Getting to know Costa Rica

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Getting to know Costa Rica

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Nicole Netzer, Staff Writer

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For spring break my senior year, I got the chance to travel with my best friend to Costa Rica for the first time for eight days. Now that I am back home, you can bet I will end up there again in the near future.

 

Getting There

First I took a flight from Laguardia to Houston, TX, which was about three and a half hours. When I got to Houston I boarded the final flight to Liberia, Costa Rica and that flight was about three more hours. Most flights are connecting flights to Costa Rica, it is hard to get a direct from New York.

 

I sat first class, and mind you I do not normally fly first class so it is definitely a treat to get a big comfy seat and lots of legroom. When you fly first class (on United) they come around with hot towels and little dishes of nuts that are warm. Let me tell you, I’d take those warm cashews over a bag of peanut m&ms.

 

Once we got over Central America you could see all the mountains, the tops of the volcanoes which was something I had never seen before since only traveling to Caribbean Islands. Fast forward to getting off the plane… Costa Rica is HOT. 97 DEGREES HOT. There are plenty of taxi cab drivers wanting you to grab a ride from them but it is nice to have your own transportation set up for when you get there so you do not have to stand around in the heat.

 

Accommodations

For the next eight days I stayed in Villa Altamira on the Cacique Peninsula, in Guanacaste Costa Rica. I had never stayed in a Villa before so this was a treat. It was extremely nice to have your own house to go to at the end of the day. You can find the Villa here. There are seven different regions in Costa Rica so make sure to do your research when booking accommodations to find the best region to fit your likings.

 

Transportation

Transportation is pretty easy for the most part. There are usually taxis you can get a ride from in the Playa Hermosa area. Taxi drivers will take colones (Costa Rican currency) as well as American dollars. The ride from my house to the downtown area was about 7 minutes and was estimated to be around $4 US which is not bad at all, especially if you split it between people.

 

The roads are super narrow, and more than half of the roads do not have street lights so driving at night and not knowing where you are going is something I would not do. If you have data available on your phone, the mobile App “Waze” is a great way to get around. Anywhere we needed to get to, “Waze” was able to get us there no problem.

 

Currency

Although there are places that do take credit cards, few of the shops will take them. Most of them require cash (colones or US dollars). You can find ATM’s in the Auto Mercado’s aka the Supermarkets in Costa Rica. It is about 531 colones to $1, therefore that is how everything priced in the thousands. The tiny shops along the street are extremely hot and stuffy. They are often hotter than outside at times but there are so many cute bracelets that I am a sucker for, so it is worth it.  

 

Locals

My advice to anyone who wants to travel to Costa Rica is, besides being prepared for the heat, talk to the locals. They are your best source. Become friends with the guy on your boat tour or the waiter at the restaurant because they know more than anyone else. They will be the ones to give you advice on the best places to go, and can answer pretty much any question you would want to know the answer too. Costa Ricans are extremely friendly and want to have conversations with you!

 

Beaches

Where I stayed in Cacique, the nearest beach was Playa Del Coco and Playa Hermosa. Both beaches had black sand which if you are not used to it, will most likely burn the bottoms of your feet so make sure to bring shoes. The water is very warm and is nice to float around in since there are no waves at these beaches. If you move further south or north you will find more waves with towns that are based off surfers for the most part.

 

Things to Do

While I was in Costa Rica I did a handful of adventurous activities. The first and last days I spent on a sail boat which was absolutely incredible. They took us to different parts of Costa Rica, including private beaches and snorkeling spots. I went horseback riding (which I would not recommend), ziplining, swimming in hot springs after mud baths (which is volcanic mud so be prepared for it to not smell like a bubble bath), and travelled down a huge waterslide. The waterslide did not seem so safe when I got to the end and probably wouldn’t have gone on it if I had known how much I would bobble around but hey, it was still fun. Jet skiing is also another awesome thing to do in Costa Rica. The tour guides will take you to private beaches and will show you awesome spots on the coast. On down days I went to the beach or swam in the pool.

 

Espanol

Freshen up on your Spanish before you go or have a pocket dictionary or an app on your phone. that will help you a lot when communicating with people. Besides being helpful, it’s cool to have a conversation in their native language and will impress them ever so slightly. There’s apps like Duolingo that can help you freshen up on your spanish.

 

Overall Experience

Costa Rica was an amazing trip and I would go back there in a heartbeat. I was so incredibly lucky to travel there with my best friend. I plan to travel there at some point this summer so going back knowing what i’m getting into will be helpful. Costa Rica left me with a feeling no other place I have traveled to has. They truly live the “Pura Vida” lifestyle and I love everything about it and you definitely will too.

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