If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica anytime soon, you're in for a treat! Costa Rica is beautiful and can be so much fun -- not to mention a surfer's complete dream. This summer I lived in the heart of Costa Rica studying Spanish and traveled all over the country exploring. Costa Rica has everything from mountains to rain forests and beaches to cities, there's seriously something for everyone here.
Costa Rican people or "Ticos" are some of the most kind-hearted and genuinely happy people I have ever met. The quality of hospitality you will see here is unmatched! To make the most of your experience here, check out the following tips!
1. Use your Spanish!
Before traveling to Costa Rica, I assumed that most people there would speak both Spanish and English. Needless to say, I was completely wrong. There were a few English speakers at the hotels we stayed at and a few excursions we went on, however, the majority of Ticos spoke Spanish only or had very limited English. Even if the only Spanish you know is from high school -- use it! They will appreciate it so much and will be so happy that you're speaking to them in Spanish.
In order to save yourself from a translation disaster, download the app "SpanishDict." It has insanely good translations and you don't need wifi or cell signal for it to work! This app is a life saver!
2. Exchange your money at the airport and use Costa Rica's currency "colones."
Most places in Costa Rica will take American money and even give you change in colones if that's what you want, however almost every place has a slightly different exchange rate. In order to make sure that you get the best exchange rate, be sure to exchange it at a bank in Costa Rica or the airports.
3. Always have a copy of your passport (or some other official form of identification) on you at ALL TIMES.
Similar to international travelers coming to the United States, you must always have proof of who you are. You will also need to show your passport or a copy to check in to your hotel. This is SO important!
4. Don't spend the whole trip trying to get the perfect Instagram picture.
On your Costa Rica trip, try and disconnect yourself from the rest of the world and focus on the serenity and beauty that will surround you. Who cares what Susan posted on Facebook or if Chad snapchatted you today -- you're in freaking Costa Rica!
Costa Rica is truly such a tranquil place that is perfect for disconnecting and "recharging" yourself. Let yourself relax and truly take everything in.
5. ¡Pura Vida!
You'll hear that saying at least 15 times a day while in Costa Rica, it means the pure life or the good life. Basically, Ticos are genuinely always carefree and happy and this one saying embodies the entire culture. It's pretty comparable to our saying "go with the flow".
So, when you're in Costa Rica don't think too hard about anything. Don't be scared to do the zipline or white water rafting. You're in Costa Rica -- live it up! ¡Pura Vida!