Tips to Thrive in Costa Rica
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
So far I have been in Costa Rica for a month!! Costa Rica is a beautiful and wonderful country! Here is a list of tips and what to expect when visiting Costa Rica!
Drink a lot of water
The temperature and humidity are high here, especially during rainy season. It is easy to forget to drink water because you get so caught up in your adventure, but you won't be able to adventure too much if you don't hydrate. The hottest time of day is from 10am-12pm, so be sure to have a water bottle with you all day, but specifically during that time. I learned my lesson quickly! This tip is first because your health is the most important part of any trip!
Of course, be sure that you are drinking your water from a reusable water bottle! All types of reusable containers are very welcome here. (They even charge you for to-go boxes).
Take out money from ATMs once you arrive
There is no need to take out money before arriving in Costa Rica (if you are travelling from the USA. I am not sure about other countries.). Nor do you need to take out colones at the airport. 95% of places in Costa Rica take US dollars. I do prefer to pay in colones in order to properly support the economy, but when in a bunch, you can pay in dollars. Many hotels will buy dollars from you. It is also fairly easy to find ATMs in bigger cities. Definitely take out colones if you are going to a remote area.
A good exchange rate, as of August 2021, is $1 = 600 colones.
Talk to the locals
We have gotten the best advice on where to eat, where to stay, and what to go see from the locals! Everyone we have met has been very friendly, and they are happy to tell you stories and give you a helping hand!
Go on the experiences! They are worth it!
As you can read in my "Costa Rica on a Budget" post, I recommended trying to go on experiences without a guide before paying for one. But, every single one we have paid for has been incredible! Paying the extra money allowed us to climb waterfalls we would have never found on our own and to learn about native medicinal plants from a very intelligent local woman! I highly recommend both of these! Send me an email or a message on social media for recommendations!
But, if it is a wildlife tour, try to see the wildlife on your own for free before hiring a guide.
As mentioned above.
Eat like a local
The local cuisine here is called a casado. You can find restaurants will all sorts of cuisine, but if you want the best and most flavorful food, eat like a local! You will also save money this way! A casado is a plate of rice, beans, a meat, a vegetable (usually potato), and a salad. Incredibly delicious!
Bring clothes that dry easily
As mentioned before, the humidity here is very very high. If you will be here for a short amount of time, and will not be doing laundry in the country, then any clothing is fine. But, if you will be doing laundry here, and do not want to wait 3+ days for your clothes to hang dry, then bring clothing that dries easily!
Pack luggage that you can carry
There are many gravel or unfinished roads in Costa Rica. Rolling luggage will not roll on it and you will have to carry it. So, make sure that you pack light enough that you are comfortable carrying your luggage.
If you rent a car, get one that is a 4x4
As I just explained, the roads here are not great. With a 4x4 vehicle you will be able to access more of Costa Rica with less hassle!
Leave everything in your stay except for some cash when you go to the beach
Not all of the beaches are unsafe, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. We had some friends who lost everything from their phones, computers, IDs, and more on the beach when they were in the ocean. It's not worth it to bring anything more to the beach than some petty cash for food and a towel. Plus, you will really be able to enjoy your time with whoever you are with without having to be distracted by life elsewhere!
Bring a waterproof phone case
You will usually encounter water whether from the rain, the beach, a river, or a waterfall; so it is a great idea to have a waterproof phone case! One that hangs from your neck is great too, so that if you drop it you won't lose it! This is also helpful when staying in beautiful jungle bungalows so that the humidity cannot affect your phone.
Don't leave food out
The ants here are no joke. NO JOKE. Within 15 minutes of any food being left out, ants will be there - big and small. We have learned from experience. Just trust me on this.
Do NOT leave food out
The ants are no joke
Don't bring anything that you are not okay getting damp
Like I said with the waterproof phone case, you will be near water every single day, at least from the rain and definitely humidity. Do not bring anything that you are not okay with or are not prepared to get damp.
We wish we brought binoculars with us!! A plus of getting a guide on nature tours is that they have binoculars. There are a lot of amazing animals high up in the trees, like sloths and toucans! So, that you may be able to take yourself on a free tour, have binoculars to spot more animals!
Bring extra socks/ or bring chacos
I personally prefer to bring outdoor/adventure sandals like chacos on trips! I used to always say that I would never buy a pair, but it was the best travel purchase I ever made! Forget about fashion, and rock the chacos because you can go on any spontaneous adventure with no worries. If you are still a boots or sneaker fan, bring a lot of socks. Socks are the clothing that you do not want to pack only a few of, they will get wet from sweat and humidity and you will want to change them, sometimes in the middle of the day.
Make sure to break in your chacos before leaving
This is a tip we learned from experience. You do not want to have blisters on a trip, so make sure that you break in your chacos for an hour or less per day for at least a week before leaving!
I am sure that I will add to this list as our time in Costa Rica extends. Be sure to check out my last post, "Costa Rica on a Budget"!