrance door way and voila, most bugs did not want to come and hang out with us after that. I will give many thanks to my wife for trying this trick.
In a nutshell, Costa Rica left us wanting more. The relaxing lifestyle, long stretches of warm water beaches and tiny secluded ones you have to look for to find make it all a place to recommend and want to return to ourselves. The food was scrumptious and the people warm and inviting. To all those reading, throw on a backpack and make this one your next adventure…