The following is a list of the top 10 most common misconceptions about Costa Rica that we hear from clients.
1. Costa Rica is a Caribbean island.
Costa Rica is not an island. It is a Central American country located between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, Caribbean Sea to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west.
The idea that you will save time is simply untrue. It will actually add time in travel and be less relaxing than visiting the areas as their own destinations.
3. Staying at an all inclusive resort will save you money.
In most cases, staying at an all inclusive resort will actually cost you more money. You can follow this link to more information about deciding whether or not to stay at an all inclusive resort. This page also demonstrates the cost differences.
Costa Rica is indeed small in terms of area, however, the mountainous, windy roads which are generally in poor condition make driving times much longer than one would expect. On average, you should expect to average around 50 kilometers per hour.
Yes, there are hot springs in the Rincon de la Vieja area. However, the average daytime temperatures are in the mid-90s, making them uncomfortable at best.
6. All inclusive resorts include everything.
This is not true. There are many items that are not included, but we will only mention some of the most common:
a) Most all inclusives only serve national beverages and no top shelf drinks.
b) The majority of all inclusive resorts serve buffet style meals and only allow one menu meal per stay, based on availability.
c) All inclusive resorts only include non-motorized resort activities. Day trips to attractions are never included.
d) Most all inclusives charge extra for internet and phone usage.
7. Costa Rica is unsafe.
Costa Rica is actually the safest country in Central America. Here is a link to a recent USA Today article which lists Costa Rica as being one of the top 10 safest destinations in the world for women travelers. Of course, bad things can anywhere, but statistically, Costa Rica is a very safe country to visit.
8. I can save time by taking domestic flights.
This is true in a few select circumstances, but it will actually take the same amount of time or more in most situations. It is never recommended to take a domestic flight on your arrival or departure date. If your incoming flight is delayed and you miss your domestic flight, you will lose your money as a no-show. Domestic flights are notorious for being delayed or cancelled, so we never recommend flying on your departure date. Both situations mean you would lose a night of your vacation in order to stay close to the domestic airport.
In addition, you will have to drive to the domestic airport, check in an hour early, fly the route, retrieve your luggage and then drive to your destination. Finally, unless you are flying from or to San Jose, there are only a couple of routes with direct flights.
9. Renting a car is cheaper than provided transfers.
This is false nearly every time. In addition to the cost of renting the car, there is a mandatory insurance which is almost never brought up until you arrive (we include it in our rates). This insurance usually costs as much and many times more than the cost of the car rental. You will also have to pay for gas, which is currently around $6 USD per gallon.
10. I don’t need a guide for tours.
In many cases you do not need a guide. However, if you actually want to see wildlife, learn a little about the country and stay safe while doing so, you should go with a guide. These guys grew up here and know how to spot wildlife. Most of the wildlife here is very well camouflaged. Good guides will usually hear the animal first, identifying it by sound and then spot by knowing what type of tree that species lives in. Yes, you might see a monkey or two on your own, but a good guide will greatly enhance your experience and increase the odds of spotting wildlife.
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