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12 Essential COSTA RICA TRAVEL Tips | WATCH BEFORE YOU GO!!!

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.

Before we get started make sure that you're subscribed with notifications enabled so you don't miss

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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

something like

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

if you enjoyed this video please give it a big thumbs up share it with your

travel buddies hit that subscribe button with notifications enabled if you have

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