What it’s like traveling around Costa Rica in 2021
By Kat Andersson
I’m no stranger to playing tourist in Costa Rica. In fact, I’ve been visiting Costa Rica consistently for over a decade. I won’t lie; I’m biased. I love this country and I think you would too, given the chance.
Unfortunately, the 2020-2021 pandemic has robbed a lot of folks of their chance to visit Costa Rica and fall in love with its warmth, jungles, mangoes, and “pura vida” culture.
As we all know, this is slowly but surely starting to change. As more people than ever are fully vaccinated and restrictions lift, tourism and travel is starting to pick up again.
Thinking about traveling to Costa Rica in 2021? Here’s what you can expect
Things are undeniably different than they were before 2020. Like the rest of the world, we went through a dark year of fear, restrictions, and solitude. The tourism industry ground to a halt. The beaches were empty. Restaurants posted “delivery only” signs. And everyone wore masks.
2021, however, has had a much different feel to it. We’re still wearing masks, of course and all institutions, from hotels to restaurants to bars are still implementing strict sanitation protocols. But people have more hope and it’s noticeable.
People, both locals and tourists, are eager to return to a semblance of normalcy. There’s an excited energy in the beach towns. You notice a new sense of gratefulness to the smiles of those relaxing on the beaches or soaking in the hot springs. People are very aware of what they’d lost before.
Tourist destinations are as uncrowded as you’ve ever seen
It’s a real treat to visit popular tourist destinations like Tamarindo or La Fortuna at half-capacity. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong- there’s something invigorating about joining the flocks of excited tourists as they experience this tropical paradise for the first time.
It’s just nice to have a bit of that paradise to yourself too.
You know the isolated tranquility of places like Tortuguero and Drake Bay? In 2021, you can find that in places you would never have expected. A couple months ago, I walked along a popular beach in Guanacaste and had it all to myself. Just last weekend, I went on a zipline tour in Monteverde where my partner and I were the only ones booked for that time. We essentially had a private tour!
Hotels, tour providers, and restaurants are still open
Between lowered demand and official capacity restrictions, many folks might be worried that there are enough places open to make a vacation worth it.
Trust me. There are.
On my recent trips to Guanacaste, Arenal, and Monteverde, I found all my favorite restaurants open. In fact, there were several new ones I was pumped to try. Let me tell you about the treetop dining experience we had in Monteverde…
There are plenty of hotels to choose from. In fact, one of the things I’ve loved about booking hotels and tours during the pandemic is the palpable sense of happiness you get from the staff. They’re happy to be operating and serving guests again. It gives everything a refreshingly uplifting energy.
I’ll be honest, though. This pandemic hasn’t been without its struggles. There are places that have closed over the last year and a half. Always check on Google Maps or social media whether a particular destination is still open or if they have restricted hours before getting in the car and going. I traveled to Nosara several months ago and had to do just that. Thankfully, there were still lots of great options for visitors. Just check first.
Costa Rica is still taking this pandemic seriously
Things are getting better, but both the government and individuals still understand the severity of the global crisis. Hotels, restaurants, tour providers, transportation companies, and bars still operate on a reduced capacity, usually between 50% and 75%.
Waiters, guides, and drivers all still wear masks. Guests are required to wear masks in public spaces as well. Everyone keeps to a strict sanitation routine between every patron.
That being said, more and more people in Costa Rica and visiting it are partially or fully vaccinated and that’s helping a lot. We’ll see how the regulations evolve as more folks get vaccinated.
Costa Rica is just as lovely as ever and still fall-in-love material
If you haven’t had a chance to visit this popular tourist destination and you’re vaccinated and eager to travel, I encourage you to come on down.
There’s nothing quite like a country where you’re able to hike through rainforests, cloud forests, and tropical dry forests, spot sloths, toucans, coati, and turtles, and see both Pacific and Caribbean coasts…all in a matter of days.
There’s so much to love about Costa Rica. And that hasn’t changed one bit, pandemic or not.