Costa Rica by the Numbers

While a small country, Costa Rica has a lot to offer. From beautiful beaches, to cloud-covered mountains and rumbling volcanoes, we enjoyed exploring the teeming wildlife and natural beauty of this lush country. These many attractions (along with a stable democratic government) have cultivated a thriving tourism industry – we found Costa Rica to be the most “touristy” country we have visited thus far, where you can find English spoken pretty much everywhere along with all the usual conveniences you can find at home. While we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Costa Rica, the throngs of tourists also meant high prices and a somewhat less-exciting or authentic travel experience.

Favorite/Least Favorites

Favorite Place: Tortuguero
Least Favorite Place: Tamarindo (too touristy, pricey, and overrated)

Favorite Foods: Sopa Negra (black bean soup with poached eggs) and cheap Casados (filling set meals)
Least Favorite Food: Gallo Pinto (aka rice & beans – breakfast, lunch, and dinner…when will it end?!)

Favorite Beer: Imperial
Least Favorite Beer: Pilsen

Favorite Accomodations: Private Mountaintop Guesthouse (at the finca after rafting)
Least Favorite Accomodations: Cabinas Vaz, Cahuita (cockroaches and the world’s most disgusting kitchen!)

Favorite Sights: Nesting turtles at Tortuguero
Biggest Disappointment: Volcano Arenal (no lava!)
Offbeat Must-Do: Night Walk in the Cloud Forest (Monteverde)
Must-See: Tortuguero

Heather’s Scariest Experience: Whitewater Rafting the River Pacuare
Erik’s Scariest Experience: Tarzan Swing / Zip Lining in Monteverde

Other Numbers

Days in Costa Rica: 14
Distance Traveled: 703 miles
Cities/Towns Visited: 6 (Tamarindo, Monteverde, Fortuna, Finca near Siquierres, Tortuguero, Cahuita)
Buses: 3
Shuttles: 5
Taxis: 4
Boat trips: 8
Planes: 0
Beds slept in: 7
Rooms with A/C: 1
Nights under mosquito net: 2
Oceans: 2
Swimming pools: 4
Ruins: 0
Traveler’s stomach incidents: 0
Days on antibiotics: 14
Near-death experiences: 1 (whitewater rafting!)
Bugbites: many
Museums: 1
Restaurants: 13 (we ate out less than once per day, on average)
Sunburns: 0
Pictures Taken: 1,279 (Costa Rica) / 7,959 (Total, trip thus far)


We knew Costa Rica would be expensive – but we had no idea it would be so expensive. Even though we ate out less than once per day (and when we did it was usually a soup or cascado at a “cheap” soda restaurant), we ended up spending as much on food as we did in Honduras, where we ate out nearly three times a day. Shopping in supermarkets, we found prices to be as high as they are back home, even on essential items like grains and produce. In addition, expensive activities such as our trip to Tortuguero, whitewater rafting, and zip lining were responsible for nearly half of our daily expenditures. Throw in pricey “budget accommodations” and Costa Rica added up to be the most expensive country we’ve visited so far.

Here were our daily expenditures:

Food $28
Drinks $8
Lodging $34
Transportation $11
Activities $74
Other $1
Total $156/day

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