Costa Rica is one of those places that ends up on every bucket list and for good reason. With many parts of Central and South America always in political flux or surrounded by negative media coverage, Costa Rica is a haven for travelers looking to experience all the beauty without any of the danger.
Our adventures have taken us around the world and finally they have led us to Costa Rica. We want to share with you some of the positives and negatives we have experienced, and hopefully help you make an informed decision while you embark on your journey.
Reasons for Visiting Costa Rica
The Romance – The scenery in Costa Rica is absolutely mesmerizing. From the never ending coast lines filled with secret coves and multi-colored sand to the jungles that never sleep, constantly watched by the active volcanoes above. You and your spouse will feel like the sexiest celebrities, lounging on beaches and sipping from coconuts. If you feel romance is missing from your marriage right now, maybe Costa Rica is all you need to get the spark back.
The Food – Costa Rican food is actually pretty basic. Visiting the sodas (local eateries) will mean eating lots of rice, bean, and veggie stews, which can be delicious, but a little repetitive after awhile. The real gems in Costa Rica have been started by Expats who moved here long ago and brought a bit of their culture with them. You will find German, Italian, Israeli, Asian and everything in between. Finding slices of different cultures all over Costa Rica is a fun and delicious game to play together. Take turns picking the next meal and don’t be afraid to share a plate of something new. Be sure to check out Gingerbread for some of the best food in Costa Rica.
The Weather – Costa Rica, like any country along the equator, has two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. While dry season is obviously more popular for its hot and sunny days, wet season has a lot to offer too. If you don’t mind getting a little damp here and there the wet season means beautiful lush forests, blooming flowers, fresh fruit, and flowing waterfalls. Although almost every day it does rain, you can usually get in a morning or afternoon of fun before the downpour starts. Cuddle up with your partner under the veranda and watch the lightning streak across the sky. If you do visit Costa Rica during the dry season, escape the busy beaches for more secluded stretches and enjoy some alone time in the ocean.
“Cuddle up with your partner under the veranda and watch the lightning streak across the sky.”
The Animals – Costa Rica is always awake and alive with wildlife. It’s impossible to ignore the sounds of the jungle as you drift off to sleep or the butterflies floating along between flowers. Spend a day with your partner taking in all the wildlife. Point out every new and colorful bird you see and try and guess if that sound you hear is a monkey or a coyote. Outside of the busy tourist towns Costa Rica has remained wild and untouched so don’t miss out.
The Adventures – If what you really need is to get your hearts pumping again, then Costa Rica is filled with adventures for adrenaline-junkie couples. Zipline through jungles, learn to windsurf, or rappel down waterfalls. Choose a local Eco Tour to get the most out of your adventure from knowledgeable local guides. Learning to do something new together or trying something that scares you is a great way to grow stronger as a couple too.
The Locals – Costa Rica is filled with friendly locals and Expats alike. Most people are more than willing to help, even if they speak very little English, and will always offer up an Hola or Buenos Dias. Don’t be shy to speak with the waiters or taxi drivers to get advice on the best beaches, local food, or secret spots. Meeting other couples to sit with at a restaurant or double up on a tour with can be the best part of your vacation and allow you and your spouse some time to hang out with other people.
“Learning to do something new together or trying something that scares you is a great way to grow stronger as a couple too.”
The Problems With Visiting Costa Rica
The Transportation – Costa Rica has not progressed as quickly as some other countries when it comes to their public transportation system. Getting around via buses can be a confusing and frustrating task. There is no centralized bus system and most buses only run a few times a day from one town to the next. If you can afford it, taking private buses, taxis or paying tour companies for transit can be your easiest and safest option, but isn’t cheap. Renting a car is great for the adventurous couple, but make sure you ask about insurance fees that are mandatory and very expensive. Roads in Costa Rica are less than desirable and need a steady and confident driver. Have one partner be the driver while the other does their best to navigate the bumpy roads. Don’t drive at night, if possible, and be wary of local scooters speeding past.
The Cost – Costa Rica is no longer considered an up and comer when it comes to tourism—and the prices reflect that. Groceries and daily goods are comparable to U.S. dollars and even more if you are buying American products. Sticking to local produce from smaller grocery stores is your best bet, but it’s impossible to ignore the higher costs compared to other countries in Central or South America. Tours are also quite costly so expect to spend a bit of money if you want to go on some of those amazing adventures together. Traveling as a couple is awesome, but doubling everything can get expensive so make sure you both keep this in mind when picking your travel destination. Compare cost of living prices to get an idea of how much you will be spending.
The Tourism – As already stated, Costa Rica is a well-established tourism hub. While most of Costa Rica remains untouched, the most beautiful areas have been taken over by tour companies trying to make a little money off of you. The National Parks have steep entrance fees and many farmers ask for a fee to park on their land to visit the beaches nearby. Going off the beaten path can be a little dangerous still so you may get stuck hoping on the tourist train. Make sure you do your research and speak with the local Expats for honest advice on what tours are worth the money. Luckily once you get past feeling like a tourist, most of the eco tours leave you satisfied.
The Internet – We are all addicted to having internet with us 24/7 so this can come as a shock to many couples hoping to instantly upload their breathtaking beach shot to Instagram and Snapchat their lunches. Most restaurants, hotels, and rentals all offer "free wifi," but beware that it’s slow at best and often completely unresponsive. Away from big cities there are rolling blackouts and decreased service areas. If you absolutely need good, high speed internet while traveling, splurge on your own data plan or get a data stick. Better yet, take the opportunity to eat your lunch before it gets cold and just enjoy the beach together—the unplugged feeling, although anxiety inducing at first, is amazing.
“Most restaurants, hotels, and rentals all offer 'free wifi,' but beware that it’s slow at best and often completely unresponsive.”
The Risk – Although Costa Rica is definitely one of the safest options in all of Central and South America, there are still risks involved in coming here. Theft is the biggest issue and you have to remain on the lookout when traveling with your money and passports. If you rent a car you should never leave anything visible in the car when you park. Walking alone at night can also draw some unwanted attention to tourists. Traveling as a couple is much safer than traveling alone, but if you do decide to go on a walk by yourself be sure to let your partner know where you are going and how long you will be gone.
The Temptations – There is a lot to see and do in Costa Rica. Although not the biggest country, trying to get everything done that you both want to do can be expensive and time consuming. One small area can have 15 different types of tours and five must-try restaurants. Decide what kind of vacation you want to have with your spouse and plan from there. If you are staying on the coast, do a boat tour and go snorkeling. If you are staying in the mountains, zipline through the jungle and stop at some hot springs. Pick one or two activities and restaurants that you each really want to do and then leave some flexibility for other activities. Budget always comes into play so stay vigilant with your spending. You may go home feeling you missed out on some things, as so many of the Expats felt and had to come back again and again until they decided to settle down.
Katie and her husband Chris are the Love Tripper's www.lovetripping.com. They have been together for over 9 years, and got married in April 2014. They believe that the key to a healthy long-lasting relationship is constant work and effort. The Love Tripper's share their advice on how to keep that sexy fire burning, avoiding pointless arguments, and finding a deeper love for your partner every day. Love is a trip, enjoy the ride!