How to Vacation in Costa Rica on a Low Cost Budget

by shelbylewis /
shelbylewis's picture
Dec 18, 2012 / 0 comments

People view vacationing as an expensive extravaganza. Their idea of having fun is the amount of money you spend. What travelers overlook is that one can travel on a low cost budget and still have a marvelous time. In 2010, my mom and I spent 10 days in Costa Rica on a 1,000 dollar budget. Proof that you can, in fact, vacation cheaply. San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is highly priced. Avoiding San Jose is a must.

How to Vacation in Costa Rica on a budget

To get out of the city to a desirable destination, without paying a fortune, you need a city bus. The city bus has a location at the airport. You can catch a ride to anywhere in Costa Rica for around $10 dollars. Our first stop was in Monte Verde, where we stayed in a few different cabinas at $20-$25 dollars per night. These “hotels” are owned by Costa Ricans who rent them out. They are extremely clean, and most of them even provide running water!

Cabinas have a shared kitchen, so you can buy the supplies you need at the super market and cook for yourself. You immediately limit out having to pay $8.00-$10.00 for a meal. If you do choose to venture out for dinner, Costa Rica has restaurants called “Los Typicos” meaning the typical.  Here you can get a Costa Rican meal that is delicious and fills your belly for $4.00.  Eating here is not only good for your budget, but you also attain a better understanding of what the culture of Costa Rica is like.

Enjoying the Tarzan swing through the Cloud Forrest in Monte Verde, Costa Rica

Enjoying the Tarzan swing through the Cloud Forrest in Monte Verde, Costa Rica

The main attraction in Monte Verde for my mother and I was zip lining through the Cloud Forest.  You can zip line for two hours for $30.00.  During this, you get to zip line through the Cloud Forest and gaze out at the beautiful trees and rainbows created by the mist from the Cloud Forest.  You also get to “superman” through the forest, where you lie on your stomach and fly through the air, attached to the harness of course. Zip lining is a cheap and a once in a lifetime thing to do through the Cloud Forest.

Another attraction is Costa Rica is staying in Playa Tamarindo and catching some waves. We stayed in a hostel with our own bedroom. Much like the cabinas, we had a gathering room and a shared kitchen. For our daily activities, we hit the beach. The beach was just one block from our hostel. Playa Tamarindo has great beginner waves to learn how to surf. The prices are just as great as the waves. A surf board and lessons are only 15 dollars for two hours. And renting just the board is cheaper than that. Playa Tamarindo has a beautiful white sand beach.

Catching a wave at Playa Tamarindo in Costa Rica

Catching a wave at Playa Tamarindo in Costa Rica

There are many things that are expensive when traveling to other countries. Most vacationers travel to tourist traps and find themselves lounging on the beach in their 5 star hotels. Vacationers like these may have a great time, but they don’t find what culture that particular country has. People don’t get to meet the locals from the country they’re visiting. You don’t have to vacation this way every time you vacation, but trying it at least once gives you a new perspective.  Why vacation if you have to look at it through a key hole?  Why not open the door and experience it the real thing?





Shelby Lewis is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Shelby Lewis