Everything You Need to Know About Costa Rica

July 16, 2015,

More and more, Costa Rica is becoming a destination for short-term and long-term adventures. I spent two beautiful weeks in Costa Rica in June and shared my journey via social media.

I had a lot of people (friends, family and acquaintances) asking me questions about my trips and I realized that those same questions were ones I had before leaving. So I thought I’d answer those questions and more, in a blog post. Here we go!Playa Espadilla, Costa Rica

Is two weeks too long to spend in Costa Rica? What did you do in two weeks?
Two weeks is definitely not too long to spend in Costa Rica. I’m hearing more and more of people visiting CR for vacation and never going back home. Costa Rica is a small country but one rich in beauty with a bounty of jungles, volcanoes and waterfalls. When I visited, I landed in San Jose (the capital city) and spent some time exploring the city. I could have easily stayed longer, what with the cities museums and diverse boroughs.

However, I spent the bulk of my time in the province of Puntarenas, in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos region. Manuel Antonio is one of the many national parks in Costa Rica and I spent 13 nights in the area. There are nature tours, zip lining, parasailing and many more activities to do there.

There are seven provinces in Costa Rica and if I could have re-booked my trip, I’d have split my time in two different provinces opting to spend some time at a volcano in addition to the national park.Quepos, Costa Rica

What must I see/do while in Costa Rica?
Research and book your trip accordingly to spend time in a big city (San Jose), visit a national park and explore the jungle (Manuel Antonio is the smallest but most densely populated national park) and visit a volcano and natural hot springs.View of San Jose, Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica, we thought we’d book a day-trip to a volcano but what we hadn’t realized was that we were 5 hours away from the closest volcano. The cost of transportation alone made us decide against it and made me realize that I hadn’t thoroughly done my research on this one (maybe because I wasn’t travelling alone for this first time in over a year?).

Nonetheless, I did do my research while there (by talking to locals, other travellers and doing online research) and decided that when I revisit Costa Rica, I will spend some time at the La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano and visit the Eco Thermals Natural Hot Springs. The property is sustainable and pristine. Eco Thermals also limits the amount of visitors per time slot to ensure a completely soothing experience.

Is Costa Rica expensive?
That answer really depends on your definition of expensive and what you prioritize when travelling. Food in Costa Rica is not “cheap” or “inexpensive”.

Quality food in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area is affordable but costs about the same as a meal in Canada (about $8 for an organic salad, $6 for a sandwich, $15 for a warm meal).Lunch with a view in Costa Rica

On the other hand, groceries were very expensive. My travel partner for this trip preferred packaged foods to fresh foods so he bought some items like Doritos, Nutella etc. These items were double or triple the cost in Canada (so triple or quadruple the cost in US). For example, a small jar of Nutella was about $8 USD. A box of orange juice was about the same ($8).

I, however, opted to visit the local market in Quepos and purchased wonderful organic fruit and vegetables from locals for very fair prices (less than a dollar for an avocado, about a dollar for a mango the size of a small melon and so forth).Central Market in San Jose, Costa Rica

I found fresh juices to be inexpensive for about $2-5 for a fresh, organic juice.

“Designer” clothing is expensive in Costa Rica. And by designer, I don’t mean fancy stuff. I mean Nike, Levis, Adidas and similar brands. Let’s just say I didn’t buy any clothing or shoes in Costa Rica.

However, you can purchase beautiful handmade souvenirs (like jewellery or small household items) for very “cheap”. I purchased the most beautiful handmade, copper rings with turquoise stones for only $2 (I would have gladly paid $15 or more for this art). That being said, crystals and crystal jewellery were very inexpensive.

What currency is used in Costa Rica?
The Costa Rican Colon is accepted everywhere. Most merchants will also accept US dollars. $1 USD is equal to about 500 colons (can vary slightly from merchant to merchant, region to region). So remember, if you buy something for 1000 colons it is not $1 USD but is actually $2 USD.

If you need to visit a bank, be sure to bring your passport, as it is required to take out funds. Also, note that some banks may only allow cash advances on your credit card (rather than your debit card).

What outlet plugs are used in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica uses the same outlet plugs as in the US and Canada (120 V). No need to buy or bring your adapter if you live somewhere where a 120V outlet is used! Check out WhatPlug to see what outlet plug is needed (in Costa Rica and all other locations). 

How was your trip? Did you like Costa Rica? Would you go back?
 Surreal. Heck yes. In a heartbeat.
Fresh, young coconut in Costa Rica

Now it’s your turn… what would you like to know about Costa Rica? Have you been to this beautiful country yet? Everything You Need to Know About Costa Rica // at happiestwhenexploring.com

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  • Reply Ilena Ciricillo July 21, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Thanks again for your insight. I appreciate your advice and it makes me want to experience Costa Rica. Your photos are really nice, too! Pura Vida ✈️

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring July 22, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you! I miss it – it feels like a lifetime ago. I’ll always remember: “assume you’ll return”! Pura vida.

  • Reply Ilena Ciricillo July 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    How nice to receive your posts automatically! Thanks and I’m looking forward to your next posts. ✈️✈️✈️✈️

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring July 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you! I look forward to your feedback!

  • Reply Celia July 23, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Love the pictures like always. I would definitely do a hike in the jungle, looks so gorgeous.

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