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Costa Rica

Possible trip to Costa Rica

I'm starting a semester abroad in Buenos Aires in January of next year and I'm thinking about taking a week in Costa Rica before it starts. Not sure what there is to see there but I know it's become a big hot spot. Does anyone have any opinions about whether this is worth it?

8 Answers

answered first by
Shauna from Santa Monica, California

Yes, go!!! I definitely recommend a trip to Costa Rica. The wildlife is incredible and the people are so warm & friendly. You can easily travel the country if you choose. I spent most of my time on the rain forest/ Caribbean side for a yoga retreat and it was phenomenal: waterfalls, storms, beaches, local shopping & making calls from a tiny shop in town. Magical.

One of my favorite spots was the  Arenal Volcano National Park. I went after a yoga retreat in 2004 while it was still producing lava. My best friend and I watched it from a nearby restaurant and were in awe at how lucky we were to see it. The area is beautiful though and there are so many hot springs nearby I still would recommend.

I also LOVED  Witch Rock!!! The black sand beaches of Costa Rica are not to be missed because from my experience, there is nothing softer and with less rocks. It has a feeling of luxury. Nature thinks of everything. Also,  Eco Thermales Spa is incredible. I got there really early (as soon as they opened) so had the place much to myself. The waters are healing I spent hours under the warm waterfall. It was almost as good as a massage. Even better if you book a massage for a few hours after your arrival (you can get one there).

Hope that's enough reasons to go!!! :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Witch Rock (attraction)
  2. Eco Thermales Spa (attraction)
  3. Arenal Volcano National Park (attraction)
8 thanks

answered by
Melissa from St. John's, Newfoundland

I spent 10 days in Costa Rica last spring and I loved it. Since it was my first international solo trip I was thankful for the tourism infrastructure since it made it a little less stressful for me. I was there near the end of the dry season and never really found it crowded. I second the suggestion to avoid San Jose though. I flew in and out of Liberia.

My first few nights were spent at the Hotel Royal Corin which was beautiful (but not cheap) and I loved that they have their own hot spring fed pools and a delicious buffet breakfast. Eco Termales was my choice for other hot springs as it was more relaxing than the others. I went horseback riding, swimming, hiking and white water rafting before moving on to Santa Elena, Monteverde.

There I took a night hike, zip-lined with Original Canopy Tour and spent a few hours in the cloud forest.

From there it was on to Tamarindo for surf lessons and beach lounging. I stayed at Hotel Flores which was a nice little oasis with 8 rooms, breakfast included and a pool.

I actually decided to fly from Tamarindo back to Liberia with Nature Air since it wasn't much more than a shared van and I wanted the experience - only 15 minutes gate to gate but gorgeous.

It's true that Nicaragua or Panama would be cheaper but it all depends on what you're looking for in a vacation. Costa Rica was definitely worth it for me.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Liberia (city)
  2. Hotel Royal Corin (hotel)
  3. Santa Elena, Monteverde. (attraction)
  4. Eco Termales (attraction)
  5. Original Canopy Tour (attraction)
  6. Tamarindo (attraction)
  7. Hotel Flores (hotel)
5 thanks

answered by
Casey from Costa Rica

A week is not much time in Costa Rica unfortunately. I second the suggestions to avoid the heavily touristy areas. Prices will be higher and crime more prevalent. If I had just a week there, I would pick a spot, maybe two, and stay put. If you like dry, go to Nicoya Peninsula, lots of nice beaches there and some national parks. If you don't mind afternoon rain, then the Caribbean coast this time of year would be good. There, you can rent a bike for a few bucks a day and ride all day on the flat roads from Puerto Viejo de TalamancaPuerto Viejo down to Playa Manzanillo. Lots of great snorkeling, plenty of sloths (visit the Sloth Sanctuary!), monkeys, birds, great restaurants serving international cuisine. October is the best month, but it's nice just about anytime.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Playa Manzanillo (attraction)
  2. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (city)
5 thanks

answered by
Mary from Bozeman

Honestly, I'd save your money and sanity by skipping Costa Rica.  Go to  Panama or  Nicaragua instead!  I've been to all three and can say that Costa Rica was my least favorite - mostly because it was too touristy, making the entire feel much more stressful and fake than I like.  Prices were inflated, locals were irritated with tourists, and everything was crowded.  If you're looking for an all-inclusive resort vacation, you could definitely find a nice on in CR; however, both Nicaragua and Panama are cheaper, less crowded, and have equally-awesome activities.

If you DO go to Costa Rica, avoid San Jose as much as possible.   Monteverde is great for nature-lovers (bring some warm layers!),  Santa Teresa is a much-loved surf town, and the carribean side ( Puerto Viejo de Talamanca) offers a lesser-known side of Costa Rica.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Panama (attraction)
  2. Nicaragua (attraction)
  3. Monteverde (city)
  4. Santa Teresa (city)
  5. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (city)
5 thanks

answered by
Michael from San Diego

My favorite part of Costa Rica is the  Osa Peninsula -- amazing forests and wildlife.    Not easy to get to but if you like nature, you'll not be disappointed.   Fly into San Jose and then take a local flight to Puerto Jimenez.   Nicaragua is tough to get to and not in the same league as Costa Rica.    Panama is quite beautiful, but not as easy to get around as CR.     It really depends upon what you like to do and what you want to get out of the trip.  But the Osa rarely fails to Wow. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Osa Peninsula (region)
  2. San Jose (city)
  3. Puerto Jimenez (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Carlos from San Jose

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Arenal Volcano (attraction)
  2. Manuel Antonio (region)
  3. Tortuguero National Park (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Richard from Costa Rica

Visit, be wise, plan to have your plans go awry but stay cool, everwhere you go will be Costa Rica. Do all the normal things and you will be charmed I am sure. I came for vacation and then moved back to stay and have been all over the country by beginning community projects. Currently I am a professional animator for the Ministry of Culture and Youth which puts on free public Hula Hoop and dancing events every saturday in Jardín de Paz, San Jose center, very nice.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Jardín de Paz (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Haydee from Santa Teresa

Yes! It is definitely worth it, although we agree with the others that 1 week is not long enough to see all of this great & diverse country. We live in  MalpaisSanta Teresa area and love it! We are a smaller surf town with lots to do & see. However keep in mind January is peak season, so you may find the prices to be a bit higher & less deals to score. (Of course we always have deals for our clients via You can do a nice road trip with 10 days and hit a few beach towns on the way from SJO, such as NosaraSamara , Montezuma and us, however you may feel like you are in the car moving all the time. Otherwise if you are inland I would suggest  Arenal Volcano National Park with a night/hike in  Tenorio Volcano National Park - Rio Celeste. Pura Vida! Let us know if we can help anymore! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Malpais (city)
  2. Santa Teresa (city)
  3. Nosara (city)
  4. Samara (city)
  5. Tenorio Volcano National Park - Rio Celeste (park)
  6. Montezuma (city)
  7. Arenal Volcano National Park (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

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