Travelling through Costa Rica can blow the daily budget out of the water! As we traversed from Costa Rica’s Pacific to Caribbean coast, we had to become more and more resourceful with food and accommodation in order to keep costs down. We avoided hotels in favour of Couchsurfing, WarmShowers, hostels, camping and random invitations. We also hit lots of panaderias for cheap and filling carbs.
Sleeping Under The Stars
On our first day in Costa Rica we luckily stumbled upon the home and restaurant of Ulf and Gorethy at Playa Copal, La Cruz. Because they were closed for the rainy season they very kindly offered us a place to camp and a refreshing shower.
Lounging In Liberia
We spent four nights in Liberia rounding up supplies and doing some repairs after a taxing week on the road. Lars took care of the bicycle maintenance while I spent time writing music.
Thank you to fellow bicycle tourers James and Sarah who suggested we stay at Posada del Tope. For $10 each per night you can stay in a massive, albeit quirky room. This fit with our ‘Costa Rican adjusted’ budget of $20 a day per person.
Food And Good Fortune
Whilst restaurants and groceries are expensive, the bakeries in Costa Rica are fairly reasonably priced. Our favourite panadaria was ‘Santa Clara’ for their most amazing butter biscuits filled with caramel and rolled in peanuts. The more prevalent, ‘Musmanni panadaria‘ was a bit more expensive and not as delicious (in our opinion) but it more than sufficed. We over-indulged in baguettes, biscuits and pastries during our time in Costa Rica, but hey, we needed the cheap carbs!
Good fortune found us in Guayabo when Kely, the owner of the soda (cafe), invited us to stay at her house for the night.
We spent the evening chatting and playing music with her 11 year old daughter Mariela and her Grandma. Kely and her husband were both working 10-13 hours per day, 7 days a week!
Couch Surfing With The Wandering Walters
The ride from Cañas up to Lake Arenal was a slow and steady incline with beautiful views and the usual inquisitive herd of floppy-eared cows.
Just before the last few undulating climbs towards Nuevo Arenal, we stopped for fuel.
Meet Kim, Taylor and Aubrie, our CouchSurfing hosts in Nuevo Arenal… and their three very cuddly dogs Baby, Bear and Booker.
And their next door neighbours are very friendly, always popping by for an afternoon tea of left over tortillas and the occasional biscuit!
Originally from Maine, the Walters moved to Costa Rica almost a year ago in search of travel and an alternative lifestyle. They have been living on Lake Arenal for about six months in a cute little home with an amazing view.
Gringo Pete’s Hostel, La Fortuna
After the long and crazy off-road route out of Nuevo Arenal we arrived in La Fortuna at Gringo Pete’s hostel exhausted. Despite the strange name, the hostel is really clean and spacious with a great kitchen and comfortable surroundings. If you can handle the slightly over-bearing rules and very strict ‘check out or be fined’ attitude, we would recommend this place to stay on a budget. Just don’t take anyone else’s food or Gringo Pete might call the police!
Battleship Roadside Hoagies
Hostel Sabana, San Ramon
Another great place to stay in Costa Rica is Hostel Sabana in San Ramon. The owners are really friendly and there’s plenty of room for bicycles!
Fellow Cyclist Eduardo, Santo Domingo
We stayed with our Warmshowers host Eduardo in the capital city of San Jose for three nights before taking a five hour bus ride east to the Caribbean.
Eduardo bicycle toured Ecuador and Peru a few years ago but he had to cut it short due to being accepted to study on a full scholarship in Norway.
We did take a lovely picture of Eduardo but somehow it was lost on our camera! 🙁
Free! Live Music In San Jose
While in San Jose we went to a free festival (la Feria Internacional de Cine) and discovered a fantastic Nicaraguan band called Momotombo. Their use of visuals and theatrical performance on stage was a refreshing change from the more traditional bands we have come across on our travels so far. Imagine a latin-infused ‘Madness’ with thumping rhythm, electronic undertow, trombone hooks and a wild marimba player thrown in for good measure. This band is tight, and well worth checking out.
Puerto Viejo: Smile, You’re In The Caribbean!
We finally made it to the Caribbean coast! I have been wanting to sample the gallo pinto with coconut milk and swim in the clear blue water for ages, and we were not disappointed!
We found a great hostel called La Ruka and spent two nights ($10 dorms, $25 double private). La Ruka is full of colourful art and great vibes. We couldn’t recommend this place enough.
How Much Did We Spend?
So for 18 days in Costa Rica we spent a total of $776. That’s $43 per day between the two of us! Not bad, considering it’s the most expensive country in Central America.