I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in Costa Rica. I was a little nervous since it was my first time in Central America, but after spending a week there, I could absolutely spend a few more weeks there exploring. Costa Rica is anything but boring, and I feel like I only scratched the surface!
One of my the things I want to showcase on my blog is affordable trip ideas. I toyed with the idea of preparing travel guides, but think its more aligned with what I do to offer affordable options to various travel destinations. Because let’s be honest, you want to have a good trip but you don’t want to eat cereal for dinner for weeks after to pay for it, right?!
Getting There and Staying There
Flights and accommodations to Costa Rica are extremely reasonable. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive Central American countries, but I found it to be on the cheap side. Your trip will dictate what area you plan on flying into. Pittsburgh to San Jose was the best decision for us – and our flights were under $400 which is extremely reasonable. We knew we wanted to stay on a beach that was centrally located to what we wanted to do – we wanted to visit the cloud forest, rainforest, and an island. After tons of research, those seemed to be the can’t miss places in Costa Rica.
Jaco Beach is where we decided to stay because it was a bustling town with tons to do (and centrally located to all of our activities). Jaco offers a variety of accommodations for any budget – there are tons of Airbnbs, luxury hotels, moderately priced hotels and hostels. We chose Oceano Boutique Hotel because it was less than $100 a night.
Cheap Things to Do
- The beach – obviously, the beach is the cheapest thing you can do since its free! The sand is volcanic ash so it tends to look like mud but there are nearby beaches with better sand!
- Take in nature – literally, there is nature everywhere and anywhere. Jungles, rain forests, lush greenery, mountains – I seriously can’t explain how beautiful it was. There are also wild animals everywhere! On the way to the airport, we stopped on a bridge to check out the alligators underneath. It was terrifying but so cool.
- Take a surf lesson – surfing is HUGE in Costa Rica and you can take a surf lesson for under $50
- Eat at a Soda – the typical Costa Rican food is from a soda (their version of a fast food restaurant) which you can find pretty much everywhere. Tons of variety of what you can fill your plate with, but it consists of meat, plantains, rice, beans, and salad. It costs under $5 for a meal.
- Enjoy happy hour – pretty much all of the restaurants in Jaco offered happy hour from 3 to 7 (umm America, can you take note of the four-hour happy hour please?) Dos Amigos was our favorite spot because margaritas were $3 and patron shots were $2.
- Ride a bike – our hotel offered bike rentals for $3. Since we would walk to the beach and to lunch, having a bike was perfect. Other than the seriously crazy drivers you have to dodge, I would highly recommend it!
Moderately Priced Things to Do
- Zipline in Monte Verde – hands down the best and scariest experience I had in Costa Rica. There are lots of companies in Monte Verde that offer ziplining, but we went the Original Canopy Tours. It’s only $45 for hours of ziplining and hiking. I can’t describe how amazing it is, so just check out the pictures instead!
- Tour Manuel Antonio Rain Forest– The entrance fee to Manuel Antonio is $16, and you can hike at your leisure. There’s a beach at the end of a couple of the hiking trails and it is well worth the (short) trek. Bonus – monkeys, sloths, raccoons, birds, need I say more?
- Dine at the Green Room, TacoBar Jaco Beach, or Los Amigos. These were our favorite spots and we visited multiple times! The seafood is so fresh in Costa Rica, and so are the fruits and veggies.
Worth the Splurge
- Tortuga Island – $110 per person. This was a splurge but worth every penny. We got picked up at our hotel, taken to a marina, rode a catamaran to a private island and all the drinks and food you could want! Bonus: banana boat and snorkeling was also complimentary. I loved every minute of our time on Tortuga and would do it again in a heartbeat! We booked through this company and I really could go on and on about them!
- Private Airport Transfer – I’ve been to a lot of international airports, and San Jose is up there in terms of disorganization. It was nice to have a paid for transfer to our hotel in a huge, air-conditioned van. Its chaotic and there are definitely some scammers trying to get you to go with them. Better safe than sorry :)!
I hope you visit Costa Rica! I can’t wait to go back!