Costa Rica has a reputation for being pretty pricey. However, it doesn’t have to be! I was able to go on tours, enjoy private rooms, go to some nicer restaurants and even a sunset cruise- for $65USD a day, including flights! Now, I know that’s a lot more expensive than the average, crazy cheap backpacker budget that can dip below $20/day. However, one thing to keep in mind is that those trip reports don’t usually include flights and insurance. AND, I didn’t skimp on experiences during my trip. In this post, I will be breaking down my total Costa Rica trip cost.
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Costa Rica has a HUGE range of accommodations. From $6 dorm beds a night, to $1000+ resorts. However, you don’t have to spend a TON of money to have your own, nice, private room. You just have to be a little creative, and put some time into searching. I found the price of a private room, usually in a shared house or hostel to be about $25 a night. I found dorm beds to go anywhere from $6- $30(luxury dorms like Selina). Also, there are lots of really cool affordable airbnb’s in Costa Rica too, especially if you can find the deals. For example, for $30/night, I stayed in this amazing house in Dominical with a pool.
On a budget, you can eat at the local restaurants in Costa Rica, called sodas, for anywhere from 1000 colones (about $1.50USD) to around 4000-5000 colones ($6-$8 dollars) for a full meal and a drink. In touristy areas, you can find more expensive, non local restaurants with meals costing $15+. If you want to cook, you can probably find groceries for the week for about $30 if you eat pretty basic.
This is probably the most expensive cost of a trip to Costa Rica. Zip-lining costs about $50, and a sunset boat cruise with a full bar and snacks costs around $80. Entrance to national parks costs around $10-$15, and it usually costs anywhere from $2-$10 to visit most waterfalls.
Local buses can take you anywhere from 30 minutes away, to all the way across the country. Prices range anywhere from less than $1, to $10 for a long bus ride across the country. In some small towns you can take tuk tuks, which cost about $3-$4 to get anywhere within town. Taxis are more common in big cities like San Jose, and prices are always negotiable. Always ask the driver beforehand how much it will be! You can also book shared, tourist shuttle vans that usually cost about $50-$60 to get from place to place, and are much quicker than public buses. Finally, you can book private drivers to get around, which can run you $100+ for even a short trip. Again, you can negotiate these prices. Also, I only brought one backpack on my trip, so that made public transportation a lot easier! Check out my Costa Rica Packing List to see what you should bring on your trip.
My Costa Rica Trip Cost: I was in Costa Rica for 111 days, paid $7,307, for an average of $65/day. Again, that includes all of my flights and insurance costs as well. Here is the breakdown:
- Flights: $475
- Insurance: $493
- Accommodations: $2,863 ($25/night)
- Groceries: $331 ($3/day)
- Eating out/drinks: $1460 ($13/day)
- Transportation: $1,077 *including 3 weeks with a rental car** ($9/day)
- Tours/activities: $205
- Miscellaneous purchases like sunscreen, souvenirs, new sunglasses for when mine fell in the ocean (oops): $403
Now, I definitely wasn’t doing super budget travel. I stayed in mostly private rooms, ate out most meals, went on a fancy sunset sailing boat, and even rented a car to explore the country. BUT, my monthly Backpacking Costa Rica trip cost was less than 2 grand, which is about the same or slightly less than the cost of living when I’m home in California, and other expensive places to live.