Day 1: Arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica!

We arrived in Costa Rica where we were immediately welcomed by tall mountains and greenery. Our first Pura Vida sign (and sloth) greeted us within 2 minutes of de-boarding and I was beyond excited! Our plan was to spend about 6 days exploring the Guanacaste region towards the west side of the country.

Customs

There was a pretty long line at immigration, but it being the day before Christmas eve that was expected. The line moved fairly quickly and the airport had employees scanning passports at arrival. If you are traveling during Covid times, do not forget to fill out the Costa Rica Health Pass, which is a single form that will spit out a QR Code with which you can enter the country. No Covid tests were required for fully vaccinated US travelers at the time of writing this (Dec 2021).

Weather

Be aware of the weather forecast for the time during which you’ll be visiting. Unfortunately for Mr. DMD and me, we had to make some pretty abrupt changes of plans after we noticed the areas we planned to visit would be under thunderstorms for days. Originally we planned to explore the Punta Arenas region (Jacó, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio) and the La Fortuna area (Volcan Arenal, Hotsprings, etc) but we’ll leave that for our second trip to Costa Rica. Funnily enough, once we got to Costa Rica the forecast would change to sunny or cloudy by the hour, so take any weather forecasts with a grain of salt!

Rental Cars

We wanted to be extra cautious since we had read that rental cars in Costa Rica can be a bit shady. Using our Chase Sapphire Preferred we used the Chase Portal to book a rental car with Europcar.

Once we were at the rental car booth the couple ahead of us were left to wander around counters to find a car after the representative told them they had supposedly been sent a cancellation email from the rental company, and could not give them a car. The couple after us had the same issue. Therefore, be extremely careful when selecting your car rental company. Use credit cards (or their travel portals) that might have alliances with rental cars to decrease your chances of having issues. We travel much more at ease knowing that if any issue comes up we have some type of insurance provided by the CCs.

Rental Car Insurance

Car insurance is extremely expensive so make sure to print out your travel card benefits to show evidence of coverage. This still might not work and you might be stuck paying for insurance regardless. In our case even though we showed them our credit card insurance they made us opt into one of their coverages. If we wanted to opt out they would put a $30,000 hold on our credit card, vs a $4,000 hold for going with the basic coverage.

Lodging

After grabbing our rental car, we drove about 4 hours to Liberia. There we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Guanacaste Airport using Hilton points. The hotel was very nice! We enjoyed the restaurant, and the pool has a very nice shaded area. The gym was nice as well with a view of the pool.

After quickly exploring the hotel, we went to bed. Day 2 included visiting our first volcano (El Rincón de la Vieja) so we needed to get those 8hrs of sleep :)!


Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or would like to share your experience when visiting Costa Rica.

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