How to Spend a Week in Costa Rica

I travel. A lot. I’ve spent some time in Costa Rica. It’s an amazing place. A lot of people want to go there. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, make sure you add these incredible places to your itinerary. This itinerary includes beaches, mountains, and both the Pacific and Caribbean side of Costa Rica. This itinerary can be made as expensive or inexpensive as you desire. Let’s start planning!

Day 1: Fly into the international airport in San Jose. Pick up a rental car from the airport – it’s by far the easiest way to get around. I would recommend an airbnb for the first night, to ensure maximum comfort and privacy. This is the one I stayed at (and loved!).


Day 2: Take the three hour drive to Dominical. It’s on the Pacific side, has great beaches, a super cute downtown area, and lots of options for lodging. You can stay in a hostel for $10 a night downtown, or you can go luxurious with the best airbnb I’ve ever stayed at. My favorite restaurant here was Cafe Mono Congo – they offer a great variety of healthy, homemade foods. Patron’s has the best wifi, if that’s what you’re into.


Relax at your place or on the Dominical beach the first full day – this is the perfect time to start those beach reads. There are a few places to buy fruit and souvenirs on the beach, so you may want to carve out some shopping time also.


Day 3: Visit Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s about an hours drive from Dominical, but totally worth it. You are almost guaranteed to see monkeys (it would be really odd if you didn’t), plus there are sloths, deer, butterflies, waterfalls, and other wildlife. Plan to spend a whole day here; bring a lunch and wear your swimsuit. Be careful of the monkeys on the beach – they will try to steal your food! Bring a lot of water also – there is nowhere inside the park to buy more.



After a full day of hiking and swimming at the park, go back to Dominical for the incredible sunsets.


Day 4: This is where we go to the Caribbean side! Pack your luggage, and make the drive to Puerto Viejo. Stop at a little soda (a small, family owned, local restaurant) for an inexpensive but delicious lunch. There are tons of sodas on the way there. I took the route through the cloud forest of Costa Rica, so make sure you have time to stop and take some pictures.


Puerto Viejo is a very cute and very small little town that is almost on the border of Panama. I decided to go budget-friendly here, and I stayed at Lion Fish Hostel, but there are a ton of options if you would prefer to go higher end. After checking in to your accommodation, I would recommend spending the afternoon at the beach in Puerto Viejo, then grabbing some dinner & drinks at any of the beach-front restaurants.


Day 5: Take a stroll down the short jungle pathway in the morning. This is a short walk, right along the beach, but you are in the jungle. I saw sloths and howler monkeys while walking this path. After your walk, stop at Como En Mi Casa art cafe for breakfast. They offer a huge menu of fresh breakfasts, all homemade. You can go savory with a massive pancake, or healthy with smoothies, fresh bruschetta, and juices. They have the best coffee in Puerto Viejo by far; and everything is organic.


After a filling breakfast, rent a bike and cruise down the street to Playa Chiquita. This beach is by far the best beach in Puerto Viejo – and it is usually completely deserted in the mornings. Pack a picnic, your book, and sunscreen, and take the 15 minute ride to the beach. This was actually the best beach I found in Costa Rica. If you feel like going out, there are restaurants on the way to the beach that offer smoothies, salads, burritos, pizza, and an array of tropical beverages.



Ride your bike back in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the evening relaxing in a hammock, or head over to any of the restaurants for a nice dinner and some more tropical drinks.

Day 6: Depending on your flight going out the next day, you may need to head back to San Jose today. If you can wait and head back tomorrow, check out either of the following places on your sixth day: Jaguar Rescue Center (if you want more wildlife), Cahuita National Park (hiking), or Terraventures Jungle Expeditions (if you are feeling adventurous – they offer great zip lining).


Day 7: Pack it up and head home. Reminisce on how amazing it is to travel. Remember how great you feel and start planning your next adventure. 🙂

Thanks for reading! What did you think of my itinerary? Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Costa Rica, or if you plan on going!



How to Live in Costa Rica for Less Than $30 a Day


I am currently stationed in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. I’ve been loving it here – the sun, the beach, the forest, the monkeys, the ocean. I feel like I’m living in paradise. There is even a health food/vegan restaurant here. How could this get any better?!


A typical day for me looks like this: wake up around 7am. Get ready, go for coffee around 8. Take a long walk on the beach. Go to healthy restaurant for breakfast. Go to the beach, lay in the sun for a few hours, read. Go back to healthy restaurant for lunch. Work on website/YouTube/misc. Make dinner or eat fruit at hostel. Sometimes go for a run. Watch Netflix (currently re-watching How I Met Your Mother – love that show!) and then go to sleep around 10 pm.

I love every part of my days here. Healthy food. Exercise. Sun. Freedom. The best part is, I’m doing this all for under $30 per day.


Say what?! That sounds crazy. Costa Rica isn’t cheap – it’s relatively expensive for Central American standards. But I’ve managed to live how I want to live on a budget – without feeling like I’m on a budget. I mean, hello, I’m eating out twice a day.


Let’s break down the cost of my life here:

Hostel: I am staying in a shared room with two beds. I pay $12 a night, and 90% of the time, the room is all mine. I also pay $1 a day for a locker. This hostel is a lifesaver for being so cheap – it’s what allows me to spend more on food. If I wanted to pay even less, I could get a bed in a 10 bed dorm room. But… that’s not my style. Total: $13/day

Entertainment: I get my reading material from a book exchange. So I take a book, and leave a book. Going to the beach is free. Going for runs is free. Walking through the jungle is, yep, FREE. Netflix costs me a whopping $9 a month, which per day is basically nothing. Total: FREE.

Food: I usually cook and eat my own food while traveling. But I am obsessed with this restaurant down the street (the vegan one), so I’m taking advantage of it while I can. I usually spend around $15 total to eat out twice. If I get something expensive for one meal, I balance it out with something less expensive later. Sometimes I will eat fruit for 2 meals a day, and eat out only once. Tap water is drinkable here, and I usually fill up my hydroflask (reusable water bottle) at the hostel a few times a day. Total: $15/day

Transportation: I walk everywhere. I have rented a bike one day, for $5. Since I’ve been here for 5 days, that averages out to $1/day. Total: $1/day


Let’s total it up: $13 + $0 + $15 + $1 = $29. So I’m living the life here for $29 a day. That is less than it costs me to live at home – a lot less. And I’m staying right next to the beach, seeing monkeys every day; I’m living my dream life. My overall budget for my entire trip is $50/day. I made it work in Europe by couchsurfing, taking buses for long trips, walking a lot, and eating in often. I like to have fun with my budget, living different lifestyles in different countries. I have loved being in Costa Rica, spending my days in a swimsuit by the ocean with a good book, eating healthy food, and doing whatever I want.

Staying below budget is just the icing on the (vegan) cake. 🙂




Paradise Found in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

I thought Costa Rica couldn’t get any better after our family vacation in Dominical. However, Costa Rica does not disappoint. There is not a town here that isn’t stunning.

I rented a bike on my first day here and rode about 20 minutes south to Playa Chiquita. Isn’t that the cutest name?! It was gorgeous, and better yet, deserted.



The water was clear and warm. I laid on the beach and let the waves slap my feet.


I stayed here all day; drinking water, getting sun, reading, and listening to newly downloaded music.



I also may have tried to climb the lone palm tree. 🙂


I think I know where I’ll be hanging out for the next two weeks!





Favorite Moments in Dominical, Costa Rica

Dominical was a dream. It was 10 days of complete paradise. Even though I’ve moved on to Puerto Viejo now, I can’t get over how beautiful Dominical was. Let’s relive it!

I stayed in this INSANE vacation home with my mom and two sisters. It was in a cloud forest but also less than a 10 min drive to the beach. It was a three bed, three bath, two story house with a fully furnished kitchen (you know we used that blender every day) and a super cute living room.


My most favorite part of this house was the pool. It was an infinity pool overlooking the cloud forest behind Dominical.



The water was always warm, the waterfall was flowing, and I was swimming. When I wasn’t swimming, I was in this incredible hammock. Seriously. How could this get any better?!



I’ll tell you how it gets better – WILD ANIMALS.

We went by the Manuel Antonio National Park for a day of beaching and watching the white faced capuchin monkeys. They liked to steal people’s food. Which was adorable, and “harmful to their behavior” (quoted by the sign at the park). The security people didn’t like the monkeys eating peoples food, but the monkeys sure did. We watched them steal an avocado, a banana, and a mango. Cute little thieves.



The beach at the park wasn’t too bad, either. The water was warm, the waves were rolling, and the water turned out to be a great viewing point to watch the monkeys torment the picnic eaters.



Obviously I wasn’t the first one with that idea.

After the monkeys, we saw CROCS. Not the shoes – actual crocodiles. In a river. Ready to kill. We didn’t actually see them kill anything, but we saw them and that was enough.


This was their home, but they didn’t take photography well. They were in there though; I saw them moving and snapping their teeth.

Another thing that didn’t hurt: incredible sunsets.


Not bad, Costa Rica. Not bad at all. It was a great family vacation – my only regrets being (1) I didn’t get any pictures of the four of us on my camera, and (2) we didn’t stay longer. 🙂

I don’t often want to go back to places (mostly because I prefer to explore new places than go back to places I’ve already been), but I would definitely go back here.


Stay tuned for the complete opposite side of Costa Rica (literally) – I’ve moved from the Pacific to the Caribbean side!

P.S. A few people have expressed interest in this airbnb vacation home; click here for the link if you’d like to see it yourself! If you’ve never used airbnb, click here for a $20 credit on your first reservation. 🙂




The Trip that Started it All: Dominical, Costa Rica

I planned a trip to Domincal, Costa Rica, one year ago. When I planned this girls-only family vacation, I had no idea that it would spiral into an around-the-world trip. I found a luxurious rainforest airbnb rental house, booked it for a week and a half, and called it good.


A few weeks after booking the house, I talked to my sister Breanna about maybe going to Nicaragua for a bit before Costa Rica. I wanted to visit some surrounding countries and figured to do it at the same time, since I would be there anyway.


We added Nicaragua to the list, then I added a trip to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru; soon it spiraled into adding Australia, Indonesia, SE Asia, Europe, India, and most of South America.


This trip has been so exciting and monumental for me. I will be forever grateful for this time I’ve been able to spend with my family before I travel solo for years to come. We’ve spent days in the pool, laughing, dancing, and singing; hours driving down sketchy roads in our four-wheel drive rental car; moments capturing pictures of monkeys, sloths, ant eaters, and each other. We had so much fun together and I’m so happy that we got to spend this time together.

group pic ma park CR

I have captured some great video footage and have some very exciting posts planned – stay tuned!