A few days ago I finished a week-long, last minute trip to Costa Rica that I went on with Scott. After talking a bit, we realized timing would work out for both of us, and bought tickets literally three days before the trip. Not having a ton of time to plan out things to do was actually kind of fun. I usually wing the details of trips, but this time whole sections went unplanned. The outcome: great success. It kind of hard to go wrong though in such an easy country to visit. So many things to see and do, and traveled frequently enough that there’s enough tourist infrastructure to make it easy to find adventures. Combined with the fact that we were going off the peak of tourist season meant plenty of availability in towns, and a dearth of people at the attractions.
Almost immediately, you can see why Costa Rica is such a popular destination for travelers: for a Latin American country it has a great infrastructure, is safe, and has lots of activities for those seeking adventure. It comes at a literal price, as prices for just about everything are much higher than you would find in Guatemala or Panama, or even in Colombia. Tourism continues to float the economy in many places. It was a common tale to hear how much the industry is growing and how it’s changing the landscape, both literally and figuratively. Walking though some of the National Parks, however, as an American who is used to seeing beautiful natural places swarmed with visitors, I had to put this in perspective. A Costa Rican park would consider a few hundred people a day to be busy. Compare this to Yosemite NP which gets 10,000 people a day1. It’s nice to see the thought being put into the park systems, both public and private, to make sure that the activities that are sustainable, at least to a much higher degree than it’s neighbors.
We rented a car for our trip, which turned out to absolutely be the right call. Looking back, I can’t imagine doing what we did if we were waiting around for buses or shuttles. I abhor schedules on trips, so being able to do what we wanted, when we wanted was completely worth the $70/day we ended up paying for our vehicle.