Updated: Jul 29, 2019
I've never visited a country that values it's environment as much as Costa Rica does. When you think of Costa Rica, you think rich vegetation, pristine beaches and perhaps wild life like sloths and toucans. Costa Rica is synonymous with nature! I think we can all learn from their sustainability efforts to preserve our earth as well as their laid back attitude of Pura Vida!
Here is my quick guide to exploring Costa Rica
If you're craving to disconnect from the city and dive into nature but you're also up for some thrills, I think you're going to fall in love with this beautiful country! If you're ready to reflect and self-care it up, look no further than retreating to this captivating country where you can have the best of both worlds-a full adrenaline rush in the jungle and moments of total relaxation unwinding at countless tranquil beaches and natural hot springs.
Now that I've broken down the different regions that you should check out on your next trip to Costa Rica. I'm going to leave you with some quick tips on transportation, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do based on my own trip and suggestions I received.
Things to Know Before you Jetset
Although Costa Rica is a small country, the travel time in between each place can be surprising. To get from Guanacaste to La Fortuna can be anywhere from a 3-4 hour drive. From Manuel Antonio to the Guanacaste region again can be anywhere from 4-6 hours, so you're definitely going to want to map it out. Take a look at my Google Maps where everything is mapped for you
Look up what airport is close to the area you will be starting because Costa Rica has international flights out of 2 major airports; San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR). If you are going to end your trip in another region than where you arrived, its worth looking into booking one-way flights to be sure your flying out of the nearest airport.
Seek out shared shuttles to and from the airport as taxi's will run you steep if you're trying to venture to several regions of Costa Rica. Trusted Car Service: https://www.ridecr.com/
If you're looking for a reliable taxi in the Guanacaste area (but he will definitely travel through the country for you) contact our "DAD" If you watched my vlog you know who I'm referring to :) He was amazing. Contact: Alejandro Vargas cell phone: 8390-0939
USD is accepted at most places but its nice to have some colones (Costa Rican currency) with you in times you may need for small things.
Give yourself extra time to get to where you are going, not just because of the roads but be sure to stop along for fruit and corn stands along the way :)
Okay, now onto the fun stuff!
Beach Tour in Guanacaste like Playa Del Coco, Play Hermosa, Playa Panama, Playa Penca, Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande, Playa Conchal
Manuel Antonio Park- wild life, lush vegetation and pristine beaches. Very tranquil.
Rio Celeste a must see! We unfortunately arrived too late (make sure to get there before 3pm ) so we couldn't hike down but we drove through the top to catch some sights of the river. Keep in mind that during rainy season the water is not as turquoise.
Volcán Arenal-there are several hotels in Arenal that offer views of the volcano which is truly breathtaking. You can't actually climb the volcano but we did a hike around it to try to get close. Would recommend going with a guide to learn a bit more but you can definitely follow the trail on your own.
Zip lining, bridge suspension, white-water rafting, waterfall repelling and all things adrenaline. Would recommend to do it in La Fortuna area. Take a look at these tour companies: - Costa Rica Sky Adventures: Whats really amazing about them is they allow you to purchase an SD card and borrow a GoPro so you can treasure your badass moment forever since you won't want to risk recording on your phone. They have different packages and the prices are very comparable to most tour companies but they offer more services! - Jacamar Naturalist Tours
Rincon De la Vieja- beautiful volcano but less popular than Arenal.
Monteverde- Cloud forest
Montezuma came highly recommended in the Instagram DMs as a chill beach town with really good vibes and is a bit under the radar.
As you see I haven't mention San Jose at all but most likely you'll be flying in and out of there so this was recommended by the community.
1 NIGHT IN San Jose:
El Teatro Nacional
Barrio Escalante for beautiful pictures
Close to the San Jose area if you're staying there visit Alajuela Volcan Posa. Beautiful landscapes with amazing coffee and coffee tours. Countryside vibes.
Also recommended by the community is Santa Teresa (Guanacaste area) but its a bit harder to get to so if you go, spend a good amount of days here.
There is this beautiful hotel that was shared to me worth checking out. Mint Santa Teresa.
Nosara is close to Santa Teresa and is the best surfing spot in the world.
If you are more into party vibes check out Jaco. Probably the most touristy and what Cancun is to Mexico. Definitely escape a few days to Manuel Antonio if you stay in Jaco since its close for a chill vibe and more wild life.
EAT & DRINK
Eat at a Soda! You will find a ton of these. They're mom and pop shops that make delicious homemade meals and are very wallet friendly.
Try the casado, gallo pinto, ceviche, patacones
Pipas frias you can find at most beaches and are a must to hydrate and refresh
Restaurante Tierra Mia located in La Fortuna. This place was soooo bomb get the casado, patacones, and yuca frita
El Avion- restaurant in the Manuel Antonio area where they literally have a crashed embargo plane (avion). We just had drinks at the bar because the food looked basic but the experience is cool and the views are nice.
Eat tons of fruit! Its too fresh to not have a taste.
TBH we ended up eating a lot at our resorts because one was all inclusive and in La Fortuna taxis can get pricey for a round trip from Arenal.
The Lookout Coco- Located in Playa del Coco. STUNNING views with delicious food and drinks.
Don Juan Coffee and Chocolate- Offer tours in Arenal and offer some of the best coffee and chocolate you'll try.
Hotel Vela Bar- Super Friendly Staff, 3 minute walk to the Manuel Antonio Park and short walk to the beach. Affordable and great since you'll be out of the hotel room most of the time.
The Nomadic Hotel in Guanacaste area. Boutique-y surfer vibes. Great for singles or couples.
Selinas Hostel in Manuel Antonio. Even if you don't stay here but are looking to go out for drinks and music this is the spot to go to. Has a party vibe. We even grabbed some dinner here one night and noticed they had Yoga classes and tours so if you're in the area def. worth checking out to see what they're offering.
Mint Santa Teresa- Didn't get check it out personally but would love to stay here. It was recommended by a subscriber local to Costa Rica and its absolutely breathtaking!
Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa- In the Arenal area. Beautiful resort with access to hot springs right on the property and peaceful gardens. It's a great place to unwind after a full day of adventure. Kind of caters to everyone, you can find groups of friends, lots of honeymooners as well as families.
Hotel Royal Corin Another beautiful but newer option in the Arenal Area. Has beautiful spa services, hot springs and the ultimate treat yoself accommodations.
Nalu Nosara Hotel -If you're staying in Nosara for the best surfing this boutique hotel is beautiful.
Costa Rica is the most expensive country to travel to in Latin America so if you're trying to budget take a look at AirBnb! Especially helps when splitting with friends! If you sign up through my link you’ll get $40 off a home booking plus $15 to use toward an experience worth $50 or more (truly recommend!)
Click through to see some of my favorite Costa Rica Airbnb listings that are not only beautiful but budget friendly!
Bottom line Costa Rica = Adventure and you're definitely in for one of the best ones of your life!
Truly Costa Rica has so much to offer so if you'd like to share more suggestions and tips in the comments I'm sure everyone planning their trip would be so appreciative.
As always I love to leave you with my Google Maps, so you have everything in one place and you can easily plan your trip. Its also convenient to have with you while you're traveling Costa rica.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tune into my Costa Rica IG stories highlight to see all these places in action