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What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Lenexa, Kansas
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2,476 posts
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What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

The following is what I learned from our recent trip to Costa Rica:

1. Trust the advice and recommendations from the experts on the forum, especially tours. We had some great tours (Manuel Antonio Tico Tours and Planet Dolphin in Manuel Antonio and Sky Trek and Eco Termales in La Fortuna). However, we probably had 2 of the worst tours of our traveling experience due to purchasing tours on the go in La Fortuna. They weren't mentioned on Trip Advisor, but sounded good.

2. Beef tastes much better in Costa Rica than in the United States. Perhaps it is because they con't use preservatives in Costa Rican meat.

3. The waiters/waitresses don't get all of the 10% tip tax charged to your bill. Please tip a little extra to your waiters/waitresses.

4. The food tastes great in Costa Rica. We never had a bad meal. The portions sizes are also generous.

5. People's expectations of beaches are different. I wouldn't go to Costa Rica for the beaches. In fact, I found the rip tide on the Manuel Antonio public beach and others to the north to be extremely strong - stronger than any place I have ever visited.

6. It was consistant when someone said the wak would just take 25 minutes you could always add on at least another 30 minutes.

7. I was amazed with the number of hostels. This is probably because the amount of backpackers, especially from foreign countries, who spend several weeks in the country.

8. I didn't realize how small the airport is in San Jose. The airport is easy to get around.

9. You are not allowed to take ground coffee in your check-on baggage. If you do purchase coffee in Costa Rica, buy it at a supermarket and ask the employees there for their recommendations.

10. We hired a private transfer with Tucan Limosine and would do it again. Excellent service and great people. The roads are narrower and signs difficult to follow at times. However, some people may like to drive themselves.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Thank you ...I really like the way you post...point by point...GRACIAS!

Glad you have a great time in our country...also nice that you enjoy our simple food...!


Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
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2. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Nice report, thanks for taking the time to post your experiences for others. I don't eat meat anymore, but I did here for a time and I agree it tastes better than in the USA if you find a good steak here. Come back soon.


Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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15,709 posts
60 reviews
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3. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Agree on all of the dcikon2 observations. Great learning, and very useful to future travelers to Costa Rica.

Baton Rouge...
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365 posts
83 reviews
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4. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

I'm curious about item 9 - no ground coffee in your checked bag? I've brought loads of it home on past trips in both checked and carry on bags. What reason were you given?

Puerto Viejo, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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5. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

I agree with doing research in forums and reviews of tours and accom. The reviews are quite accurate, especially if you read the ones who have multiple reviews.

It would be helpful if you could post and warn people about the ones that you say were horrible. It is great to try and weed all the bad providers out.

Destination Expert
for Playa Samara
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6. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Thank you for this report - your observations are spot-on. Chicken, by the way, also tastes a lot better in CR.

I also find estimates of walking times to vary widely. Alas, my five minute walk may be another person's 20 minute walk - simply based on physical fitness and acclimatization.

Like others, I wonder about the coffee comment - I have never had a problem bringing coffee to the US in my checked baggage. Lots of it. Since you wrote "check-on," did you mean "carry-on?"

If you think SJO is small, try LIR next time - it's tiny.

Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
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1,779 posts
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7. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

thanks for the point by point review!

Very odd that you were not allowed coffee in your 'check-on baggage' (which I am also assuming is carry-on). What happens to the coffee you buy at the souvenir shops at the airport? I have never had it taken away....

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
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132 reviews
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8. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

We purchase coffee from the airport store on the way back and never have a problem.

Perhaps they meant that Costa Rica doesn't allow coffee into the country.

Shanghai, China
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16 posts
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9. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Thanks for these updates! I wil be traveling with young kids, so bein realistic about walking times and the quality of tours is going to be critical! I'm inspired to write my own tip sheet when we get back!!

Salem, Massachusetts
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7 posts
31 reviews
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10. Re: What I learned from our trip to Costa Rica

Thanks for your tips!!

FYI- American Servers don't get the full tip either... goes to the bar, bussers, hosts, etc....