There’s no point sugar coating it in “travel is so fun, look at me being somewhere” sugar jam and pretending it was fun just because it cost money. Costa Rica is overrated. Period. Stop. That’s it.
From what people have told me about the Central American hub of tourism, I expected the greatest place on earth; a barrel of sweet smelling activities to make Hawaii look like the rented step-kid in a step-kid renting scam. I had heard Costa Rica was the eco-tourism capital, surf as far as the eye can see, vegans and hippies, sloths and monkeys, all gathered around a freedom fire of peace and love. Pura Vida right?
Wrongzo. Costa Rica is just like every other place crawling with tourists. From the time I told the hardened Alamo Car Rental agent, “My insurance company just told me that what you’re doing is probably illegal”, I knew I was ankle deep in factory tourism sludge. (Btw, I was charged an extra $400 by Alamo even though I was double insured and had proof. THIEVES!). Also, the first car they gave us had a burnt out clutch and seat covers that I can only guess were participants in a stabby murder. Eventually I convinced them that a clutch isn’t supposed to be as passive as a participant badge and I got a newer car.
I think I’m more upset about feeling suckered than I am with the country itself. I could compare it to the Calgary Flames tickets I spent a pile of money on to sit close but the view was obscured and both teams played like dead rabbits. Similar feeling.
Here’s what I wish I knew:
It’s expensive, especially for Canadians because it uses American dollars on already high prices eg. $20 personal pizza.
The car rental companies are unscrupulous. Down with Scruples! There was a lot of yelling and not just from my mouth. Down with Alamo!
They charge $40 USD per person to exit the country. Surprise!
The roads are CRAZY! Rocks, holes, rocks, rocks. They actually try to deter tourists by keeping them horrible. Fact.
The locals don’t seem Pura Vida. They’ll take your money at checkout by charging you for two or jacking it up and acting dumb.
Carry a stack of both USD and Colons and pay in the denomination that the price is listed in. No matter how high the guy was at the yoga factory, he still managed to charge an extra $20 through exchange.
Of course there were good things too. If you have a chance, stay at Playa Grande as opposed to Tamarindo. It’s laid back, the beaches are clean and the surf is constant. The views during the drive to Monte Verde are spectacular. Howler monkeys are cool guys. Montezuma is like a hippie comic book. The coffee is fantastic.
But if you want authentic/rustic/off the path you won’t find it in the packed bars on the beach among the Americans crowded around the NFL playoffs in Santa Theresa.
Would I go back? Yeah for free maybe. Definitely want to see the other side of the country as I have heard it’s the schnazz. Also, Nicaragua is a short drive away so maybe that’s the way to go.
It’s mostly the way I felt shovelled like just another barn turd in a Turd Barn as to why I feel the need to write this. All while being told it’s the opposite of a Turd Barn.
“Well since you’re already here, Pura Vida, follow the rules, and that’ll be $500 for the advice. Now get out. That’s another $40. Stay out.”
***I did not write this at the behest of Costa Rica Tourism to try to deter tourists***