Liberia, Costa Rica
We went on a trip to Costa Rica because he had a free hotel resort stay. It was one of those things you pay a low price for but they make you sit through a 1-2 hour sales pitch. We had to book it in advance and unfortunately cut our stay 2 nights short because of poor weather getting out. Regardless, we didn’t have high expectations but had a lot of fun (and have a lot we still want to go back and do).
Score Card: 6/10
- Transportation: 7/10 (few people rent vehicles, most locals drive scooters or motorcycles. However, despite the poor roads in certain areas, most places that are tourist friendly provide shuttles and pickup/drop off services to accommodate your needs. We had a free shuttle from the hotel pick us up and drop us back off at the airport)
- Price: 8/10 (The excursions were what you would expect elsewhere but food/drinks/hotel prices are a lot less than elsewhere for the quality of service you’re getting)
- Safety: 6/10 (the town itself is poor and when in a tourist area I felt safe but wouldn’t go anywhere on my own at night. I was also told that a lot of excursion vendors scam and to be aware of this before ‘buying’ anything from people off the property)
- Food: 7/10 (the resort had a vast assortment of food and drinks. It was amazing but it was pretty good for a free daily buffet and the drinks were on the more delicious side)
- Culture: 6/10 (The resort didn’t have a lot of cultural activities, everything was centered around tourist excursions and breathtaking views)
- History: 5/10 (We didn’t see many historical options but wouldn’t expect that in a tropical resort setting)
- Excitement: 6/10 (it was more of a leisure trip with the excitement being that we were relaxing. However, there were exciting outdoor excursions to take part in if one so chooses)
- Awe Inspiring: 7/10 (the beach and water were beautiful although it was, at the end of the day, a beach)
- Technology Equipped: 6/10 (Our resort had cell and wifi service for some providers but not others and it would sometimes go in and out)
- Female Friendly: 7/10 (A resort like this would be fun on an all girls trip as the food and drinks are free, plus lounging, tanning and taking in the beauty)
- Solo Travel Recommended: 3/10 (because it’s a resort town, it’s best enjoyed with people you know / people you’re traveling with)
- Language Barrier: 7/10 (Most of the staff spoke English but once you found the maids, they didn’t and many of the people outside the resort didn’t speak or understand English)
Where to go:
- Costa Rica has had cases of the Zika virus and is currently at a level 2 warning by the CDC. With that being said, the resorts take the situation seriously and the most spray constantly for mosquitoes. We didn’t get any bug bites but had mosquito repellent bracelets on at all times.
- An all inclusive resort isn’t very expensive but, because it covers food and drinks, makes the trip well worth it if you plan on staying within the confines of the property rather than going into town for dinner. The resort we stayed at had okay food but no room service and the one food facility was only open certain hours.
- Locals preferred USD, when we tried to use the local currency (Colones) we were typically overcharged by double.
- Outside the hotel tipping is almost always included but in tourist areas menus will usually say ‘Service Charge NOT included’ when you get the bill (in which case you should tip)
- There is a $29 fee when departing as a Costa Rican tax. Paying by CC charges a large fee so it’s best to have cash on hand for this.
- Police can ask you for a copy of your passport and papers anytime so always have them on hand. (This never happened to us but can happen so you want to be prepared).
- Typical tipping is $10USD/5000c for tour guides and $1/500c for bell hops
- If you’re going snorkeling, we encountered very small stinging jellyfish. We highly recommend checking the water / asking natives before getting in or wearing a layer of protections (as they hurt – but aren’t deadly).
Description: Quiet beach just outside the resort
Notes: We rented a stand up paddle board for $30 for 2 hours and paddled to the remote islands just off the shore for uninterrupted snorkeling where we saw dozens of puffer fish! It also had amazing views of the full moon at night where we were able to have a quiet walk on the beach with no one else in sight!
Costs: $729.96 for 2 people for a 2 night, 3 day Experience in all-inclusive Resort (would have been 5 nights if our flight wasn’t cancelled/rescheduled)
- $15 Uber to airport from SFO
- $285.98 RT flight from SFO to LIR x 2 people
- $30 Stand up paddle board x 2 people
- $15 Uber from SFO home
- $10 in tips
- $29 Costa Rica departure tax x 2 people
- Friday 11/11/2016
- 11:15pm red-eye flight from SFO to ORD (arriving at 5:15 am Sat)
- Saturday 11/12/2016
- 7:45am ORD (Chicago O’Hare) to LIR (arriving at 12:50 pm in Liberia, Costa Rica)
- 2:30p Exited customs and into the shuttle provided by the hotel
- 4pm made it to the hotel (heavy traffic on the road in/out of the airport during peak hours caused a delay) and got settled in
- 5pm Had dinner and drinks, chatted the night away as we overlooked the beach/cove
- Sunday 11/13/2016
- 10am Mandatory sales pitch meeting, lasted 1.5 hours
- noon Rented SUP and went snorkeling
- 3pm walked around the venue to check out the views
- 4pm napped
- 5pm got ready for dinner
- 6pm Had dinner and drinks
- 8pm Went exploring the properties amenities (hotel, pool, etc.) — ran into a family of raccoons
- 10pm took a late night stroll on the beach as there was a big full moon out
- Monday 11/14/2016
- 8am Ate breakfast then took one last walk on the beach
- 10am Depart hotel for airport
- 12:35pm LIR to HOU (arriving at 5:15 pm In HOU)
- 7:4pm HOU to SFO (arriving at 10pm in SFO)
- There are a lot of amazing excursions we missed out on. We did a lot of research and highly recommend checking these out if you get a chance: Buena Vista ($80/pp for ziplinging / slide / hot spring / mud bath), El Coco (white sand beach), Palo Verde National Park (hike, $12/pp), Catarata Llanos de Cortes (Waterfall), gyrocoptering (Tamarindo), ATV/Extreme Zip Lining (Flamingo Adventures $109/pp), Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserver (hanging bridges, Baja del toro), Rincon de la vieja ($52/pp