Costa Rica has it all, from busy touristy beach resorts, to quiet volcanos and rainforests full of animals, flora and fauna.
If you are passionate about being “off the beaten track” there are several points to consider.
Want minimise your Costa Rica research? Here are my essential Costa Rica Travel Tips
– Travel Method –
There are several possibilities for getting around in Costa Rica, many of these could depend on the season.
Driving the main highways in Costa Rica is easy. You should consider whether you would like to access more remote locations that are gravel roads that are full of boulders and pot holes like we experienced in Albania.
Firstly check whether your rental company allows for this sort of driving, and also if it is rainy season, will you be crossing any areas that will be flooded due to rivers? (Like we did…)
Taking a transfer in Costa Rica is a comfortable way to take a ride from one place to the next, but this is usually expensive for 2 travellers. We only used this when we had no other alternative due to time constraints.
Public busses are available to towns within Costa Rica, but there isn’t always information available online. If this happens, then ask at your accommodation. Your accommodation will more than likely be happy to help out.
The domestic flights within Costa Rica are an excellent choice if you are on a time limit and would like to explore one end of the country to another. Additionally, if you are travelling to areas that might be cut off to vehicles then this is also another option.
Some areas of Costa Rica are accessible by boat, for example Sierpe to Drake. There is an option to park your car in Sierpe over night then take the beautiful 1 hour boat ride to Drake Bay. You can find more information on the latest prices and schedules here.
– Remote Airports –
Some airports in Costa Rica consist of a runway and a building for sitting while you wait for your flight. Don’t expect to flag down a taxi to take you to your next destination…
When leaving the airport, you’ll weigh and check in your bag (which will then be placed outside of the building) and you won’t go through security. You can happily walk onto the run way and board the plane. This was truly an adventure…
– Waterproof Stuff Sack –
Depending on the time of year you travel to Costa Rica, you could encounter a lot of rain.
When your bags are being transported (for example, aircraft to terminal or car to hotel) it will be outdoors. Even 2 minutes of your case being outside is enough to saturate the entire contents of your case.
I made this mistake; we landed in San Jose during a rain storm and during the luggage transport from the aircraft to the terminal, my bag got extremely wet. If you head to a humid rainforest after this, your wet clothes will not dry easily… yummy. I spent the next 5 days with soggy clothes!
– Long sleeved clothing –
Costa Rica is full of lush humid rainforests and the most tempting thing to do when it is warm and humid is wear as little as possible.
If you’re heading off the beaten track in certain parts of Costa Rica you might encounter a lot of mosquitos and ticks. By wearing long sleeve clothing you minimise the amount of delicious skin available to insects! In the photo above I had a t-shirt on, but I was wearing super mosquito repellent.
– Mosquitos & Ticks –
Mosquitos and ticks are rife in Costa Rica. We bought several well known brands of insect repellent from a national health and pharmacy chain in the UK. Despite trying them as instructed, they did not work against the mozzies of Costa Rica.
Aside from wearing long sleeved clothing, there are some insect repellents worth investing in. While in Drake we bought Johnson Off. It worked so well and I wish we bought this at the start; the mosquitos would fly towards our skin, hover above, but not land. Genius stuff!
It isn’t just our dogs and cats that are susceptible to ticks. In certain parts of Costa Rica, ticks are prevalent. I had a tick on my back and only found this when I was getting dried from the shower. The little s**t had managed to keep sucking away while I was getting washed.
It is vital to check every part of your body when you get in from your adventure (even between the cracks).
When they attach, they bury their head in your skin. If you try to pull it off, then their body could detatch from the head which will leave the head under the skin. If you find a tick and aren’t comfortable to remove it properly, seek the assistance of someone who knows how to remove them and then monitor the area where the tick was removed.
– Dirty Laundry –
Costa Rica is home to some impressive termite nests…
Termites feed on bacteria and guess which of our contents have luscious bacteria… our dirty washing! I made the mistake of putting my dirty laundry in a plastic bag and hanging it in the bathroom. When we returned one day, the bag and its contents were covered in millions of termites who decided to have dinner on my sweaty hiking gear. Once I put everything outside and separated it, the termites left. I guess it was tastier all bundled together in a plastic bag.
Ensure that your dirty laundry is in a breathable bag that doesn’t encourage your warm, moist and dirty clothes to grow more bacteria (such as a plastic bag).
Don’t let the nitty gritty bits of information put you off a visit to Costa Rica. It is an amazing place and there are precautions you can take to protect yourself against unplesanties.
Where would you like to visit in Central America?
Love and Peace