Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally diverse places I’ve ever been–but one thing is consistent throughout the country: Chill Vibes. If you’re looking for a trip where you can surf, hang with monkeys, and walk through a rainforest all in one place Costa Rica will have your heart.
But, get ready to seriously chill. No where else in the world have I picked up some hitchhikers who turned into friends, or had my lunch stolen by a tiny monkey on the beach. Sometimes, this ability to Go With The Flow and Get Lost in Time is to be learned (and why not learn these lessons in a “cloud forest”?!).
If you’ve decided you need a little Pura Vida in your life – check out this Adventure Guide for Broke Travelers (like me).
- Overall trip costs: About $650
- How to get around
- Total costs: $350 (RT flight from NY – San Jose) + $75 (car) + $8 (bus)
- Flights – Flew from NY to San Jose on Jet Blue. Although we had quite a long layover in FLL, the low price was well worth it.
- Ground Transportation –
- Car Rental: My friend and I decided to rent a car for part of our trip, which was awesome (roadtrip anyone?!). We booked through Anywhere Costa Rica (not as sketchy as it seems), and picked it up at the airport when we arrived. We drove from San Jose to Monteverde Cloud Forest to Manuel Antonio, and the car was picked up from our hotel in Manuel Antonio, which was perfect. Highly recommend doing this if you like adventure!
- Public Buses: Buses are widely used by locals and travelers alike. They’re super clean and super cheap. We took one from Manuel Antonio back to San Jose, and it worked out great.
- Cabs: We took a cab back to the airport from our hostel in San Jose. Your hostel can organize this for you, but make sure to agree on the price when you enter the car (~$20 total)
- Where to stay
- Total costs: Hostels ($10-20/night) + Hotel ($50-120/night)
- San Jose – We stayed @ Hostel Pangea, a hostel in the center of the city. It looks quite sketchy from the outside, but don’t be fooled–with an outdoor pool, awesome rooftop & bar, and clean bathrooms (always so important) it’s well worth it (+ parking). We only stayed in San Jose for the night after/before traveling home, so we didn’t expect much in terms of our stay.
- Arenal/Monteverde – We went to Arenal for one night, and were pleasantly surprised by our hostel, Arenal Backpackers Resort. It was super cheap ($10/night) and had such a cool vibe. It had great outdoor seating areas, where everyone hung out. Although it wasn’t “walking distance” from the hot spring per say, it had a bunch of cool restaurants close by.
- Manuel Antonio – We splurged during our stay in Manuel Antonio and upgraded to a hotel. We chose Hotel Coco Beach, which was rustic & homey. It had awesome breakfast, walking distance from the beach, and a perfect-sized pool. The rooms left a bit to be longed for, but what can you do – they came with all the basics (and air conditioning, which is always a plus).
- What to d0
- Total Cost: Food ($5-30) + Ziplining ($70) + Other activities ($50-100)
- Nature/Adventure –
- Arenal Volcano: This part of the country is super rainy but still beautiful. We drove from our hostel to one of the National Parks in this area. We paid >$10 to enter, and hiked through the park on our own.
- Hot Springs (Arenal): There are no street names around here, so just drive down the National Park road, and stop at one of the hot springs for a short break. Some of them have packages for drinks + dinner + hot springs entry. Do this after your hike!
- Manuel Antonio: Definitely stay here for a couple of days. This town/area is located on the West Coast of the country, which has more of a beach-surfer vibe. You can definitely take surf lessons on the beaches of Manuel Antonio, explore the National Park, or just soak up the chill vibes on the beautiful beach.
- Ziplining: We booked this through our hotel in Manuel Antonio with a company called El Santuario Canopy Tour. Our total cost included a half day of ziplining with breakfast, lunch, and pictures! We also saw a bunch of cool animals while zipping across the countryside 🙂
- Food – I wouldn’t say that food was too adventurous here; there are a lot of Expats so don’t get too caught up in “fancy” restaurants that will cost you the same as they would in New York. Look out for the small, cute roadside shacks. Here were some of my favorites:
- Sol Frozen Yogurt
- Cafe Milagro
- The Falls Garden Cafe
- El Avion
- Victoria’s Restaurant
Look out for our next Travel Broke Adventure Guides coming out soon! 🙂