Pre-Trip Planning for Costa Rica [HELP US PLAN OUR TRIP!]

Costa Rica Pre-Trip Planning on North to South

*Photo: “Costa Rica… No artificial ingredients!” by Arturo Sotillo (license: CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo has been cropped and text added.)

Ian and I will depart for our next big travel destination, Costa Rica, on February 14th (romantic, I know). It’s my first time to Central America, and I’m SO excited to be heading somewhere warm this winter!

The only problem is that we still need to decide what to do while we’re there. I have to admit that when it comes to pre-trip itinerary planning, Ian and I have historically taken a lackadaisical approach. The last time we had a long-term overseas trip approaching, we planned nothing beyond just getting to the place we were staying. Granted, we were CRAZY busy prepping for our transition to travel life, so we kinda had an excuse.

But this time? I want to be more prepared! Read on to see what we’ve planned so far. If you have any suggestions for us, we’d love to hear them! Share them with us while we’re planning our trip these next few weeks. 

Our Costa Rica Travel Plans

Here’s what we’ve got on the agenda so far. (It’s not much, but it’s a start!)

WHEN We’re Going

We’ll be in Costa Rica from February 15 – March 15, 2015.

WHERE We’ll Stay

We’ve booked a one-month stay with a local family for just $300, so we’ve got money left over in our travel budget to get some real exploring done. The home is in Heredia, a safe, peaceful town 20 minutes from downtown San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital).

WHAT We Plan to Do

Here’s where we really need help, as we’ve made no definite plans for activities yet.

Luckily I’ve got a few friends who have been to Costa Rica before, so we have some suggestions to use as a starting point. I’ve heard Boyero Tours has some great experiences to offer up, so I’ve contacted them and am waiting to hear back.

A few other suggestions we’ve gotten so far:

  • Arenal Volcano
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Sarchi (for shopping)
  • Activities: hiking, hot springs, ziplining, kayaking, white water rafting, surfing

HOW We Plan to Get Around

We’ve heard taxis are expensive and buses are cheap, so we’re planning to save money and get around by bus whenever we can. If a particular day’s activities would be easier with a car, we’re open to looking into renting for a day or two. If we sign up for a couple tours, looks like they’d pick us up, so we wouldn’t have to worry about transportation there.

That’s it so far for our Costa Rica travel plans!

Have you been or are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? What do you think we should see and do while we’re there? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

10 Responses

  1. Natasha Dusek January 29, 2015 / 7:34 am

    I spent a lot of time in Costa Rica last year. I loved Manuel Antonio, but one of my favorite activities was the La Paz Waterfall garden. It is not too far from the capitol and there are many animals you can see and a water fall. but the best part is at certain times throughout the day you can feed the animals (or watch them be fed).
    I got to feed a toucan while it perched on my arm and I got to hold a tree frog and get a picture with it crawling on my face.

    Another good place is Puerto Viejo. A little surf town with a great hostel called Rocking Jays where you sleep in hammoks for $7 a night. It is very cool and hip place.

    • Diana Southern January 29, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions, Natasha! This is super helpful. I definitely want to see as much wildlife as possible while we’re in Costa Rica. Feeding a toucan sounds really fun!

      And I’m looking up Rocking Jays now. I’ve never slept in a hammock before, and now that you’ve mentioned it, it’s going on my bucket list! Thanks again. 🙂

  2. The Brinkmanns January 29, 2015 / 5:45 pm

    Definitely go to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It’s worth it! It’s probably easiest to do when you go see the Arenal Volcano, though the roads up to the Cloud Forest are a little treacherous. Bring a jacket and some rain gear for your camera as it does rain, A LOT (obviously, you’re in the clouds!)… but it’s absolutely beautiful and the air is so fresh.

    Costa Rica is one of our favourite countries. We actually prefer it so far to the majority of the places we’ve been to in the Caribbean- for a couple major reasons, namely- the treatment of the people, the eco friendly nature, and the wildlife! Be sure to see some monkeys!

    • Diana Southern January 29, 2015 / 6:10 pm

      Ooo great tips! I was thinking we need to get a dry bag for our cameras — this is a good reminder!

      I’m so excited for this trip, as I’ve heard so many great things about Costa Rica, and I’m glad to hear that your trip was no exception! And YES. MONKEYS. I love monkeys! Although I did get pooped on back when I visited the Rock of Gibraltar when I was 17… (He jumped on me, and I screamed. I guess you could say I literally scared the poop out of him, so I can’t blame the little guy.)

      Anyway, thanks for the suggestions! The Cloud Forest sounds amazing.

    • Diana Southern January 30, 2015 / 8:28 pm

      There are some awesome-sounding activities on that list. Thanks for sharing, Laurie! Some beach time sounds nice, and it’s great that we’d be able to access the Dominical area by bus. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your suggestions! We’re learning so much about Costa Rica from fellow travelers. It’s truly fantastic!

  3. Jean-Luc February 3, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    Hi,
    Costa Rica… That’s a great shot. I travelled there in December and almost all places I visited were amazing. You can take a look at my Flickr account. All photos are tagged with their location. That could give you ideas what to see and where to go.

    The best I did; Probably Tortuguero by night with a local guide to see wildlife. You should also try the lodges in jungle. The chances to see reptiles, birds and monkeys are pretty impressive.

    I you wanna planning ideas. I can share with you my planning. Let me know if you’re interested.

    Have fun!

    • Diana Southern February 3, 2015 / 10:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing your Costa Rica photos with us, Jean-Luc. I especially like your shot of Volcán Irazu!

      We’ve heard great things so far about staying overnight in the jungle, so we’ll be researching that this next week. I’ve also added Tortuguero to my list of things to google! And yes — any info you have to share about planning your trip is appreciated. Feel free to send us an email through our contact page!

  4. Paula February 11, 2015 / 5:22 pm

    I have not been for years and all the standard places are great, but my favorite thing in two vacations was going on a night tour of the rain forest, where you actually end up seeing wildlife that you would not see on a standard visit. I also went on a waterfall hike/canyoneering trip (we rappelled down waterfalls). Costa Rica is a great place to put the camera down and do things. If you go to the beach at Manuel Antonio, the monkeys do feel free to take your belongings if left alone.

    • Diana Southern February 11, 2015 / 10:46 pm

      Thanks for the tips Paula! A night tour of the rainforest sounds amazing. Which tour group did you go with?

      As photographers, it’ll be tough for us to put our cameras down, but you make a good point. I know we’ll have to forget it for some activities!

      And thanks for the tip about the beach at Manuel Antonio. I’ll keep my eye out for sneaky monkeys. 😉

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