We recently moved to Houston and now that I am in this side of the world, Brazil, Peru and US National Parks are my top priorities, but of course everything depends on prices, and since I found a very good deal to go to Costa Rica, and Francisco loves to surf, we decided to make Costa Rica our first trip from Houston.
We went in May (2019), which is low season and it was great because prices were low even though Costa Rica will never be a cheap option (there is nothing like Asia). The downside was that it was rainy season, but I still prefer the rain rather than the country full of tourists or even the hot weather you get in dry season.
Here is the map I created for you to follow our road trip together with our itinerary and some advices:
Day 1-2: Houston-San Jose-Tortuguero
Day 3: Tortuguero – La Fortuna
Day 4-5: La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano) – Monteverde
Day 6-9: Monteverde – Montezuma
Day 10-11: Montezuma – Manuel Antonio Park
Day 12-13: Manuel Antonio Park – Drake Bay
Day 14-16: Drake Bay – Dominical – San Jose
Carrying a Spanish passport means I didn´t need visa to go to Costa Rica.
Renting a car and driving in CR:
We rented the car 1 month before our road trip, through www.dollar.com. It was an SUV 4WD with one extra driver and full insurance for a total of 900$. I think it was too expensive but due to the conditions of the roads, we wanted to make sure we had everything cover.
If you want to do this road trip, believe me, you will need a 4WD, it doesn’t matter if it is dry season. The conditions of the roads are pretty tough, but don’t get me wrong, if you have a 4WD you will feel safe to drive around the country. I totally recommended.
We were told that the police is very strict about the velocity limits, so try to respect this.
Spanish for sure everywhere. But it’s really easy to go around if you only speak English.
Weather in May:
According to the weather apps it was supposed to rain all day long all the 2 weeks we were going to be in Costa Rica, but all the locals told us that you can’t trust weather apps in CR, and that it usually rains in the afternoons, which was completely true. So following their advice, we woke up very early every day and then spend the rainy afternoons by the beach or the hotel.
I do not regret in general to have traveled in rainy season, although you will see that some days were not especially memorable for us.
Very easy to find wifi everywhere. Also my american T-Mobile line has free roaming in CR.
The voltage in Costa Rica is 110V, and the frequency is 60 Hz. They use type A and B sockets, same as in the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter.
Currency, Credit card and ATM:
Their currency is called COLON, but they take Dollars almost everywhere. We traveled with 2000$ in cash that we then exchanged to colones in the bank at the airport.
Bank rates are better than any other place.
In general there were only a few places were international credit cards were not accepted, like little restaurants in the middle of the roads or tolls (this is important!, tolls are very cheap but you will always need cash to pay for it). So, you will need some cash for sure.
If the service was good you can leave around 10%. The tours we take were really good, so we left around 10-20$ per person.
- Beside restaurants, there are also places called SODAS, which are like restaurants but maybe more rural and a lot cheaper than regular restaurants. We pretty much only ate in sodas while in CR
- Even though they speak spanish, they pronounce the R as the americans, super soft compared to rest of the spanish speaker countries
- People is super nice and helpful, in a genuine way
- They have this ecofriendly culture spread through out the country that I love. They should be an example to several countries on how they take care of their nature and the environment and also how they offer respectable tourism
|Gas and tolls||85.8 $|
|Rental Car||450.7 $|
|Tours, tickets and boat rides||329.1 $|
|Others (parking, tips, Ubers, massage, etc.)||225.6$|
What would I change about my trip?
Being low season and having a rental car (no need for internal flights), it is better not to have booked any hotel and go planning day by day. I think we would have time to spend more days in the Caribbean side.
Also, I wouldn’t rent the car in advance. I think it is better to arrive to the airport and compare prices there. But again, this is because we went in low season.
Last day in San Jose we met these girls that rented a 4WD with a roof tent included. It could be a good idea since the country seems very safe and prepare for tourists.