In the summer of 2017, we traveled together with Margriet her sister and family (husband and three kids) to Costa Rica. Since we were with a big group, we made most arrangements (4WD and housing) before we left. You need to be a bit on time with this since Costa Rica is becoming popular. All-in-all we have stayed around four weeks in this beautiful country.
We rented two 4WDs which actually was not a luxury. It gave us some flexibility (not everyone wants to do the same things every day) and some dirt roads are more easily accessible with a 4WD. The roads are good in general and the traffic is not too heavy. We have traveled quite a lot, visiting many parts of the country. Don’t expect to travel fast, take your time and do some sightseeing along the way.
Food and Accommodation
The food is good in Costa Rica. There are good supermarkets (with very good fruit!) and also restaurants. The nicest restaurants are the Soda’s: do not expect a haute cuisine, but the local flavor and nice surroundings compensate easily. One sits usually outside, has a simple meal with a beer and a nice conversation with the locals. People are friendly and talkative, especially if one speaks a bit of Spanish. There are many eco-lodges and some of them are really nice, such as Congo Bongo (at the Caribbean coast) and the Caro Project (close by the Pacific Coast). They are not cheap, but worthwhile to stay at because of the surroundings and their idea of sustainability.
Nature and culture
No Mayans, Toltecs nor Aztecs in Costa Rica, so do not expect spectacular culture. Nature, on the other hand, is spectacular! This was also the main reason for us to go there besides, of course, the outdoor activities (see later). The nature is very diverse and this is one of the main attractions of Costa Rica. The country is relatively small (even for Dutch standards) but nature changes quickly without having to drive for days in a row. The Caribbean- and Pacific Coast are nice and not too busy when avoiding the popular places. The rain-forest is spectacular and also the fauna is overwhelming: we saw sloths, armadillos, iguanas, monkeys, toucans and many other beautiful birds.
There are many outdoor activity possibilities in Costa Rica. One can surf at the coasts (both Caribbean as well as Pacific); make walks in the national parks including hanging bridges or take a bath in hot springs. But simply walking along the beach at quiet places is already rewarding. Don’t expect to make multi-day treks in the national parks with a tent on your own: the trails are cultivated and adapted to the average tourist.