Costa Rica

Central America and the Caribbean

Overview

Average Costs  |  Being Vegetarian  |  Useful Local Phrases  |  Tipping Practices  |  Coffee  |  What to Wear  |  Articles & Adventures  |  Blog Entries
 

Costa Rica is one of the "easier" places to travel. It has seen a lot of tourism for many years so there are a lot of conveniences in place. Some say that Costa Rica has been "pasado" for quite a while now and it's true that you might not get a true indigenous experience, but the country has a lot to offer and it's a particularly good destination for less experienced travelers.

There are natural wonders such as Arenal Volcano, the Monte Verde Cloud Forest, and Corcovado National Park, and surrounding the pockets of tourism and expat housing communities is lush green jungle full of beautiful flowers and wildlife. You can take surfing lessons in Tamarindo (now so busy that it's likened to Miami Beach) or join in on the zip-lining craze through the Costa Rican jungle.

Toucans, scarlet macaws, sloths,, monkeys, iguanas, leaf-cutter ants, and blue morpho butterflies are your travel mates here. You will be astounded by the nature here.
It's not a food destination by any means. You may never want to have another plate of gallo pinto ever again.
Nov 2019

Average Costs

The daily total includes all lodging, food, booze, transportation, sightseeing, visas, etc. I don't include the money I spend on gifts for friends and I do not include the flight price.

Being Vegetarian in Costa Rica


A Guide To Being Vegetarian in Costa Rica

The food in Costa Rica is not a highlight by any means. You will have a lot of rice and beans and fried plantains (okay I like that part). Other than making sure that some preparations don't include chicken stock, it's pretty easy to navigate the local food being vegetarian. Of course in the tourist areas, you'll find plenty of western options like pizza and sandwiches. In the local sodas you can enjoy the casado (traditional plate of food) and other dishes without much difficulty.

Spanish Vegetarian Phrases

Language Meaning Phrase / Pronunciation

Spanish

chicken stock / bouillon
(also caldo de pollo)
consome de pollo
cohn-soh-meh deh poi-yo

Does this have animal products? Esto tiene productos de animales?
eh-stoh tyeh-neh proh-dook-tohs deh ah-nee-mah-lehs?

Does this have chicken stock? Tiene caldo de pollo?
tyeh-neh cahl-doh deh poi-yo?

I am vegetarian soy vegetarian(a fem.)(o male)
soy ve-he-TAH-ree-YAH-nah

I don't eat meat, chicken, or fish no como carne, pollo o pescado 

Is this made with water or chicken stock?
(handy for asking about the gallo pinto)
Está hecho con agua o caldo de pollo? 

no meat, no chicken, no fish ni carne, ni pollo, ni pescado
nee CAR-ne, nee POY-o, nee pes-CA-do

with vegetables instead of mean (chicken), please con verduras en lugar de carne (pollo) por favor 

Useful Local Phrases for Costa Rica

Language Meaning Phrase / Pronunciation

Spanish

health / Cheers! salud
sah-LOOD

pure life / Cheers!
(means; Pure Life)
(Costa Rica)
pura vida
POO-rah VEE-dah

a light rain, like mist
(literally cat’s hair)
(Costa Rica)
pelo de gato
PEH-lo deh GAH-toh

giddy up
(use it slangly like you do in English for "let's go" or "get going")
arre
AH-rreh

last drink of the night, although there are usually multiple last drinks
(Costa Rica)
zarpe
SAR-peh

Tipping Practices

General:
The locals are less like likely to tip as it's more part of the tourist culture. For tourists, tipping is not mandatory but has become expected for certain things like dining, tours, and taxis, but not for everything. Generally consider Costa Rica a non-tipping culture other than tourism based activities. Tip: porters, tour guides, for spa services, in upscale hotels and restaurants, etc.
Restaurants:
The government has recently imposed that a 10% service charge be added to restaurant bills (in addition to 13% tax). This is *supposed* to go to the staff but does not always. You are not expected to tip, but an additional 5% tip for very good service is acceptable. Do not tip on local sodas.
Taxis:
A little tipping is expected. Round up or if it was a very long drive, tip up to $5 depending on how you liked the service.
Tours:
Not mandatory but appreciated and customary. Tip from $5 - $15 / day depending on the service and length of the tour.

Coffee

Costa Rica is well known for it's coffee growing and the good news is ... they drink what they grow. Locals will brew coffee in a sock filter sort of a thing. Due to the high expat population, there's no shortage of packaged coffee at the supermarkets. The price ranges quite a bit though! From the fancy packaged Cafe Britt ($10 / 12 oz. to the less expensive but also smooth Cafe de Altura Montaña ($2 /9 oz.).

What to Wear

Tank tops and shorts abound in the tourists areas. As with most Central American countries, the rural locals dress ore conservatively but less conservative dress is not too frowned upon. You will also find your share of "hoochie mama" fashion among the locals in some crowds too!

The beach areas and valleys can be hot and humid so light wicking clothing helps a lot. During the rainy season, your clothes will get damp even in your bag! Up the hills, though, it can actually be cold! I wore a completely opposite wardrobe at the beach than I did in Monteverde. Beach: light sundress, shorts, tank tops, light pants for jungle treks. Mountains: leggings, warmer pants, long sleeve tops, t-shirts, socks.

Articles & Adventures

Helpful information and fun adventures!

Blog Entries

More of a personal nature, my un-related diary-like (hmmm or blog-like?) daily thoughts and activities; the things that don't warrant their own article/adventure post.

Shopping, Agouti, and Boas - Eeks
Dec 7, 2019

There hasn't been much new the last few days which is good. The town had it's annual Parade of Lights and there were activities throughout the town all day for kids and families. It's ....

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Proof That I Need All This Crap
Nov 28, 2019

Every trip I end up with my packing cube full of stuff that sits there barely touched. I'ts like the stuff drawer in the kitchen at home but it's in my backpack and it weights a lot. Some ....

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Nose to the Grindstone
Nov 25, 2019

I'm finally spending a ton of hours trying to get caught up on at least some parts of this sadly unfinished website of mine! Since my nice welcome tour of the town by my host, I have yet to leave the room r ....

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Adversity - a Test or a Warning?
Nov 22, 2019

I seem to be facing a lot of adversity on this trip. Is it a test to see if I can handle it? Is it a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this? Or am I just so out of sorts that I’m attrac ....

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Building a New Nest in Monteverde
Nov 22, 2019

Wow, I love my new place! And the owner really puts his heart into it. He and his 85 year old father run the place and the two of them are so helpful and friendly. The view from my pri ....

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Travel Plan Challenge & Raffle Tix
Nov 20, 2019

OMG What a pain in the ass it is to get out of this place! I'll get into more of the details later but I have spent so much time trying to figure out how to piece together bu ....

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New Friends Feel Like Old Friends
Nov 19, 2019

Just getting settled into Zancudo and it's almost time to leave. I made some new friends, mainly my neighbor Sue who we met while Dave and I we were gawking at the sloth in her yard, a ....

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Happy Birthday Cynthia!
Nov 18, 2019

I'd normally be traveling with Cynthia for her birthday. November just works out to be a great time to travel both for the weather where we want to go and for getting time away from the responsibilities a ....

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Alone Again
Nov 16, 2019

It's been a wonderful week with Dave, David, and my new Facebook travel group friend here. I was so happy to have my guy here and even a bit more family drama entered the picture right when they were arriving. I tell ya' 2019 ha ....

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Fresh Clean Morning
Nov 10, 2019

Holy cow did it come down last night! The hardest it has since I’ve been here, and for a long time. I wonder where poor Mr. sloth went for the rain. Some critter took refuge on my deck last night because there ....

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Guilt and Glee
Nov 9, 2019

Well I'm in full on hermit mode at the moment. I swear it's a good thing I have food or I might starve to death lest I have to leave the property. What the hell kind of traveler am I?! This is what I'm most curious abou ....

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My $10 Cinnamon Rolls
Nov 6, 2019

For being so secluded, it's actually hard to have an entire day to yourself here. First of all, it's no surprise they start work early here. I have a feeling it has more to do with getting done before the ....

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Got Some Expat Connections
Nov 5, 2019

Well I moved the table away from the window and there was no raccoon last night! Fingers crossed that does it. I cleaned up all the oil (somehow the raccoon got oily wet stuff all over) and sand and ....

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I Have Someone to Clean My Yard
Nov 5, 2019

This is my 5th day alone in Costa Rica. Time sure flies when you're doing nothing! I am really loving the feeling of not HAVING to do anything. Fortunately, my tendency to be a hermit g ....

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Determined to Go to the Halloween Party
Nov 1, 2019

Well that was fun. We kept hearing about the Halloween party at Sol y Mar, the only restaurant open this time of year and sort of the "meeting place" for the expats, and on ....

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Lost Money and Stolen Shoes
Oct 30, 2019

Feeling a bit of a downer today. I was finally getting caught up on my budget yesterday (yeah, I love keeping track of what I spend traveling), and I seemed to be short quite a bit of cash. I c ....

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Met a Man with Coconuts
Oct 29, 2019

Lynn came backup up from her daily treasure hunt on the beach and said there was a man lingering around down there and was wondering what he was doing there. His truck seems to be parked in the neighbor's ....

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So Amazed By the Nature Here!
Oct 28, 2019

We successfully bought groceries (they deliver to the pier for free - yay) and confirmed that there was indeed a 12pm shared public boat going over to Zancudo. Whew. C3,000 ($5) each instead o ....

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All I Want is a Shower and Some Sleep
Oct 24, 2019

A little over 30 hours from when I left home to when I got to the stopover town of Golfito. It's been a fun journey so far (flight, flight, bus, walk, bus, bus) but I'm so tired and stinky right now.

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Osa Penninsula
Oct 14, 2001

My first solo journey. Went to meet Steve in Costa Rica right after 9/11.

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Judy & Steve Visit Costa Rica
Feb 8, 2001

Mom & Steve came with us for a fun adventure in Costa Rica. Then we were off on our own again.

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