Costa Rica is a country with so much to offer that it’s simply impossible to experience everything in one trip. From it’s paradisal beaches, abundant wildlife and palatable eateries to enchanting jungle tours and soothing hot spring dips, there are boundless sights to see and sensations to experience.
In light of these near endless possibilities, it’s important to carefully plan your trip to Costa Rica beforehand so you don’t feel overwhelmed with choices to make once you arrive. Our quick guide will explore the main things you should plan before your journey to Central America.
Planning a trip to Costa Rica: choosing the best time of year to go
There are several things to factor in when determining the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica: the duration of your trip, your travel budget, your work flexibility, the level of tourism, weather, etc. That said, there are certain considerations that are most important in figuring out what the best time is in relation to your personal circumstances.
If the cost of travel in Costa Rica is your main concern, you should try to plan your trip when vacation costs are at their lowest, typically between the months of May and November. However, you should be aware that flights to Costa Rica will generally be more expensive over the summer, so planning your trip during September or October might be your best bet for overall cost savings.
If money isn’t as much of an issue for you, the best time to plan a trip to Costa Rica for the most amount of sunshine and least amount of rain is between January and March. This is Costa Rica’s high season, where the weather will be most ideal but you will also encounter the most crowds.
Choosing the best places to visit in Costa Rica
Once you’ve determined the most preferable time of year to travel, you’ll need to think about what specific places you’d like to visit. It’s hard to go wrong here – Costa Rica has no shortage of amazing locations to spend your vacation.
In the interest of narrowing your choices down a bit, here are a few of our favorites:
La Fortuna is one of the most popular destinations for a trip to Costa Rica – and for good reason. Here you will find practically everything you might want including numerous hot springs, beautiful resorts, jungle excursions and tremendous views of the local volcano.
This wonderful location can easily be combined with a visit to La Fortuna, as driving to Monteverde is fairly easy to do. Monteverde is home to the cloud forest, a must-see network of trails and suspended bridges that sometimes feels like visiting an alien world.
Liberia, Guanacaste province
Liberia is great place to stay if you want to visit a city with a rich history and many local spots to be explored. It’s also located in Guanacaste province, which offers many attractions and activities to do while on vacation.
Tortuguero, which means “turtle catcher”, is a great area to spot sea turtles and river otters, rent a canoe and go fishing, take a night tour by boat or just enjoy a spirited hike in nature. Note that the area can only accessed via boat or plane, so that should be taken into account beforehand.
Corcovado National Park is one of the most diverse areas in Costa Rica, offering amazing backpacking experiences and the chance of spotting some rare wildlife including the red-backed squirrel monkey and even (gasp) jaguars! Different camping sites are available in the area for a great outdoors experience, but you may want to consider visiting during the drier period of January to April.
Finding accommodations and transportation
Now that you’ve decided the time and location of your trip to Costa Rica, you’ll need to find accommodations and plan your methods of transportation. There are many options for each, depending on your needs.
Are you a lone nomad that likes to travel solo? Hostels or Airbnb might be your best bets, as they offer cheap accommodation and many serve free breakfast in the morning. You could also bring a tent and go camping if you want a more rugged experience.
Travelling with family? You’ll want to find a nice, reasonably-priced resort to make the most of your stay. Costa Rica has many luxurious resorts that are affordable and provide all the comforting amenities you need.
Next, it’s time to think about how you will get around. While public transportation and taxi services can bring you around the city, the most effective way to travel is to rent a car in Costa Rica.
A great option for families, rental cars often come with GPS for easy navigation, child car seats and the ability to register an extra driver at no additional charge.
The last step in planning a trip to Costa Rica
The final step in planning your Costa Rica getaway is choosing which activities you want to experience while you’re there. Of course, this step will largely depend on what area you decide to stay in during your visit.
Want to zipline through the jungle? You can do that. Want to visit a hummingbird garden, learn to surf or take one of the country’s many guided tours? These are all possible as well.