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Planning a Vacation in Costa Rica: Vacation Travel Info

When you are planning a vacation in Costa Rica, there are some things to take into consideration prior to making your reservations.

Documentation

If you're traveling to Costa Rica then you'll obviously need a passport, but often people don't realize how long these can take to process. Standard return time is four to six weeks at the time of writing this.

If you are pressed for time though, there is an expedited service which takes two to three weeks and costs $60 more, plus $15 for overnight return shipping.

Time of Year: The Weather in Costa Rica

There are two distinct seasons in Costa Rica, wet and dry. Dry season is from December to April, which is also the busiest season and during which times prices tend to be a little higher. If you're willing to brave a couple of showers, then you can often get better prices on your vacation in Costa Rica if you travel in the shoulder season, between wet and dry. This is November to December, or April to May-June.

Itinerary Planning

While the country is relatively small, it is still important to consider distances when planning you vacation in Costa Rica. Traveling by bus from San Jose to the Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula can take six hours, eating up the better part of a day, with similar times to get to the south Pacific coast around Golfito and the Osa Peninsula. If you only have a week, then you're better off concentrating your time in one or two areas.

A great option for quick trips is to head northwest from San Jose to visit the cloudforest at Monteverde and Arenal Volcano, which are a few hours away. Spend three days between those sites which are relatively close, then head out to the beaches of the northern Nicoya around Tamarindo for a few days in the sun before traveling back to San Jose to head home.

If you want to concentrate your time visiting beaches during a one week vacation, then I'd suggest flying into Liberia's international airport in the Northwest where you will be much closer to the various beautiful beaches that line the Nicoya Peninsula, like at Malpais, Montezuma, Playa Samara, etc.

Getting to Costa Rica

Unless you're coming from another country in Central America (i.e., Nicaragua or Panama) by bus, then you're probably flying into the Costa Rica. This means you'll be arriving at one of two airports: the Juan Santamaria International Airport which is 30min outside of San Jose, or into the smaller but growing Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia which is in the middle of Guanacaste, a large canton (think state or province) that is in the Northwest of the country. As I mentioned earlier, if you plan on spending most of your time on the Nicoya Peninsula, you should consider flying into Liberia - the airport code is LIR.

If you have any other questions about vacation planning or travel info ask at our Costa Rica Travel Q & A forum - we will try to get you an answer as soon as possible.

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