A post about Costa Rica has been a long time coming. This honest review of our one month stay in Costa Rica has been brewing for the past two years. Why so long?
I wanted to make it less opinionated and more factual, so you know what you are getting into. This post is covering the beginning and where it started, our stay and accommodations, tours, and what we learned in one month of staying in Costa Rica. It turned out to be lengthy, so this is Part 1.
You know what we did on our first day in Costa Rica? We bought tickets to Miami we were that disappointed and scared.
Before coming to Costa Rica, we heard only the good about this country. How nature is beautiful, and locals are friendly, how affordable it is and how relaxing it would be.
So we did minimum research. It was several hours before the actual flight that we found other forums with horror stories from the paradise land.
It was then when the thought of not making the second connection to San Jose crossed our mind. Our luggage though made us follow it to the end destination.
Having read so many bad reviews about people stealing luggage when the owner is right there put me be on high alert as soon as we landed.
When the driver from our accommodation picked us up, and we were putting our luggage in the trunk a local guy approached us and tried “to help put it in” the trunk by grabbing one of the bags. Over the years of travel, I have learned to spot a trouble even if he dressed nicely and acts politely. This one wasn’t, and he acted weird from the beginning. So off I was ripping the bag right back and being amazed at my 0.10-second move despite the long flight, fever, and exhaustion. The guy was upset and started screaming, but I didn’t care as at this point I was happy to have all three pieces of luggage safe and secure inside the car.
What would you do?
Off we were to our hotel room where we would stay for four days because we both caught a cold.
Want to know about Thailand and why it is so popular? Check this article for tips and things to do and not do!
About San Jose, the capital.
Seriously, stay away. It should not be a destination but a good transition point. San Jose is a hole in the wall. The only thing it is only good for is its international airport. If I based my opinion of Costa Rica on San Jose this trip would be one of the worst I have ever taken because that did not look like “the happiest place” on earth at all.
San Jose has a colder climate because it is on the top and away from the jungle. So bring a sweater if you are staying there a bit.
Common scams in Costa Rica that are true.
We managed not to get scammed by car rental.
I have reserved a car and paid for it online only to find the fee to be 4x the amount because of the extra fees, taxes, insurance and whatever else. All the people coming to the rental were amazed at the difference that they had to pay. Some did, and some didn’t.
We decided to move by bus although the car is advisable if you want beach, city, and park hop. It turned out to be completely safe and fun, not to mention cheap. All buses are air conditioned, and drivers are very friendly to tourists.
Since there was no car, we had to walk through San Jose to prove ourselves further that there is nothing to do there.
Another popular scam is for locals popping the tires at the parking lot and then help you to fix them for a price. I have learned the validity of this kind of scam from our manager at the second location.
Packing is an art form! Want to know what pieces worked for us?
Tourist Facts and know-hows to know about Costa Rica.
- It is pricey. Many people assume that it is just as cheap as Mexico or other Latin countries, it is not. In reality, there are north American prices with South American comforts which leads me to the next point.
- Paying north American prices for South American comforts sucks. Why? Because it is still developing and there aren’t many amenities to start with. Most of the country is a national park so getting a working internet for people like us is almost impossible. Unless you are staying in a developed community for extended periods of time, which was not our case.
- The beaches. OMG, The beaches. When we went to Manuel Antonio national park and beaches, they took my breath away. Fun fact that before this moment, having traveled to Asia and Europe, I can wholeheartedly say that the picture-perfect beaches do not exist. Boy, was I wrong?! The two beautiful, garbage less, people less white sand goodness of a Nirvana were exquisite.
- West coast of Costa Rica is better than East coast. The east is more rural, and west is closer to everything. The West is way more developed than East according to people I have spoken to. I haven’t visited East coast yet.
- Get your alcohol from the airport. Prices are the same as in Canada for groceries. Cars are costly. Buses are a good option for navigating around.
ARE WE GOING BACK?
Absolutely! We are much better prepared now than when we just came there. It was not the “love at first sight, ” but Costa Rica changed our minds for the better later on.
For must do tours, many more tips and fun pictures stay tuned for the Part 2 of this post.
Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your experience like? Please share it in the comments below!