Hi! We are Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er.) We travel through Costa Rica with seriously good vibes while sticking to a rather tight budget. Want to know how we ended up here? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, we’d like to share with you a little about Costa Rica Vibes…….

Costa Rica is the most expensive country to travel to in Central America, but that does not mean it shouldn’t be on your list of destinations.

Unfortunately, when you start researching a Costa Rican vacation you will likely be bombarded with info about expensive tours and 5-star hotels. Our goal is (and always will be) to give you the best tips on having a great budget vacation in Costa Rica without skimping on seriously good vibes.

It is possible to travel to Costa Rica on a budget and we will show you how! 

This is not your typical travel blog. You will never see us accepting payments or free stays in return for promoting a business. That’s just not how we roll. All the accommodations, restaurants, activities, products, and services we recommend here are things we actually use and love.

We want to always give you the most authentic and genuine advice and we don’t think it’s possible to do that if hotels are paying us to write good things about them.

Instead, we make money by partnering with companies we love and recommending them to you in return for a small cut of their profit. This is always at no extra cost to you and it allows us to continue to run this site.

Hey! We just partnered with our fave rental car company to bring you guys a 10% to 20% discount on your rental car! Here’s the dealio!

Now on to our story….

Us crazy kids met in 2010 while volunteering for a year in a community for adults with mental disabilities in Virginia. Sarah had just graduated college and wasn’t really interested in the whole 9-5 thing yet and Thomas had to complete nine months of civil service which was required by the German government at that time. He figured, why not combine his civil service with a new experience abroad?

At the time Sarah was in a relationship and Thomas had come to the US with the mindset that he wouldn’t meet anyone in the US so it wouldn’t complicate things when he went back to Germany.

Sometimes life has other plans….

We fell in love over craft beer, late night walks, and lightning storms. After just a few months of being together, we had to decide what would become of us. Thomas only had a visa to stay in the US for a few more months. He asked Sarah to come back to Germany with him and being the spontaneous person she is, she said, “Yes, definitely!”

A few months later Thomas moved back to Germany and found a job. Sarah spent the summer living in a yurt on an island in the Boston Harbor as a park ranger and then she packed everything into two suitcases and moved to Germany.

We spent four years together living it up in Germany and traipsing around Europe before deciding we were ready for the next adventure in our life.

about us

Thomas was offered a job in San Jose, Costa Rica and as is standard for us, we just moved without having ever visited Central America.

Luckily it turned out that we love it here! Thomas has a good job that allows tons of travel time. Sarah runs this website from home when we aren’t traveling.

What You Can Expect From Us:

Sarah is the writer. Thomas is the man behind the camera.

Sarah is the one planning the trips. Thomas is the one picking up the pieces and ironing out the details (how very German of him).

Sarah is the dreamer. Thomas is the practical thinker.

As far as traveling goes, we are a bit of a contradiction. We like to have everything such as transportation and accommodations arranged ahead of time but tend to go with the flow as far as activities.

We love to see a lot of the places we are visiting, but we also like to stop and just enjoy the moment. It is not unusual for us to spend a whole day drinking margaritas on a beach and then spend the next day doing a five-hour long hike and wrapping up the day by kayaking.

We like to get the best deals possible (which we, of course, will always share with you) but we also like to find the coolest places with the best vibes.

We are all about finding off the beaten path activities and supporting small local businesses.  

Oh and we love to be outside!

Our Costa Rica Goals For 2018:

Sarah: We are getting married in July, so we have been devoting a lot of energy to the whole wedding planning thing. You can expect a series of posts later this year on how to plan a destination wedding in Costa Rica while on a budget. My other goal is to just travel deeper. We’ve seen a lot of the country now, but I want to take the time to really feel each location so we can provide more detailed info to you all.

Thomas: We’ve traveled a lot in the middle of the country, but have somehow missed the edges. I guess the thought of driving that far has just turned us off from it. Anyway, I’d like to get up to the North West corner of the country as well as the South West corner to explore Corcovado National Park. Also, I’m hoping to do more kayak fishing, in particular in Mal Pais. Since I work during the week I’d also like to take more weekend trips and discover more great places that are an easy drive from San Jose. 

about costa rica vibes

Here is some guidance for planning your trip….

Destinations: If you are trying to figure out what areas of the country you would like to see, head over to our destinations section to get a better idea of some great areas to travel.

Some popular places are Manuel Antonio, La Fortuna, Jaco, and Playas del Coco. 

Our favorite places are Tortuguero, Cahuita, Montezuma, and San Gerardo del Dota.

Must Know: After your trip is planned, head over to our must know section for some insight on things you should be aware of before traveling here; such as how to protect yourself against Zika, what you should pack, how to stay safe, the common scams etc. 

Enjoy! And Pura Vida! 🙂

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Guys!
    Just found your site! Congrats on your upcoming marriage! So I am an avid traveler, and so are my sons, so I found a deal 7 nights in Costa Rica for $719 including airfare and hotels and transportation to hotels. 1 night San Jose, 2 nights Arenal Volcano area, 3 nights Manuel Antonio area, 1 night San Jose. I am from NYC so driving is not an issue for me, but honestly we are going to be moving around a bit, and I rather enjoy the sights rather than have to figure out where we are going. What other options do we have for transportation? There will be 4 of us, myself and my 3 sons (15, 12, 11) This deal just popped up so I am not sure what else there is to do or not do, but I wanted to see if you would be so kind as to let me know if this is a good deal. Also when they say Green Season, I know it means rainy season, but does that mean its like Florida where it rains every day, between certain hours for a certain time then it clears up? Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Maura,
      That actually does sound like a great deal. Coming from NYC you will usually pay about $400 roundtrip for flights alone. Transportation such as private shuttles is usually expensive here. I’d say take it. Of course, double check on what the hotels are like. There is a wide range of hotels here from very basic to fancy.
      Also, I don’t think you wrote which month exactly you would be coming, but Green Season does mean rain, sometimes more than others. July and August tend to just be afternoon storms for a few hours like Fla. September, Oct, and Nov sometimes can be completely fine and other times can be full days of rain. You just never know!
      Hope this helps! And feel free to email me if you have more questions. sarah@costaricavibes.com

  2. I have found your site to be so helpful and informative! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica Aug 26th to Sept. 3rd. After reading your site thoroughly, I have mapped out a route, but feel it might be too much for the time that we have. I am just having a hard time deciding what to take out! We arrive at 9pm on Aug 26th and will be renting a car from Adobe through your site. I am thinking 1 night near the airport, 1 night in Tortuguero, 2 nights in Puerto Viejo or Cahuita (leaning more towards Puerto Viejo, because we want to enjoy some night life one night, but would definitely stop in Cahuita) , 2 nights in San Gerardo de Dota, and 2 nights near Manuel Antonio NP. We are ok with waking up early to start our drives and I know Puerto Viejo to San Gerardo de Dota is going to be a long drive, but was thinking about taking our time and stopping to see things along the way. If you have time, I’d like to know your opinion if this is too ambitious of us and what to eliminate if we have to. Also, are we missing out if we don’t go to Arenal and Monteverde? I appreciate any advice and absolutely love your blog!!!

    • Hi Marianne!
      I’m going to send you an email to give you some advice. I’ll be out this evening but look for an email from me in the morning. 🙂
      -Sarah

  3. Hi,
    Your website was a great resource for our recent trip to Playa Santa Teresa. My wife and I traveled to Costa Rica from British Columbia Canada with our two young daughters and some of our immediate family as a family vacation spurred on by my sister. We loved Costa Rica and found your website to be a great resource for the trip. We used the link to Adobe rental car and had a great experience with Adobe for the trip. A tip to anyone travelling with kids and driving is that the roads are mayhem and very rough in the rural areas so be prepared, also allow lots of time to get to your destination as it’s not as easy to travel a long distance as in North America. Also make sure you go for the 4×4 SUV if you plan to go to any rural areas. All in all we felt safe in the country for the most part with the exception of the crazy drivers and lack of order on the roads (IE where to park, pedestrians not having the right of way etc). Just make sure you always are aware of your surroundings.
    The only real hiccup in the trip was when our checked baggage was lost on the flight to Costa Rica, it took almost a week to receive it at our rental house(it was sent to the wrong location). I would definitely recommend packing some basic items to last a few days in your carry on bag and possibly considering taking just a carry on bag and not checking bags as it’s not fun not knowing when/if your bags will show up.
    Cheers from Canada.

  4. So glad I found this blog! We are traveling to Jaco in April for my friends wedding and all of your posts have been EXTREMELY helpful so far! This will be my first time traveling outside of the US, so I’m sure I’m in for a culture shock. Your blog is definitely making me feel more prepared for the trip and less anxious about things that could go wrong. Murphy’s Law.
    My boyfriend is AD in the Navy. Just curious if you have heard of anyone running into problems at Customs if they are AD or any advice? When asked about profession do you know any downside to saying he is military or if he shouldn’t show military ID with the passport?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kelsey! I have not heard of anyone having problems entering as someone in the Navy. He should be totally fine with saying his true profession. I would have him just give his passport. If they then ask for his military ID he can always give it, but they most likely won’t ask. Just make sure you have a printout of your return flight to show as proof that you are leaving the country within 90 days.
      Have fun at your friend’s wedding! And seriously don’t hesitate to message us if you have any other questions or need any help planning. 🙂

  5. Hey guys! I have been reading your site all day and I feel I finally found someone who actually travels the way I like it and that I can trust your recommendations! I’m going next week to CR arriving at 5:00pm (mon 12) and leaving 5:00pm (sun 18) we are from Mexico so we are looking to see places with a lot of wildlife and also to find a cool hotel for a few days at the beach (not too fancy or expensive) so the first plan we are working on is to go to san gerardo de dota spend 1 day
    There then go to manuel antonio area, go to the national park and near by beaches. We also would like to know if you think we would have time to go all the way to santa teresa or montezuma in the same trip or maybe skip a place…
    Another plan is maybe hike up irazu, then manuel antonio area and beaches en San gerardo. (or maybe trade Manuel antonio for Cahuita?) We are a bit afraid to find to many people in manuel antonio NP… and feel overwhelmed. I also saw playa blanca that its nice…
    Also Do you think we can survive with a 4×2 car? 4×4 costs almost twice as much ????
    so if you have an idea of a good, fun and also relax plan (we love eating at local places) we would really apreciate it! your blog is great! And any time you want to come to Mexico I will help you with all the local tips 🙂

  6. Hi Folks,
    I’m a Canadian senior adventure seaker looking for a 6 to 10 day back packing, hiking,camping, experience vrs guided tours, buses and hostels. Are there any opportunities here for that type of experience.

    • Hi George
      It is definitely possible to have that type of experience here, but it seems as though it is getting more and more difficult to find this type of thing. Two good places I’d suggest are either hiking through Chirripo National Park or heading down south to Corcovado. We, unfortunately, have not done either yet but the folks who run the site Costa Rica Guide are our go-to for this type of travel. Check out their site and maybe message them. I bet they can help you out a bit more than we can.

  7. Lots of great info, we have connected on Girls love travel. I was wondering about SIM cards from the airport for my unlocked Samsung, any suggestions? We don’t plan on doing much calling but like having text option and Uber option. Ty leaving in a couple weeks plan on heading directly to bus stati9n to catch bus to Cahuito so getting from airport to bus station on Uber might be the way to go. Thanks for your info! Kimberly

    • Yes definitely use Uber! Its always A LOT cheaper than taxis. There is free wifi in the airport (or at least there used to be but I was there picking up some friends the other day and I had trouble connecting to it sooo hopefully it was just a temporary problem). After you go through Customs in the baggage claim area there is a Kolbi counter (a phone company) where you can buy a SIM card. It will take like 5 minutes to register there. Its about $4 for a card and that money is applied to your account. If you need to check your balance ever just dial 8888 and press 2. You can also buy a Kolbi top up card at literally any mini market in the country. Hope that helps! You’ll LOVE Cahuita! its great!

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