Hello, everybody... As you read in the title, I'm thinking on going to Costa Rica, but I haven't made up my mind yet. There are some things I'd like to know about the country before buying my tickets...
I've been reading some things about Costa Rica online and I like the idea of a country which dissolved/abolished its army. I do want to see what is life like without one. But that isn't enough, of course. I want to have an idea of where I must go, where else I must consider going and where I could also go if money/time allows, please... And something similar about what to eat (must do, must consider and could also do).
Finally, I would thank a lot a line or two about how people are over there... friendly? "money-drainers"? I read they call themselves Ticos and Ticas... Is that still... mm... in force? or not anymore?
Thanks for your help.
I spent two weeks in Costa Rica. Went to San Jose, Monteverde (in the mountains), Montezuma (Nicoya peninsula) and Manuel Antonio (Pacific coast).
If you fly into San Jose and are looking for a place to stay, The Hotel Aranjuez (Aranjuez Hotel) is very nice. We had a superior room for $38 (Double) and that includes a TV. Free breakfast with someone making you omletes in the morning. They take reservations, but are VERY strict on them - make sure you call to reconfirm when they say. A cab from the airport is $10 - $ 12.
By far, Manuel Antonio was the best destination. Lots of wildlife, both in the national park and just outside hanging around. I saw both capuchin and squirrel monkeys, and my friend saw a few sloths (including a mother and child). It's a little more expensive to eat and drink than some of the other locations, but still very worth it.
I stayed at the Cabinas Piscis. Highly recommended hotel. $43 / night for a double room with private bath. Very basic, and cold showers, but it's only 100 meters to the beach, and the beach is near deserted. The beach and sea bottom are all sand. The surf is good - not too big that you can't swim, but big enough that you can pull out a surfboard or boogie board for some fun.
From 4:30 - 6:30 go to the Marlin Restaurant for 2 for 1 drink specials. For dinner, head to the Costa Verde restaurant for excellent BBQ (it's pretty pricey though, so save up a few bucks). Eat breakfast on the beach at one of the sodas for a few bucks.
Based on what I heard from other travellers, there are a couple of places that I didn't get to that I would have loved to have seen.
The Arenal Volcano (which I saw from afar in Monte Verde) is supposedly quite impressive. If I go back to Costa Rica, I would for sure dedicate a day to the Volcano.
As well, Corcovado is supposed to be jam packed with wildlife. There are some nice tent camps in Corcovado park, where you sleep in a "tent" (which is really a wood floor with a canvas covering). These are supposedly REALLY nice, and go for $80 or $90 a night. A little pricey (compared to a hotel), but you get to sleep right on the beach.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, I'm sure you will have fun there if you decide to go. I spent 4 months travelling all around at the end of last year and it really was a wonderful experience. I didn't know what to expect being a female going alone, but i found the people (yeah they're proud to be called ticos and ticas) to be very warm and friendly. In fact it was the people, as well as the astounding natural beauty of the country, which made the trip so special to me. How long is your trip? I did 3 weeks at a spanish school in San jose first and then travelled down the Caribbean coast, into Panama and then back up the Costa Rican Pacific Coast and then spent some time in Nicaragua. I would say my biggest hilight of Costa Rica was the Spanish school, because I loved the learning experience and the interaction with the Tica lady I stayed with. As for places, I would have to say Corcovado. It is so beautiful there, so wild and so much more untouched than any of the other national parks there. There is a big population of Scarlet Macaws there and you sit on the beach and they fly over your head eating almonds off the trees, it is truly magical. Some of the National Parks in Costa Rica get quite crowded (Manuel Antonio especially) , so if you like it more wild I would say definitely go to Corcovado. You have to get a boat there and where I stayed there was no electricity at night.
The food is mainly rice and beans. I liked all the lovely fruit drinks especially the guanabana. Also loved all the different types of plantains.The food on the Caribbean side is different to the rest, more coconut and spice.
Some people I met said they thought that Costa Rica does not have the same vibrancy as say Guatemala or Mexico. I loved it though
and would highly recommend it (and Nicaragua too!)
Kael, i'm in CR at the moment, just got here and studying spanish for 4/6weeks before travelling a for a couple of weeks in CR and heading to Panama. I am with a host family at the moment while studying but can you recommend anywhere to stay in CR after i finish studying where i can meet people as i am a female travelling alone and would be great to travel a little with some others.
You'll find Costa Rica to be controversial, depending upon where you are making your exploits.
Since 2/3 of the population lives in the central valley (less than 10% of the country), which is limited to an area more or less from Cartago to Atenas/San Ramon, the remainder is scattered in unspoilt towns and villages, where you can meet the genuine "Ticos and Ticas". The other exceptions are in the coastal places, foremost on the Pacific side, where those with commercial interests have taken over from the simple paesino.
Over the past 15 years the media have bombarded the world with the "nec plus ultra's" of Costa Rica and from all corners arrived tourists and obviously the "developers". "Developments" have taken place in fancy areas for fancy well-to-dos, whilst the country's essential infrastructure remained primitive as it was before. It's laudable not to have an army, but in any case there is no money to fund one, let alone a simple police force.
Costa Rica is an interesting case study on "how NOT to learn from other people's mistakes".
However, you still will find vast areas of beautiful nature, genuinely nice people, in an excellent all year 'round climate.
I've been to Costa Rica 3 times and enjoyed each visit tremendously. It's definatly worth visiting, i really enjoyed PUERTO VIEJO on the carribean side, i stayed there for 3 days on one trip, it's a totally diffferent world there then the rest of the country, hung out at some REGGAE clubs.
JACO on the west coast was awesome, so was Manuel ANtonio/QUEPOS. I had a rental car the first time i was there so i pretty much travelled the entire country. I mostly just hang out in SAN JOSE now if i do go, i have alot of friends there the women are AMAZING..
fyi i've been to PERU like you, i enjoyed your country alot..
Message me if you have any more questions..