What is so Special about Costa Rica?

Want to know which is the most puzzling Costa Rica travel question for me?  Why is Costa Rica so special and why do I prefer it over other Central American destinations.

Costa Rica is a privileged country boasting of a wide range of flora and fauna, within the borders of this relatively small country every corner oozes with vibrant energy and beauty.  If good things come in small packages and so does Costa Rica. I am always amazed at how it is possible that within this small country there is so much diversity.

Just think of it, if you are staying in San José either the nearest beach or volcano is but a two-hour ride.   There are not many countries in this world where you can have such a great accessibility to different types of ambiances within a relatively short distance from the capital.

The weather is definitely a plus, yes there are plenty of Central American countries and I have been to a few of them too, however Costa Rica has the perfect weather for me, it is not too hot and it is also not too chilly.

Maybe this is only my experience, one of the main reasons I love Costa Rica is because of the people in general.  I have always been greeted with a smile even when they did not understand what I needed or wanted, their intention to help me out was good enough to win me over.  I guess Costa Ricans are optimists at heart, don’t get me wrong, they have their hardships in life, however that does not affect their outlook in life.

Somehow every time I visit Costa Rica I feel it is an inner journey that leads me back to my essence, my soul and even my purpose.

Booking in Advance

For the last couple of years I have been traveling to Costa Rica every chance I get to catch wild waves.  My friends think I am already a local and bombard me with questions all the time so I think it is just fair that I get a chance to write about it and share it with you.

How much in advance should you book when you are planning your vacations in Costa Rica?

The answer behind this frequently asked Costa Rica travel question lies in a simple logic: during high season make sure to make reservations at least 3 or four months in advance.  If it is the green season you can perfectly reserve with just a month or maybe two in advance.  The high season goes from December to April and the green season from May to November.  Besides taking note about the season, it is also wise to take note about the local holidays.  December and January are months full of cheer and festivities  and I would certainly recommend that you book at least 3 months in advance.  This same situation will also occur during April, especially during the Easter Holidays as locals will most probably flood to the beaches.  The month of July is also a very popular month for locals to travel so make sure to make your reservations early.  As for the months of May, June, August, September, October and November you can easily book with just a month or two in advance.

A great tip to make most of offers is to follow your favorite hotels through social media and subscribe to their newsletters so you will always be on their mailing list to receive “Early Bird” offers and other promotions.  One of my favorite places is the Best Western Jacó Beach Resort, an all inclusive hotel where I can always relax and forget about practically everything.  Jacó beach attracts surfers from around the world year round and it is only a two-hour ride from San José.

Currency Exchange

Money, money, money, it makes the world go round and although the concept is global the denominations are not. Back in the days traveler’s checks were widely used for traveling purposes, it did take you a visit to a local bank to cash the check and it would also involve some cashing fees.

Thankfully, now all you need to do is to take your debit or credit card with you along with some cash and you are set to enjoy the best that Costa Rica has to offer. Is it really that simple? Yes it is, well at least in Costa Rica. You have no idea how many times I have been asked about this simple Costa Rica travel question. Many of my friends worry if they should carry large amounts of money and if they need to change all of that cash at the first currency exchange they find.

Carrying all your cash is not only unnecessary it is not practical at all and in my experience the best exchange rate is provided by banks. Costa Rica is a very civilized country and chances are that you will be able to use your debit card at most ATM’s and withdraw just the necessary amount of Costa Rican colones for your specific purpose. You will also find ATM’s very accessible and some hotels, for example the Best Western  Irazú Hotel & Casino has an ATM at the lobby where you will feel comfortable and protected to make you transactions.

Personally I always carry the amount of around $200 in $20 and $50 notes, you know, just in case you ran out of colones (the Costa Rican currency) and you need to pay in cash. Take note that for security reasons most shops and restaurants will not accept hundred dollar bills.

Just one small word about the currency exchange rate in Costa Rica, most banks will show you two prices, the selling price (venta) and the buying price (compra).  When you have US dollars or any foreign currency and you are buying colones, the corresponding exchange rate is the one listed as “compra”.  If however you own colones and want to buy US dollars then they will sell you those dollars under the exchange rate listed as “venta”.