5 Common Misconceptions About Travel in Costa Rica

I get it! It’s totally understandable to have misconceptions about a place you’ve never been to before. The thing is that misconceptions can trip you up when you go to plan a vacation. Answering questions and sharing expertise is only part of the way our Costa Rica Experts can streamline the travel planning process for you. The following are just a few of the assertions we hear regularly. Here, I’ll debunk some common misconceptions about travel in Costa Rica before your trip!

Misconception 1: The most popular vacation destination is the Caribbean Coast.

Gandoca Manzanillo Caribbean

The wild and rustic Gandoca Manzanillo Caribbean

In fact, the most popular vacation destination is the Pacific Coast. While ecosystems and resort styles vary all along the coast, the Pacific is more developed. It is here that you have your Marriotts and your Hyatts, mostly clustered up on the Northern-most arm of Guanacaste – not far from the Liberia international airport. Just south of Guanacaste, you have the idyllic, but the less-frequented Nicoya Peninsula. A favorite among yogis and surfers, this blue-zone hot spot offers a barefoot luxury experience for wellness seekers looking to get off-grid. Moving south, Manuel Antonio is perhaps the most popular national park in the country, and the most easily accessible from the capital of San Jose and San Jose international airport. Intimate boutique hotels are the name of the game here. Further south still is Dominical in the southern Pacific region known for newer ultra-luxury boutique hotels. It’s only just getting built up. Dominical is just within reach of the wonders of the Osa Peninsula, home to some of the last remaining deep rainforests in the world. There are rustic rainforest ecolodges on the Osa Peninsula, but not as many choices as the multitude offered up north. If you are interested in the unforgettable deep-rainforest experience that the Osa Peninsula offers, I highly recommend it, but logistics can be a bit tricky. Work with an Expert!

I can’t debunk this myth without addressing the Caribbean Coast as a destination. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fantastic as well. It’s mainly divided into two major sections, Tortuguero National Park in the north and the white-sand palm-lined Caribbean beaches in the south. Tortuguero is an Amazon-like network of lush jungle rivers and unique wildlife. Again, it’s a bit tricker to reach your destination. A Costa Rica Expert can help coordinate those details. The Southern Caribbean really encapsulates a Caribbean island vibe with a uniquely Costa Rican flare. Only, it’s rustic compared to the Pacific side. You won’t find big resorts out here – only a few intimate boutique hotels. Some of which are high-end and truly noteworthy! In sum, there’s a lot less foot traffic and it’s not quite as built up.

Misconception 2: There will be white-sand beaches.

Costa Rica Pacific Beaches

One of the many unique beaches of Costa Rica

There are white-sand beaches! But there are also dark brown, some black, and everything in between. There’s a lot of diversity on the shoreline in this little country. You may be considering a top-of-the-line hotel overlooking a beach that looks a little different than what you are expecting. Beautiful all the same! The beaches are wild and exotic. I think you will love it. If you have specific preferences about the sand you sink your toes into, let us know — but you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with a change of scenery.

Misconception 3: There will be all-inclusive resorts.

Costa Rica All Inclusive Resorts

One of the few all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica: the Westin Playa Conchal

There aren’t many large all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. We generally recommend only a couple. There are some small boutique hotels that offer all-inclusive packages that include all your meals, but mostly in off-grid destinations like the Osa Peninsula or Tortuguero National Park. Your stay in Costa Rica will not be at all like the Mexico mega-resort all-inclusive experience.

Misconception 4: Rainforests are everywhere.

Costa Rica rainforests: Corcovado

Corcovado National Park

They mostly are, but a little strategic planning to get to them is required. There are certain regions of the country from which they are more difficult to access, like Guanacaste. The rainforests of Costa Rica can be found on the Osa Peninsula, the Caribbean Coast, Tortuguero, and the Central Pacific. If you want to see a world premiere rainforest dubbed “the most biologically intense place on earth” by National Geographic and home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity, it’s Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula.

If the rainforest intrigues you, also consider the unique ecosystem of the cloud forest in the Central Highlands. My favorite cloud forest destination, and maybe the most well-known, is Monteverde.

Part of the beauty of Costa Rica is the many different ecosystems to explore: rainforest, dry forest, cloud forest, mangroves, and more. You name it, they probably have it. Consider this an incredible opportunity to see multiple worlds, and compare!

Related Article: A Guide to Visiting Corcovado National Park

Misconception 5: It’s best to travel without rain.

5 Misconceptions About Travel in Costa Rica

The rainforest comes to life with the rain.

Okay, so this one is a personal opinion. I’m not talking about HEAPS of rain, but a bit of rain in the rainforest is magical. The rainforest really comes to life. When the days are too hot and long, the animals slow down and hide away. When the rain comes, the forest transforms into a verdant lush oasis. The waterfalls start flowing. Life is good. I highly recommend considering a trip in the rainy season (May to mid-December). Plus, there’s an off-season discount built-in. Some destinations and times of the year are rainier than others. So, talk to a Costa Rica Expert to get started!

What do you think? Did you already know about these common Costa Rica travel misconceptions? What would you add to the list?

Ready to go? Browse our customizable Costa Rica vacation packages or start planning your trip.

Related Articles: