Basically this post is going to be a big old picture vomit combined with some tips and tricks for a successful Costa Rica trip (from our successes and our failures).
Three things that we found made us successful in Costa Rica:
1. Know some Spanish. Costa Rica isn't Mexico and doesn't neighbor a big English speaking country... That meant that English wasn't spoken as widely as we're used to so you've got to get by. I can understand Spanish (thank the good Lord) but struggled with the dialect spoken in CR (it is different just like British or Australian English sounds different than ours). Sometimes people would just test my ability to understand and then would transition to speak in complete English so be prepared for that!
2. Ask questions. Costa Ricans love their culture and their country. We spent an hour and a half talking with one of our tour guides on the way home from a day trip and he taught us SO MUCH about the politics, social system, and education in Costa Rica... Those were amazing things to get to compare and contrast with America.
3. Be prepared to move and look and be "natural". I'm not a hiker, we all know that full well, but going to CR I knew that we were going to be spending lots of time looking at, walking around, basking in nature. And I was afraid that I'd be sick of it, or feel like those are MORE trees that I have to check out, but instead, loved it. I got my 10,000 steps in (hi Fitbit) in every day that we were there because monkeys in all the trees by the beach.
And pictures. Because you didn't come here just to read all my advice right?
I guess we had a great time... I mean, that ridiculous smile on my face says I'm eating up every ounce of what Costa Rica had to offer. We truly loved the excursions we took part of, seeing so many bits of the country and the richness of its culture and jungle and animals.
Three things you MUST do while you're in Costa Rica:
1. Try the Pina Coladas. Because pineapples grow ALL OVER there and you'll never have one as good as theirs. Also, THE COFFEE.
2. COFFEE. Duh. I mean, Jason was drinking three cups a day... And he's a man that wouldn't drink just one before we left.
3. Zipline. We have ziplined several times together and Costa Rica's can not be rivals. We went to Verdana which is on the North Pacific side of the country, but there are several locations... Dreamy you guys.
As much as we loved the sights and jungle, there were a few failures on our part. We didn't do hours upon hours of research about the country until a week before we were going to move out and, well, that made us realize we didn't know as much as we thought we did and that logistics exist -even on vacation.
Three things that we would do DIFFERENT next time around:
1. Stay in a few different places around the country rather than simply in a single spot. Costa Rica has SO MUCH to offer and, though it's small, the roads are wild and aren't big beautiful freeways that make travel super easy, soooo, we didn't get to see some of the things we wished we could have.
2. Be aware of what "off season" truly means. We have "off seasoned" in Cancun and Cabo and even (sort of) in Hawaii, but none looked like the "off season" in Costa Rica. When tourism is down and there are fewer travelers the hotels make money by dropping their rates in order to attract locals. That meant every morning two charter buses (at least) rolled up to the hotel and dropped off tons of people who immediately flooded into the pool and bar. It felt like a Vegas pool party every day... Which meant there wasn't a whole lot of relaxing.
3. Realize it can be hard to get there. We had some serious coordinating to do in getting from home to our hotel room in Costa Rica and back again... This meant there was some serious time spent in a van riding along the wild roads of CR. We loved our time there, but definitely realized we spent lots of it moving from one location to the next. This worked for us, but if you're looking to have a really relaxing vacation, this wouldn't have been ideal.