Do you plan to visit Costa Rica with your family this year? Statistics show 73% of the fun and excitement of a Costa Rica vacation is the preparation. However, the preparation can overwhelm some people. If you’re like me, you search YouTube and other Social Media up down and all around for tips. By now you’ve probably researched so many sites, you can’t remember what you were looking for in the first place.
Before you throw your hands up and scream, “I quit,” I have some Costa Rica travel tips to help your vacation be the best one yet.
What to Pack for Your Costa Rica Vacation
Keep a few things in mind when you pack for your trip. Outside of San Jose, most places are informal, so leave your prom dress, tux, and travel iron at home. You’ll stand out if you show up overdressed. Many vacation rental homes have an iron if you need one, but no one cares if your shirt has a few wrinkles. You won’t need your bling or diamond crusted heels in Costa Rica. A nice comfortable pair of sandals or flip flops will work just fine. Tennis shoes, water shoes, or secure sandals with a heel strap are a must if you plan to enjoy a zipline tour or other adventure tour. Most tour operators won’t let you participate if you don’t wear secure shoes. If your rhinestone-studded flip flop flies off your foot while gliding through the rain forest canopy, there’s no way to stop and search for it in the dense vegetation below.
What to Wear in Costa Rica
Choose light fabrics and breathable cotton blends. Pack shorts, sun dresses, and casual collared shirts or t-shirts. Heavier fabrics will be hotter and make you sweat more. They’ll also take longer to dry in this humid climate. You’ll want a few swimsuits for your Costa Rica trip. It’s no fun having to wear a semi-wet swimsuit under your clothes after a day at the beach or after an adventure tour. Bring a pair of long pants and close-toed shoes but save them for the flight to Costa Rica and the flight back home.
It’s the Humidity
Everyone perspires here. Hey, it’s the tropics, so don’t worry if you sweat or “glow” while you stroll through the farmer’s market or head for a restaurant. I like to think of it as nature’s moisturizer. Everyone’s skin looks younger here. When I visit family in California and go to brush my teeth that first morning, I look in the mirror half asleep then jump back in shock, “Damn, who is that woman who looks ten years older than me? Did an elephant crawl under her skin while she was asleep!?”
A couple of extra shirts to change into after a hot day of exploration is a must. A cold or cool shower will help you adjust to the humidity and make you feel invigorated. If the thought of taking a cold shower makes your teeth chatter, I understand. If it gets below 75˚, I shiver and reach for a sweater. Try this for a starter; at the end of your shower, turn the water down as cold as you can handle it. You’ll feel cool and refreshed.
By now you’ve got to be tired of having frozen your butt off after this recent winter that broke all records. Some parts of you probably haven’t seen the light of day for a while. Be sure to pack some good sunscreen for your trip. You can buy sunscreen here in Manuel Antonio and around Costa Rica but it’s expensive.
Bring a strap for your sunglasses to keep them on your head while on a tour or on the beach. The waves of Manuel Antonio beach have snatched hundreds of glasses right off the faces of beach goers. I just had a friend lose a pair at the beach last week. He did get a pretty sweet body surfing ride first. The straps are cheap, and you’ll be happy to have your sunglasses during the sunny, warm tropical days here.
Costa Rican Rain
Bring along a dry bag to store electronics and important documents if you travel during the rainy season. Here rain can appear out of nowhere. You’ll be happy to have something to protect your valuables from getting wet if you’re caught by a surprise downpour. You’ll find a compact pocket umbrella very useful on your travels during the rainy season. FYI — it can still rain here in the dry season, but it doesn’t last very long. If you’re looking online for weather forecasts for your Costa Rica trip — beware — they’re mostly wrong. They usually say 80% chance of rain or thunderstorms, but that just means it’s raining somewhere in Costa Rica. Ask your concierge if you have any questions about the weather.
Exchange Your Money in Costa Rica
There’s no need to exchange US dollars for colones before you get to Costa Rica. Nearly everywhere accepts US dollars and you receive a much better exchange rate at local banks than at the airport or banks in the US. Beware of money exchange windows at the airport that say, “no commission.” They may not charge you a commission, but they give you a dismally low exchange rate. Also keep in mind you can get colones at the many ATMs throughout the country.
Last Minute Details
Where is my passport? Oh no! Did it expire? Did I double check flight times? Do we leave at 12:00 P.M. or 12:00 A.M.? Did I lock the front door? Uh oh, can’t remember if I gave the emergency contact information to the dog sitter.
Don’t stress out by leaving important details for the last day. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and remember to enjoy the process. A vacation should leave you feeling refreshed and with your batteries charged, not drained from bungled last-minute details before you even leave. I hope these tips will help your Costa Rica vacation or your Costa Rica family vacation be the best vacation yet.
We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.