1.) There are two international airports in the country
If your visit to Costa Rica has you based in the more northern parts of the country, it might be worth investigating flying into Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport of Liberia, more commonly referred to as Liberia International Airport. Not only will flying into the Guanacaste region airport save you travel time (i.e. more time spent at the beaches or on flora and fauna walks in the rain forest), prices for plane tickets are often comparable to what they are when flying into the country’s capital airport, Juan Santamaria International.
2.) If your time is limited, don’t be overly ambitious with your travel planning
Although Costa Rica is a small country, due to poor road conditions traveling from one location to another can sometimes take double what it should be. If you only have a week in Costa Rica and two of those are for arrival and departure, five days is not a lot of time if your plans include visiting the Central Valley, Manuel Antonio, and Arenal. Your most vivid memories will be of the inordinate time you spent traveling to the destination, inside of the vehicle that transported you. Decide if you want more of a beach trip or one that involves volcanoes and cloud forests for starters.
3.) Don’t be afraid to try the local food
Even though many tourist areas in Costa Rica are fast becoming over developed, featuring mega resorts complete with upscale restaurants serving global cuisine, the country offers visitors a simple yet hearty fare. Unlike in other Latin American countries where it is advised to avoid drinking the water, in Costa Rica it is safe to do. So one can partake in the many different types of batidos (milkshakes) that are available without worrying over becoming sick with a stomach ailment. In the four months I lived in Costa Rica while studying there in college, one of the best meals I had was at a small soda (the Costa Rican version of a diner) in the town of La Fortuna, where I feasted upon a delicious casado, a typical meal comprising of a meat or fish selection, a salad, fried plantains, and beans and rice. A meal at a fancy restaurant is always good but so is sampling local foods.
4.) Save yourself a potential headache and avoid renting a car
Although the benefits of renting a car are innumerable, the inferior conditions of many of Costa Rica’s roads would frazzle even the toughest of drivers. Consider hiring a private driver to transport you from point to point, or for a less costly alternative, book ground transfers through a company like Interbus. Van sizes are usually limited to eight passengers, they travel to many tourist destinations in the country and will drop you off and pick you up at most hotels in those areas.
5.) Discover a whole other culture on the country’s Caribbean coast
Many people aren’t aware, but Costa Rica is home to a sizable West Indian population that lives along its Caribbean coast. Many came over in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work on the railroad being constructed at that time that was to link the Caribbean coast with the Pacific for transporting its king crop, bananas. When the railroad was finished, a good number remained and settled in Costa Rica. As such when you travel to towns like Puerto Limon and Puerto Viejo, you’ll hear Jamaican music, see Bob Marley images, and find menu dishes like Jamaican jerk chicken.