Let’s be honest: not all countries are perfect, but you shouldn’t let some negative aspects prevent you from enjoying a wonderful Costa Rica vacation. Just as in any vacation overseas, the trick is to be prepared, and to know what you’re getting into.
Here are some myths and facts about Costa Rica, so you’ll know exactly what to do, and what to pack. Remember that Costa Rica is still a developing nation.
First off, this is not a myth. However, the myth is in what you think “developing nations” are.
For example, the Costa Rican road infrastructure is slowly being improved. While in the past, the idea of a dusty dirt road may have been true for even major social centers. Today, the cities are modern in terms of transport infrastructure and amenities. It is only when you go farther away from the urban centers that patchy roads and underdeveloped countryside will pop up. But even then, the government is already working on that.
Costa Rica has some dangerous animals and insects
Again, this is true, but you might be taking it in the wrong context. If you’re staying in Costa Rica, it’s a fair bet that among the worst things you will experience is mosquitoes and ants. To prepare for those, you do have to make sure that you have all the vaccinations for tropical countries (and all vaccinations, period). And even while you are here, you should make sure that you eat a balanced meal, with plenty of fruits, so that you will be resistant to whatever else mosquitoes will bring with them, like Dengue.
As for the ants, you will most likely encounter army ants, and the only advice is: stay out of their way. They are not aggressive towards people who stay out of their way. As for other ants, it may be a good idea to have a pile of sugar near wherever their ant holes are, so they won’t go near your food too much, or end up scavenging all over the kitchen.
Other more dangerous fauna are usually in the rain forests, and if you have an experienced guide with you then you should have no problem, just walk where the guide walks, step where the guide steps.
It’s all about beaches
This is particularly not true! While they have some incredible beaches here, the country is also well known for its rain-forests which occupy up to 25% of the country’s land area, and is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity. If you’re interested, you can take zip-line tours through the forest’s canopy. Costa Rica may have been the first to have this sort of tourism experience, and for those who don’t feel too safe on a zip-line, an aerial tram is available, with an expert guide who can point out all the important flora and fauna.
The country is also home to 5 active volcanoes, and more than 200 volcanic formations. The areas around these volcanoes are popular grounds for campers, hikers, and mountain bikers.
Finally, there is surfing. Costa Rica is well known for surfing are all year round, since the waves are good for most of the year. If you’re not interested in having too many people around when you surf, you can even go to the country during the rainy season, which approximately from May to November. And with nearly a thousand miles of shore and two beach coastal fronts to choose from, you’ll definitely find a few beaches that will be more to your surfing tastes.
And that’s not even mentioning the kayaking, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and skydiving. As you can see, if you want to have as much fun as possible in Costa Rica, you either have to plan more Costa Rica vacations, or you can stay here for a longer time and just do as many fun things as you can.
There is a lot of crime in Costa Rica
Actually, Costa Rica is one of the most peaceful countries in Central America, if not the most peaceful. While it is a given that you should practice due diligence with your valuables and make sure that you never go walk alone at night in sketchy parts of town, Costa Rica does is generally more laid back and relaxed as a culture. All you need to be is alert and aware, but no need to be paranoid.
Costa Rica is part of Central America – Don’t they hate foreigners?
Given that Costa Rica has a heavy investment in its tourism sector, and is even a pioneer for eco-tourism, its people are by nature at least comfortable with having tourists around. In fact, Costa Ricans are usually happy hosts in general.
Their Food is too spicy!
Granted, some of their food is spicy, but that depends on which preparation you are looking for. For example, their main dishes, gallo pinto and casado, are dishes which have rice and black beans, combined with anything from a scrambled egg and fried plantains, to meat and vegetables. But the spiciness greatly depends on which option or variation you have chosen. You don’t have to worry about your sensitive stomach. And if you study your Costa Rica facts, you’ll find out that what you do have to worry about is if you are lactose intolerant, as many of their desserts or snacks are very rich in milk, such as tres leches, which is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.
So, if you’re still wondering if you should go to Costa Rica, all you have to do is check to see if you have all the vaccinations you need for visiting tropical countries, make sure that you are informed as to how they prepare their food (in case of allergies, etc), particularly if you are diabetic or lactose intolerant. If you are going hiking, camping, or mountain biking, then you should have the proper equipment, shoes, and insect repellent. Otherwise, it’s all you need for fun and sun are your beach clothes or surfing equipment!