July 20, 2015
Costa Rica Travel Tips

Costa Rica has it all

What better place to tell you about than the one I just visited! For the last two weeks I have travelled coast to coast to find out what makes Costa Rica a top tourist spot for travellers near and far. Costa Rica, per square meter, is the most diverse country in the world. From the South Eastern beach towns to the National Parks and the Northern Countryside, I must say there is definitely something here for everyone.

Something you need to know when travel to Costa Rica.

Overall Costa Rica is great value, it’s not as cheap as some areas of Central America but the country is quite developed and very clean, you can even drink the tap water! Transport to and from cities is readily available on shuttles or can be achieved for a lesser cost on public transport if you are willing to invest the time. Be prepared to pay a small fee to use public bathrooms, brush up on your basic Spanish and pack your sunscreen (it’s expensive to buy it locally)!

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, the Caribbean Coast

Our journey started in Puerto Viejo, a small Caribbean influenced town in the South East of the country. There is a very relaxed atmosphere here with local vendors lighting up the streets selling handcrafted souvenirs and eclectic bars filling the night with pure enjoyment.Pristine beach at Punta Uva

Stay:

You can’t really go wrong; this town is small and easy to get around. Staying a few blocks back from the beach can be beneficial, as it tends to be a lot quieter.

Eat:

Roadside vendors selling BBQ meats are cheap and delicious as are the Sodas (family run restaurants) serving local cuisine at a great price. Then there are lots of quaint restaurants, many still seemingly run by families, making them good value and the food fresh and delicious. I really enjoyed the pizza at Bar Pizzeria Restaurante va a seguir, the breakfast at Bread and Chocolate and the vibe at KOKi (the ceviche here is renowned too).

Top 3 Activities:

  • Hire a bike and explore the coastline. We hired them for $5 for 24 hours and made the journey to Punta Manzanillo, this 24km round trip was breathtaking, gliding through the jungle and catching glimpses of pristine beach along the way.
  • Head to the Jaguar Rescue Centre, a one of a kind rehabilitation centre for all sorts of wildlife.
  • Take a Chocolate Factory tour.

Tamarindo, the Pacific Side

Step the luxury up a notch in Tamarindo. Here you will find large scale, luxurious resorts and fine dining restaurants. Located on the Pacific Ocean side, in the North West of the country, this ocean paradise is highly equipped for tourists making it the perfect spot for those who like to simply relax and soak in the atmosphere.

Stay:

Diria Beach Resort is in the best location, splash out and stay at this amazing ocean front Resort otherwise make sure you’re within about a 500m radius.

Eat:

There are lot’s of upscale restaurant’s in Tamarindo offering international cuisine and lots of seafood. For cheaper eats, head back a few blocks from the beach where you will find smaller, but still really tasty, hole in the wall and family restaurants. Some of my favourites stops here were for the tacos at Green Papaya, the coffee at Café Tico and the breathtaking sunset view from The Ocean restaurant.

Top 3 Activities:

  • Lean to Surf! The waves at Playa Tamarindo are perfect for beginners and the cost of board hire and lessons is really reasonable.
  • Take a tour out to the waterfalls, hike through the jungle to explore nature’s most beautiful water features.
  • Explore the outer beaches, like Playa Conchal with crystal clear water crashing onto the sand which is made up of millions of tiny shell fragments.

Tortuguero National Park, the Turtle Conservation Park

Costa Rica Travel Tips

Trekking through the jungle in Tortuguero National Park

We took a 3 day, 2 night G Adventures tour into Tortuguero National Park. If you want to see wildlife, this is the perfect tour. We saw birds, frogs, sloths, lizards, caiman and turtles! The park is a conservation area and is made up of canals, lagoons, rivers and ocean. There is a lot involved in getting to and around this area so a guided tour was absolutely the way to go. 

Must Do:

Make sure to take a Turtle tour if it isn’t already included in your package, this was absolutely a highlight for me. Tortuguero is home to the second largest green sea turtle nesting beach in the world so your chances of seeing a mother laying her eggs is very high (check the seasons for best viewing). You’ll take a boat out late at night and wait as the turtle watchers find a mother coming ashore to lay and bury her eggs. The locals here are very respectful of the turtles and the environment and love to share these experiences with tourists.

For this trip we stuck mostly to the coastal areas with a short stopover in San Jose. There are lots of other areas of Costa Rica to explore, top of the list for next visit will be the mountainous areas of La Forturna & Monteverede for which we have been told there is great rainforest hiking and volcano sightseeing.

My favourite thing about Costa Rica is Pura Vida, which translates to Pure Life and is the mantra in which the locals live by. Everyone is happy and blessed, going about their daily activity with such pure energy. Embrace the culture, try something new and you’ll definitely make some new friends along the way.

Thank you for reading!

Jenna-belle Hall

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