Traveling Costa Rica is an excersise in adventure and discovery
If you’re traveling through Costa Rica, the point is rarely a specific destination because it’s the journey that makes the destination memorable. If you’re headed to Costa Rica with a laundry list of to-dos, read no further and take a package tour. If, however, your visit is about experiencing the wider world, read on for our advice on maximizing your adventure in living.
Not every detail has to be etched in stone and, in fact, you’ll enjoy your trip more if it’s not planned to the ninth degree. It’s essential to know how far outside your comfort zone you’re willing to be before you hit the panic button. Traveling the open road requires a bit of chutzpah and a bit of savvy, especially if you’re traveling on your own.
No doubt you’ve researched places to visit in Costa Rica, but tour guides and visitor reviews can only give you an overview. It’s the Ticos you’re likely to meet who will know the good places to eat that tourists will never find or will tell you about the “just as fantastic, but less crowded beach” a bit farther down the shoreline. Worried about the language barrier? Don’t be; English is widely spoken in nearly every corner of the country.
There’s a few reasons that Costa Rica has been touted “the happiest place on earth” (actual studies have been conducted), and one of them is that relaxed, “pura vida” attitude that Ticos carry with them. To embrace the uncertainty of travel in unfamiliar places, don’t be shy about talking to people you meet. Ticos are generally very friendly and proud of their country. They can tell you about a seasonal festival none of the guidebooks knows about or point you in the direction of a local farmer’s market.
You can also reach out to the helpful team at Small Distinctive Hotels of Costa Rica on the fly, and they can direct you to luxury accommodations in just about every corner of the country. They know local hotspots and which places to give a wide berth. Leave wiggle room in your travel plans so you can tweak your itinerary when you hear about an interesting place; one of the greatest bits about traveling a country as small as Costa Rica is that you can go from a city center to a volcano, or the ocean, in a matter of hours.
Be sure to take the time to get to know hotel staff—they can give you the best pointers on their favorite soda (café) and other hidden gems. They can tell you where the bus station is and the best way to get to your destination under your own steam. Start with a centrally located hotel such as the esteemed Grano De Oro and spend a few days in San José to get your feet under you. Spend time wandering the local area and watch how people interact with each other.
Above all don’t be shy, people love to tell you about their favorite places in hopes you’ll love them too.