Top 28 Costa Rica Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? Costa Rica was the first country I visited after I quit my corporate job and decided to travel the world. It’s a great trip for beginners and I highly recommend visiting this Central American paradise. Here’s a list of tips I learned while living in Costa Rica for 6 months.

  1. Book a Round Trip Ticket (or throwaway ticket) – During my first trip to Costa Rica, I book a one-way ticket and was denied entry onto the plane. They told me I had to purchase a return ticket at regular price or I could not get on the flight. That mistake cost me $400. Book a round trip ticket or get a cheap throwaway ticket to a nearby country like Panama.
  2. Learn Spanish – Costa Ricans speak very little English and you’ll be speaking A LOT of Spanish every day. Pick up a copy of Easy Spanish Step by Step and start practicing now. Check out a complete list of Spanish Language Resources.
  3. Pack Light – Carrying around extra luggage not only makes it difficult to move around in Central America, but you will attract thieves. Even taxi cab drivers are known to steal your bags and drive off once you put your luggage inside and try to enter the cab. Attention backpackers! Carrying all your possessions on your back damages your spine. Bring fewer things and buy everything else once you arrive. Less is more.
  4. Bring Pants – Yes, I know Costa Rica is a warm climate but the mosquitos are no joke. If you only wear shorts, you will be in for an unpleasant treat. The bugs in Central American are vicious and I always slept wearing plants at night. You’ve been warned.
  5. Don’t Bring Your Spouse – I may receive backlash for saying this, but Costa Rica (and most of Latin America) isn’t the best place to enjoy a romantic getaway with your significant other. There’s an old saying: Don’t bring sand to the beach! Latin America is best for single travelers.
  6. Drink Filtered Water – One of the annoying things about Costa Rica is that all the restaurants serve tap water. Sorry, but you haven’t adjusted to the local water source yet. Drinking Central American water is the easiest way to get diarrhea. Ask for filtered or bottled water. Trust me, you’ll be avoiding a lot of unnecessary trouble.
  7. Don’t Give Money to Strangers – It’s common sense but many travelers get sucked into giving money to street kids, homeless guys and even conmen. You are not helping people by giving them money. You are only making the problem worse. Never give money to someone you don’t know. You’ll only waste your time and money, plus you may be getting setup to get robbed. Crime is often survival in Central America so you don’t want to put a target on your back. Say No early and often.
  8. Think in Colones, Not Dollars – When you buy something, always ask for the price in Colones. Colones is the official currency of Costa Rica. Don’t make the common mistake of asking: How Much Is That in US Dollars? Come on! You are asking to get ripped off. “Cuanto” means How Much in Spanish. Get familiar with Colones and remember the color and value of each note.
  9. Stay in Hostels to Make Friends & Save Money – Hostels aren’t the ideal accommodation, but it’s an easy way to make friends and save money. You won’t get lonely and can mingle with other foreigners and locals easily. Hotels are also extremely cheap and cost around $6 per night.
  10. Get a local SIM Card – If you have a dual SIM smartphone, then get a local SIM card for making calls in Costa Rica. Don’t make the mistake of calling people using roaming charges. It’s expensive and most Ticos won’t call you back. Claro and Movistar are the two best SIM card companies.
  11. Don’t Walk Alone Drunk at Night – Costa Rica is far different from Asia. Walking around intoxication is the quickest way to find a gun pointed in your face. Criminals ride around on motorbikes looking for foreigners to rob (or worse). Use Uber at night or ask your hotel/hostel to book a taxi for you. I knew people in San Jose would weren’t allowed to walk alone at night unless accompanied by a friend. Be safe out there.
  12. Carry The Address of Your Hotel In Your Pocket – Nothing is worse than trying to explain to your taxi driver the location of your hotel in a foreign language. San Jose is a big city and not every driver knows every hotel. If you use Uber, then you’re fine. However, it’s much easier to simply show the hotel business card without speaking too much Spanish. This is also handy if you meet a Costa Rican woman who doesn’t speak English (most of them). Simply show your card and she’ll get the hint.
  13. Use a Fanny Pack – Central America is full of pickpockets who go through your pants in a moment’s notice. Oftentimes, a young child will be the culprit. Fanny packs are the safest way to conceal your valuables. Another alternative is to wear an ID holder around your neck.
  14. Try Gallo PintoGallo Pinto is the national dish of Costa Rica and consists of rice, beans and veggies. Avoid the friend eggs (huevos) because fried foods aren’t good for your health. Boil your eggs instead.
  15. Visit Hotel Del Ray at night – Much of the nightlife for foreigners in San Jose revolves around Del Rey. It’s a large hotel and casino nightlife complex where many beautiful women like to party and hang out. You’ll not only find beautiful ticas there, but also many Colombian women, too.
  16. Visit Puerto Limon – Puerto Limon is located on the Caribbean coast where you’ll find a large majority of Afro-Costa Ricans living there. The vibe is much more relaxed than San Jose and you can meet some beautiful black latinas there.
  17. Visit Puerto ViejoPuerto Viejo is 45 minutes drive from Colon and many European backpackers come there to party. It’s a great spot for young travelers and students.
  18. Visit Jaco Beach – Jaco beach is located on the Pacific coast of the country. Some of Costa Rica’s best beaches are located there as well. There are many buses from San Jose that will take you there for cheap.
  19. Meet Costa Rican Women Online Before Your Trip – You’ll save time and possibly have someone waiting for you at the airport. This will help you immensely because Costa Rican girls can help you translate words, avoid getting ripped off, cook, clean and treat you like a king. If you’re only spending 2 weeks or less, then every day counts. Sign up for this latin America dating site and start messaging women at least 2 weeks before your trip.
  20. Bring Condoms From Home – The local condom brands aren’t great and you don’t want to worry about finding the right size. Buy a box of Trojan Magnums and bring them with you.
  21. Talk about Soccer – Costa Ricans love soccer and the quickest way to strike up a conversation with local men is to mention the Costa Rican National Soccer Team. This is especially handy at night when you are at a bar or nightclub where the vibe doesn’t feel right. It’s a great icebreaker for most situations.
  22. Rent an Apartment (for long term stays) – If you plan to spend more than a few weeks in Costa Rica, then rent an apartment. Staying in a hotel gets expensive plus some Costa Rican girls will think you live there. Search for apartments on AirBNB, OLX, Encuentra and Craigslist.
  23. Try Meeting Women in Malls – The best looking women in Costa Rica can be found at the Costa Rican shopping malls. Not only are there many beautiful women shopping there, but even the girls working at the malls are hot. Ticas love shopping malls and you can’t go wrong by spending your free time there.
  24. Meet College Girls in the Los Yoses and San Pedro Neighborhoods – These two San Jose neighborhoods are where major universities like University of Costa Rica reside. Most Costa Rican men are too lazy to attend college so the universities are jam packed with young, beautiful Tica girls. Best of all, many students learned English in school so communicating is much easier.
  25. Sign Up for Yoga Classes – Not only will you feel better after stretching, but yoga classes are filled with slim, sexy Costa Rican girls. The female to male ratio is like 10 to 1 and you can use Yoga as an icebreaker. Many of the Yoga ladies speak English, too.
  26. Try Ziplining – Costa Rica offers lot of exciting activites for outdoor enthuasists. One of the safest excursions is ziplining. You get hooked up to a line and get an amazing view of Costa Rica’s natural scenery.
  27. Try White Water Rafting – It’s a bit more dangerous but choose a lower level of water rapid intensity if you are worried about safety. I did level 4 and the only thing that happened was a really tiny Costa Rican girl fell out of the boat (we quickly grabbed her). I had a blast and you will to!
  28. Visit Costa Rica’s Nature Reserves – Costa Rica has an incredible biodiversity that’s absolute worth experiencing. Check out the many national parks and nature reserves. See all different kinds of birds, monkeys, and reptiles up close and personal. It’s much better than your generic zoo back home.

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