Day 64: Some Costa Rica travel resources I love

On this Travel Thursday, I know some readers are planning trips to Costa Rica in the upcoming high season. Here are a few resources that are not only handy for trip planners, but that I like to follow just for a splash of color in my Facebook or Instagram feed, along with travel inspiration for the future.

Costa Rica Traveler brings you amazing photographs by co-creator Andrés Madrigal along with useful links and articles from around the web. I kind of want their Instagram feed to be the wallpaper in my house; it’s a thing of beauty. The featured image on this post was taken by Andrés at Playa Negra on the Caribbean coast – see what I mean? You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

GOPlaya is “the beach engine of Costa Rica” – a site, feed and app that helps you figure out which beach to visit. The award-winning platform allows you to search more than 200 beaches and find useful info including access routes, photographs and videos. (If you’ve never been to Costa Rica, I can assure you that “Hmm, which of the 200 beaches should we visit?” is indeed actually a question that befuddles the tourist. There are so many, and often the best ones are down unpromising-looking dirt roads, and you wouldn’t find them unless you had a helpful platform on your phone. The struggle is real.) Check them out on Facebook or Instagram.

If you’re in the Central Valley and looking for things to do, I highly recommend GAM Cultural, a massive and searchable online directory of events. It’s only available in Spanish, but honestly, the information is so well organized that you can get the gist (name, place, time) and then consult your host or hotel. As a mom I miss 99.9% of the events they share, but I like to follow them on Facebook just to keep tabs on everything that’s going on in the city.

What’s your favorite Costa Rican (or international) travel resource? I want to keep sharing useful info and giving a shout out to people doing great work. Let me know what you love to follow or rely on!

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

Day 44: Please pack this when you come to Costa Rica

Every single visitor to Costa Rica must bring a water bottle.

(Or they should be handed one when they go through Immigration. “Welcome! Here’s your bottle and anti-plastic phrasebook. Don’t use plastic. Have a great stay!” I know, I know. I’m working on it.)

If you know someone who is visiting Costa Rica for the first time, please help me spread the word: this country has, among its many assets, potable water just about everywhere. It is also a country in the throes of a battle against single-use plastics, and that struggle needs every tourist to be its ally. If you bring your water bottle and use it every day, you will be joining the good fight. I never understood this until I stepped onto a beach at Corcovado National Park years ago and was handed a garbage bag by my guide so I could pick up the plastic bottles and other debris that had traveled down by river from cities upstream, like mine.

You will be offered plastic bottles of water. Sometimes you might even be handed one without asking. Say no. When you ask for water in a restaurant, ask specifically for “agua del tubo” (tap water) – you’ll save money and your bottle won’t end up on your favorite beach once it makes its way down a river. Say no to straws, too. “Sin pajilla, por favor.” Bring one of those tiny packable shopping bags and stick that in your daypack, too – this is one I still fail to remember when I travel within the country, even after all these years, but you almost always end up needing one.

If you notice plastics being thrown about at a restaurant or hotel, consider letting the management know that an absence of single-use plastics is actually something you look for when you make your choices. It doesn’t need to be a big scene or a negative thing – in fact, I think that works against us – just a smiling comment. That part is up to you, and the situation, but comments from the people who are holding the tourist dollars help move the needle. If you see things being done right, tell them that, too. I so often forget to do that. “You know, I came back for breakfast today because you’re the only place in town that’s not serving plastic straws.”

It’s a movement here that’s gaining momentum, and your advocacy can help that transition happen faster. This really, really matters. Ask the people who are cleaning up the beaches of their hometowns day after day after day.

What else do you do to prep to avoid single use plastics? If you live here, what else do you wish tourists knew? If you’re visiting or have visited, what else do you recommend? I’d love to hear.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).