Destination Guide: Costa Rica
Welcome to paradise! The sun, the sand, the cheap alcohol, Costa Rica offers it all and so much more. In a country where you can go from mountaintops 11,000 feet above sea level all the way back down to zero on the sun-soaked sands of the Pacific or Caribbean in a matter of hours, it’s hard to see why anyone would ever want to leave. For adventurers, tourists, backpackers, and vagabonds alike, Costa Rica is the place to be.
If Nature’s Your Thing:
If it’s the sights and sounds of the natural world you’re after, you’re in luck. Costa Rica has a thriving ecosystem, with many animals, plants, and fungi (both on land and at sea) that can’t be found anywhere else. With the most popular being sloths, toucans, and ocelots, a nature hike into the jungle will quickly reveal all the animals you’ve been missing out on back home. A snorkel excursion to one of Costa Rica’s top coral reefs will brighten your day with flourishes of color from the many species of fish, eels, and sea anemones that call this country home. No matter what type of nature you are looking for, Costa Rica has got you covered.
Food Glorious Food!
Food is always a priority when traveling; you are in a foreign country after all, so chances are you’re going to come across some unfamiliar dishes. Costa Rica will be no different. It has some of the tastiest Latin and Central American cuisine in the area, and pulls from its neighboring countries to offer all the flavors your heart could ever desire. The traditional dishes of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) and Costa Rican Tamales (very different than its Mexican counterpart) can be found all over the country. For the more adventurous palettes, there are all sorts of dishes that combine meats, rice, beans and veggies onto one big tasty plate. Check out the above video by The Endless Adventure for some of the country’s most popular dishes.
How to Drink on the CHEAP!
If you’re a fan of tossing back a drink or two without breaking the bank, Costa Rica has got you covered. Coming from a major metropolitan area in the USA, you’ll be pleased to find that a drink that may cost you $15 back home runs for about a fifth of the price in Costa Rica. A beer may run you a buck or two, and a shot of their finest liquor will run about $5, you can’t beat it! What does all this mean? Well, on a typical night out on the town you can probably get away with spending less than $15 while enjoying your favorite liquid libations. Keep in mind though, this all depends on your currency’s exchange rate. What may seem cheap to an American may seem pricey for someone coming from Venezuela where one Costa Rican Colon is worth a whopping 415 Venezuelan Bolívars.
Pacific vs. Caribbean: Which Side Wins?
Costa Rica is lucky enough to have shorelines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and getting from one to the other only takes about five hours factoring in the traffic. Choosing a coastline to explore though depends on what type of vibe you are looking for on your trip. If surfing is what you are after, the breaks on the Pacific side can’t be beat. Mix that with the sheer number of beaches to choose from and you’ve got yourself a oceanfront view that can’t be beat. If parties are what you are in the mood for though, you may want to check out Costa Rica’s Caribbean shores. As an added bonus, the Caribbean side is a bit more affordable than the tourist hub over by the Pacific. No matter which side you choose to call home while in Costa Rica, the possibilities are endless.
Climb to 10,000+ Feet!
If it’s elevation you’re in search of then head to one of Costa Rica’s two 10K+ peaks on either Mount Chirripó (12,533’) or the Irazú Volcano (11,260’) both of which will provide you with views stretching as far as the eye can see. If you’re goal is to one day summit the tallest peak this world has to offer (Everest) fear not, you’re now more than one third of the way to your target elevation! Both hikes are doable for hikers of all levels, but just remember if you rush it you’ll get hit with a dose of elevation sickness that will leave you dazed and confused for days to come.
Where to Stay
San Jose may be a good choice for your first night, to unwind after arriving to the country, but make sure to get out of “the city” to some of the smaller towns to really see what Costa Rica is like. Jaco on the west coast is a spectacular destination, with beautiful and pristine beaches. Liberia in the north is full of culture and museums for all the history buffs out there. Lastly if you are on the hunt for a flare of Caribbean flavor, Límon in the east has got you covered!
Costa Rica is a destination that everyone should get the chance to experience at least once. Whether you’re looking to relax on a beach, climb to the tops of mountains and volcanoes, venture through the jungle in search of gold, or all of the above, this rainforest nation has got it covered.