Hello everyone and welcome to my channel I'm Alex a.
Alex The Vagabond and in this video I'm extremely excited to share with youall 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 Ricareally solidified my love for the Spanish language, for surfing and for thecountry 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 inthis video.
Before we get started make sure that you're subscribed with notifications enabled so you don't miss any future videos and if you're enjoyingthis video please give it a big thumbs up.
Should we start? So let's start things off with a coupleof fast facts Costa Rica is by far and large the most popular touristdestination in Central America.
Over 80% of visitors come from the UnitedStates 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 byits 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 thePacific Ocean on its west coast and on its East Coast it has the Caribbean Seait'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 greetedby natives who were wearing elaborate gold rings in their ears and noses.
Speaking of those original inhabitants archeologists have found evidence thatshows habitation from humans over 10, 000 years ago In the 1500s ChristopherColumbus stopped in Costa Rica on his final voyage and it became a colony ofSpain but after that it was pretty much neglected the Spanish didn't find theriches that they were looking for in Costa Rica so it became this kind ofperiphery in the Spanish colonial empire In 1821 Costa Rica followed Mexico'slead and declared independence from Spain becoming a sovereign nation in1824.
Since then the country has evolved immensely it's one of the leaders inconservation globally because of its biodiversity it's also a leader inecotourism and it's one of the most amazing destinations in the Americas solet's get into the tips.
Unfortunately, Costa Rica is notthat cheap because it's one of the safest countries in Latin America itdoesn't have a standing army and it has relatively low crime rates compared toits neighbors it's become the go-to destination for Gringo's primarily fromthe United States to go on vacation Costa Rica's popularity has translatedinto higher prices across the board so if you're trying to keep your costs lowthen I would suggest avoiding the large group tours I'm talking about like theziplining canopy tours ATV tours things of those nature now that might be funand if you have the budget to allocate to that then by all means go right aheadziplining through the forest in the Costa Rican canopy is really cool andyou can see lots of wildlife but it is expensive.
Most bills when eating outeven at small restaurants are going to include a 10% service tip and a13% 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 feebetween ten and twenty dollars usually for parking and security so even ifyou're rolling up on a waterfall in the middle of nowhere someone has set up asmall business that has a parking lot and you're gonna have to pay for parkingthat also essentially is like a security charge you pay for that so that thesecurity 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 toDecember this is the rainy season in the country Costa Rica doesn't have fourseasons like temperate places in the northern and southern hemisphere becauseCosta Rica is very close to the equator it only really has two seasons the rainyseason and the dry season now I visited both in the dry and in therainy season essentially in the rainy season it's gonna rain pretty much everysingle day but these are small for the most part tropical storms that get alittle bit of rain maybe in the morning and then clear out by theafternoon for a nice sunset it does make for very dramatic photos during therainy season the dry season is much drier it's much dustier and it's hotterso I have visited in both the wet and the dry season personally I prefer tovisit during the low season during the rainy season if you are going to visitduring the rainy season I highly recommend avoiding the month of Octoberthis is the rainiest month of all.
Avoid October if you can.
Tip number threeaccommodation so Costa Rica has the whole gamut of accommodation everythingfrom little family-run bed and breakfasts to large international globalchains I've stayed in many small family-run hotels right on the beachthese are great options I highly recommend if you're trying to go surfingvisit 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 southof the country in multiple different Airbnbs actually and that was the mostgratifying way for me personally to travel.
So choosing sites that aren't oneverybody'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 publictransportation pretty much just buses and the roads are very windy and can bequite dangerous so rent a car I highly recommend you get insurance becausedrivers in Costa Rica especially the truck drivers drive quiteaggressively on single lane narrow roads with twists and curves and cliffs alsodo not speed because there are speed traps all over the place the police inCosta Rica are well aware that there are many Gringo's who have rented cars whomight be going a little bit fast and therefore you will get pulled over youwill have to pay a small fine which is kind of essentially a bribe to be let goand let on your wet drive the speed limit stay super alert and be carefulwhen 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 asemi-trailer and there was a another semi-trailer coming straight at us andwe just barely managed to make it into that gap but we were clipped it couldhave been much worse I was very lucky I did have a huge welt on my head and hadto 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 rainoccasionally.
It is a tropical lush country and that is due to the amount ofrain that it receives but even when it's not raining it can be extremely humid sowear clothes that breathe well like linens or synthetic materials havingclothes that dry quickly that wick moisture and that breathe is very veryimportant as is bringing a light shell rain jacket to keep you dry when it doesrain.
Mornings tend to have the best weather as well so if there's somethingthat you're trying to do like a hike where you're gonna be active andsweating 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 thesevolcanoes really do dictate the weather systems in the country especially in thehighlands 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 choosefrom this last time that I visited I had the pleasure of staying in TabaconHot Springs Resort this place is literally heaven on earth if you have abit of a budget to splurge I highly recommend staying there for atleast a night but you can also pay and get access to the thermal River it'sessentially a hot river that comes down through this beautiful jungle and youcan soak and it's just one of the most magical and fantastic hot springexperiences you will ever have so when you go to Arenal do not miss out on the hotsprings.
Arenal is also one of the top ten most active volcanoes in the worldalthough it has been dormant for the last seven years so don't be alarmed ifyou smell sulfur but definitely it's worth Googling before you visit what thevolcano is doing.
Number seven wildlife Costa Rica is one of the mostbiologically diverse countries on earth it only takes up .
03% of the Earth's surface but over 5% of Earth's species callCosta Rica home.
Costa Rica is also leading the way in conservation in Central America over 25 percent of Costa Rica's landmass are protected innational parks that means for visitors that there's over 100 protected wildlifeareas to visit so if you're into bird-watching or just being out innature you're quite literally spoiled forchoice in Costa Rica.
Monkeys are the most common mammal but be careful Howler monkeys can be territorial and aggressive you'll probably hear theirnoise coming from the canopy it sounds something like so when you hear that you know it's ahowler monkey not just like some angry ogre in the forestI'm sorry Shrek.
and also be aware if a howler monkey is right above you do notantagonize it because they do as monkeys do which means sometimes they defecatein their hands and have been known to throw that defecation at you so becareful howler monkeys do throw poop.
It's also home to 52 different types ofhummingbirds and if you know how to say hummingbird in Spanish write it downthere in the comment section.
Costa Rica is also home to over 750, 000 different species of insects that's over three-quarters of a milliondifferent types of insects it's home to more than 10% of the world's butterfliesso if you're afraid of creepy crawlies then definitely be aware Costa Rica hasa lot of bugs they're very big and they do occasionally from time to time maketheir way into your hotel room also there are mosquitoes so make sure youbring a solid mosquito repellent and make sure that you bring that from homebecause that along with sunscreen is quite expensive in Costa Rica it'smarked up a lot because locals don't really buy either of those products onlygringos do so the prices are quite inflated but make sure that you'reputting that on your ankles your wrists the back of your neck because mosquitoesdefinitely love gringo blood.
One of the best ways todeal with the mosquitoes though is to wear long-sleeve long leg clothing.
I'lllink down in the description some of the clothes that I recommend bringing like apacking list that's down there in the description so make sure you check thatout if you're wondering what you should bring.
Lastly, I recommend visiting the Osa Peninsula if you can it is quiteliterally the most biodiverse place on planet earth it's very rugged it's quitean adventure to get there but there are some very unique eco hotels out on thepeninsula as well as a really good wave called Matapalo where you can stayand surf it's a journey to get there it requiredus crossing a river on a floating barge which was quite an adventure in itselfbut it's a beautiful region and it is the most biodiverse place on earth so ifyou're into different animals and different plant species then head to theOsa Peninsula.
Alright, Number 8, beaches.
There are over 801 miles of coastline and over 300 different beaches to choosefrom any way you look at it a trip to Costa Rica has plenty of coastline foryou to explore plenty of beaches for you to lounge and luxuriate at and if you're asurfer like myself then you are spoiled for choice with waves.
Some of the bestsurf waves that I've experienced in Costa Rica are Playa Hermosa justoutside of Jaco.
Ollie's Point and Witches Rock which require a boat trip fromTamarindo.
and then also in the south Pavones, a mythical left Point Breakthat is kind of fickle it doesn't get swell very often but when it does it isan incredible wave and I got very lucky this last trip to be able to catch itwith a good swell so there's also the wave Matapalo on the Osa Peninsulabut there are plenty of waves to choose from in Costa Rica both on the Pacificand on the Caribbean side If you want beaches without the crowdsthen you should head to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica home to a morediverse afro-caribbean culture it's also home to some incredible sights that areworth seeing.
Head to Porto Viejo and check out the Jaguar preserve thereas well as Finca La Isla Botanical Garden.
Number nine, Cloud Forests.
Besides volcanoes the other thing that Costa Rica is very well known forinternationally are its cloud forests cloud forests are very unique ecosystemsthey're high alpine forests that have a hundred percent humidity.
This humiditycreates a haze that people often say is like walking through a cloud.
This unique humid environment leads to some very incredible biodiversity in thecloud forests themselves also remember that the cloud forests are much coolerand more wet so make sure that you have a jacket something to keep you warmbecause 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 thepopulation 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 isin 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'sgetting safer and there are more food options now including a craft brewerybut for me personally I don't spend all that much time in SanJose, 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 andcoffee is still a major draw in Costa Rica as well as one of its largestexports.
Coffee has played a huge role in the country's political, economic, andcultural 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 coffeeproduction has become much more small-scale also most coffee plantationsin 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 fianceeand I spent a bit of time in Playa Hermosa surfing and then we drove thewhole length of the Pacific coast down to Pavones on the southern border ofthe country.
It was quite an amazing road trip.
Getting off the beaten path inCosta Rica is really gonna open up new experiences for you it's gonna bringyour budget down because you'll be staying farther away from the touristiccentres and it's really just gonna give you a more authentic Costa Ricanexperience a real taste of the Pura Vida as they say there.
If you get achance I highly recommend that you visit a turtle hatchery so some of thesebeaches in Costa Rica are home to returning sea turtles who nest and givebirth 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 newlyhatched turtles emerging from the nests and climbing down to the beach to begintheir lives in the ocean.
Either way you do it, it's a really magical experienceand it's gonna give you a whole new appreciation for the life of a seaturtle and the beautiful birth of these incredible aquatic creatures.
That being said many of these beaches are protected and you can't visitwithout a guide so look into that for yourselves depending on which regionyou'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, becausethese are the plates the typical dishes of families something that your wifewould make you back in the day.
It usually consists of a protein whetherit's a “Bistec” a steak, “Pollo” chicken or some fish along side some rice andblack 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 onthe side.
Lizano salsa, the green salsa is just like life-changing it's just soso good especially after a morning of surfing so I highly recommend that youtry 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 theTicos and the Ticas that I have met in my life have always beenextremely hospitable and kind so please when you visit make sure that you'rerespectful to the locals and that you respect the environment because CostaRica is just such a unique country and it deserves as much conservation and bestbehavior as we can give it so, please when you visit just rememberbe respectful, be good travelers and you will have an amazing time experiencingthe “Pura Vida” or the Pure Life if you enjoyed this video please give ita big thumbs up share it with your travel buddies hit that subscribe buttonwith notifications enabled if you have not already and please I'd love to hearyour tips for Costa Rica down there in the comments section because I know I'mready to go back right now I just made this video and I'm like it's time for meto 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.