Know before you go, Costa Rica!
As always, before I went to Costa Rica, I read other blogs and got myself a lonely planet book on the country. We had many people recommend this country to us, but never gave us specifics about why. I’ll give you mine here, and what you need to know before you go.
Since we went at Christmas time, I was not as prepared as I usually am for a trip with our entire family of five. We chose to go with Backroads so that we could enjoy active travel and trust someone else with the plans. I’m not really a group travel kind of person, but it actually turned out great. Which makes me love Costa Rica even more.
Costa Rican tourism has exploded in the last ten years. The Ticos (as they are called) are in the midst of a generational switch from farming (coffee, palm, and spices) to this new industry called tourism. But they all know it is the way of the future. Somehow it makes the Thank You’s they give you when you buy something or visit even more heartfelt, not just automatic. They are lovely people and most speak English. Most of the menus come in both English and Spanish. However they love it when you try a little Spanish, especially kids, and smile even bigger. We found this to be true inland as well as on the pacific coast.
There are a few airports you can fly into depending on the places you will see in Costa Rica. We flew in to San Jose, but you can also fly into Liberia or Limon. The currency there is the Colones. However, everyone will take US dollars. Since there are not ATMs on every corner, make sure to load up at the airport on Colones since the rates are better if you use their currency. But it’s nice to know if you run out, they will take what you’ve got.
Costa Rica operates on central standard time. Which is fantastic with kids. No major time changes like Hawaii or Europe. No jet lag means happier kids and parents! Also, no changes in plugs from The U.S. So you don’t need that really heavy converter, or even the funky looking plugs!
I would definitely take rain gear. I’m not talking a poncho. I mean rain pants and jacket. Some of the inland areas get a lot of rain, and the hikes still go on, and the animals are still out there, so you just need to be prepared. We even did the world’s best zip line in the rain forest in the rain, and it was fabulous!! I was glad to have the rain gear to do it in.
Be sure to bring a camera and binoculars. I took over 600 pictures in one week. The pictures you see here are all taken by me. And most of the animals were so close I could reach out and touch them. Not in zoos, in the wild. Of course I did not touch them, they are very big on ecology in Costa Rica too. I’d HIGHLY recommend Costa Rica to families. I hope you enjoy the next series of posts that give you some specifics of the things we did and where in the fantastic country of Costa Rica!!