Expense Report: Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

We departed San Salvador at 14:30 and arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica at 16:03. Citizens of the United States can enter Costa Rica for a period up to 90 days without the purchase of a tourist visa. Be sure that your passport is valid for an additional 6 months after arrival. We arranged transportation from the Liberia Airport to our AirBnB in Playas del Coco through our host for $40 so we could get the insight of a local on the way.

Our costs in Costa Rica can be seen below. I will also attach a complete breakdown of our costs at the bottom of the page.

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Best and Worst Use of our Money

The BEST use of our money was on our food/drinks and scooter rentals. $117 on food and drinks over the course of 5+ days for 2 people eating out most meals is pretty good. We keep costs down by splitting main courses and grabbing a snack later. Our scooter rental days were some of our most memorable while keeping transportation costs down. We had a $30 scooter rental for 8 hours and then another 24 hour scooter rental for $40. It’s a great feeling to rent a scooter in a foreign country and just cruise around the countryside.

The WORST use of our money was on our AirBnB and the transportation from the airport. We spent $420 for 5 nights. That’s an $84 price tag per night, which is much higher than normal for us. Also, the location wasn’t ideal. We had to spend an additional $20 getting back and forth between town and our condo. We also hitchhiked a number of times to save money. The $40 ride from the airport was a ripoff. Our host told us the buses wouldn’t be running because it was close to Christmas, not true, and our best option was to ride with him. (Our host was a really nice guy so hopefully it was an honest mistake.) We decided to take the bus to the airport for a total of $2.55 for the two of us on our way home. It’s not a good feeling when you overspend by $37.45 on your first move in the country. However, I think it’s important to learn the ins and outs of the country as you travel and we definitely showed that with this change. It’s also a great experience to ride public transportation in foreign countries.

ACCOMMODATION- $420 ($84/night)

Beach Area Condo Near Coco/Ocotal$420 for five nights. The location was not the greatest and it did not warrant the price. I would have gladly paid more for a better location. We were a looooong walk from everything. However, it was clean and quiet and had two nice pools to hang out by after spending the day exploring. Also, our host was very nice, helpful, and always around.

EXCURSIONS: SCUBA, Scooters, and Zip-lines

SCUBA diving with Rich Coach Diving (TripAdvisor)– If you are in Playas del Coco, I HIGHLY recommend this dive shop. We paid $135 for a two-tank dive for me and for Skye to come along on the boat. I believe the breakdown was $110 and $25. Considering boat tours around the coast are closer to  $40-$50, this was a steal to get Skye out on the water too. My two dives were phenomenal. After some research, I decided to explore the Monkey Head dive site. The first dive was nice, but the second dive… was my first experience diving with sharks! We went down to a shipwreck and swam all the way to the seafloor. We started inching forward and then a group of five sharks came into view! We hung out with the group of black tip reef sharks and it was an amazing experience. One of them was somewhat curious about us and swam right by me. We headed out after this and saw Curious Shark on the other side of the ship on the way out.

SCUBA Diving at Monkey Head with Rich Coast Diving

 

Scooters- We rented our scooters from COCOLOCO Rentals. Our first scooter rental was $30 for 8 hours. We used this time to ride up to the car rental locations to see if we could get a car for the next day (with no luck) and then went into Liberia. Our second rental was $40 for 24 hours. We scooted almost 90 minutes to Catarata Llanos de Cortez. The waterfall was amazing. We used THIS guide from MyTanFeet to help find it.

Catarata Llanos de Cortez

It was after the waterfall that we found out the kind of people we rented from. The scooter would not start after we hiked back to the parking lot. Skye sprang into action and found a bilingual tour guide. He was sympathetic and called CocoLoco on our behalf. After listening to a conversation in Spanish, he got off the phone and told us that CocoLoco said we were “too far away” and “screwed.” Wow. Thanks a lot. A local elder was hanging around during all of this and, with our friendly tour guide as a translator, arranged a ride to a nearby town called Bagaces for only $5.60. He took us to three different locations (a mechanic and two houses) with no luck. We pulled up to the fourth spot, where a kid around 18 was hanging out, and it appeared this would be our mechanic. We unloaded the scooter and he got right to work. He took most of the engine apart and began sucking on lines that ended up spewing gas into his mouth. He nonchalantly spit it out and continued working. He put it back together and it started right up. I took out my wallet to try and communicate payment, but he wouldn’t accept any money. What? He was in a position to ask $50+ and didn’t want a dime. There are genuinely nice people left in this world! Faith in humanity restored! We decided to forgo our other plans in fear of the scooter breaking down again and head straight back.  We didn’t want to try and explain what happened to CocoLoco so we just told them it started back up on its own.

OUR AMAZING MECHANIC

Zip-lining at The Congo Trail Canopy (TripAdvisor)- We went zip-lining and paid a little extra to enter their zoo area as well. It was an $80 package for the two of us that showed up as $84 on our credit card statement. I was hoping to be able to hold some snakes, or more specifically, get Skye to hold snakes, but they no longer do that. Instead, we saw a few snakes and monkeys in cages. Skye had fun feeding the monkeys, but we both decided it was kinda sad to see the same species of monkeys hanging out freely on top of the caged monkeys. Highly recommend the zip-line, but not the zoo!

Zip-lining through the Costa Rican jungle

The zip-lining was fantastic! We enjoyed the zip-lining here significantly more than the tour in the Dominican. The location in the Dominican was more scenic, but The Congo Trail did a great job of making you feel right at home in the trees. There were far fewer people and it felt less like we were part of an assembly line. I was also last in the group so the guide in the rear hooked me up a couple of different ways. I went upside down and Superman style! We highly recommend The Congo Trail Canopy!

FOOD!

We spent $117 on food and water. We ate out for breakfast one time, lunch five times, and dinner four times. We also made pasta for dinner once and had bread and jam for breakfast three times. It was $6.23 for the bread and jam that we ate on three occasions. The pasta dinner cost about the same as eating out on other nights at $8.30. The tap water in Playas del Coco is safe to drink so that saved us some cash. We continued to share entrees at most places to keep our food costs down.

Restaurants

Le Coq– Cool outdoor Lebanese spot overlooking the strip. $7.55 for two amazing falafel sandwiches. Highly recommended!

Casa del Mar– Outdoor spot with pool. We had a decent breakfast of pancakes, fruit, and bacon for $7.55.

Restaurante Marcelino– This is a second story restaurant overlooking the main road. I had the “typical” dish of rice, beans, meat, and pico de gallo and Skye had friend rice. It was Christmas so we sprang for a little nicer place and both got a meal for $18.40.

Pollo Finca– We stopped at this soda between Coco and Liberia. We ordered the”typical” for $5.66, but it came with fish this time. We split the meal, and since Skye doesn’t like seafood, she ate the majority of the rice and beans and I took the fish.

Restaurante Capitan Morgan– This is about 8 minutes outside of Coco on Route 151 before you get to Sardinal. We made sure to eat here both times we rented a scooter because it was delicious, tons of food, and a very reasonable price for the “typical” at $8.49. Highly recommended.

Soda by beach– $2 for a small chicken dish at Playas del Ocotal.

Zi Lounge– This felt like a typical outdoor open-air sports bar. We each had a drink ($5.85) during happy hour and I was able to watch sports for a little bit.

Subway– Our last meal before we hopped on the bus to get to the airport was a 12 inch turkey for $8.02.

Transportation

We spent $60 on transportation. Our ride from the airport to our AirBnB was $40 from our host. The most disappointing cost on the trip! Take the bus! On the way back, we spent $2.55 for the bus. We spent $5.60 for a beat-up old truck to take us with our scooter to the next town. Well worth it! We also spent $11.54 for three taxi rides to our AirBnB from town. A better location would’ve saved this.

Fun time on the public bus

Souvenirs

We spent $10 on four magnets. One for us and three to give to family/friends. We also saved a few Costa Rican colones as souvenirs.

List of expenses. The number in the ( ) is how much we paid in Costa Rican colones. The US dollar amount was calculated using the exchange rate we received from wherever we exchanged before purchasing.

Costa Rica
12/24/2016
$40 ride to AirBnB
$1.63 (858) water
$8 (4000) dinner Le Coq falafel
$4 taxi to our AirBnb
12/25/2016
$1 (550)
$7.55 (4000) (breakfast at hotel/pool) Casa del Mar Pancakes, fruit, bacon
$18.40 (9750) (lunch fried rice/typical) Restaurante Marcelino
$8.3 (4400) made dinner pasta
$3.77 (2000) taxi
12/26/2016
$6.23 (3300) Bread and jam
$30 scooter CocoLoco
$84 Congo Trail Zipline
$5.66(3000) lunch (Pollo Finca typical fish)
$8.49 (4500) (dinner typical Restaurante Capitan Morgan)
$3.86 (2045) coca cola
$3.96 (2100) gasolina
12/27/2016
$135 SCUBA
$2 (1000) lunch at beach
$10.17(5390) dinner typical/drinks by beach SODA
$5.85 (3100) drinks (piña colada/beer) Zi Lounge
12/28/2016
$40 scooter
$8.49 (4500) lunch Capitan Morgan (typical)
$7.55 (4000) dinner le Coq falafel sandwich
$10 souvs (4 magnets)
$5.60 (3000) hitch
$5 mechanic
$4.91 (2600) gasolina
12/29/2016
$3.77 (2000) taxi
$8.02 (4250) subway split 12 inch
$6.76 (3585) snacks
$2.55 (1350) bus

Oh yeah! We met Norman Reedus aka Daryl Dixon!

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