That is what the residents in Costa Rica say to express “all is well.” Have you ever felt stress free and lived in the moment? Or how about forgetting about the bad and being thankful for all the good in your life? It seemed this was the way of life for every Costa Rican we encountered. It made sense since Costa Rica is known to be one of the happiest countries in the world.
Let’s dive into the adventure my best friend and I had all over Costa Rica, and then we’ll talk about how I was able to snag a $250 round trip ticket to Costa Rica, AND stay at beautiful places for $20-$40 a night.
First stop, San Jose! This was our educational stop as we got to learn much about the history and culture of Costa Rica. We went to the downtown square and got lost in all the good vibes of the locals. It was a weekday and groups of people were casually hanging out for long periods as if they had no where to go to, all that seemed to matter was their appreciation for each other’s presence. As we walked around we noticed there was fruit stands and markets all over the place. We got to try a bright red fruit with green spikes called Rambutan, it was similar in design to a Lychee. If you have a nutcracker, that’s the best way to get to the juicy center of the fruit. Later we stopped at what looked like a buffet diner, but it seemed fixing up your own plate was frowned upon, so we chose an already chosen combo off of the menu and ended up with an awesome meal. Costa Ricans love their “Casado”, which is just a combination of beans and rice. We decided to walk it off, and wouldn’t you know it – there is a Chinatown in Costa Rica. Later on in the night we tried to go to go to a highly rated techno club, but it was closed. Possibly because it was the weekday, but that’s okay our taxi driver recommended a small pub. This ended up being a very chill and relaxing night, maybe it was the universe’s way of conserving our energy for the adventure that was awaiting for us at the Volcano town of La Fortuna.
Would you dare stay 5 miles from a 7,000 year old volcano? If you said yes then you’re a person who enjoys living on the edge and spicing things up, and would love the following place. We stayed at the Arenal Hostel Resort for $35 a night, with our own room and complimentary adult drinks and breakfast the next day. All settled in, it was time for our adventure through the rainforest! We had our tour guide pick us up from the doorsteps of our hostel. The game plan for the day was in this order = Zip-line, Rappel, Horseback Riding, Baldi Hot Springs, and finish off with dinner. We got our Zip-line gear on and then we drove all the way to the top of a hill. Just so you know, I’ve had a fear of heights since I was kid, so when I looked over the cliff and saw nothing but an endless depth of rainforest, I got chills all down my body. It’s like when a kid encounters danger for the first time. Little did my best friend know that I almost backed out of the zip-line. But as the logical person that I am, I knew the only way I could get over my fear of heights was to just jump off the cliff and strap on for the ride. It only took about two stations before I was comfortable, finally opened up my eyes, and got lost in the beautiful luscious greenery beneath me. It was one of the most exhilarating things I had ever done. Friends, don’t let fear determine your boundaries. After the zip-line, came the rappelling. Which was much easier to do after defeating the zip-line, but going down a waterfall was a slippery situation. It was worth it though, because at the bottom their was a creek we landed on that was full of life. Our next stop was the farm for horseback riding. The horses were so lovely and cooperated just fine. We took a small detour from the farm off to the rainforest. What we saw next would be one of the highlights of the trip. Off into the far distance was a small black speck moving around at the very top of a high tree. The guide handed us his binoculars, and there it was, just living his life – an elusive yellow beaked toucan. It’s one of those moments where you remember the surrounding smell and environment so vividly. Alright enough adventures for one day, next stop was relaxation and reflection time at Baldi Hot Springs. Think of Schlitterbahn, but the adult version. All the hot spa water would flow down from the volcano nearby, it felt so warm and natural. There were slides that went down really fast, they seemed friendly on the outside, but the speed we went down on seemed like it was designed for daredevils. Not only did I temporary lose my GoPro, but I also got a mad wedgie, as I plunged into the water and floated back up. Okay, did not expect that to be that thrilling. Do you ever get hungry after water activities? We were starving, thank goodness this adventure package came with dinner. As we enjoyed our dinner, filled with delicious local bites, we got a breath taking view of the volcano with the surrounding rainforest nearby. Life seemed perfect at the moment.
Guess what? We booked this FULL day adventure with Arenal Evergreen for only $90 each! You won’t find a better deal.
What do you think of when you hear Costa Rica? Beautiful blue beaches! Our transportation van picked us up from Arenal and drove us all the way to Playa Tamarindo. During the transportation we made some great people who are still friends with us to this point (you know who you are). We showed up at our Airbnb on time, met our host Johnny, but the room was still not ready. So Johnny made up for it by taking us to one of the best places at Playa Tamarindo to grab a bite. As we enjoyed our lunch in front of the beautiful tides, there was large iguanas just wandering around the beach. Later we settled in and took a nap to recharge, only to wake up to the sound of rain. We stayed optimistic and decided to go out around the beach town. As we walked around the town and took in all the fresh air, it literally started to rain on our parade. We went back to our Airbnb, and got ready for the Costa Rican nightlife. At dinner I had this mouth watering Baked Tilapia with a side of Gallo Pinto, another Costa Rican’s version of rice and beans. Soon after it turned late and we decided to stop by one of the most popular clubs at Tamarindo – Sharky’s. That stop turned into a stay until the club closed. We believe we stayed because it was awesome to see people from all over the world, and because the dj played all kinds of music, but it was a fuzzy night and we couldn’t really recall. The next morning we woke up earlier than we wished – we had totally forgot we had scheduled a Surfing Class with our host Johnny. After fallen off several times into the water, I finally caught a tide and for those 10 seconds I felt so much thrill leading the ocean with the waves. Johnny, Victoria, and his team were awesome surfing instructors. Another water activity down, it was time to fill our tummies. We walked down the street to a bakery shop that served sandwiches with home made bread. My goodness. I don’t recall the ingredients, but the homemade bread was so rich in flavor and fluffy. After the food coma, we decided to lay it off at the beach. We let the sun rays vibrate through our skin, the salty air breeze into our lungs, and let the harmonic sound of the waves put us to sleep. Within a matter of minutes of this bliss, we fell asleep on the sandy beach for what seemed hours. After this nap came the rude awakening – we woke up to our skin being radish pink and toasty.
Costa Rica – Playa Tamarindo, Hot Spa, Zip-line, Surfing, a Bronze Tan, and a Toucan. Pura Vida Mission Complete. Altogether this trip cost me only $500. Now we were content with packing up and go back to the states.
So I bet now you want to know how I was able to get this great deal. First thing is first when getting great deals on traveling – be flexible on when you can travel. Summer or holiday season is not always the best time to travel if you’re looking for the best deal. Why? Because this is when a majority of people have time off and are looking to travel, so airline companies and hotels are able to increase their prices because they know the demand is high. In my personal experience the best months to travel are August and September – no holidays, no school breaks. And guess what? Most tropical countries still have some of their best weather during August and September. Best of all, there is less people on the beach. Second tip – Plan Ahead. Two months ahead is ideal, but three to four months is optimal. It’s just like grabbing seats for a concert, the farther away from the date you buy the tickets, the cheaper the pricing is. Think Presale tickets. I used these two components of Flexibility and Planning Ahead to get my $250 round trip to Costa Rica through the website Airfare Watchdog. Go ahead, click on it, and check out some of the best deals departing from YOUR city at this very moment. Third tip – no fanciness. If you’re looking to stay at a five star hotel or at a fancy resort, this tip will not help you out. If you like to travel to create memories and focus less on materials, spend more time out about than being cooped in, then you will appreciate this next tip. There is many economical housing options; Couch Surfing, Hostels, Airbnb, and others. I got an Airbnb at Costa Rica, so today I will go over that awesome option. For Airbnb, imagine staying over at a local’s house and you get wonderful hospitality and activity suggestions from the host. They will socialize with you if you want to, or let you do your own thing. At an Airbnb, you will get all the main accommodations that you would get from a hotel – bed, shower, room, kitchen, and some of them even provide breakfast. Look at this amazing Airbnb I got at San Jose, Costa Rica for only $20 a night, and it was 6 minutes away from the airport. MIND BLOWING. There is many options out there for you. Last tip – RESEARCH. You don’t have to settle, if your intuition tells you there might be a better deal somewhere else, keep researching. That is why Tip 1 and Tip 2 are so important, because with flexibility, planning ahead, AND research – the world is your oyster.
Traveling to Costa Rica soon? Looking to get out of the country and looking for the best deal? Or just want to get out of the house? Hit me with any question you have.