What a great country. I love it there. Although the Pacific coast was crazy hot, and unbearably hot!! Caribbean coast was amazing. I love it there. Everyone was really chill and when we asked the locals about if there was crime or anything like that, they said there wasn't any there. Although the Caribbean coat there wasn't very much to do, but the vibe I got there opposed to the Pacific coast was completely different.
I would recommend staying on both sides of the country when going to Costa Rica.
Here are a few things that I thought are important to know, that when reading about vacation online or in a Nat Geo book because let me tell you; we bought that book and the descriptions they give you are English jargon for the 5 start traveler, and very much not correct! So i decided to give some pointers that I thought would be useful if I needed to know something that they wouldn't necessarily write in a book like that.
1. RENT A TRUCK!!!!!! Do not rent a car if you are driving around the coast of Costa Rica. You will have to drive through mountains and hills and dirt roads and a car just wont make it if you want to experience the 'real' outdoorsy CR. Also.. when you DO rent a car, make sure you find out about the CAR INSURANCE policy CR has because when you get your price online and then when you get there, the price is COMPLETELY different.
We booked our truck through a travel agent, and it was $400 for 11 days. When we got to Costa Ricas Economy Rent-a-Car, the price literally doubled, going to $960. WTF is what I was wondering... when the sheet of paper i had said "price guarenteed" -- I soon realized that nothing in a 3rd world country is "guarenteed" and nothing is what it says --
So apparently CR has only ONE insurance company in the whole country and its mad expensive. So... come prepared to put down a deposit PLUS pay for the car at that point in time, receiving the deposit back when you return the car.
So much for THAT money!
2. Buy a map... maybe buy TWO maps. San Jose is worthless. They have signs I'd say every 13 blocks or so. So if you are going the wrong way, its not well noticed street signs they have. No. They are hidden and worn away,,, on the wrong side of the building. Fun stuff like that. So literally you need to know which direction you are going in and just go that way. Dont even bother waiting to find a street sign.
Also, we found out that they change the direction of the one-way streets sometimes and obv the map wasnt updated, OR they will change roads into sidewalks..
It makes for an interesting journey.
3. Route 27 does not exist ... quite yet! Only half of it is built. Although on the map, it shows point blank that the road is there. It is one of the biggest roads/highways in the country! Yet. Not finished yet. So when you are driving on the beginning, all of a sudden it just ends and dumps you into downtown San Jose --the most confusing place ever-- and says nothing about "detour" or anything like that!!!
So.. keep that in mind when you are traveling. It is under construction right now, and it seems like they were making progress on it so consult someone before choosing that route.
4. Learn Spanish!! or get a dictionary. If you are driving in the inland Costa Rica, there aren't many people who speak another language besides Spanish so if you are lost (which its not hard to get lost due to no signs!) and you have to ask someone directions, its best to know SOME Spanish so you can get the directions!! I knew for the most part what people were saying but once they got into more details, I was lost. I will be learning Spanish completely before I go to Peru/South America in June.
5. On Puerto Viejo (Caribbean Coast):
There is only way to get there. One road. Mostly dirt road. Its a great place. I love it there, I would like to move there and open up a hotel. The hotel we stayed at, La Perla Negra, is recommended by me. It is hard to find at night, because the sign is very high up in the air, but its not right in the center of the town and its right on the ocean. Its about $60-70 a night. I found them through hotels.com When i was looking, I was having a hard time finding any places to stay on the Caribbean coast that weren't outrageously expensive. Don't stay in Limon. Its mainly commercial and pretty ghetto-ized.
Everyone is really great there. The weather is great, especially during March. The rainy season I heard it wasnt so much fun. But its definitely worth checking out.
6. Imperial is the Costa Rican beer and Derby are the Costa Rican cigarettes --incase that interests you ;)
More to come.
Ciao 4 now.