After spending a week in Costa Rica, I’ve learned that it’s extremely beautiful, with its wide range of Pacific Coast beaches, day long hikes, and hidden waterfalls. With that being said, I’ve also learned that it can be pretty cheap- and also very expensive (I felt like I was in NY with some of the prices).
However, I want to share with you how I backpacked for a short time in Costa Rica, and how I did it cheaply (more stories to come in detail in the future). The prices below are from my departure date, January 13th, to my arrival date back to NY, January 20th.
I’ll break it down for you. The first three nights I spent at Coral Reef Surf Hostel in Tamarindo, which was $15 a night for a 14 person room. This was the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in! It was clean, the staff was very friendly, the beds were comfortable, and there was an area with hammocks and tables where everyone who was staying at the hostel relaxed (and it was only $15 a night- great for an expensive country!). I met a lot of other travelers who were also staying there that I spent a lot of my time with.
Next up was one night at El Sol Verde Lodge, for $13.75 for a tent house (total was $27.50, which was split by two people). I wish I had stayed longer here. The lodge is owned by a Dutch couple, and is in a small town called Curubandé. I stayed here because it was the perfect location to settle down in before going to Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which is a 20 minute drive from the lodge (and they set up a shuttle for you). The owners gave us a map of the surrounding area and advice on how to hike Rincon de la Vieja the following day. I stayed in a tent house, which was like fancy camping. It was perfect! I fell asleep listening to crickets and dogs barking in the distance.
The final three nights I Couchsurfed. I got SO lucky with my host. Not only was he extremely accommodating and friendly, but his friends were so nice and the location was perfect. I felt as though I had known him and his friends for longer than just a few days. I stayed on the first floor in his apartment in Playas del Coco.
This is including my flight … KIDDING! If only… that would make me very happy haha. Anyway, I traveled mostly by public bus (which, if you’re going to Costa Rica, is AWESOME! And dirt cheap). I traveled from the Liberia airport to Tamarindo, a 2 hour bus ride, for $2.70. While I was waiting for the bus, a cab driver came up to us and offered a ride to Tamarindo for $60- no thank you! Although I ended up waiting about 2 hours for the bus to come (It came at 2:30, and we got to the stop at 2:50, and then it skipped 3:30 and came at 4:30), it was worth it.
I took a bus from Tamarindo back to Liberia for the same price. From Liberia, a cab to Curubandé was $10 each. The shuttle from El Sol Verde to Rincon de la Vieja was $5 each way (same price no matter how many people you are, whether you’re one or five). The driver was also able to drive us back to Liberia so we could catch our bus to Playas del Coco for $7.50 each.
The bus from Liberia to Playas del Coco was $1.22, and we took a couple $3.77 cab rides from the beach to my host’s apartment, which we split. And, my host’s friend drove us to the airport- we offered him gas money, but he kindly denied (there are so many perks to having a great couchsurfing host!).
I could have easily narrowed this down, however, there was one dinner where I accidentally spent $16 at Bar Coconutz in Playas del Coco, which was the most I spent on food the whole trip. Be careful of some of the restaurants, especially in a touristy area, the prices will be like a dinner out in NYC. However, before we got a cab from Liberia to Curubandé, we ate at a restaurant- between the two of us, we got two plates of arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) which came with salad and plantains, a pepsi, and two coffees, for a total of $12, $6 each! I was so happy. The restaurant was in the Mercado Municipal de Liberia, facing the bus station.
I went grocery shopping, which, if you bought the right food, was pretty cheap. For example, a watermelon was about $1, while one apple was $3- I chose to not eat apples for the week. We bought beer as well, and brought some beer and liquor to our host’s apartment as a thank you.
I bought groceries for breakfast and lunch, and then went out to dinner five out of the seven nights I was there. Most hostels will have a refrigerator for you to keep your food in and a kitchen to cook. My couchsurfing host let us use his refrigerator and kitchen, which was very helpful.
I could have easily made this $0, but I splurged a couple of times. I went on a 2 hour boat tour with a local in Tamarindo for $15, where we saw crocodiles and monkeys. I went to Rincon de la Vieja National Park (the prettiest hike I’ve ever done in my life) which was a $15 entrance fee. And finally, my last splurge of the week was on the last day, a 4 hour sunset cruise with unlimited drinks, food, and snorkeling for $85 (ouch!), with Marlin del Ray Sailing Tours (totally worth it though).
Not optional: $29
There is a departure fee to leave Costa Rica! So, you have no choice but to pay it… or stay there forever!