Costa Rica

Central America and the Caribbean


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

Although a little more expensive than it's neighbors, 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 an authentic indigenous experience, but the country has a lot to offer and it's a particularly good destination for less experienced travelers. Be warned, it's not a "foodie" destination. If you get to spend enough time with the locals, you will meet some very interesting people and make some genuine friends.

The country leads the race in conservation of the rain forests and other natural resources. There are natural wonders such as Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde 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 abundance of nature. It really IS the land of rainbows and butterflies!
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.

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


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


health / Cheers! salud

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

excuse me
(to get someone's attention)
desculpe me 

excuse me
(to get by)
con permiso 

goodbye adiós 

hello hola 

please gracias 

please por favor 

sorry perdon

Where is the bathroom? ¿Dónde está el baño? 

with pleasure (you're welcome)
(Costa Rica)
con gusto 

a cacao and blue corn drink
(full of antioxidants)

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

awesome, con todo, all great
(Cachete is literally a cheek, but locals use the phrase “a cachete” to define that something is good or doing good. For example, if you ask your friend how things are doing on his business, the response can be “Mae, a cachete” meaning that everything is going great. Sort of like "all good".)
(Costa Rica)
a cachete
ah cah-CHEH-teh

(Costa Rica)

Do you have ...? ¿Tiene ...? 

do you speak English? ¿habla Inglés? 

(it's acceptable to use this in every other sentence. LOL)
(Costa Rica)

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

good morning, good afternoon, good evening buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches 

hangover resaca 

(resaca is the common word for hangover)
(Costa Rica)

How are you? Good, thank you. ¿Cómo está? Bien, gracias. 

I don't understand no entiendo 

I need ... (a ticket, a hotel, help) necesito ... (un boleto, un hotel, ayuda) 

I would like .... Me gustaría .... 

Is there ...? No, there isn't .... Hay ...? No, no hay .... 

it doesn't work no funciona 

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

outdoor gazebo or pavilion
(Costa Rica)

(short for por favor, use in informal conversation)

see you later hasta luego 

the check la cuenta 

Tipping Practices

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 and tours, 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.
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.
A little tipping is standard for metered taxis. Round up or if it was a very long drive, tip up to $5 depending on how you liked the service. If it's a set price in town, just pay the price without a tip.
Not mandatory but appreciated and customary. Tip from $5 - $15 / day depending on the service and length of the tour.


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 and more modern dress is the norm when going out. 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.

Photo Gallery

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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.

My First Trip Since Having COVID
Feb 17, 2022

A realization of how COVID is changing my travel life, my future. Even writing this post has been quite an effort.

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Feeling Cranky and Displaced
Jul 10, 2020

Am I really bitching and moaning about someone coming to deep clean my house for free?!

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Poker Night in a Small Town
Jun 5, 2020

So I've gone from just starting to scratch the surface of the social scene here, to lockdown isolation, and back out to socializing again. Even though it might not seem like it at first glance, th ....

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Almonds Keep Falling on My Head
Jun 4, 2020

I slept in until 6:15 today, unlike my usual 5:15 when I wake up with the sun and the not-always-pleasant squawking birds. It's actually funny how obnoxious the parrots and parakeets can b ....

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Visiting the Chiropractor on Lobster Island
Jun 3, 2020

Add this to the list of odd experiences you can't plan.

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Farewell Party Bubble for My Neighbors
Jun 1, 2020

My neighbors two doors down are busy packing up the rest of their things for the season. They normally would have kept to a more typical Zancudo schedule and left to go home ....

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Deep Woods OFF is No Match for the Costa Rican Jungle
May 25, 2020

I hear them. I hear the toucans again! I'm bound to see them. I have grown quite accustomed to their sound, but not their sight. Today I could t ....

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"I'm Sailing! I'm Sailing!!" ~ What About Bob
May 25, 2020

On a brighter note, I went swimming today! Like actual swimming, not just splashing around in the water. A friend of mine told me she was go ....

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Starting to Feel the Effects of Isolation
Apr 18, 2020

Wow, what just happened? I was so happy this morning and now I'm sad.

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Now the Coast Guard is Involved
Mar 30, 2020

Way too much to even cover right now so I'll just start with today. I barely even know what day of the week it is. But someone reminded me that tomorrow will be a week that I'm here at my ....

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Last Day Out and About
Mar 17, 2020

Well the virus is getting worse and is now being called a pandemic. We're all supposed to stay home and self-isolate to keep it from spreading. I'll need to stock up on some groceries. Sue and I went ou ....

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My Awkwardness Trying to Make Friends
Feb 24, 2020

Yesterday Sue told me that I should go to Sol y Mar for the weekly horseshoe tournament at 3pm. Okay, sounds great. Oh wait, I don't go to bars by myself. I just don't. I don't ....

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Trying to Work Abroad
Feb 12, 2020

My first jaunt of trading work for lodging while I travel is sure off to an interesting start! I arrived in Costa Rica to build a real estate website for my new friend here in exchange for lodging in one of ....

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Loving My Sue Time!
Feb 11, 2020

You truly never know who you will meet out there in the world. It was so fateful that I met my new friend by tracking a sloth we knew was in the area and ended up finding it just up the beach in her yard. She cam ....

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Heading South - Monteverde to Zancudo
Feb 7, 2020

As of last night, I didn't have a plan. I was nursing a hangover all day so was not motivated to buy a bus ticket or do much of anything else. Robert came home in the afternoon ....

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Pet Sitting in Monteverde
Feb 6, 2020

I slept most of the bus ride up to Monteverde. Yeah, those 4am nights are doing me in! But I loved the familiar drive up the hill, and even saw "the rock" where we watched the sunset with drinks one n ....

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Family Stay in Heredia
Feb 3, 2020

When I didn't seem to find the time to head down from Monteverde last December to come see her at her house, I kept telling Vanessa I'd come visit her soon. Well low and behold I ended up making plans to he ....

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Trying Out Whatever Comes My Way
Dec 30, 2019

When I was in Costa Rica, a few unexpected opportunities presented themselves in the form of trade-work-for-lodging. Specifically to build a website in trade for a month of lodging, then ....

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More New Friends
Dec 19, 2019

There's nothing like chasing away the solo-traveler blues with a couple of new friends. After I moved to apartment #2 up in the front of the compound, two women checked into #1 right above me. I went outside of my comf ....

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It's A New Season
Dec 17, 2019

Wow, there's something about it here now that's making me feel so good. It's like the tide has turned. I know I'm a bit manic and I'm still having some pretty lonely moments, but in general I've felt great the last f ....

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Everything Always Works Out
Dec 13, 2019

It's been an interesting few days. I have (surprise surprise) been feeling an array of emotions now that I'm starting to plan what day I'll leave here. But as usual, things always work out. The un ....

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The Shower That Refuses to Get Hot
Dec 7, 2019

Okay this is just getting funny now. My poor poor host here in Monteverde. He put in an entirely new beautiful modern bathroom right before I arrived. It even has (had) a hot water h ....

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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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Making the Move to Monteverde
Nov 22, 2019

I left my home in Playa Zancudo this morning a bit nervous about doing this big travel day alone. It's so much easier to have somebody else to travel with and say "do you think this is the rig ....

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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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Middle of the Night Intruder
Nov 3, 2019

From big critters to tiny, I'm finding myself a bit jumpy. The 2am break-in certainly didn't help.

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I Now Have a Zillion Photos of Birds and Flowers
Nov 1, 2019

It's like I've become obsessed. First of all, the sheer number of beautiful and colorful birds, plants, and flowers here is incredible. Oh yeah, I can't l ....

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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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