“OK, hold on. We’re going to Costa Rica to visit some random friend of a girl you met in a bar in Chicago, who you hardly know?” My husband looked at me with that typical incredulous look he reserves for when I plan adventurous vacations.
After spending four years living and working in Sydney, Australia, we returned home to Vancouver, Canada, vowing that it would only be for a few years, and then we’d be off again, living and working somewhere new. However, we soon fell into the rat race of demanding careers, buying a house in the suburbs, getting a dog, and starting a family. Our “in a few years” plan became a “someday” plan with no set deadline.
Most formal volunteering programs are based in the San José area. But there are ways to give back to the community in nearly every location across Costa Rica. Many formal programs charge a weekly or monthly fee. This is a common practice for "voluntourism" trips.
Three years ago, my wife Anne Marie and I took our first trip to Costa Rica. We arrived in the Central Valley and immediately felt comfortable. Staying for three months, we traveled to the Pacific side, spending time in Jacó and the surrounding coastal areas.
Costa Rica has certainly been discovered as an ecotourism destination. Are you 20 years too late, or are there still places where you can be an ecotourist and have an authentic Costa Rican experience?
It is no surprise, year after year, to see Costa Rica earning top spots on such lists as “Happiest Places on Earth”, “Greenest Countries in the World”, “Blue Zones” and “Most Biodiverse”. International Living has been reporting on the splendor of Costa Rica for over 40 years.
New Jersey native Phil Eitman moved to Costa Rica around the housing crash of 2008, with plans to oversee sales and financing for a mega-development on the Gold Coast. When the project evaporated, Phil learned to pivot and decided to open an insurance agency targeting expats.
Turtle nesting tours are fairly common in the coastal areas of the country. Annually, during nesting season, female sea turtles swim hundreds, if not thousands of miles—returning to the very beach where they were hatched to lay their own eggs.
Costa Rica opened on November 1 to travelers worldwide, including from all 50 U.S. states, without the need for a COVID test. You now only have to fill out a health questionnaire online, and provide proof of health insurance, to gain entry.
There's a silver lining to 2020 if you're dreaming of a life in Costa Rica… In the true spirit of Pura Vida, the administration is searching for ways to lure new investors and create new revenue channels for the country.