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Pura Vida Costa Rica

Author: bonbon travel tips
Date of Trip: January 2011

Costa Rica in two words is “pura vida”. You will hear this widely spread phrase everywhere you go, and it reflect your trip to Costa Rica. In some cases, it will change your entire way or thinking..

“pura vida” is a form of saying hello, goodbye, or basically to explain everything that’s going on around you. Spending some time in this Latin paradise, and soon enough, you will use it in every conversation too. So when in doubt, just say “pura vida”..

as a traveler in Costa Rica , you will you simply get infectious with the “pura vida” way of life, which is enjoying life in a slow pace, enjoying everything this country has to offer.

Costa Rica is simply a paradise for nature lovers, animal lovers, surf dudes, romantic couples, and all young in heart. it’s also a paradise for real estate entrepreneurs, so enjoy now, as pure as it can be..

general tips and information

Costa Rica is considered the most peaceful and political stable country among Latin America countries. It also has one of the lowest crime rates, so it’s pretty safe for travel.

Did you know? Since 1948, Costa Rica is the biggest country in the world that has no army! Instead of spending money on the army, Costa Rica spends more on nature preservation. Smart huh?..

Now as for the roads in the country, that’s a different story. Take that in mind if you’re planning on renting a car, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. It also means that even if your route is short, it’s still going to take a long a time as you will drive slowly. If your sure want to rent a car, better take a 4×4 one.

One the advantages of Costa Rica is that its small, so even if the roads are not so good, my advice would be to stick with the bus system, you can also skip internal flights, especially if you’re on a budget travel.

Costa Rica is a VERY touristic place, so please try to avoid all the obvious tourist traps. Dont jump on the offer you get on anything. My best advice would be is not to take any deals or tours that you can easily plan by yourself.

You will find great food in Costa Rica, but If you wanna go “local” or your just a backpacker looking for a cheap place to eat, look for “SODAS”-local restaurants and ask for a “casado”- cheap and yummy.

Money management is advised. 1 American dollar is about 500 Costa Rica colones, so youll have lots of different bills in your wallet. Make sure your pulling the right bill and that you are not getting confused- easy way to lose money.

Places you have to go to
San José
From all the capital cities I stayed in while traveling through Central America, I find San José to be the safest, most interesting and fun of all. It’s the only capital city I stayed in more than one night, enjoying my time there during the daytime as well as night time. san José has plenty to offer, Add to that san José’s strategic location on the map, and you found yourself the perfect home base for your travel to Costa Rica.

Like I said it’s pretty safe. At daytime, just beware of your pockets and bags. During the night, maybe it’s best to take a taxi or walk around in big groups.

San José has great markets filled with everything including all the Costa rica souvenirs you need. There are also great shopping districts with modern shops, so it’s best to do all of your shopping after all visited the places you wanted to go to in Costa Rica and you are in san José for the last time in your trip to Costa Rica before leaving the country.

One interesting aspect of the city is its night life. A must to anyone spending the night in san José, Is visiting its night life district: centro comercial el pueblo. Entering its gates, you’re getting your self into some sort of experience..filed with bars, dance clubs coffee shops and Restaurants all spread close together in narrow streets, you’ll surely find a way to have fun..

I stayed at “costa rica backpackers ( Address: Avenida 6, calle 21/23, San Jose, Costa Rica)” Although it has it share of shortcomings (it’s not that clean, the rooms are not very nice), beside a quite large and well equipped kitchen, it has a wonderful tropical garden and swimming pool, that makes it worthwhile staying here. Especially on those hot and humid days, when you’re a bit far from the beach..

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Situated 5 hours east from San Jose, this chilled out beach town, will get you into the Caribbean vibe..

Puerto Viejo is a small town with only one main road, Filled with reggae colors and state of mind. If your looking for a laid back atmosphere, where you have nothing to rush for, and everything that you need is in walking distance, Puerto Viejo is the place for you.

Although its very touristic, the local style still controls the vibe, and you can enjoy your time, without feeling over crowded with tourist.

The best day time activity I did while I was traveling there, and many would agree it’s a must for everyone traveling there, is a bicycle ride from Puerto Viejo to the town manzanillo. On This beautiful 12 km route, you will find yourself biking through a magical tropical forest, small and lovely villages, very pretty beaches, and if you’re lucky enough, you might even see a few animals.

Leave early and don’t forgert your bathing suit. The beach in manzanillo is much nicer than the one in Puerto Viejo, and you can find yourself getting stuck in manzanillo, swimming, snorkeling or doing many other water activities you can find there. You have to do the bike ride, the 5 dollars you’ll spend on the bike rental, will do you one of the most perfect days of your trip.

Another great day time activity is horse back riding. Just next to rocking j’s hostel, you will find a small horse ranch. When I was there, the boss was out, and the guy there gave us the horses without any we took the horses for a beach was amazing.

Of course, in costa rica, how can we forget about surfing. Just outside Puerto Viejo, you can find a few of the world’s best surfing beaches. Just ask around..

Now during the night time, its time to party Puerto Viejo style. All around the beaches, you usually find a place to dance, eat, drink, smoke, or whatever you like, and it all comes in a mixture of locals and tourists, dancing bottom to bottom.. And not just cheesy tourist places. The best party I went to when I was there, was held in a hall in the center of town, just next to the police station..

One important travel tip, no bank in town or nearby. So do your money arrangements before you get there.

If your traveling alone, or with a group of people looking to meet new people, one great travel tip would be to stay at Rocking J’s. this beachside hostel, is a sure bet for having fun. No rooms, only tents or hammocks. But don’t hesitate on staying there, nor this time don’t to try to be “cool” and stay away from the crowd, especially if your traveling alone, choosing to stay there can make a whole lot of difference on your visit to Puerto Viejo. Everyone knows rocking j’s, so when you get to town, just ask where is it.

Manuel Antonio –

breathtaking. This beautiful blue ocean and white sand beach, is actually one of the most extravagant national parks latin America has to offer and in my opinion, it’s a must to all nature lovers.

Manueal Antonio stretches over 6827 square meters of land, and 550,000 of sea on the south pacific side of Costa Rica 7 km south of the small town of Quepos. Here you can get yourself lost, taking walking routs all over the park, surrounded by a lively tropical forest. It’s also one of those places that you can actually see animals in the wild such as raccoons, iguanas and if your slow enough you can also get hit by a slaughter monkey.. the best thing is that you don’t have to walk for hours to come across one.

When getting tired of walking around, the reward is spreading your beach towel on the white sand, and relaxing on the beautiful white sand, with beautiful scenery around you. When you feel like getting busy again, just get into the water and start any of the water activities like snorkeling or kayaking.

Around the national park, there are many accommodation choices available such as in costa verde. For the budget traveler, its best to find some cheap accommodation in quepos and the take bus from there to the nature park. You can also find in quepos a nice party to go to at night, and a variety of places to eat.

One places you should go to after a nice day at the park , is “el avion restaurant and bar” (calle manuel antonio, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica). This restaurant, bar, coffee store, and an enduring Cold War relic, is In a actuall Fairchild C-123 air plane that was a part of one of the biggest scandals in the mid 1980’s. During the Reagan Administration. Best time to go to is at sunset.
Its up to you for how long you wanna stay, with beautiful nature all around, for some a week cant be enough, and for some a 1 or 2 days trip can be much satisfying.

Mal pais– Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa and its more peaceful (and more expensive..) close by village of mal pais, is situated on maybe the most beautiful coastal shores of the pacific side of costa rica.

The ongoing development of This small village, hasn’t worn it out it, and it still keeps being a top travel destination for surfers looking for the best waves, or a tranquile travel destination for backpackers and romantic couples from all around the world. When I was there, Leonardo de caprio was there with his girlfriend Bar Rafaeli…

There’s not much to be said about a place like Santa Teresa. The best travel tip I can give about this place that it’s a place you have to feel its magic for yourself..

Being there Is a sure recipe for feeling a pure sensation of freedom and happiness, as every afternoon while you’re there you’ll see how the whole village gathers as one tribe at the beach, choosing whether to play football with the local kids, or just hanging out while waiting for another beautiful sunset to come.

It’s not that easy to get to Santa Teresa. From San Jose it’s a about 6 hours and it’s also involves switching from the bus to a ferry and then back to a bus. If you’re not renting a 4×4 car, Better get an including all fares ticket from a reliable public transportation company In San Jose. If you’re not in a hurry, One way to go is getting to the small town of Montezuma first, spending a night or two there, enjoying maybe the nightlife there, and then head to santa Teresa from there using the bus (1-1.5 hours).

Like all over costa rica, there are plenty of activities to fill your time with. One day time adventure I enjoyed very much doing while I was there was renting a quad and enjoying a sweet dirt road drive to the village of Montezuma (don’t forget to take a map from the quad rental place you choose..). My recommendation would be to rent the quad after a mild rainy day, then take the quad to off roads field route all the way to montezuma. The rain will make the road muddy and your ride much more fun..


This cool beach town is thriving with a large foreign community of musicians, artists, nature lovers, surf lovers and more..
Its beauty and serenity is worth a visit, whether if you’re on your way to Santa Teresa from San José and your looking to spend a night or more there, or whether you get there by a quad tour from Santa Teresa.
One place not to miss Is el chorro waterfall. It’s a wonderful tall waterfall outside of town along the coast. Go inside for a nice refreshing swim..around Montezuma there are also beautiful bays a white sand untouched beaches.

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If you’re getting bored of hanging out the beach (how can you?! ), and your missing the more cold remote feeling of the mountains, head to monte verde.

is on the country side of Costa Rica, about 4.5 hours ride, towards north west of San José.

Monteverde is actually a private nature reserve set about 1500 metes high, covered with a dusty foggy forest, with cool temperatures. This place is surrounded with nature, with over 100 mammals, 400 kinds of birds, and many flowers and plants including 420 types of orchids and even coffee plantations .

You can find various types of accommodation in one of the 10 village populated with true nature lovers around the area. Key factors would be finding one that has a balcony with hammocks overlooking the beautiful view…if you’re not with a car, try not to stay too far off your essential necessities like food, internet, banks and est.’

While you’re there, one thing you have to do is to take the canopy tour. There are two safe and reliable companies that operates these tours: Salvatore Zip Lines and Sky Trek Zip Lines. In this fun tour, you’ll walk through specially built bridges and platforms, zip line between the top of the tress, take omegas all with an amazing view as you’ll be hanging on the tree tops, virtually between the earth and the sky. Both of the canopy this company’s offer are very much satisfying and safe (trust me, even your grandma can do this), but there are a few differences so better check them out before you choose one.

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