Costa Rica May Not Be Right For You If…

I’m not gonna lie, tourism is very important to Costa Rica, but even so, here are some things that may turn off potential visitors to our lovely country.

You may want to rethink your decision to visit/move here if…

  • Facekini in China
    "China’s New Facekini" photo © unknown

    You don’t like sunshine.

    This is the tropics after all.  The sun is closer to the planet than most places, so it’s highly likely that the summers will be warmer than what you’re used to, not to mention the drastic temperature swing if you’re currently enduring a cold climate back home.

    For those of fairer skin, you’ll be wanting to cover up or apply high SPF protection.  Burnt skin doesn’t look good on anyone.  Also, just because it shines a lot, doesn’t mean it’s a constant sunny day.

    Alternatively, when the sun sets, there’s nearly zero twilight — it just turns dark almost immediately — all thanks to the geometrical relationship with the relatively flat horizon.

  • Costa Rica's famous Arenal volcano
    "Arenal Volcano" photo © VRAC

    You don’t like natural beauty.

    As one of the most pristine places left on the planet, if the wonders of Nature don’t impress you, then you’ll be wasting a lot of time here in Costa Rica.  If you plan to have your face planted in your smartphone, you might as well skip the waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes and stunning sunsets to either play more Pokemon Go or like your friend’s Facebook posts of them having fun.

  • Smiling Faces in Costa Rica
    "Smiley Face" photo © Sara Ford

    You don’t like friendly people.

    "Ticos" as Costa Ricans are known, are rightly proud of their nation, and like to share it with visitors.  They’ll happily take time out of their day to show off a local sight or the monkeys in the trees — without expecting anything in return, which may be disconcerting for someone from a less friendly country.

    Although it may not be exactly like small town USA, Ticos are also curiously interested in you.  Consider sharing a little travel news about your plans in idle chitchat while waiting here and there.  It’s actually endearing.

    Likewise, if you’re expecting total seclusion, then you may want to rent off the beaten path.

  • Costa Rica's National Theatre
    "National Theatre" photo © Wikipedia

    You like the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan city.

    Downtown San Jose does have several notable buildings; such as the National Theater and the Cathedral, but all in all, this isn’t Rome, New York, or Chicago for that matter.

    It’s not just the architecture that’s different, but also the time and attitude.  Hawaii has "island time", we have "Tico time" brah.  Things get done when they get done.  If you’re in a major rush to see and do, then either plan a longer stay or opt for one of those flash tours of seven European countries in seven days.  We’re not like that here and you’ll be impatient and cross when all we’re doing is living a good life.

  • Beachline Shade in Costa Rica
    "Beach Shade" photo © Sara Ford

    You don’t like humidity.

    A large percent of the country is jungle and with the shade and sunshine comes humidity.  The same is true with the beaches along both coastlines.  Unless you’re enjoying the spa, pool, and air conditioning at the Four Season’s, you’re going to perspire.  Maybe even a lot — depending on the season.

  • Iguana in a Tree in Costa Rica
    "Iguana in a Tree"
    photo © Sara Ford

    You’re squeamish over critters.

    Did I mention the jungle?  Hosting such a diverse amount of species comes with a few drawbacks.  One of which are creepy crawly spiders, snakes, lizards, frogs, and bugs of all sizes, colors, and ickyness.

    I know it’s been said that the animals are more afraid of you, then you are of them, but you wouldn’t know it when you scream like a little girl.  Yes, they can startle you, but it’ll be okay.  They’ll go back to their business at hand.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to share a room with them, but don’t be amazed if one (or two) make their appearance during your trip.

    It’s the whole Circle of Life thing.  If that bothers you, stay home and watch the Broadway version of the Lion King.

  • International Money
    "Multiple Denominations" photo © Sara Ford

    You expect everywhere to be just like home.

    Well Dorothy, we’re definitely not in Kansas and things are going to be new and different all at the same time.  Roll with it.

    Speaking of rolls, bringing a wad of your local cash isn’t the answer for everything.  U.S. dollars are welcomed, but have small bills, like twenties, alongside a handful of local cash.  Don’t be that guy blocking the highway because you don’t have any colones to pay the toll…

    Speaking of speaking, Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica; however, English is widely spoken — just try to keep it simple please.  We don’t always pick up on nuances or overly descriptive/technical explanations.  Our adjectives are placed behind the noun, so we like to know the meaning before the flowery comments.  😉

  • Local Food of Costa Rica
    "Local Food" photo © Sara Ford

    You don’t like to try new things.

    Eating is going to be rough since there isn’t a McDonald’s or Starbucks on every corner.  You’ll be eating at local restaurants and cantinas (if you’re lucky) and their menu will not be like Denny’s.

    Get used to the taste of rice and beans, and well, beans with rice…  But it isn’t all the same; with a wide selection of fresh tropical fruit, vegetables and seafood, healthy and tasty meals are easy to come by without breaking the bank.

  • Tourists' Valuables
    "Visitors’ Valuables" photo © Sara Ford

    You like to be flashy with your bling.

    The one bad thing Costa Rica does have is petty crime.  In a peaceful nation without an army, we still have some bad apples here and there.  Unfortunately, tourists are easy targets.  They’re clueless for the most part, like to carry their expensive cameras and phones, wear their gold watches and rings, and pay in cash.  Don’t be like John Q Public; use some common sense in a foreign country.

    The same is valid for your passport, airline tickets and/or other travel documents.  Keep ’em safe.

  • Beachside Drinks in Costa Rica
    "Beachside Drinks" photo © Sara Ford

    You like to be cheap.

    Budget-conscious is one thing.  Plain ole cheap is another.

    There’s supposedly a 10% gratuity charge on menus, but some wait staff will get this while others won’t, or in some cases, it’s shared between all the employees.

    For those who work in the tourism and service industries — servers, bell hops, doormen, drivers, etc. — minimum wage is slightly more than $4 USD an hour.  Tips make a huge difference in their lives, so please consider rewarding those who provide great service or go above and beyond for you.

    If an extra $15 – $20 in total tips is going to break your bank, then you may want to rethink your trip to Costa Rica and choose to go to Vegas instead where you can use that coupon for the "all you can eat" buffet.

Sloth-Style Yogain Costa Rica
"Sloth Yoga"
photo © Caters/The Telegraph

The biggest things are to relax and take in the beauty of the surroundings.   If you’re in a rush, it won’t really matter what you’re doing because you’re going to miss it anyways.

Same thing is true for being distracted — by your phone or whatever.  You might as well stay home and take care of business or learn how to disconnect yourself from your daily routine long enough to realize that there’s more to life than those same four walls.

Get out and stretch — your mind as well as your body.  Costa Rica is a great place to do that.  We’ve got yoga here too folks — even with our national tourism mascot!

Hope to see you soon.

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Salma A.

It’s a good post with some advice like heavy sun shine due to geographic area. I love you advice such as local people are friendly with visitors. Of course don’t forget to visit National Theatre and the Cathedral.