Adventuring around Central America is one of my biggest and most rewarding challenges to date! During this time, I took a solo trip to Costa Rica where I found myself falling in love with deep jungles, crystal waters, and endless beaches that belonged on postcards. Planning a solo Costa Rica trip can feel overwhelming, but this comprehensive guide will help you navigate must-know information, tips, and tricks before boarding your flight. 

It’s hard to grasp the vibrancy of Costa Rica. Lush green jungles pave the way for rainforest excursions, while bold blue skies and sun rays beam down on the landscape, highlighting vast mountains and tropical waters. Get ready to take some epic photos, as everywhere you turn is the perfect backdrop for an Instagram pic!

Travelling Central America took me to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I still hold onto the magical memories created on this trip, and I remember feeling safe and secure, even as a solo female. If you’ve been considering a solo trip to Costa Rica, you’re in the right place to find out everything there is to know about this magnificent country. 

Everything You Need To Know Before A Solo Trip To Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a destination bursting with vibrant nature, wildlife  and adventures for travellers. Visiting the Arenal Volcano, Tamarindo Beach, and Monteverde Cloud Forest are all high on tourist’s bucket lists when heading to Central America, and for good reason! The country has a mesmerising power to connect people with nature. Swim in waterfalls, take day-long hikes, or simply relax and absorb the country’s beauty. 

The rainy season in Costa Rica runs between May and December, so this is important to consider when making your travel plans. If you want to see the country in full bloom, with luscious jungles and wildlife, I’d recommend aligning your trip with either the start or end of the rainy season. This means you can enjoy the dry weather and also experience a taste of what it’s like when the skies open!

How To Get To Costa Rica As A Solo Traveller

Flying is the easiest way to reach Costa Rica, and there are many flights available with various airlines. Heathrow is a popular departure location for UK travellers heading to Central America, and there are a range of flights available. Note that most of these flights have at least one layover, so download some podcasts and movies to keep you occupied! 

 

Route With 1 Layover

Route With 3 Layovers

Departure

LHR London Heathrow

LHR London Heathrow

Layover

BOG Bogota

OSL Oslo Gardermoen

JFK New York John F. Kennedy

SAL San Salvador

Arrive

SJO San Jose Juan Santamaria

SJO San Jose Juan Santamaria

Duration

18hr 25m

42hr 55m

The two example flights I found for Costa Rica from Heathrow have a couple of differences. The first flight only has one layover while the second flight has three, and this substantially affects the duration of your outbound trip. Taking nearly 2 days to reach Costa Rica isn’t ideal if you’re limited on time, but opting for a less convenient flight means potentially big savings. The difference between these two flight options is £200, which could be a dealbreaker if you’ve got a tight budget but abundant time to play with.  

Tips For Finding Cheap Flights To Costa Rica

When planning a solo travel adventure, I always know flights will be the biggest expense of my trip. So, I do everything I can to try and bring prices down! Here’s my top tips for finding cheap flights to Costa Rica:

Be Flexible With Destination, Dates, and Airports

So, Costa Rica is a dream destination you’ve had on your radar for months, but flights are pretty pricey. How about exploring countries near Costa Rica and taking a flight when you’re already in Central America? This may work out cheaper, and also give you the perfect opportunity to explore somewhere new… somewhere you wouldn’t have thought to travel to! Being flexible with destinations, dates, and airports will allow you to find the best deals available. This means you can spend more time and money making memories, and have less stress financing your trip. 

Travel Off-Peak

I’m not saying heading to Costa Rica in the middle of the rainy season is a good idea, but travelling off-peak is guaranteed to save you some pennies. I always avoid travelling during school holidays when I know places will be busier, and airlines will bump their prices up. Travelling out of peak season and at less convenient times such as early in the morning means you’ll likely be on a quieter flight, and the ticket will be cheaper too. 

Pack Light

Airlines, especially budget ones, often have some sneaky rules about baggage that some travellers don’t know until it’s too late and they’re hit with a pricey baggage fee. Know the baggage allowances for the airline you’re travelling with and make sure you don’t go over the weight! Packing light can be tricky, especially if you have several outfits you want to take on your trip, but it’s worth it. Coordinate outfits with interchangeable pieces so you can feel confident and express your style without getting hit with a baggage fee when checking in. 

Use A Comparison Website

Searching the web for hours and visiting every single website available for flights from Heathrow to Costa Rica would take days. That’s why I trust Skyscanner to do the hard work for me! Comparing flights across the web and having the results on one easy-to-read page makes things much easier and faster. Find out more about my money-saving flight tips.

Budget guide to Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Do I Need A Visa For My Trip To Costa Rica?

If you’re from the UK and hold a valid passport that will still be valid for the duration of your trip, you do not need a visa to travel to Costa Rica. This applies when visiting the country for tourism purposes and allows travellers to remain in Costa Rica for 90 days. Stays longer than 90 days require a visa, so if you’re planning to solo travel Costa Rica for an extended period, it’s worth checking what you need with the Embassy of Costa Rica

How Do I Book A Solo Trip To Costa Rica? 

When the time comes to book your solo trip to Costa Rica, you’ll likely have butterflies in your stomach as the excitement builds and everything becomes real! There are many different ways to book your trip and each one will reward you with an expedition you’ll be talking and reminiscing about for years to come. 

Entire Planned Trip:

Arranging the entirety of your solo trip to Costa Rica from your outbound flight and accommodation to activities and in-country transport is the best way to be prepared. Travelling with such organisation removes the guesswork from your trip, as you’ll know exactly where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and when you’ll be doing it. This isn’t the style of travelling I prefer as I like to figure some things out when I land in a country as you never know when an exciting opportunity may arise!

Group Trip:

If you’ve got your heart set on meeting other travellers when heading to Costa Rica, a group trip might be the perfect fit. Scour the internet for various group trips boasting tours and activities where you can explore Costa Rica, and meet new people too. Group trips can vary in price, but shorter trips won’t set you back much money and could connect you with other solo travellers from around the world. 

Outward Flight and First Night’s Accommodation:

To dive into the deep end and test your adaptability, there’s always the option of only planning your flight and first night’s accommodation. Remaining flexible will allow you to decide where you want to go when you’re already in the country. This can be useful if you’ve solo travelled before and are confident to leave things like accommodation until you’ve found a location you want to spend more time in. 

How To Book Hostels And Hotels In Costa Rica?

I’ve been solo travelling for around a decade, which means I know a thing or two about how to find the best accommodation deals for wherever I’m travelling. I’ve used booking.com and hostelworld for years to find the most competitive accommodation prices. Both websites are easy to use and I can tailor a search depending on factors such as location, date, rating, and amenities allowing me to find the best accommodation for what I need. 

Remote Working In Costa Rica

Travelling is a gateway for new experiences, challenges, and growth, but it also costs money. Remote working is one of the ways I support myself when travelling, and there are abundant opportunities in Costa Rica to earn while exploring. Supporting your travels while remote working means you can gain experience in a new area, meet new people, and earn money to do more activities. 

Global Work and Travel have been trusted by thousands of solo travellers wanting to work and travel simultaneously. The company offers support with every step including sourcing work, obtaining the correct visa, local support and more. Click to find out what Global Work and Travel have in store for remote working in Costa Rica.

Volunteering in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica is full of various volunteering opportunities. It’s the ideal destination for learning about wildlife conservation, nature, and our impact on the planet. Volunteering means you’ll be working without being paid, but you’ll be supported with accommodation, meals, and more. 

Sea Turtle Conservation

Costa Rica is special for several reasons, one being the incredible number of sea turtles that choose to nest on Costa Rican shores. Volunteering for sea turtle conservation means you’ll be part of a mission to protect nesting sites and help hatchlings navigate to the ocean for up to 12 weeks.

Sloth & Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary 

Have you ever wanted to meet a sloth? Well, there’s no better opportunity to care for sloths and other wildlife in Costa Rica than volunteering at the Sloth and Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary for up to 10 weeks. Not only will this expose you to some of the country’s most incredible animals, but you’ll also be caring for injured wildlife too. Global Work and Travel arranges volunteering with a trusted rehabilitation organisation in Costa Rica so you’ll feel safe, secure, and supported throughout your 10 weeks. 

Costa Rica Superheroes

Being a superhero in Costa Rica means giving back to the community, and helping shape the education of disadvantaged children. As an English language assistant, you can volunteer to teach English, helping with pronunciation and lesson prep. As a community centre volunteer, you can help with extra-curricular activities like sports, games, and homework.

Jungle & Coast: Wildlife & Sea Turtles Costa Rica 

Take on a volunteering placement with sea turtles at the Sloth and Wildlife Sanctuary where you will help injured animals, be a part of the sea turtle nesting phenomenon, feed animals, and carry out general maintenance and repairs. If you’ve always had a calling to work with animals, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new and help animals in need.

Currency, Language, Plugs, And Best Ways To Get Around In Costa Rica

The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC), so you’ll need to be prepared beforehand with a currency card or similar. The US dollar is also accepted, though this may not be the case for everywhere you travel in Costa Rica. You’ll also need to pack plug type A or B as this is what’s commonly used in the country and will allow you to keep all of your gadgets charged up without a problem. For more tips on packing for overseas adventures, check out my girls’ packing guide.

Buses are the typical way for locals and tourists to get around Costa Rica, and you’ll be able to marvel at the glorious scenes of the country along the way. It’s also possible to take flights and boat trips, though these are more expensive than buses and will eat into your budget fast!

Can I get around Costa Rica without knowing Spanish?

Spanish is the official national language of Costa Rica, but there are also some indigenous languages you’ll find during your travels. Knowing fluent Spanish isn’t a must for your solo Costa Rica trip, but learning a few words and phrases before setting off on your adventure will make things easier when you land. 

Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

Best Travel Insurance For A Solo Trip To Costa Rica

Taking out a travel insurance policy wasn’t initially something I thought about when I first started solo travelling. Now, however, I understand the importance of being protected when I travel, as you never know what situations may arise and when you might need some help. Travel insurance will take a small chunk out of your budget, but it provides you with peace of mind knowing there’s somewhere to turn if you need help or advice. Check out my full travel insurance guide.

Outbacker

Costa Rica is a location full of activities, and Outbacker insurance covers over 200 sports and activities which is perfect for adrenaline lovers! Travellers have trusted the company to provide 24-hour, 365-day assistance for years, and they have proven to be a reliable travel insurance solution across countless destinations.

Learn more about Outbacker Insurance by clicking here

Safety Wing

Safety Wing has travellers at the forefront, with easy-to-understand insurance options and a mobile app to make things simpler on the go. The company offers flexible and affordable insurance, covering over 180 countries. They have a simple but effective claims process and friendly customer support available 24/7. 

Learn more about Safety Wing by clicking here

World Nomads

World Nomads encourage travellers to have amazing experiences, backed by the comfort of reliable insurance. Flexible options include the ability to buy insurance while travelling and be covered for over 200 adventure activities such as kite surfing, snorkelling, abseiling, skydiving, and more.

Learn more about World Nomads by clicking here

Best eSim For Travelling To Costa Rica

Being connected to the internet is a must for me and so many others while travelling abroad. With an increase in data roaming charges and daily internet usage limits, finding a phone and internet solution for a solo trip to Costa Rica can be a whirlwind. I trust Airalo eSIMs when travelling as they have various data packs and durations at affordable prices so I can stay connected wherever I am. Get a Costa Rica eSIM when you travel.

Setting up an eSIM with Airalo is as easy as downloading the app, choosing the right package for your Costa Rica trip, and installing and activating the eSIM. Staying connected to friends and family is easy with Airalo and there aren’t any hidden, sneaky fees to be afraid of! With 24/7 support available, there’s someone to turn to if any issues arise, which limits stress and helps things run smoothly.

Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

Is Costa Rica A Good Place To Travel Solo?

Before heading to Central America, I was told it was too risky and that I would be facing danger. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! My time in Central America was incredible, and my time in Costa Rica was a reflection of this. People were friendly and wanted to chat with me, which was a little tricky since I’m not fluent in Spanish, but this didn’t matter. I was always exchanging smiles with locals and didn’t feel targeted or uncomfortable. 

As a solo female traveller, there are a few key things I always do to help improve safety wherever I travel. In Costa Rica, I avoided being out alone at night, often choosing to leave locations shortly after sunset to remain in well-lit areas and avoid losing my bearings. I also didn’t wear any expensive jewellery or clothes as I preferred to not draw too much attention to myself. 

Costa Rica isn’t a location shy of tourists. In fact, in 2022, nearly 2.4 million international tourists headed to the country and many of these travellers were on a solo mission! Part of travelling solo is trusting your abilities to stay vigilant and aware of immediate situations. Know what’s going on around you, and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel quite right. 

Should I Go To Costa Rica On My First Solo Trip?

Choosing Costa Rica as your first solo travel destination is a fantastic move! Many solo travellers from around the world head to Costa Rica, and with plenty of hotels and hostels, you’ll likely cross paths with other backpackers during your trip. Costa Rica has a tourist infrastructure for travellers to take part in activities and tours around the country. 

You won’t be short of things to do or places to visit in Costa Rica, but if you want to connect more with locals, I’d recommend learning a little Spanish. Local people are kind and generous, often wanting to interact and connect with foreigners. A solo trip can feel daunting, especially when it’s your first time, so it can help to have some parts of your trip planned, such as activities or accommodations. 

When you land in the country, get ready for horseback riding through the majestic scenery, hiking through the rainforest, or having the time of your life zip-lining through the luscious landscape. There’s something for everyone, and once you’ve arrived at a hostel, you’ll connect with other travellers wanting to experience a wholesome, exciting adventure too. 

Is Costa Rica Expensive For A Solo Traveller?

Costa Rica isn’t the cheapest travel destination, but there are some simple ways to cut the costs of your trip. Opting for the most affordable outbound flight is a good place to start, followed by budget hostel accommodation, eating street food, and using buses to get around. Depending on what you have planned, your trip to Costa Rica could cost thousands, but it’s possible to have a terrific time without spending your entire savings!

Limit the number of paid activities you do, and consider either remote working or volunteering during your trip. This allows you to support your travels and get an up-close experience you may have otherwise had to pay for. It can be tempting to stay in lavish hotels and eat at fancy restaurants but this is a gateway for overspending. Opting for hostels keeps costs down and also introduces you to other backpackers who could become future friends.

Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

How Much Does A Solo Trip To Costa Rica Cost?

Costa Rica isn’t recognised as being a cheap travel destination, but I found planning to be successful in keeping costs down. I didn’t eat out at restaurants much, choosing street food vendors instead, and I also stayed in hostels over hotels. 

One Month In Costa Rica

One Way Flight

£450

Accommodation

£390 (hostels)

Food

£200 (limited restaurant visits)

Activities

£300 (depending on activity type)

Transport

£100 (buses)

Total

£1440

One month in Costa Rica can be expensive, but limiting restaurant visits, taking buses, staying in hostels, and taking part in affordable activities are key ways to reduce costs. You can learn more about my money-saving travel tips and find out ways to cut down your spending in Costa Rica.

Is Costa Rica Safe For A Solo Female Traveller?

Costa Rica is known for being a safe location for female travellers. Of course, dangers can exist anytime, anywhere, but Costa Rica isn’t a hotspot for crimes against women. I felt very safe during my time travelling solo in Costa Rica and even attended a music festival solo while travelling there. Being able to speak some Spanish helped me feel confident walking the streets, as I knew how to ask for help if I needed it. Always stay alert and remain vigilant when travelling alone, even when you feel safe.

The cities aren’t as peaceful as rural areas, so I would advise you to be extra cautious when travelling to areas like San José and Puntarenas alone. After nearly a decade of travelling as a solo female to various countries and continents, I can safely say Costa Rica stands out as one of the places I have felt most comfortable and safe. Feel prepared for your solo trip to Costa Rica by checking out my solo travel tips.

Which Part Of Costa Rica Is Best For Solo Female Travellers?

Santa Teresa in Puntarenas is one of the locations where I fell in love with Costa Rica. The endless sandy beaches, towering palm trees, friendly locals, and surf culture instantly filled me with peace and tranquillity. 

Santa Teresa

The gloriously wild Costa Rican landscape is the backdrop to beaches in Santa Teresa, providing a dreamy location for sunbathing, surfing, or enjoying a drink at a beach bar. The blend of nature and infrastructure is balanced and as Santa Teresa is quite far from San Jose, it’s a quiet location that isn’t overrun with tourists. 

Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

Where Are The Best Places For Solo Travel In Costa Rica?

I enjoyed every part of my trip to Costa Rica, but a few places stand out. When solo travelling, I like to explore places deeply and feel comfortable doing so. The time I spent in each of the destinations below was full of breathtaking scenery, opportunities to meet other travellers, and the ability to connect with locals and native Costa Rican wildlife.

La Fortuna

The town of La Fortuna stole my heart in seconds thanks to its incredible landscape. Arenal Volcano is nearby soaring into the sky from a bed of luscious green nature. There’s plenty of opportunity for adventure in La Fortuna, but I also found it to be the ideal location to relax and reset during my Central America trip. It’s easy to reach the town by taking a bus from San José, sitting back, and watching the world go by until you arrive.

Monteverde

A visit to Monteverde provides a glimpse into the Costa Rican wilderness. The Monteverde Biological Preserve is home to several ecosystems, supporting the country’s wildlife and biodiversity. The Monteverde Cloud Forest was a highlight of my Central American trip, and hiking through the mighty trees was a humbling feeling I’m yet to replicate!

Montezuma

The town of Montezuma had similar energy to Montverde, with nature towering around, making tourists feel as small as insects! The waterfalls here are also breathtaking. Cascadas de Montezuma is one of the most popular waterfalls in the area, and arriving early will give you the perfect opportunity to take some pictures in front of the magical waterfall. 

Puerto Viejo

For a true taste of local Caribbean food, there’s no better place than Puerto Viejo. This beach town had a completely different energy from other areas I travelled to in Costa Rica. I found myself easily settling into the laid-back atmosphere, enjoying wholesome food and taking some time to slow down. 

Chirripó National Park

When taking the plunge to solo travel Costa Rica, I already had Chirripó National Park on my list of must-sees and it didn’t let me down. I knew how stunning the landscape would be, but nothing prepared me for the feeling I experienced when seeing the vast lakes, tropical animals, and mountainous side of Costa Rica!

Tortuguero National Park

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore Tortuguero National Park, and taking a turtle tour is a must for seeing as much wildlife as possible. The area experiences high volumes of rain, making it a haven for beaches, canals, and lagoons which add so much life and biodiversity to the park. The rainforest is incredible and paired with a fuschia sunset, there’s simply no better way to capture the magic of the Costa Rican wilderness. 

San José

Costa Rica’s capital city San José provides a different glimpse of the glowing landscape. Although I could have easily stayed in the national parks for weeks, I enjoyed my time in San José. Leaning into the buzzing energy and opportunities allowed me to see a different side to the country, where museums, parks, theatres, and restaurants are all waiting to share an insight into Costa Rica’s history and culture.

Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

How Do I Make Friends When Solo Travelling To Costa Rica?

Making friends during my solo Costa Rica trip was easy, as it’s a destination backpackers from all over the world head to in search of epic rainforests, delicious cuisine, and a slower pace of life. I haven’t experienced many hurdles when making friends on my travels, but there are a few common things I do to make things easier.

Be Open and Approachable

After travelling solo for nearly a decade, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for interacting with new people. You can find more of my advice here, but my first and biggest tip would be to remain open and approachable. Even if you’re feeling nervous or are a little homesick, sitting in the hostel community area with folded arms and your head down won’t make other travellers feel inclined to speak to you! Try and keep your body language open, smile at new people, and watch conversations flourish. 

Avoid Excluding Yourself

If you’re invited to take part in a group activity or go for drinks later in the evening, say yes! Obviously, you don’t need to be social for the entirety of your trip, but socialising with other backpackers will help you build relationships with others easily. If you prefer not to drink alcohol, don’t let this stop you from going out and having fun! There are so many memories to be made from spending time with other travellers, so lean into the adventure and make some friends. 

Have Conversation Starters Ready

I always have a handful of conversation starters in the back of my mind that come in handy when interacting with new people. These usually include topics and questions around travel, such as ‘have you travelled here before?’, ‘what are you planning on doing after your trip ends?’ and ‘what’s the best place you’ve travelled to and why?’. Going to a music festival alone in Costa Rica was the perfect opportunity to interact with new people and try out my conversation starters!

 

So, are you ready to take on a solo trip to Costa Rica? Where do you think you’ll go?