11 Days in Costa Rica
what it costs 

Now that my Costa Rica trip has come and passed I wanted to write my “What it Cost” recap blog.  I started doing the financial rundown of my trips after I spent a month in Southeast Asia last year and followed it up with What it Costs to go Backcountry Camping in the Grand Tetons.

The main reason I started to do my “What it Costs” blogs were to show people what an adventure really costs.  The biggest reason why people tell me they can’t travel is because they “can’t afford it”.  I hope that after each one of these blogs you realize that traveling isn’t that expensive (cheapest it’s ever been really) and if you really want to do it you can.

I’ve written about life priorities before and how it’s important to decide yours.  Is eating out more important than my next trip to Russia?  Not for me.  Is another night at the bars or a random purchase on Amazon better than saving up for a house?  Again no.

Related: 20 of the Most Beautiful Places in Costa Rica

At the end of the day, it’s all about what you value.  The old phrase “every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” is 100% true.  Instead of saying you can’t afford something, say it’s not a priority and see how that sits with you. Being honest with ourselves is the only way to achieve what we really want.


Below you’ll find a line by line list of what I spent on my 11 day trip in Costa Rica last month.

But first, a few notes:

  1. Cheaper flights were available, however, I was very particular about the days and times I wanted to fly.  I didn’t want to leave at 8 pm on Thursday (getting to San Jose at 4 am) and I didn’t want to leave San Jose at 7 am (basically taking away my Saturday night).  If you don’t care about flight times you can get a round-trip flight for closer to $400.
  2. When you travel alone things tend to be more expensive.  I didn’t have anyone to split the price of the rental car or gas with.  But for this trip, I was completely okay with that.  This trip was more about exploring the world on my own and it was worth every additional penny.
  3. I brought a few things with me: a handle of Seagrams, spray sunscreen, and bug spray just to name a few to save money as I heard from Jordan that they were more expensive there.
  4. Costa Rica isn’t cheap, especially for Central America.  Guatemala and Honduras are cheap.  Costa Rica is a fairly well developed from a tourism standpoint.  If Guatemala is Vietnam than Costa Rica is Thailand.   I would even compare it to Kansas City, in most places you’re paying $4 to $6 for a drink and $12 to $15 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant.  They’re not exactly giving stuff away.
  5. I didn’t party much on this trip.  Honestly, I didn’t have the urge to.  Each day was filled with activities that by the time 10 pm hit I was ready for bed.
  6. Costa Rica is incredible, but part of me (and I don’t care if this makes me sound like a travel snob) hates places where I can use English all the time and have the option to pay for everything in dollars.  I feel cheated out of experiencing their culture and challenge of being uncomfortable figuring it out as I go.


Pre-Departure Purchases:


Kansas City to San Jose Flight- $649
$25 checked bag (One way) x 2= $50

Rental Car (11 Days):
Alamo 4 wheel drive SUV Rental car & insurance: $279 – $50 (talked myself into a discount)  =$229

Total: $928

San Jose to Jaco:

2.10 chips in airport
$20 for local SIM card
$4 In tolls to Jaco

Total: $26.19

Jaco- 3 Nights:

$43.26- Room2Board hostel 3 nights
$30 surf lesson and board for the day
$10 surfboard day rental
$6.50 hostel breakfast
$8 guac/lunch
$8 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco
$6 Breakfast at hostel- surfer wrap
$6 2 imperial beers
$14 on 2 whiskey waters
$10 Drinks at bar
$6.50 breakfast at hostel
$10 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco

Jaco Total:  $158.26

Jaco to Pavones:

$12 lunch at Flutterby house room
$22.83 gas driving to Pavones in the Osa Peninsula

Total: $34.83

Pavones- 2 nights

$45 Surf House Pavones –  2 nights and Surfboard rental
$8 Dinner in Pavona
$6 snacks in Pavona

Pavones Total: $59

Dominical- 1 Night

$8 Lunch (pasta and nacho)
$18 Cool Vibes hostel *private room split with Jay 36 total
$10 Surfboard rental
$10 Snacks. Pineapple, munchies, nuts,  ice cream
$3 Beer at Cafe Mono Congo

Dominical Total: $49

Dominical to La Fortuna

$8 burrito Jaco taco  (coming back from Osa)
$26 gas

Total: $34

Arenal/La Fortuna – 4 Nights

$43 Arenal Backpackers Resort
$85 Whitewater rafting the Pacuare River (top 5 in the world)
$25 Rafting CD of photos
$8 Nachos for dinner at hostel
$16 Las Brasitas dinner
$6 Breakfast at hostel
$12 Parque National Park entry
$38 Entry to Hanging Bridges National Park with Tour Guide
$15 La Ventanita (Best Burrito of my life)
$68 Souvenirs
$28 Bottle of Whiskey

Arenal Total: $344

La Fortuna to San Jose

$28 gas

Total: $28

Return Trip

$30 Corona House in Miami dinner ($30 credit from Chase Card Priority Pass perk)
$5 wifi airplane
$2 lunch at airport

Total: $7

Trip Total: $1,668.28

Before I started planning the trip I was estimating around $1,500 total.  All in all, I’m not mad about spending a little less than $200 more.  I didn’t count pennies at all on this trip.  I ate less street food and at more restaurants.

I explored national parks, went white water rafting, and drove over 1100 km up and down Costa Rica.  I had total freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I could have spent more or I could have spent less, but in the end, I had an amazing trip that will stay with me for years to come and there’s no real price tag on that.

Stay Gold.

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