Vayu Retreat Villas is a luxurious all-inclusive boutique hotel located in the beautiful area of Uvita, Costa Rica. The resort is surrounded by beaches, mountains, and rainforest, making it the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. The hotel offers a variety of holistic wellness activities, such as yoga, meditation, and spa treatments. Guests can also enjoy the many outdoor activities that the area has to offer, such as surfing, hiking, and whale watching. The Vayu Retreat Villas is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. To learn more about this amazing resort, visit vayucostarica.com.

Mastering Your Costa Rican Getaway: Avoid These Common Mistakes on Your First Visit

Mastering Your Costa Rican Getaway: Avoid These Common Mistakes on Your First Visit

If you are planning your first trip to this beautiful country, you may be wondering what to expect and how to make the most of your time here. While Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, there are some common mistakes that first-time visitors often make that can impact their experience. Here we will explore some of your best Costa Rica travel tips and insights so you can have a memorable and enjoyable trip to Costa Rica.


So, let’s dive in!

1. Are you flying to the Right San Jose?

First and foremost, you need to make sure you are booking your flight to the right country. Booking your flight to Costa Rica might sound simple, but it’s essential to guarantee that you’re arriving at the correct location, it may sound silly but it can be an easy mistake for first-time visitors to Costa Rica. When searching for flight prices be sure that you are looking up SJO for Costa Rica’s San Jose International Airport. The other airport that it is often confused with is in San Jose California. This could end up costing you a fair bit of cash if you end up not double and triple-checking your destination.

Ensure you select SJO airport code for San Jose

2. Avoid Waiting for Better Deals

Costa Rica remains a popular destination throughout the year, and the green season offers its own appeal. Don’t assume that better deals will come along by waiting; car rentals and accommodations are often booked months in advance, even after the peak tourist season.

We always recommend Adobe for car rentals – and although 4×4 is not required to get to Vayu it is recommended.

3. Neglecting to Learn Basic Spanish Phrases

Although English is widely spoken in Costa Rica, learning some basic Spanish phrases can significantly enhance your travel experience. Simple greetings like “Hola” (hello) and “Gracias” (thank you) can go a long way in connecting with the locals and immersing yourself in the culture.


Check out this post we made to help you learn some basic Spanish 

4. Exploring Beyond the Peak Season:

Contrary to popular belief, Costa Rica’s rainy season (May to November) offers unique advantages for travellers.

Nature’s Revival: The landscape thrives under the nourishing rains, bringing lush life to the forests and making waterfalls and rivers spectacularly vibrant

Reduced Crowds and Costs: Fewer tourists mean more intimate experiences with nature and culture, often at a reduced cost. Boutique hotels and local retreats might offer enticing off-season discounts, making luxury more accessible.

Costa Rica is a country of microclimates. It may be raining on one side of the country and not the other or even one town may be overcast while another nearby still has sunny skies for the morning – which adds to the beauty so many people love about Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Rainforest of Costa Rica

5. Account for Travel Time

The country may appear small to you and Google Maps only says an hour and a half…but in reality, it could be at least half an hour more minimum depending on where you are driving. More often than not a lot longer. Plan for extra time, especially during high tourist seasons, holidays, and events like Semana Santa (Costa Rica’s Holy Week – Sun, Mar 24, 2024 – Sat, Mar 30, 2024). Road construction and unexpected obstacles, like potholes and slow-moving vehicles full of cows, can extend travel times. Be prepared for delays and enjoy the scenic journey!

*Pro Tip: Even though the distance in km (or miles) may seem short, consider that Costa Rica is a mountainous country and all roads are not straight. This will add time to your travels

Which brings us to …

6. Do Not Believe Everything on Google Maps

Google maps is a great tool, but may not be your best friend in Costa Rica, especially during the rainy season and off-the-beaten-path routes. Waze is a popular app here in Costa Rica so you may want to have this along with your downloaded map offline. You will be grateful for it when you come across heavy traffic and accidents. It’s not unknown to be following Google’s directions only to find yourself on some far-off road, surrounded by trees wondering if the water is too deep to pass on the washed-up road. Trust me, it happens a lot more than you think.

*Pro tip: When coming to Vayu Retreat Villas, Google Maps offers the best directions – Waze instructs at the last moment to make a left when you should stay straight.

7. Overextending Yourself

You’ve heard the saying “tico time”, well it is, in fact, a real thing not just a saying.

Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes and enticing attractions may lead travellers to overextend themselves, attempting to experience it all within a limited timeframe. Rushing from place to place can result in exhaustion and diminish the enjoyment of this beautiful country. With long travel distances, cultural immersion opportunities, and natural wonders to savour, you must pace your journey, allowing time for spontaneous moments and a more profound connection with Costa Rica’s remarkable environment and welcoming culture. Embrace the unhurried “pura vida” lifestyle, and you’ll find that a well-balanced itinerary offers a more enriching and rejuvenating travel experience.

8. Steering Clear of Tourist Traps:

While exploring the captivating landscapes of Costa Rica, one common pitfall is immersing yourself too deeply in tourist traps and limiting your experiences to well-trodden paths. Such a choice can substantially diminish the authenticity and depth of your journey. For a richer and more genuine exploration of this incredible country, it’s essential to venture beyond the usual tourist hubs, like visiting the southern zone in the Osa region. This allows you to embrace cultural diversity, escape crowds and commercialization, access hidden natural gems, and encounter the astonishing wildlife that Costa Rica is renowned for. Additionally, travelling off the beaten path can play a vital role in supporting local communities and crafting a personalized adventure that aligns with your unique interests. Costa Rica’s true beauty emerges through its untouched landscapes and authentic interactions, making it well worth the effort to step beyond the ordinary tourist experience.


Check out our previous blog post about the southern zone

9. Taking Care of Your Belongings in Costa Rica:

Tourist spots worldwide are magnets for petty theft, and Costa Rica is no exception. It’s essential to be cautious about leaving your valuables in your vehicle, especially when parking at tourist destinations and popular attractions. While Costa Rica is a beautiful country to explore, instances of theft from parked cars have been reported, and it’s best to be mindful. Therefore, it’s advisable not to leave your items unattended in your vehicle and to bring them with you when you’re enjoying the beach or a park. Being proactive in safeguarding your belongings can help ensure a worry-free experience and these simple precautions can ensure that your travel memories are only positive.


10. Diversifying Your Payments

While many places in Costa Rica accept credit cards, having cash—in local currency or USD—is essential, especially in smaller towns or rural areas. Notify your bank before travelling to avoid any interruptions in card usage, and be cautious when using ATMs. Carrying different forms of payment ensures that you are prepared for any situation, whether it’s tipping a local guide or paying for a spontaneous adventure.

Avoid using the currency exchanges at the airport as the exchange is never in your favour. If you must however only exchange a small amount. Use this as a rough estimate of exchange rates


*Bonus Tips
  • Packing Light: Traveling with just what you need reduces the hassle of heavy luggage and saves you money on baggage fees.
  • Thorough Destination Research: Familiarizing yourself with local customs, language, and culture enhances your travel experience and helps you build meaningful connections.
  • Investing in Travel Insurance: Prioritizing travel insurance ensures financial security in case of unforeseen emergencies, granting you peace of mind throughout your journey.
  • Staying Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining your well-being, allowing you to enjoy your travels to the fullest.
  • Exploring Local Cuisine: Trying local dishes enriches your cultural experience, offering a delightful journey through the flavours and traditions of your destination.

In conclusion, by avoiding these common mistakes and exploring hidden gems like Uvita, you can make the most of your Costa Rican adventure. Boutique hotels like Vayu Retreat Villas and top-notch resorts add an extra layer of luxury to your experience, making it truly unforgettable. Prepare, explore, and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Costa Rica for an incredible journey.

Explore the many waterfalls of Costa Rica in the Osa

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