Lars Zeekaf’s Costa Rica Travel Guide

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costa rica expertA note from the Publisher: The Costa Rica Blog Network has chosen to feature the following article for its summary of some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach areas, and the suggestion that “when you find your spot, you can escape from everything and do your own thing!” Thanks to Lars for submitting his personal account to us. We hope you achieve your “own dream” one day, and if it happens to be in Costa Rica, you can count on us to come and visit. Pura vida!

Featured Author: Lars Zeekaf (visit the Lars Zeekaf Living My Dream Blog)

A country I soon started dreaming of when I started to travel. The combination of life and it’s nature is what I always will remember. Wake up early in the morning due the howling of the monkey’s. Take fresh mango’s and coconuts from the beach after a surf. Traveling trough Costa Rica was a great experience. There are so many great areas, beaches and forests that it’s not easy to see it all. But when you find your spot, you can escape from everything and do your own thing!

Check out my pictures off my amazing surftrip trough Costa Rica 2011

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WHERE TO GO / VISIT:

San José – capital of Costa Rica, and that’s all. Dirty, dark and just not Costa Rica!

Pavones – my personal favorite! Small town in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by nice people, beautiful animals and great waves. Keep in mind that the only way to get money here is to go to the little local supermarket, bring your passport and pay more then you buy. Then they will give you the amount that you overpayed in cash. With a handfull of places to eat, a beautifull surf shop it is a quiet place. But believe me this place is absolutely amazing!

Dominical – full of American people who think they own the place, been there a day knowing the waves can be great, I was just not that lucky that day. You have some nice beaches surrounded by typical palmtrees. If there is swell I could hang around, if not…well that’s why I left after a day.

Manuel Antonio – didn’t visit, sounded to touristy for me, so I just passed by.

Quepos – same story as Manuel Antonio, I was not looking for crowds!

Jaco – also here a lot of crowds and big nightlife. Spend one night there, not my scene. This is one of those places that just don’t let you believe youre in that beautiful Costa Rica everybody told you about. Every now and then it’s nice to see some more life around you, but the only thing I was looking for where waves, jungle and those small little hidden spots Costa Rica has to offer!

Punta Arenas – you will only be here to take the ferry to explore more of Costa Rica.

MalPais / Santa Teresa – very nice surroundings, little nightlife and relax vibe all around. For me a good place so I stayed for around 3 weeks to surf, chill and do ‘nada’! This area really can offer you a lot. From snorkeling trips nearby to waterfalls in Montezuma, and long stretched beaches to walk and explore for hours. Amazing area!

Montezuma – Could get a lift to nearby Montezuma, very nice to see and just nothing but good vibes. Some beautiful spots to eat with lovely views of the beaches. Go in the morning jumping from the waterfalls and sit down and relax in the afternoon with some proper food!

Tamarindo – busy and just too much of everything I didn’t want, but great surf in the area! Rented a car for a day to get up to Playa Negra what is close by. Solid surf and a nice drive to see some more of the area. If you are in Costa Rica during the high season, make sure you book your hostel on time…we were very lucky!

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Malpais
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Pavones
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Montezuma beach

WHERE TO STAY:

Tranquilo Hostel (San José) – a place to feel safe and very nice people working there. The prices are good and they help you with everything! (I left a bag here for almost a month, when I came back it was right there in their basement, awesome!)

Caza de Olas (Pavones) – for me it was like living in a treehouse. Really nice people who own it and its a walk away from the beach. This place is part of making my Costa Rica trip amazing!

Tranquilo Hostel (MalPais/Santa Teresa) – same set up as in San José, price is amazing as a low-budget backpacker incl. breakfast. The hostel itself is great and you will meet a lot of people, big kitchen, hammocks all over the place. Only the 6 persons dorm rooms are a little small.

For all the other places I just ended up somewhere that was available, nothing special.

Caza Olas, Pavones
Caza Olas, Pavones
Tranquilo Hostal, Malpais
Tranquilo Hostal, Malpais

WHAT TO DO:

Surfline Costa Rica – go for the 1 day journey and surf Pavones, its heaven! Explore the country and surf every break you can.

Montezuma waterfalls (nearby MalPais/Santa Teresa) – a cool place to hang out with a group and just enjoy fooling around in the natural pools and jumping of waterfalls. There is a little hike up there that makes it fun. Go into Montezuma also and grab a fresh lunch with beach view!

Jaco bridge – just before arriving at Jaco, you will cross a bridge with people looking over the edge. Park your car and watch the big croc’s down in the river!

There are many things to do in Costa Rica as visiting Wild life parks, snorkel trips etc. I didn’t do those things, just wanted to surf!

A look down from Jaco Bridge
A look down from Jaco Bridge
Cliffdiving 15m / 46ft. , Montazuma Waterfalls
Cliffdiving 15m / 46ft. , Montazuma Waterfalls

HOW TO ROLL:

Public buses – The cheapest and most practical way to get around in Costa Rica. The ”Coca Cola Bus Terminal” is San José main bus terminal. Find your destination and pay your ticket, cash only! It can happen that your destination requires to depart from another terminal, as I had to do. Your hostel can maybe find out what bus terminal you need, but the Coca Cola terminal is the main one.

NOTE: the Coca Cola bus terminal (Zona roja = red light district) is one of San José biggest crime zones. Pay extra attention to your stuff and your carry-on.

Taxi – When traveling around and getting to remote places (like Pavones for example), bus systems are not always easy. When you are in a tourist area a lot of times the only way to go is by taxi. Definitely not cheap in Costa Rica and can be a pain in the ass as a low-budget traveler, but sometimes you have to. You will find an office where you can arrange taxi-vans to wherever you need to go.

Car – If your budget allows it, I think there is no easier way then exploring Costa Rica by car. It’s fast, quick and you can get (almost) to every spot. Ofcourse keeping in mind the hazards that come along with travling by car.

Ferry – When you are at the Pacific side of Costa Rica and traveling towards Malpais, Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Tamarindo, Witches Rock the quickest way is to cross the ‘‘Golfo de Nicoya”. Using the ferry from Punta Arenas to Paquera is how everybody does it, and it’s even a nice boat ride! When you driving a car, no problem you can get on. Just make sure you’re on time in line with your car. To check departure times and fares click on the next link: Ferry Punta Arenas.

My one and only car rental day, Playa Negra 2011
My one and only car rental day, Playa Negra 2011

HAZARDS:

Thieves – The first fellow travelers told me about Costa Rica. The country with one of the highest small crime accidents. Pickpocketing, scams are all very common here. Like mentioned before, the Coca Cola bus terminal is a hot spot for thieves. Next to San José keep your eyes open while traveling trough Punta Arenas, Jaco, Tamarindo and any other busy public places.

Traffic – Costa Rica is one of the countries with the highest vehicle accidents in the world. Because of a bad infrastructure accidents happen, but lack of traffic-rules is the real reason. When driving a car pay attention. When traveling by car, keep in mind that thieves have an eye for tourists leaving their car at a remote car park. As for surfers, never leave your boards on the roof unattended and watch where you park in the-search for epic waves.

USEFUL LINKS:

Costa Rica Travel Blog – an amazing blog with every little detail about Costa Rica and his beauty!

Click here to read the above post on the Lars Zeekaf Living My Dream Blog

About Lars:

Since I started traveling I always wanted to let other people get the same feeling I was experiencing. Trough my work in the tourism business I could help people and give them the service everybody wants during a vacation. Working since 2009 as a monitor in Spain, at a surfcamp with 150 people each week showed me how happy you can make someone with the smallest things. Safety was a big deal when guiding tourists down white water rapids in Argentina. Hospitality came high on my list after working as a manager in a hostel in Chile. When I say ‘goodbye’ to my guests, I want them to have had the best time ever in what I was offering at that time. With those couple of ingredients I hope some day to set up my own dream;

A hostel, with top service, open spaces where socializing is easy and waves roll in infront of your window!

Post photos are owned by the featured author (not the Costa Rica Blog Network). Please contact the featured author directly for permission of use.

Pura vida!

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. shimmyshark says:

    So good to hear you’re enjoying my country – at least parts of it. I’m afraid the beautiful country that is Costa Rica has made parts of it not so beautiful. So it goes. I think I could spend a lifetime here, going from beach town to beach town…as a matter of fact – I think I will !
    Ta-Ta for now…

    1. larszeekaf says:

      Hi shimmyshark!

      Thank for reading my TravelGuide! Costa Rica is amazing and i loved every second of it. Yes, Costa Rica is a place where you can find the sweet spots and the areas you want to avoid. Anyway, I definitely wanna go back one day, and travel to my special spots like Pavones and Malpais/Santa Teresa!!!!

      For any more stories about my travels or expierences (one coming verry soon about travel infections, cause I got infected latel…) you can find at http://www.larszeekaf.com

      Seeyou on a next post,

      Lars

  2. Frank Powell says:

    A travel guide like this can come in pretty handy when traveling to Costa Rica.

  3. Here is one more hostel in Manuel Antonio for your list.

    1. larszeekaf says:

      Hy Happy Backpakcer!

      Thanks for your tip about the hostel in M.A. But, all the info I put online in my travelguides I want to back up myself. What simply means I have to been there myself. But I definitely apreciate the tip, safe travels!! Lars

  4. Trevors says:

    Costa rica is known for many things, out of which beaches and forests are famous all over the world. Apart from the beaches and forest, it has lot more to see and do as you have well mentioned above.

    1. larszeekaf says:

      Hy Trevors!

      Thanks for reading my TG-CostaRica. Exacly as you say, and as I tried to write down here is that there is so many to see, I think you almost can’t do on just one trip. Many reasons to go back to Costa Rica for sure. Lars

  5. Nicole says:

    Great list. I’m researching for a potential future trip to Costa Rica and there is some great useful info here. Thanks for posting!

    1. larszeekaf says:

      Hy Nicole!!

      Thanks for reading. Hope it helped out, exactly where I intend to made my travelguide for! When are you going? Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want more inside information 🙂 safe travels Lars!!

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