Hello everyone and welcome to my channel I'm Alex a.k.a. Alex The Vagabond and in this video
I'm extremely excited to share with you all of the tips for Costa Rica my
favorite country in Latin America.
I have visited Costa Rica seven times
the first time way back in 2002 when I was a 14 year-old surf Grom and that first visit
to Costa Rica really solidified my love for the
Spanish language, for surfing and for the country of Costa Rica.
So I'm really excited to share all the tips that I've learned from multiple visits to this
beautiful Central American nation in this video.
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Alright. Let's go. Should we start?
So let's start things off with a couple of fast facts Costa Rica is by far and
large the most popular tourist destination in Central America.
Over 80% of visitors come from the United States and in 2018 there were over
three million visitors coming to Costa Rica.
The country is small it's only the size
of West Virginia but don't be fooled by its diminutive size.
It's the most biodiverse country in the world.
Costa Rica is located in Central America and is bordered in the north by Nicaragua and
in the south by Panama it's got the Pacific Ocean on its west coast and on
its East Coast it has the Caribbean Sea it's divided into seven regions, San Jose
Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Guanacaste, Punta Arenas, and Limón.
The name Costa Rica derives from Spanish and it means rich coast because the first Spaniards
who arrived in Costa Rica were greeted by natives who were wearing elaborate
gold rings in their ears and noses.
Speaking of those original inhabitants
archeologists have found evidence that shows habitation from humans over 10,000 years ago
In the 1500s Christopher Columbus stopped in Costa Rica on his
final voyage and it became a colony of Spain but after that it was pretty much
neglected the Spanish didn't find the riches that they were looking for in
Costa Rica so it became this kind of periphery in the Spanish colonial empire
In 1821 Costa Rica followed Mexico's lead and declared independence from
Spain becoming a sovereign nation in 1824.
Since then the country has evolved
immensely it's one of the leaders in conservation globally because of its
biodiversity it's also a leader in ecotourism and it's one of the most
amazing destinations in the Americas so let's get into the tips.
Number one. Unfortunately, Costa Rica is not that cheap because it's one of the
safest countries in Latin America it doesn't have a standing army and it has
relatively low crime rates compared to its neighbors it's become the go-to
destination for Gringo's primarily from the United States to go on vacation
Costa Rica's popularity has translated into higher prices across the board so
if you're trying to keep your costs low then I would suggest avoiding the large
group tours I'm talking about like the ziplining canopy tours ATV tours things
of those nature now that might be fun and if you have the budget to allocate
to that then by all means go right ahead ziplining through the forest in the
Costa Rican canopy is really cool and you can see lots of wildlife but it is expensive.
Most bills when eating out even at small restaurants are going to
include a 10% service tip and a 13% tax
but the good news is you don't have to tip on top of that.
Also for visiting most natural sights you're
probably gonna have to pay a small fee between ten and twenty dollars usually
for parking and security so even if you're rolling up on a waterfall in the
middle of nowhere someone has set up a small business that has a parking lot
and you're gonna have to pay for parking that also essentially is like a security
charge you pay for that so that the security guard keeps your car and your
belongings safe while you are bathing.
Tip number two avoid the crowds if you can.
The low season in Costa Rica is May to December this is the rainy season in the
country Costa Rica doesn't have four seasons like temperate places in the
northern and southern hemisphere because Costa Rica is very close to the equator
it only really has two seasons the rainy season and the dry season
now I visited both in the dry and in the rainy season essentially in the rainy
season it's gonna rain pretty much every single day but these are small for the
most part tropical storms that get a little bit of rain maybe
in the morning and then clear out by the afternoon for a nice sunset it does make
for very dramatic photos during the rainy season the dry season is much
drier it's much dustier and it's hotter so I have visited in both the wet and
the dry season personally I prefer to visit during the low season during the
rainy season if you are going to visit during the rainy season I highly
recommend avoiding the month of October this is the rainiest month of all. Avoid October if you can.
Tip number three accommodation so Costa Rica has the
whole gamut of accommodation everything from little family-run bed and
breakfasts to large international global chains I've stayed in many small
family-run hotels right on the beach these are great options I highly
recommend if you're trying to go surfing visit my friends over at Surf Inn Hermosa
at Playa Hermosa Beach.
But the last time that I visited my fiancee Carrie and I
stayed in an air B&B down in the south of the country in multiple different
Airbnbs actually and that was the most gratifying way for me personally to travel.
So choosing sites that aren't on everybody's list is really gonna help
you save money with your accommodation.
Tip 4 rent a car. Absolutely essential
Costa Rica does not have great public transportation pretty much just buses
and the roads are very windy and can be quite dangerous so rent a car I highly
recommend you get insurance because drivers in Costa Rica
especially the truck drivers drive quite aggressively on single lane narrow roads
with twists and curves and cliffs also do not speed because there are speed
traps all over the place the police in Costa Rica are well aware that there are
many Gringo's who have rented cars who might be going a little bit fast and
therefore you will get pulled over you will have to pay a small fine which is
kind of essentially a bribe to be let go and let on your wet drive the speed
limit stay super alert and be careful when you are passing cars.
When I went on my first trip to Costa Rica when I was 14 I got in a car crash I was in the
backseat of a truck they tried to pass a semi-trailer and there was a another
semi-trailer coming straight at us and we just barely managed to make it into
that gap but we were clipped it could have been much worse I was very lucky I
did have a huge welt on my head and had to go to a hospital luckily they have
great hospitals so drive carefully!
Tip number five, get prepared to be wet.
Now even in the dry season, it does rain occasionally.
It is a tropical lush country
and that is due to the amount of rain that it receives but even when it's
not raining it can be extremely humid so wear clothes that breathe well like
linens or synthetic materials having clothes that dry quickly that wick
moisture and that breathe is very very important as is bringing a light shell
rain jacket to keep you dry when it does rain.
Mornings tend to have the best weather
as well so if there's something that you're trying to do like a hike
where you're gonna be active and sweating I highly recommend that you do
that towards the beginning of the day.
Tip six volcanoes.
Costa Rica is a highly
active volcanic region and these volcanoes really do dictate the weather
systems in the country especially in the highlands one of the benefits of
volcanic activity are hot springs.
And if you go to the town of Arenal there are
quite a lot of hot springs to choose from this last time that I visited I had
the pleasure of staying in Tabacon Hot Springs Resort this place is
literally heaven on earth if you have a bit of a budget to splurge
I highly recommend staying there for at least a night but you can also pay and
get access to the thermal River it's essentially a hot river that comes down
through this beautiful jungle and you can soak and it's just one of the most
magical and fantastic hot spring experiences you will ever have so when
you go to Arenal do not miss out on the hot springs.
Arenal is also one of the top ten most active volcanoes
in the world although it has been dormant for the
last seven years so don't be alarmed if you smell sulfur but definitely it's
worth Googling before you visit what the volcano is doing.
Number seven wildlife
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries on earth
it only takes up .03% of the Earth's surface but over
5% of Earth's species call Costa Rica home.
Costa Rica is also leading the way in conservation in Central America over 25 percent of Costa
Rica's landmass are protected in national parks that means for visitors
that there's over 100 protected wildlife areas to visit so if you're into
bird-watching or just being out in nature
you're quite literally spoiled for choice in Costa Rica.
Monkeys are the most common mammal but be careful Howler monkeys can be territorial and
aggressive you'll probably hear their noise coming from the canopy it sounds
so when you hear that you know it's a howler monkey not just like some angry
ogre in the forest I'm sorry Shrek.
and also be aware if a
howler monkey is right above you do not antagonize it because they do as monkeys
do which means sometimes they defecate in their hands and have been known to
throw that defecation at you so be careful howler monkeys do throw poop.
It's also home to 52 different types of hummingbirds and if you know how to say
hummingbird in Spanish write it down there in the comment section.
Costa Rica is also home to over 750,000 different species of insects
that's over three-quarters of a million different types of insects it's home to
more than 10% of the world's butterflies so if you're afraid of creepy crawlies
then definitely be aware Costa Rica has a lot of bugs they're very big and they
do occasionally from time to time make their way into your hotel room also
there are mosquitoes so make sure you bring a solid mosquito repellent and
make sure that you bring that from home because that along with sunscreen is
quite expensive in Costa Rica it's marked up a lot because locals don't
really buy either of those products only gringos do so the prices are quite
inflated but make sure that you're putting that on your ankles your wrists
the back of your neck because mosquitoes definitely love gringo blood.
One of the best ways to deal with the mosquitoes though is to
wear long-sleeve long leg clothing. I'll link down in the description some of the
clothes that I recommend bringing like a packing list that's down there in
the description so make sure you check that out if you're wondering what you should bring.
Lastly, I recommend visiting the Osa Peninsula
if you can it is quite literally the most biodiverse place on
planet earth it's very rugged it's quite an adventure to get there but there are
some very unique eco hotels out on the peninsula as well as a really good wave
called Matapalo where you can stay and surf
it's a journey to get there it required us crossing a river on a floating barge
which was quite an adventure in itself but it's a beautiful region and it is
the most biodiverse place on earth so if you're into different animals and
different plant species then head to the Osa Peninsula.
Alright, Number 8, beaches.
There are over 801 miles of coastline
and over 300 different beaches to choose from any way you look at it a trip to
Costa Rica has plenty of coastline for you to explore plenty of beaches for you
to lounge and luxuriate at and if you're a surfer like myself then you are spoiled
for choice with waves.
Some of the best surf waves that I've experienced in
Costa Rica are Playa Hermosa just outside of Jaco.
Ollie's Point and Witches Rock
which require a boat trip from Tamarindo.
and then also in the south
Pavones, a mythical left Point Break that is kind of fickle it doesn't get
swell very often but when it does it is an incredible wave and I got very lucky
this last trip to be able to catch it with a good swell so there's also the
wave Matapalo on the Osa Peninsula but there are plenty of waves to choose
from in Costa Rica both on the Pacific and
on the Caribbean side
If you want beaches without the crowds then you should head to the Caribbean
side of Costa Rica home to a more diverse afro-caribbean culture it's also
home to some incredible sights that are worth seeing.
Head to Porto Viejo
and check out the Jaguar preserve there as well as Finca La Isla Botanical Garden.
Number nine, Cloud Forests.
Besides volcanoes the other thing that
Costa Rica is very well known for internationally are its cloud forests
cloud forests are very unique ecosystems they're high alpine forests
that have a hundred percent humidity.
This humidity creates a haze that people often say is
like walking through a cloud.
This unique humid environment leads to
some very incredible biodiversity in the cloud forests themselves also remember
that the cloud forests are much cooler and more wet so make sure that you have
a jacket something to keep you warm because the temperatures are much cooler
than down in the lowlands by the beach.
Tip 10 San Jose.
San Jose is actually quite a young city
it remained essentially a village until well into the 1800s.
Now over one-third of the population of Costa Rica
"Tico's" or "Ticas" as they're known
live in San Jose and the surrounding suburban areas.
The main airport to the country is in San Jose unless you're flying into
Tamarindo and Guanacaste.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of San Jose but things
have been changing its modernizing it's getting safer and there are more food
options now including a craft brewery but for me personally I don't spend all
that much time in San Jose, when I land I rent a car
and I head straight to the coast.
Tip Eleven, Coffee.
Costa Rica is known internationally for
the quality of its coffee beans and coffee is still a major draw in Costa Rica
as well as one of its largest exports.
Coffee has played a huge role in
the country's political, economic, and cultural development.
Coffee growing took off in the late 1700s and created what we're known as coffee barons.
The "golden bean" is still a prized export but coffee production has become much more
small-scale also most coffee plantations in Costa Rica have some form of tour
with a tasting available for tourists.
Tip Twelve get off the beaten path
This last trip to Costa Rica my fiancee and I spent a bit of time in Playa Hermosa
surfing and then we drove the whole length of the Pacific coast down
to Pavones on the southern border of the country.
It was quite an amazing road trip.
Getting off the beaten path in Costa Rica is really gonna open up new
experiences for you it's gonna bring your budget down because you'll be
staying farther away from the touristic centres and it's really just gonna give
you a more authentic Costa Rican experience a real taste of the Pura Vida
as they say there. If you get a chance I highly recommend that you visit
a turtle hatchery so some of these beaches in Costa Rica are home to
returning sea turtles who nest and give birth to their young there.
Depending on what time of year you visit you can see the turtles coming in from the sea
to lay their eggs or the young newly hatched turtles emerging from the nests
and climbing down to the beach to begin their lives in the ocean.
Either way you do it, it's a really magical experience and it's gonna give you a whole new
appreciation for the life of a sea turtle and the beautiful birth of these
incredible aquatic creatures.
That being said many of these beaches are protected
and you can't visit without a guide so look into that for
yourselves depending on which region you're visiting.
Finally Tip Number Thirteen
Eat like a local. I am a huge fan of the "Plato Typico" as they say or the Casado's
which literally means married, because these are the plates the typical dishes
of families something that your wife would make you back in the day.
It usually consists of a protein whether it's a "Bistec" a steak, "Pollo" chicken
or some fish along side some rice and black beans with some plantains.
As well as breakfast of "Gallo Pinto" which is kind of like a little mixed fried rice
breakfast fried rice with some eggs on the side. Lizano salsa, the green salsa
is just like life-changing it's just so so good especially after a morning of
surfing so I highly recommend that you try that out when you visit Costa Rica.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, those are my tips for Costa Rica
I am a huge fan of Costa Rica the Ticos and the Ticas that I have
met in my life have always been extremely hospitable and kind so please
when you visit make sure that you're respectful to the locals and that you
respect the environment because Costa Rica is just such a unique country and
it deserves as much conservation and best behavior as we can give it so, please
when you visit just remember be respectful, be good travelers and you
will have an amazing time experiencing the "Pura Vida" or the Pure Life
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not already and please I'd love to hear your tips for Costa Rica down there in
the comments section because I know I'm ready to go back right now I just made
this video and I'm like it's time for me to visit again okay
Thank you very much, we'll see each other in the next video and... I love you.
Bye everybody as I always say "Train harder, fail smarter and never give up"
I'll see you all on the next one peace