Hey fellow travelers! A great way to make the best of your trip is to take advice from locals. As a “Tica” or costarican, I would like to recommend 10 experiences that I am absolutely sure you will enjoy.
Let’s start with food:
- Gallo Pinto and a hot cup of coffee
I invite you to try costarican breakfast, not only will it delight you but also keep you full for the entire morning and provide the energy you need to follow my next recommendations. Our typical breakfast consists of rice and beans or as we call it “gallo pinto”, eggs, sweet plantain, fresh cheese, and corn flour “tortillas”. You will find it in most hotels and restaurants in the country. Hot local coffee is the perfect complement.
- Beer and chifrijo
If you are a beer lover you shouldn’t leave our country before trying “chifrijo”, a combination of pork meat, rice, beans and “chimichurri”, a tomato based salad with lemon juice. Most “ticos” enjoy this dish along with one of our signature beers: Imperial, Pilsen or Bavaria. This traditional dish is served in most bars in Costa Rica, some places that I would personally recommend if you want to try a delicious “chifrijo” are La Oveja Negra or La Casona de Laly in Escazú town.
Now, let’s move to our next experience which is having adventures in Paradise. It doesn’t matter if you are highly courageous or slightly shy; everyone has a chance for adventure here in Costa Rica.
I recommend zip lining in the rainforest; you will have the chance to watch the treetops from above as you ride the line which is an amazing experience. My first canopy tour experience was in Paraiso de Volcanes and I will definitely recommend this place, also depending on your location Turubari or Monteverde Sky Aerial Tram & Zipline are great.
- White water rafting and surf
If you are looking for something more extreme you can take a white water rafting tour on the Pacuare River or take surf lessons in Jaco, Santa Teresa or Malpais. Another popular adventure for the adrenaline lovers is Sky Diving near the beach; I haven’t personally tried it but I have friends that have enjoyed it greatly.
My next recommendations are a great way to get in contact with nature. Costa Rica is well known for its natural wealth. Despite being a small country it contains about 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
- Cloud Forest
How about breathing some clean air? Hiking in the mountains surrounded by nature and breathing fresh air are a must, two beautiful places where you can have this experience are Monteverde Cloud Forest and Los Quetzales National Park in San Gerardo de Dota.
For lovely and refreshing views I would also recommend you to visit the beautiful waterfalls in La Paz Waterfall Gardens or Toro Amarillo.
Since most of us have some level of stress in our lives, my next suggestion will help you leave stress behind while enjoying the pleasures of life.
- Hot Springs
How about a natural SPA? Thanks to the Arenal Volcano’s geothermal activity there are numerous natural hot springs in La Fortuna area. My personal favorite is Tabacon where you can relax on your own or with your partner; if you are travelling with kids I will definitely recommend Baldi Hot Springs as it also features attractions such as slides and a children’s pool.
If you like meeting people while having a great time, and who knows, maybe creating long lasting friendships, please follow my next recommendations.
- “La Carreta de Carpechepe”
“La Carreta” is a nightlife Hop On – Hop Off tour in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The bus stops at some of the most popular bars in the area, there is aso a bar inside the bus. A guide is in charge of informing and cheering up the group on board.
- Learn some Spanish
Costaricans love their country and their culture and we will be glad if you learn something about us while visiting.
A phrase that most identifies us is ‘Pura Vida’, for English speakers it sounds something like poorah veedah. Literally it translates as “Pure Life” but the meaning is more than that, we use it to say hi, goodbye, thank you and also to say everything is cool or great.
Also the word “Ticos” (Teec – ohs) for men and “Ticas” (Teec – has) for women is the slang word for costaricans. Now we can form a phrase:
“Ticos” are “Pura Vida”!
Last but not least, my final recommendation is visiting the beach, which is a must for all visitors.
- Beautiful Beaches
Costa Rica has many beautiful beaches both on the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean.
My suggestions are Playa Flamingo, Playa Carrillo, Conchal, Santa Teresa and Mal País on the Pacific Coast. You’ll find amazing views and a variety of hotels here; weather in this area is dry and temperatures are high.
Also on the Pacific Coast, a beach famous for its exotic beauty is Manuel Antonio, it is located in a National Park and it’s surrounded by trees so you will find plenty of shadow. Also the weather is less dry.
Finally, although the weather is very humid on the Caribbean, the beaches in this area are spectacular, my favorites are Manzanillo and Punta Uva; these beaches are also surrounded by vegetation, the water is clear and the sand is white.
I hope my recommendations will inspire you to pack your bags and visit Costa Rica. As planning a trip is part of the fun, look for more recommendations from locals, and search pictures with hashtags such as #costarica, #puravida, #ticos; you will find much more inspiration.
Although must places are safe, don’t walk alone late at night, do not carry a lot of cash with you and always ask hotel owners for recommendations on safety.
Finally, always follow the rules, recycle, and buy local products to leave a positive impact on the places you visit.