Hello, I will be spending a few months in costa rica this summer and can not decide between living and volunteering in san jose or in a coastal area. I was wondering if the beach areas have ATM's and maybe internet cafes, or if it is generally quite rural and unmodern. Also which is safer and does san jose have quite alot of things to do and see or is it quite small? Thank you in advance!
San Jose is a small city with an incredible climate. I'm not a big fan. I've spent time there and people are nice. There are some museums, cultural attractions and a national park nearby. But, beyond that it doesn't hold much allure to me.
I'm more at home near the beach. Surfing is a daily activity for me so, I'm usually not found too far from the ocean.
I live in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, which is fairly rural beach that is perfect for the laidback surfer lifestyle. It's the home of the Parque National Marino Las Baulas, an important nesting site for pacific leatherback sea turtles. If you are ever in the area look me up, I run a small hotel called -snip-. There are a few restaurants, a couple hotels, a small market, an internet cafe, but no ATM in town. There is an ATM about 15 minutes away in Tamarindo, which has everything including a Pizza Hut franchise.
Depending upon what beach area you go to much of it is quite rural, but if you are anywhere near a tourist area, you can find whatever you may need. It may not be super convenient, but you'll definitely be able to find access to Jaco, Dominical, Samara, Tamarindo, Flamingo.
Costa Rica is safe, but the beach is generally safer than the city.
You don't have to worry so much about crime, just don't be a victim. Although, there are reported murders, muggings and rape, the country is quite safe. I have lived and traveled through Costa Rica and have never had an incident of theft or violence. I have only had good experiences with people in my travels and there have been several amazing gestures of kindness and generosity in my experience. I also, don't travel to or hang out in sketchy areas regardless of the country I am traveling to. Use your common sense and keep your awareness about you. Don't wave cash around or leave valuable unattended, if you want to keep them. You never know who's looking for an easy score. Be smart, not paranoid.
I think either way you decide you'll have a great time in Costa Rica.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. Use the Message Center exchange info. ]
San Jose is the capital and lies in the GAM (great metropolitan area), so that you don't actually notice "exiting" town. To quote it "samll" in an understatemen, since the area has over 1 million inhabitants.
It is pleasant to live in the outskirts (North, East and/or South sides), as uphill the climate is fresher. Temperatures in the GAM are from a minimum of 60 F (16 C) to a maximum of 83 F (29 C) all the year `round.
From here you can reach both Pacific and Atlantic coasts within 2 hours' travel. Costa Rica has over 2'000 miles of coastline with many towns which have all facilities (hospitals or clinics, governmental institutions, drugstores, supermarkets, banks (and ATM's), hotels, restaurants, internet cafe, etc.)
Many beach "resorts" are not "towns", since historically there was no, or only a tiny, community. and therefore do not have extensive facilities. You may have to check this when you intend to stay at the same spot for a while.