I’ve gotten used to being asked if the Mexican food is good in Costa Rica. I no longer raise an eyebrow when someone asks me how I like living on an island. I do, however, still struggle to wrap my head around the tourists who spend small mountains of money to stay at a beach resort when all beaches here have public access. Tourists spending $1,000 a night may think this means they won’t see me and my farmer’s tan, but…
I do understand that in other parts of the world – I’m talking to you, Florida – many beaches are private (or at least those that own the ocean front property do their best to make it that way). Here in Pura Vida some hotels do indeed make access difficult, but the very fact that their clientele has money to burn acts like a magnet for all the vendors attempting to sell trinkets, snow cones and massages. That “private” beach is very much a public shopping mall.
It could be that our family trip to Cartagena scarred me for life, but instead of jostling for a spot on a crowded resort beach I try to find remote places where the birds outnumber the people. The treasure map pictured above came via Dani, a waiter at the Papaya restaurant in Brasilito. It isn’t to scale, and it definitely took every bit of my Bongo’s four-wheel-drive to reach the beach, but the payoff speaks for itself.
You’ll be amazed at the substantial amount of money saved by staying in a nice, small and affordable hotel versus a resort — and you can use some of that savings on the rental of a 4×4 equipped car. Note: if you do take a rental car off-road make sure you wash the mud and sand off it before you return it (“lavacar” is a car wash, and has nothing to do with volcanoes).
So, to recap: don’t come to Costa Rica for the Mexican food (Mexico City is over 1,500 miles away); don’t come here for the “island” lifestyle (nope, it’s not an island); but DO come here for the friendly people, the amazing park system, the wildlife and, of course, the fantastic beaches.