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About Costa Rica Vibes

Hi! We are Sarah & Thomas

We met while volunteering in a community for adults with mental disabilities in Virginia, fell in love, moved to Germany for four years, then moved to Costa Rica where we have been living ever since. It was a spontaneous decision to move to Costa Rica, (Thomas was offered a job in the capital city of San Jose and we moved six weeks later) but it was the best decision. We love it here! You can usually find us chasing fabulous vibes around Costa Rica while helping you to do the same through our website. 

Keep your time, keep your mind, keep humble
Start your life in the middle of the jungle

-Noah Kahan

Why We Do This

We started Costa Rica Vibes after living here for a year and traveling around the country.

We realized there was a serious lack of available information on how to travel in Costa Rica without depending on expensive tours or all-inclusive hotels.

That’s just not our vibe and it doesn’t need to be yours either.

We also realized that there are tons of businesses here in Costa Rica that just can’t compete with the big international companies. We wanted to be a voice for the amazing companies and places that most tourists never get a chance to experience.

How We Met

We 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 was able to complete this requirement by volunteering and he could even do it overseas.

Somehow we both ended up in the same little village in Virginia at the same time.

We aren’t sure if we believe in fate or destiny, but we can say that we feel really freaking lucky because our life together is better than anything we could have ever imagined.

After just a few months together we needed to decide our future.

Thomas needed to go back to Germany because his visa was about to run out. Sarah tends to act with her heart rather than what is logical so two months after Thomas left the US, Sarah followed and we started our life together in Germany.

Our Move to Costa Rica

After four years of living in Germany, we were ready for a change.

At that time, Thomas was working as a German kindergarten teacher and Sarah was teaching English.

We figured it was most important for Thomas to find a job first because Sarah could teach English anywhere.

After a few months of applying, Thomas was offered a job as a kindergarten teacher at the German school in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Less than two months later we packed our bags and flew to Costa Rica. 

We fell in love with the country immediately.

Costa Rica Vibes was born because we were finding ways to explore our new home while on a budget, yet we struggled to find Costa Rica info online that wasn’t geared towards expensive pre-packaged tours and high-end hotels.

We were determined to be the gap in the Costa Rica tourism info.

Grab a free copy of our Costa Rica guide

Our Travel Style

Sarah is usually the one planning the trips. Thomas is the one picking up the pieces (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 things such as transportation and accommodations arranged ahead of time but tend to go with the flow as far as activities.

We love to really explore the places we are visiting, but we also make a point to stop and just enjoy the moment.

It is not unusual for us to spend a day drinking margaritas on a beach and spend the next day doing a several hour long hike followed by a sunset kayak trip.

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

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

Oh and we love to be outside!

We created Destination Guides to every area of Costa Rica. These guides will help you find the perfect places for your travels.

la fortuna

Discover ready made itineraries for one, two, and three week trips to Costa Rica. All of these itineraries are free for you to use. ​

puerto jimenez

Discover all the things you should know before visiting Costa Rica from packing tips to the best beaches to how to use your cell phone here.

Don't hesitate to contact us!

We know that planning your trip to Costa Rica can be a bit overwhelming. There are just so many options!

We are more than happy to help you out with your plans. Just note that sometimes we can a bit inundated with emails so it can take us some time to get back to you. 

33 Responses

  1. Hi guys. Happened upon your Nate experience and enjoyed your blog. The description of “Sarah as the planner reading a million books at once and Thomas as the practical one”, is my husband and I in a nutshell. Both American Retirees researching a limited move to Costa Rica. Not hauling “things” down there, just renting furnished digs for a while. Haven’t decided on a set location but leaning toward Heredia/Alajuela/Limon. Vacationing next year. Are you still there? would love to know how you feel about the country now.

    1. Hi Mary,
      That’s exciting that you are thinking of moving down here! Have you visited previously? We are still here. It’s been fur years now and we still absolutely love it. In fact, we are debating the opposite (moving to the US) but it is just so hard to leave the perfect weather and relaxed mindset.
      Feel free to email me as you plan your trip down. [email protected] I’m happy to help. It can definitely be a bit overwhelming at first when you don’t know what you are doing.

  2. Can I visit a sloth sanctuary in the Liberia area without signing up for a $200 tour? We plan to rent a car and feel that we should be able to go to the stand pay the local rate. I love your bio! Thank you!

    1. Hi Maria, It is open again (for now). You never know if it will start erupting again before that time. We have a guide to Poas here if you need. Buying the tickets is now really confusing so this guide will help you out with that. However, you don’t need to buy the tickets until 1 or 2 days before. It does not fill up, especially in July. That way you can wait to see if the volcano is actually open before buying tickets. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions!

  3. We would like to take our 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren (ages 8 and 11) to Costa Rica next Spring. The trouble is, the family with the grandchildren prefers the beach, and my husband and I (we are in our late 70s) and our adult daughter prefer hiking and seeing wildlife. Can these two needs be met? Should we rent a house? Stay in an all-inclusive resort (I love Casa Corcovado, but let’s keep the price reasonable!). Rent a car and go two different places to please everyone? Where would you recommend?

    1. Hi Gail! You can absolutely please everyone with one place. I would suggest staying in either Manuel Antonio or Uvita (or Dominical it is actually between Uvita and Manuel Antonio).
      Manuel Antonio is not always our favorite place because it can get very crowded, but it is a great mix of jungle and beach. You can also swim at the beaches here without usually worrying about the rip currents. The national park is definitely one of the best places in the country to see wildlife.
      There are several beaches in and around the Uvita area. Some are great for swimming and some are better for just relaxing. We love Uvita because it is basically as if the jungle meets the beach here. There is some great hiking as well (we like the Nauyaca waterfall).
      Manuel Antonio and Uvita are only about an hour away from each other so you can pick one place to stay and explore both areas.
      As far as finding a place for all of you, your best bet is definitely going to be Airbnb. You will be able to find a nice house that you can all stay in for a reasonable price. We personally like to stay in an Airbnb rather than a resort because you have the whole space to yourself, will have the option of cooking if you would like, and that way you can try a bunch of local restaurants rather than feeling obligated to eat at your resort since the meals are included.
      I would definitely suggest renting a car as well. This will give you the flexibility to see a lot. We have a discount with Adobe and it is almost always the best deal you’ll find. If your family feels comfortable driving it, I’d suggest the Hyundai H1. It is actually cheaper than some of the large SUV’s and it will allow you to fit all of your luggage as well as everyone. We recently rented it when we had our whole family visiting and Thomas actually said it was great to drive. If you do this, just leave a comment on your reservation that you would like the back seat removed. This will allow you to fit all the suitcases easier. Adobe will happily remove the seat for you for free. Also, just keep in mind that Adobe, as well as most of the other rental car companies in Costa Rica, will only rent to people under 75, so your kids will have to do the driving.
      Here is the link to our Manuel Antonio guide:
      Our Dominical guide:
      Uvita guide:
      Rental car discount:
      Also, seriously feel free to email me if you have more questions as you all plan things! I’m more than happy to help. [email protected]

  4. We are planning to fly into San Jose. We will arrive Feb 21 – March 10th. Other than being in San Jose for a week, what would you recommend doing and going the rest of the time. Not familiar at with Costa Rica. We are in our late 70’s but healthy.

    1. Hi Dolores,
      I would suggest La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio. That would be the perfect mix of jungle and beach. Plus there are tons of activities in both areas.
      In Manuel Antonio, I definitely suggest the national park.
      In La Fortuna you might like the hot springs, the waterfall, the butterfly garden, and hanging bridges.
      Feel free to email me [email protected] if you need more tips. 🙂

  5. Hey you two,
    I just read 5 mins on your blog and I am sure that our style of traveling matches. Me and my gf will be in Costa Rica for a total of 22 full days with a 4×4 car. My question. Should we do „whole“ Costa Rica, meaning East West South and North or maybe skip a part due to time (road conditions)? Thanks for the help. Cheers from Germany, Dario

    1. Hi Dario!
      With 22 days you can do a lot, but it can take a while to get between places. When are you traveling? Just asking because the weather on the Pacific coast is typically opposite the weather on the Caribbean coast depending on the time of year.

      1. Hey Sarah,

        I had to look up the part of the homepage where I commented…:O Thanks for the reply. We will be in Costa Rica from the 31st of august til the 23rd of September. Having the rainy season in mind, traveling to remote areas (4WD) could be sometimes tricky right? Can you give me information regarding the timespans to get from A to B on google maps? Are 3 hours e.g. realistic? A friend of mine mentioned that you could add about 50% of time onto the google maps times 4 years ago. What do you think about that?
        So far we planned to stay at: Tortuguero (3nights), Cahuita (3nights), Arenal (2nights), Monteverde (2nights).
        After that, we have 13 days left, which makes it difficult to visit Nicoya, Manuel Antonio AND Corcovado….Therefore I kindly ask your advice;)
        Would you skip Corcovado, visit Manuel Antonio as the southernmost destination and spend the rest of the days on the Nicoya peninsula?

        Thank you very very much:*

      2. Hi Dario!

        As far as travel time you never can be sure. I’d add about an hour to whatever Google maps says as far as driving time. It may be faster, it may be slower. It all depends on if you get stuck behind large trucks on roads in which it’s hard to pass.

        In Nicoya I’d do two or three nights in Santa Teresa and four nights in Montezuma. If you are interested in surfing, I’d stay longer in Santa Teresa. We usually spend more time in Montezuma because the beach is so nice, there is a cool waterfall you can visit, there are fun boat day trips you can take, there is a nice national park to hike. Basically, there’s just a lot you can do from there. In Manuel Antonio, you really only need two or three nights. Besides the national park there isnt that much to do. Then I’d suggest going about an hour south to Uvita for a few nights. You can check out Nauyaca waterfall, slide down the waterfall in Uvita, and the beach is really nice.

        You could definitely get down to Corcovado but it’s just a long drive and at this time of the year it can be very rainy down there.

        For driving conditions, getting to Tortuguero is unpaved towards the end but you shouldn’t have any rain there and the road is really flat. Getting to Cahuita and La Fortuna will be completely fine. Monteverde can be a bit crazy. Just don’t drive there or leave to Nicoya in the evening. Once it gets dark there it can be really hard to drive because there can be thick fog. We were just on Nicoya last week and they are starting to pave more of the roads. There are still huge sections which are unpaved, but they are used to the rain and the dirt roads are packed down very well. You should be fine.

        Let me know if you think of anything else!

      3. Hey Sarah,

        thanks, you helped me a lot! I guess we skip Corcovado due to distance and see how far south we go. Probably Uvita will be max. the southernmost stop on the west coast.

        One last question about the Montezuma Area. Me and my gf like surfing, but we are definately no pros. I would say more like beginners. As I saw so far, the waves are sometimes pretty high this time of the year. right? You think there are beaches for beginners? If not, would it be better to do some surfing in a different area?

        Final question: I am interested in fishing as well, maybe a german thing, so do you guys still have the contact where you went fishing at Tortuguero for a couple of hours?

        Thanks, and I will book the last accommodations through your link!


      4. Hi Dario
        Happy I could help!
        I don’t surf so I can’t help you too much, but of the places you are going to Puerto Viejo and Santa Teresa are the most popular surf spots. If you rent a board the surf shops can tell you the best spot to go for smaller waves. There are enough beaches near Puerto Viejo and Santa Teresa that I’m sure you’ll be able to find a good spot.
        I do not have the contact info for the guy we fished with in Tortuguero. I suggest just asking at your hotel. Everyone knows everyone there and a lot of people have boats, so I bet you can find someone for a good rate. There are also fishing tour companies in Tortuguero but they will definitely cost more.

  6. WOW, what an awesome website! It has been so helpful. My friend and I are planning 10 days in Costa Rica, (we are coming to Central America from New Zealand) and I am keen to rent a car however she is worried that we will struggle with reading signs and finding our way as neither of us speak Spanish. Also, I have heard it is almost impossible to get car insurance in Costa Rica. Thanks, Erin

    1. Hi Erin! I would suggest renting a car. It is definitely not cheap here, but it is worth it. It will give you so much more flexibility. You will be fine with the signs. There is nothing unusual and they all have the same shape and colors as normal signs so you can easily figure out what is a stop sign, yield etc. The car insurance thing is not impossible, it’s just that a lot of companies here do not tell you that there is mandatory insurance. So, you will rent a car and then get hit with crazy insurance fees when you arrive. I suggest checking out Adobe. They are our favorite company here because they are upfront with their costs. We actually like them so much that we asked them to partner with us and you can get a discount through our site. Here’s some more info on that. Let me know if you have more questions as you plan your trip! I’m happy to help you out!

  7. 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!!

    1. 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. [email protected]

  8. 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!!!

    1. 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. 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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?


    1. 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. 🙂

  11. 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 🙂

    1. Hi Natalia! I’m so happy you like our site. I’m going to send you an email in a few hours to respond to everything!:)

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

  13. 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

    1. 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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