puerto viejo

Solo Travel in Costa Rica – What to Expect

Are you considering solo travel in Costa Rica? It is a great country to explore on your own with plenty of things to do for all budgets and interests

Typically we find that solo travelers usually fit in one of two groups. They either join a group tour in which everything is handled for them and there are built in travel companions, or they go the more backpacker route and try to stay at hostels so they can meet other travelers. 

These are both great options if you want social contact. However, if you are truly looking for an experience in which you just do your own thing, that is definitely possible as well.

We created this guide to give you a better idea of all the choices you have so you can determine how solo travel in Costa Rica can work best for you.

Let’s get to it!

Join a Tour

snorkel tour in cahuita national park

Often people think that joining a pre planned group tour is expensive. However, that does not have to necessarily be the case. It is very possible to find budget friendly group tours. 

Typically, group tours will start on a predefined date and will last for one week, two weeks, or three weeks. 

One of the great things about opting for a tour is that you can usually find an option with likeminded people. For example, you can find a tour focused mostly on birdwatching throughout the country, or a tour in the language you speak.

Usually there will be a schedule of set destinations, activities, and meals. However, most tours have some downtime in which you are free to explore on your own.

If you are interested in joining a tour, here are a few great options for you to consider. 

Participate in a Retreat

yoga costa rica

Another amazing opportunity for solo travelers is participating in a retreat. I’ve seen yoga retreats, permaculture retreats, digital nomad retreats, and female-centric retreats in Costa Rica.

In other words, do you have a skill that you want to further while surrounded by like minded people in paradise? A retreat could be a great solo traveler option.

Typically these take place for a few days to a week at one location. The host company will provide workshops, fun day trips, and meals. 

If you have an interest that you are particularly interested in, we suggest doing a Google search for “ (interest name) retreat Costa Rica” and see what you can find.

You can also ask us in the comment section below. We might have some good retreat ideas for you. 

Take a Course

surf lessons

Similar to the retreat vibe, taking a multi-day course in Costa Rica will allow you to leave the country with a new skill or further experience in a skill you are interested in. This is a great way to enjoy your solo travels with like-minded people in an organized setting.

Some of our favorite course ideas are; Spanish courses at a language school, PADI diving certification, and surf schools.

Try Day Tours

bird tour

If you do opt to plan your trip to Costa Rica completely on your own, day tours are a great way to socialize with other people. This also takes the stress off of you to plan a full day of action.

One of our favorite ways to spend a day in Costa Rica is with a combo tour. This is usually a mix of activities such as zip lining, ATV riding, relaxing in a hot spring, etc.

The best way to find great day tour options in the area you are visiting is by asking at your hotel or hostel. They usually partner with local companies and can direct you to great options, sometimes even with a discount.

Safety Tips

uvita waterfall

In general, Costa Rica is fairly safe. The most common safety problem tends to be petty crime or injuries due to participating in activities you may not be used to.

However, we still strongly suggest not walking alone at night or in remote destinations. More violent crimes (especially against solo female travelers) have been known to happen. 

I’m not saying this to freak you out, I just want to make sure that you are aware that it is not 100% free of crime so you can take the precautions you feel are necessary for you.

Check out our guide to safety in Costa Rica for more info.

Hotel Tips

montezuma airbnb

If you would like social contact, hostels are always a great option for meeting other solo travelers. 

Keep in mind that staying at a hostel doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stay in a dorm with several other people. Most hostels have private rooms available as well and these can actually be quite nice. 

You can then make a point of hanging out in the common areas or participating in activities that the hostel hosts.

Booking.com

Tips for Getting Around

la paz bus

We usually always suggest renting a car because it tends to be the cheapest option. However, as a solo traveler you can most likely save money by taking shuttles or public busses.

The downside of taking shuttles or public busses is that it leaves you without transportation in each of your destinations.

However, there are always taxis to get around or you can stick to participating in a lot of day tours which include transportation.

Destination Suggestions

For solo travelers we suggest areas which are more popular with tourists, have many day tour options, and are easy to get to.

Our suggestions are: 

Tamarindo

tamarindo beach

Tamarindo is a good beach destination for solo travelers because there is a busy downtown area with tons of restaurants, bars, and stores. It’s a great spot to meet people and not feel too remote. There are also tons of activity options here from surfing to ATV rides.

La Fortuna

la fortuna waterfall

La Fortuna is home to Arenal Volcano and is an adventure-lovers paradise. This is a popular place with backpackers, so there are always tons of solo travelers. There are also tons of companies here that provide combo day tours with transportation to and from your hotel.

Santa Teresa

santa teresa sunset

Santa Teresa is in a remote corner of the country, but it is a popular surfing destination that actually isn’t too difficult to get to. From San Jose, it is possible to take a public bus, to a ferry, to another bus which then will take you the rest of the way to Santa Teresa after crossing the waterway.

I like this spot for solo travel because the downtown area is easily walkable and has a fun vibe. There isn’t a ton to do here besides surfing, fishing, and renting ATV’s, but it is a great place to just chill.

Puerto Viejo

PLAYA COCLES

Located on the southern part of the Caribbean Coast, Puerto Viejo is a popular backpacker destination. We suggest this area if you enjoy surfing, nightlife, and bike rides to pretty beaches.

Activity Ideas

monteverde zip lining

As I mentioned above, I love day tours for solo traveling. This makes it easy to experience fun things with other people and you don’t need to worry about organizing anything. 

If you prefer to do things on your own, such as hiking in national parks, I suggest just letting someone back home know your itinerary just in case anything goes wrong.

Do you have any questions about solo travel in Costa Rica or have suggestions for other solo travelers? We would love to hear from you! Just write in the comment section below and we will get back to you ASAP!

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About Us

We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica. It was a spontaneous decision to move here, but it was the best decision!

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