My love of Central America is no secret. Every year for my birthday (November 30), I take as much time off as my job will allow and pick a new country to visit.
- Cheap, quick flights from D.C.
- No jetlag
- The weather is perfect in late November/early December
- Shoulder season, meaning the flood of tourists hasn’t quite yet started
Now, I’m a Type A personality and while I’m all for a spontaneous trip with minimal planning, that’s not something I yet have the privilege of experiencing. I have limited vacation days so I like to make the most of them and I also enjoy planning a trip — It gets me HYPED.
That being said, I read a lot about a location before I visit and I’m usually packed a few weeks in advance. I follow a lot of other travel bloggers and their posts have been invaluable for my travels.
There’s some serious knowledge I gained in Costa Rica that I must share with the world. Information that may be relevant to a segment of readers that other blogs have missed; particularly, plus size women.
So ladies, fret not! I’m here to give you all the dirty deets to make sure your time in Costa Rica is as lovely as possible.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know…
1. Bring deodorant everywhere you go.
Bring deodorant everywhere you go. Not for your armpits. Girl, for your THIGHS! Deodorant is the easiest way I’ve found to prevent the horrendous thigh chaffing that I call “Chub Rub” and you get it bad here. You’ll be very active with lots of walking and the humidity exasperates the chaffing. Make sure to bring gel deodorant because a stick will melt.
2. Make sure your sunscreen isn’t expired.
This probably sounds like a weird one but the sunscreen I brought with me was from our cabinet at home and even with SPF 50, it did nothing and I got burnt. I later realized it was expired. I am not someone who usually gets sunburn and I could tell how strong the sun was there because I got sunburn on my legs and my legs NEVER tan. If you have an area of your body that has a really difficult time tanning in the Summer time, you know what I mean.
3. Skip the denim shorts.
Refer to point one. Denim makes that chaffing worse and WET denim… forget about it. And your denim will get wet. Pack cotton, linen or jersey. They’ll also dry much faster than denim.
4. Put a waterproof case on your phone. And don’t ever take it off. Ever.
I had to learn this one the hard way. Everything gets wet in Costa Rica. I mean, everything. Maybe the weather changes and you get caught in the rain, or decide to take a spur of the moment trip to a waterfall or a hidden beach. I purchased this one and it worked great. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Or if you have a super cool water-resistant phone, don’t worry about it!
5. Eat the falafel.
There was so much delicious Middle Eastern food and to be perfectly honest, I have no idea why. But it’s everywhere and it’s really great quality for the most part. I would highly recommend Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar. I had it twice while I was there.
6. Avoid polyester.
Like honestly, don’t pack it unless it’s your rain jacket. Polyester is hot and it doesn’t breathe… You’ll be miserable and everyone will see your pit stains. You don’t want that! Stick to breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or my personal favorites; rayon and viscose which breathe well but also release wrinkles quickly if they get wrinkled at all.
7. Open toe, water friendly shoes are your best friend.
Unless you want your feet cut up by the rocks on the ocean floor… Beaches in Costa Rica are all over the place. Some are soft sand, some are rocky, some are sandy shores with crazy sharp rocks as soon as you’re in the water. I wore my Birkenstock look-a-likes from Target constantly and they were a godsend. I could wear them in the ocean and then walk to my hostel, get caught in the pouring rain and be fine, etc. Plus, they’re SO comfy (and a 1/4 of the price of real Birks)! The only time those shoes were not appropriate were on the ATV and the zipline. I wore a pair of sneakers that I ended up leaving behind. A pair like these will probably serve you just fine. For hiking, I wore these budget-friendly water shoes and they were also amazing. Such an incredible value for the money and feel like clouds on your feet. In my opinion, unless you’re a professional nomad or extremely adventurous traveler who is constantly doing water sports, you don’t need to fork out the money for Chaco’s or Tiva’s. Just get some look-a-likes, they worked great for me!
8. Skip the bras.
Free your ta-ta’s! If you’re comfortable going bra-less, I would absolutely recommend it. I brought mine with me and only once contemplated putting it on. However, the thought of wrangling my G cups into that contraption in the heat and humidity was absolutely repulsing. Bring a couple sports bras for activities. Other than that, you’ll spend most of your time in bathing suits anyway.
9. ALWAYS double check the price or barter.
With the high amount of tourism in Costa Rica, there is a lot of price gouging. From the lounge chairs at the beach, to the margarita stands, to the tour guides; everyone is trying to make the most money they can, so also try to save as much money as you can. If they tell you the lounge chairs on the beach go for $10, ask if they’ll take $5 if there are a lot of them empty. If I’m being frank, this was a more off-putting part of Costa Rica but it is a valuable lesson to learn, especially while travelling solo; Don’t get ripped off. I definitely did and will make sure to share my experiences in a post so you can avoid my mistakes.
10. Cotton panties all the way.
Personally, I feel sexiest in comfortable, cotton panties and when I’m on vacation, I want to feel sexy and comfortable. Also, if you’re prone to UTI’s like myself and many other women, this one is particularly important. The heat, humidity and long stretches in a swimsuit, can make you more vulnerable to getting a UTI so make sure to change out of your swimwear and in to cotton undies as soon as you can and skip the poly-elastic. It’ll also feel much better on your bum if you happen to get burned.
11. Wet wipes. Bring them.
This is a tried and true tip for many travelers but I would be remiss to leave it off this list. Make sure you have some for your face (I use Cetaphil wipes for my face) and some that are vagina-friendly. Costa Rica, for the most part, has clean water from the tap but you always want to be prepared. My last night in San Jose, the city had shut off the water in our neighborhood as they replaced the pipe and the work took several hours longer than anticipated. Having to fly out the next morning, I didn’t want to make my poor flight neighbor smell my stank so I was very grateful for those wipes. (The water did come back on though and I was able to take a shower).
Costa Rica is a beautiful country that is super easy for travelers of all age and travel styles and with these tips, you’ll be sure to have a comfortable and enjoyable trip.