Hello Everyone! :) My family and I just came back to NYC from Costa Rica this morning. TACA Airlines did a last minute change, and they no longer provide straight direct flights. We were delayed for many hours yesterday. I just arrived in JFK this morning at 4:15am (my original arrival time was suppose to be 1:30am), and I was late to work (which really upsetted me). We were very disappointed with TACA's services. Wondering if anyone also had such similar experience as I did?
Below are my tips about the weather, and what to bring on the trip:
May to October (October has the most rain per the locals) is known as the rainy season. I stayed in Costa Rica from May 10 to 17. The weather was always evolving. Mornings to early afternoons was very humid and sunny (got very tanned) so please do bring summer clothings (t-shirt/tank tops, shorts, flipflops/sandals, hat/cap if you don't want to be burnt by the sun). Then around the afternoon to night, it would pour rain on and off (it depends on which area in Costa Rica you are at). Do also bring a nice durable rain jacket, waterproof shoes (my Merrill waterproof hiking shoes saved my life)/sneakers (you may end up having to throw your sneakers from the rain and smell), and/or umbrella, quick dry clothings (especially the quick-dry pants). Do also bring a bookbag (waterproof one would be ideal), where you can put your bottled beverage, snacks, rain jacket (carry this with you all the time as it does rain everyday) and other important items with you on your excursion trips. Also, if you don't want your IDs/passport, phone, or cameras to get wet -- get those ziplock bags to store those items in it. The ziplock bags will protect your items from the rain and humidity.
When I was in La Fortuna, it would always rain in the afternoon till night. I had a hard time keeping my clothes dry. It was mostly humid.
When I was in Monteverde, it had the most rain compared to La Fortuna. It rained every afternoon to night. It can get a bit chilly when the sun goes down, so bring a jacket or a light sweater so you don't get cold.
When I was in Arenal Manuel, it was so nice, humid and sunny most of the day. Then around late afternoon, it would pour some rain (but not as much as the one I have experienced in Monteverde).
***Please do bring a reliable insect repellant (I brought the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellant and it worked on my family and I). Do bring sunscreen lotions, lotion (skin can get very dry with the every changing weather), chap stick (to moisturize your dry lips), a pack of tissue or a towel to wipe your sweat.
All 3 places (La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio) all accepted USD dollars. For every 500 colones = $1 USD. So you can pay dollars or colones, as you like. Credit Card is also accepted here as well (supermarkets/restaurants/souvenir shops), just make find out what the interest rate is before you go. My sister used the Capital One card, and it had 0% interest rate.
Costa Rican money comes in coins and bills. Coins are only in 5 colones, 10 colones, 25 colones, 50 colones, 100 colones, and 500 colones. Bills comes in 1000 colones ($2 USD), 2000 colones ($4 USD), 5000 colones ($10 USD), 10,000 colones (features the "sloth" on its money which is $20 USD), 20,000 colones ($40 USD), and 50,000 colones ($100 USD).
*I didn't have to go to the atm or bank to break my USD money. I use the USD money in supermarkets and restaurants, and got back colones in return. And, I also asked the hotel workers who were nice enough to change currencies with me without charging extra interest rate.
Transportation Tips (for those who won't have a car):
In La Fortuna, the only tranportation we used get to to the town would be car service/taxi. I stayed at Arenal Manoa (beautiful place), and it cost about $12-14 from hotel to get to town one way. Taxis (red car), are counted based on the mileage (km & miles) and not by the minutes it is driven (as NYC taxi does). There is also a public bus you can take, but I do not know the price for it. Per the locals, the public bus is very slow (can operate once every 30 minutes, and after a certain time at night it can operate every hour).
In Monteverde, you really do not need to pay for car service/taxi to get into the town. The town is relevantly easy to walk through. We stayed at Poco-A-Poco, and we walked to town via feet in less than 5 minutes. Supermarkets and restaurants are within walking distance from most hotels/hostels. And, if you are doing excursions (Hanging Bridge/Cloud Forest/Canopy/etc), you have already paid for the company to pick you up. Do ask the concierge for help if needed. They are very helpful. If you are going to Selvatura Park (either to do canopy or hanging bridge), they provide a free roundtrip shuttle car to pick you up from your hotel/hostel, and then to bring you back to the hotel (it is based on a pick up time table).
In Manuel Antonio, you can walk to Quepos (downtown) or to the beach but it can be a long walk. Or you can wait at the bus stop and pay 280 colones (56 cents USD) per trip to the place you want to go. Bus operates every 20 minutes or so, and after 6:30pm it operates every hour). That is the most cost efficient way to get around there. You can pay for taxi/car service, but they may raise the price a bit high. In some hotels/hostels, they have free shuttle cars to take you to the beach (ask the concierge for more info), and it is based on a pick up time table.
**Bring Binoculars if you want to see nature - it is everywhere (especially in Monteverde & Manuel Antonio). And, a great camera to capture every single moment (you will end up taking tons of pics. I took 1000+ in 7 days).
Have a wonderful and safe trip! :) My family and I had a wonderful time, except for the TACA delay situation.
P.S - For those who want to see a sloth, I spotted a sloth in all 3 places. In Arenal, I randomly saw one when our driver stopped us near a tree around La Fortuna but the sloth was really high up). In Monteverde, do the night walk tour. There is a 2 toed sloth near the entrance (just ask your guide). In Manuel Antonio, there was 2 sloths (a 3 toed sloth high up on the trees near the entrance of Manuel Antonio National Park -- please ask guide to show you, and a BABY 2 toed sloth near the beach inside). The baby 2 toed sloth was really up close, and I spent 30 minutes staring at it, and filming it.