Your decision of whether or not to go to an all inclusive resort really depends on what your expectations are. Costa Rica is much different than other Latin American and Caribbean countries, so you should consider the following points before making your decision.
Nearly all of Costa Rica's all inclusive resorts are located in the extremely hot and dry beach region of Guanacaste. You will have to drive 3 - 4 hours in each direction to reach rainforest, cloud forest, the best hot springs, good wildlife observation, or the country’s most entertaining adventure activities such as hanging bridges, whitewater rafting or canyoning. While day trips are available to do, see or experience these things, you will spend 7 – 8 hours driving.
It is nearly always more expensive to stay at an all inclusive resort than to stay at non-all inclusive accommodations and purchase meals and drinks separately. The majority of all inclusive resorts serve buffet meals with the exception of one menu meal per (7 day) stay which is only available by reservations and subject to availability. Internet, WiFi, local and long distance calling are typically not included unless specifically stated otherwise. While the all inclusive resorts do include non-alcoholic and alcoholic (house) drinks, you will have to pay more for imported, premium, and top shelf drinks. In addition, drinks are usually only served at designated restaurants and bars, meaning you will likely have to pay additional money for drinks in the room mini-bar (if applicable) or for room service.
Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America, so you can get out and explore without worry. The people are warm and friendly. There is no need to hide behind resort walls.
Costa Rica is known for its boutique hotels and ecolodges. These accommodations are usually smaller, more memorable and unique properties with character, personality, and charm. The all inclusive resorts are what many consider cookie cutter corporate models that are the same as anywhere else.
Costa Rica has an outstanding tourism infrastructure. You can easily get around to local restaurants, bars and souvenir shopping from most destinations.
Of course, there is the other side. If your idea of a great vacation is relaxing and lounging around a resort pool and doing resort activities such as pool aerobics, conga line dancing, or pool volleyball, then an all inclusive resort is probably right for you.
Many first time visitors to Costa Rica choose a combination of all inclusive and eco-friendly for their vacation. You can go to areas such as Arenal Volcano or Monteverde for adventure and wildlife and then wind down at an all inclusive at the beach.
Follow this link for more information about choosing to go to an all inclusive resort or the real Costa Rica.
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