A client recently asked us to create a list of our best “do” and “do not” recommendations before their visit to beautiful Costa Rica. We had a great time making the following list, and since the client loved the suggestions, perhaps you might too.
WHEN IN COSTA RICA, DO…
[DO]… TRY EATING AT A LOCAL SODA. Sodas are typical restaurants in Costa Rica that service wonderful local cuisine. They are usually named after the owner (if I had my own soda it would probably be Soda Nikki as yours would be Soda <<enter your name here>>) and the dishes are reasonably priced. The best part? Eating at a soda supports local, family-run businesses. Now that’s pura vida! Our best Soda recommendation? Soda Visquez in La Fortuna/Arenal. Mmmmm!
Ricky with Mario, owner of Soda Visquez in Arenal
[DO]… BRING A RAIN PONCHO AND NOT A RAIN UMBRELLA. Ponchos come in handy when you are doing tours or various activities and it happens to rain. Umbrellas are often difficult to rely on during tours – could you imagine yourself ziplining through the rainforest and holding an umbrella in the middle of the rain? Yikes! 🙂
[DO]… TAKE MORE PHOTOS THAN YOU EVER THINK YOU WILL NEED. There is so much beauty to be found in costa rica that even 1000000 photos couldn’t capture it entirely. After all, you can always delete half of the photos once you get home if you have way too many for your albums anyway!
[DO]… DRINK THE WATER (SOMETIMES!) The majority of the water in Costa Rica is clean. There are only some areas (mainly the Caribbean side of the country, and additional pockets elsewhere) where we would advise not drinking tap water. Always check with your hotel and/or restaurant just in case, but Ricky and I only ever drink tap water and we have never had a problem (nor have our clients reported such an issue). This being said, if you would prefer bottled water – no problem! It is widely available.
[DO]… BRING AN ANTI-NAUSEANT WITH YOU IF YOU TEND TO GET CAR SICK. Costa Rica is full of mountains and curvy roads (yee-haw!) so taking a gravol or similar dose of medication before a transfer service can make a world of difference!
WHEN IN COSTA RICA, DON’T…
[DON’T]… RELY ON TRAVELLERS CHEQUES. Most hotels and tour operators do not accept them (with the exception of some of the all-inclusive resorts). If you do not feel comfortable carrying cash with you throughout your vacation and do not plan on paying for items with a credit card, bring travellers cheques with the intention of going to the bank every few days to cash them in (although you will need to pay the bank a commission to do so).
[DON’T]… GET TOO EXCITED ABOUT ALL OF THE FRESH FRUIT AVAILABLE AND EAT TOO MUCH AT ONCE. The fruit here is incredibly good, however most visitors’ stomachs are not used to the excessive amount of fruit there is access to in costa rica, and we regularly receive comments from clients suggesting that although the fruit is very, very good, eating too much too fast can have a not-so-fun affect on one’s system! The most guilty fruit of all? Papaya! Unless you are accustomed to eating large amounts of this fruit, watch out for too much of this good thing. Otherwise, the only hot spot you’ll be hitting while on vacation is your hotel’s bathroom.
Fresh fruit (note: no papaya!)
[DON’T]… TAKE A TAXI THAT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL “RED” TAXI (red in color with a yellow triangle on the door). Illegal taxi drivers (using their own vehicles) are widespread, and although many are just trying to make a living (we are friends with many), we recommend that travellers do not use taxi services other than the official type, unless they know and trust the driver.
[DON’T]… BE AFRAID TO PRACTICE YOUR SPANISH WITH TICOS (Costa Ricans). English is widely spoken and understood, however most Ticos appreciate that some travellers want to practice speaking in Spanish while in the country (if they know any). Generally speaking, Ticos welcome it.
No love scenes – a sign posted at the public pool
[DON’T]… WAIT TO BUY YOUR SOUVENIRS UNTIL YOU ARE AT THE AIRPORT AT THE END OF YOUR VACATION. They are overpriced! Instead, buy souvenirs in popular areas (such as La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and Tamarindo, for example) or else in other areas of the country where you can find them (such as in smaller towns, at huts along the beach, or at stops along the side of the road). Remember to check local grocery stores for souvenir opportunities too. If wanting bags of coffee to take home with you (Costa Rica is well-known for its coffee), it is usually cheaper to buy these at a local grocery store than in an official souvenir shop, however both of these sites will be less expensive than buying coffee at the airport directly.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What are your best “do” and “do not” recommendations for visiting Costa Rica?