A group of my friends and I were finally able to get away and plan a vacation to Costa Rica. With many things to celebrate – graduation, job promotions, business success, etc.— we were well overdue for a celebratory getaway. We started with a list of potential options of places to go, but Costa Rica won us over with its scenery and being a place that the majority of us hadn’t been to.
I’m going to bring you through all the details of our trip, but first I’ll share a few things you need to know before traveling there as of June 2021.
Things you will need:
- Travel insurance (we used Sagicor)
- Completed health pass
- Visit here for additional entry requirements
Other things to keep in mind:
- Everything closes at 9 pm due to the pandemic – this was nowhere to be found online before going, so we were in for a rude awakening.
- There are two airports – choose wisely based on the area you are staying in.
- Be mindful of the area you stay in and its proximity to places you want to visit.
- Must take COVID-19 test while there and show proof of negative results at the airport to return to the U.S. We took ours at a local hospital.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty! Our booking process for everything that we did was seamless since we were able to utilize the concierge team provided by our Airbnb host for the majority of our trip necessities. They provided (with an additional fee, of course) our roundtrip transportation from the airport to our luxury villa located in Playa Ocotal.
Where we stayed
After contemplating whether to stay at a resort or house for our group, we settled on booking a villa through Airbnb. Our top choices quickly booked for the dates we wanted, but we ended up finding Islana – Ocotal Luxury Villa with Private Pool for a reasonable rate.
The 3-story home was beautiful and spacious for our group, but it was not a 5-star rating for us due to some furniture updates that were needed and an excess number of bugs that accumulated throughout the home at night. Mind you, we were aware of the bugs to an extent from some of the reviews we read, but reality kicked in for us quick at night (yikes, lol).
Again, the home was still beautiful, and the view was amazing, but if you choose to stay here BE AWARE of the bugs and no stair railings.
On a positive note, concierge services were available to us for free during our stay at the home, and we had an amazing caretaker who guarded the home 24/7. The concierge helped us with everything we needed upon request, so that was a plus to have.
As I mentioned, our concierge team helped us book our roundtrip transportation to the airport, but we utilized Jeffrey with ATV Beach Tours for all our daily travel needs. We reached out to him to book one ATV excursion and ended up using his service for our entire trip. Their team was AMAZING and took us to all our excursions + anywhere else we asked to go along the way. I 10/10 recommend using their team for all your transportation and excursion needs while visiting Costa Rica!
On our first day in town we got settled into our home and enjoyed the pool and a night of games. Our nightlife consisted of utilizing our home due to everything else closing at 9 pm during our visit.
On our second day we did an ATV & Zipline excursion which was by far my favorite activity! We got to see the towns, beaches in the area, wildlife and more. Not to mention, our tour guides were THE BEST.
The next day we traveled to Llanos del Cortez Waterfall to check out the pretty view. While it was gorgeous, I will say that this was not worth taking up the majority of our day due to being 1.5 hours away from the city we were staying in. After the waterfall, we visited the beach area in Tamarindo and enjoyed relaxing in the area. Overall, we made the 3+ hour car ride from our commute super fun by playing several rounds of an intense game we gave the name “categories.”
On our last day, we booked a private catamaran boat that started in Playa Ocotal and took us throughout Costa Rica. We spent four hours sailing sea while having the option to snorkel and visit surrounding areas. The water was pretty and steady for swimming, too!
We booked all our excursions through ATV Beach Tours and they were extremely accommodating.
The food here was great, as to be expected. We ate at a few local restaurants but utilizing a private chef for several of our meals was the best choice we could have made. Costa Rica Beach Services & Private Chef exceeded our expectations by far! We enjoyed our full-course steak and shrimp dinner along with a delicious American breakfast they made for us – 10/10 recommend using their services while visiting!
Money and Pricing
Overall, I didn’t feel like this trip was overly expensive, but I do think that staying at an all-inclusive resort will give you more bang for your buck. However, in some cases it makes sense to do things differently when traveling with a larger group. The colon is the offical currency in Costa Rica (1 USD = 618.33 CRC). U.S. dollars was acepted by all merchants in Costa Rica, but do be prepared to receive cash back in Costa Rican colon when shopping at local stores. We brought plenty of cash with us from home, so this was our primary way of paying for most things during our visit.
For the most part, pricing was reasonable for everything we purchased at local grocery stores, restaurants and liquor stores. However, we found that purchasing alcohol at the airport once we arrived was cheaper than buying at other locations in the city.
For this vacation I shopped at the following stores:
Missguided – I found lots of cute swimsuits and cover-ups for this trip!
Red Dress – they have the most adorable dresses – from cute day dresses to outfits that are perfect for date/nightlife!
SHEIN – I usually do a big haul from here for vacations since everything is so cheap and the type of items I don’t mind only wearing once. Unfortunately for this vacation most of the items I ordered didn’t fit me like they did the models pictured (lol), but I usually have better luck.
Target – TAR-JAY never fails me. From cute shoes to straw hats and all the accessories I didn’t know I needed.
Shop my vacay looks
Leave comments if you have any questions, or even if you enjoyed the read!