Archive for adventure

A wedding in Costa Rica sounds perfect. You have white sands, crystal waters, and the cloud forests to go and explore as part of your honeymoon. Your wedding party would also love some time away in this beautiful country. You do need to prepare the legal documents to get married, though. This is where many couples make mistakes. They expect to get married as soon as they arrive only to discover they haven’t completed the correct preparations.

kandyjaxx / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Let’s discuss how you and your partner, assuming you’re both foreign nationals, can get married in one of the most idyllic countries in the world.

What Documents Do You Need?

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To start with, you’ll need an attorney and notary in Costa Rica to complete your marriage. Make sure you contact both of these individuals in the area where you want to get married long before you start making travel plans. They’ll be able to gather all the documentation for you.

All you need are two passports valid for yourself and your partner. As long as they’re valid for at least six months, you have everything you need.

Is it Really This Easy?

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It’s this easy if you’re both foreign nationals. Marriages are recognised by all major countries outside Costa Rica, as long as the marriage certificate is translated into English. Where it gets tricky is with marriages to foreign nationals by Costa Rican citizens and with catholic weddings.

You need additional identity documentation if you or your partner comes from Costa Rica. Unless you’re dead set on being married in a catholic church, give it a miss. It can take a year to jump through all the hoops, and it only gets worse if one or both of you have been through a divorce before.

And here’s an additional note on divorce. You will need evidence of your divorce and you can’t remarry within 300 days of your last divorce, although this applies to Costa Rican nationals only.

Wait to Travel

Andrew Morrell Photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

Wait for confirmation from your attorney and notary before you make any travel plans. A wedding in Costa Rica might sound like a dream, but it can quickly turn into a terrible experience if you don’t obey the rules.

You can find companies which specialise in Costa Rican weddings. They’ll put you in touch with their own attorneys who perform the ceremonies. They’ll also make sure you have everything prepared. If you’re apprehensive about preparing everything yourself in a foreign country, this can be a great option.

Your guests have nothing to do with the documentation. All they need is a valid passport to come into the country and they can enjoy the happiest day of your life.

You are welcome to contact us for more information before you begin planning your wedding in Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

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Oh no, travelling alone! But what about all those dangers which are ready to injure or kill you? Calm down, travelling alone gets a lot of bad press. The media blows the occasional negative story out of proportion and we start to believe going it alone is wrong. What many of these stories fail to mention is whether the people in question were being responsible or not.

As long as you’re responsible, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t travel in Costa Rica on your own. Here are a few of the reasons why we think coming to this country without the support of someone else is a positive experience for you.

Dawn in the remote wilds of Costa Rica

Come Out of Your Shell

With a friend it’s easy to interact with them and only them. Ticos are naturally social and are always willing to speak to tourists and have fun with them. If you’re joined at the hip with someone else, you won’t have the courage to go out to a bar and start speaking with the locals. You won’t find out about all those local myths and fables.

Travelling alone forces you to come out into the open. It improves your confidence and it makes it more likely you’ll want to do something like this again in the future.

Do What You Want

Sadly, travelling with someone else is a story of compromise and negotiation. You each have different tastes and you can’t fit everything in. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. If you’re alone, this is a trip for you and only you. If you don’t find the prospect of hiking into the mountains fun, which would be a surprise, you can hang out by the beach. You have full control over what happens and when.

Filtering the Experience

w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

We firmly believe everyone experiences the world slightly differently. No matter how much you identify with your best friend, your perspective is partly shaped by their perspectives, and vice-versa. The experience isn’t pure. When you get to a high place and gaze over the magnificent Central Valley it’s difficult to reflect on yourself and view your life in the way you want to view it in.

It’s not their fault. They’re only human and it happens regardless of who decides to travel in Costa Rica with you. Every trip with your friend will be slightly tainted. Now if you repeated this trip alone things would be much more different.

We understand how travelling alone is intimidating, but it changes people. Come to the Nicoya Peninsula and see a stunning part of the world for yourself. It makes you more confident, better able to confront problems, and you might even catch the travel bug and find yourself coming back to Central America again and again.

Of course, the second you arrive at Shaka you will find yourself already amongst friends!

Photo credit: joiseyshowaa / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

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backpacker

Reading a tour guide about all the rafting and hiking you can do doesn’t really help if you’re deciding whether to backpack through the country on your own. If you want to travel to Costa Rica you need to consider the various nuances, such as language. We haven’t gone into the things you can do here. We know there are lots of things to do for tourists. Instead, we’re going to discuss the fundamentals of what makes a country a great place to travel to on your own.

Safety

Safety is the main priority for any traveller, but it’s especially important for the solo traveller. In short, you won’t find many examples of violent crime in Costa Rica. Pickpocketing is the main issue. You’ll find a lot of this around the markets in central San Jose. There are some areas of the capital where you might not feel safe, but since these are well out of the way and there are few attractions here it shouldn’t be a problem.

English Speaking Locals

Whilst Spanish is the first language, most Ticos have a good grasp of English. They might not always be fluent, but you’ll understand them well. English is a staple of the modern schooling system and therefore younger people will probably have a better understanding of the language than their modern counterparts.

If you need help, signal someone nearby and you should be able to communicate with them. Try to learn a few words of Spanish just to be courteous, though!

What about the Culture?

Costa Rica is strange in cultural terms. It’s devoutly catholic yet everyone looks at their religion in a very easy-going manner. You’re free to practice and preach other beliefs. The culture and the values are different from what you’re used to, but there’s nothing strict about it. If you make a social faux pas someone might politely point it out to you, but the chances are most people will ignore it and carry on.

Getting Around

Wiley Brooks-Joiner / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Driving isn’t the best, and to travel in Costa Rica you’ll usually need to employ a guide to get to the remote areas. Largely, it isn’t bad and you can do well with public transport and rental cars. As long as you know where you’re going and have a rough idea as to the direction you’re going in, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fully explore this colourful nation.

Travelling alone in this part of Central America is easy. There are notable differences in language and culture, but crime is probably worse in your home country and there’s always a friendly face willing to help you out. Come to Costa Rica and you’ll be able to enjoy the solo travel experience of a lifetime!

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driving in costa rica

Costa Rica isn’t known for its road safety and its attention to detail whilst driving. The dirt tracks are remote and they will get you to where you want to go. For foreigners, these can be a nightmare. Although driving safety is practically non-existent with bridges without guard rails and drivers with no regard for anyone else, you can still travel well if you plan correctly.
Airport to Shaka.

Here’s some more information on what you need to know when planning a journey to travel in Costa Rica.

Getting To Your Resort  

There are great shuttle services that can pick you up at the airport or your  hotel in San Jose or Alajuela and take you to any outlying town. A lot of our guests use the shuttle service to get from either San Jose Airport or Liberia

Mapping it Out

Visitors have this bad habit of reading a map in the same way as they would back home. If they see something is 100km away they’ll assume they can do the distance in an hour or two. Things work differently in Costa Rica. The roads are in such poor condition you can expect to double the amount of time it takes to reach your destination. You usually have to stick to 40km/hour so you don’t risk having an accident.

Take Someone with You

It’s easy to get lost in this country. There are very few road signs and unless you’re adept at using a compass the chances are you’ll take the occasional wrong turn. You can employ the services of a local guide to help you get to your destination. There are people who do this commercially, but the locals will often guide you if you’re willing to give them a ride to where they want to go.

Organise Your Rental Car

Most people use rental cars to get around Costa Rica. Public transport can’t get you to many of the remote locations you’ll want to visit. Rental car agencies will charge quite a high deposit for your vehicle. the rental car companies are very easy to deal with.

We always recommend Economy rent a car in Alajuela. The staff are very friendly and accommodating. While we have never had an issue with using a credit card to secure the deposit and pay for the car at the end, a helpful hint to avoid any arousal of suspicion with your bank is to notify them prior to arriving in Costa Rica that you will be traveling and might see some larger charges from Costa Rica.

It’s also a great idea to check with your credit card company before arriving in Costa Rica to see if they offer insurance for rental cars in Costa Rica. We use
either Amex or Master Card and both provide rental car insurance in Costa Rica which can save a lot of money. Economy recognizes this and is very
courteous about it. Lots of our guests rent from them and we have not heard of any issues.

Never Travel at Night

Unless you’re an experienced driver, avoid travelling under the cover of darkness. There are no street lights and the only navigation you’ll have is via the stars and however far your headlights reach. It’s not worth the risk of getting lost or potentially crashing into someone or something.

Remember your timing, as outlined above, when you travel in Costa Rica and you’ll have no problems on the roads. If it’s a choice between driving during the day and potentially being caught outside at night, travel the next day so you can account for any unexpected delays.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your travel arrangements prior to departure.
Photo credit: drewdomkus / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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Tortuga Island is on the quintessential tropical paradise of the Nicoya Peninsula. This part of the country is a haven for surfers, divers, and just about anyone who wants to relax in azure waters and play around on sandy beaches under the glare of the Caribbean sun. Diving in Costa Rica is practically always like swimming in a glass of water. There’s so much visibility and almost zero obstructions.

Tortuga Island, on the other hand, is something else entirely. It’s an example of what diving is all about. Read on to discover more!

The Fame

N0fX / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tortuga is famous for being mentioned in the Pirates of the Caribbean as the home of piracy in the Caribbean. In the real world, it’s famous for its sugary beaches with large palm trees swaying in the breeze. It’s surrounded by volcanic reefs and there are almost no major tides to speak of. This makes it a diving and snorkelling area for even the most inexperienced traveller.

On the island itself you have beach volleyball, hiking trails, and a number of luxury resorts.

What Can You See?

isotaupe / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

These warm tropical waters bring in all manner of colourful sea life. As long as you exercise caution, it’s safe to swim after them and observe from a distance. Giant schools of fish, such as yellowtails, are easily noticeable from long distances. Angel fish, parrot fish, and frog fish are some of the other tropical fish to see.

The waters around Tortuga Island also have its fair share of big boys. Professional divers have reported sightings of octopuses, green sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks up to 35 feet in length, and white tip sharks.

The Tide Pool

The big tide pool sitting between the Santa Teresa Beach and the Hermosa Beach is often ignored by surfers as the waters are very calm here. At low tide the tide pool is exposed. It’s bigger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool and the various sea life trapped in the tide pool is freely available for viewing.

You’ll rarely see anything big being caught in the pool, which makes it perfect for kids and younger travellers. The water is about waist height, for the average person, and it’s warm as the sun beats down upon the surface. It only stays visible for a few hours, though, so make the most of it.

Playa Los Suecos and the Secret Beach

CostaRicaColor / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Playa Los Suecos is another of the top destinations for diving in Costa Rica. Also known as Punta Murcielago, this is a quieter marine area with stingrays travelling through the waters. The Mal Pais Secret Beach is another quiet diving location. It’s tucked into the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve area, so a lot of bigger animals travel can travel through this safe area.

When the tide is very low, make your way into the Bat Point cave. This sea cave is filled with lots of bats and it’s only available for a couple of hours each day. Avoid touching the bats unless you want to be showered with bat droppings!

For serious divers, please contact us to discuss the best time to visit for optimum diving opportunities around Costa!

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Kids are welcome in Costa Rica. There’s a whole other meaning to the word ‘family’ in this country. Ticos consider it an essential part of life and they’ll happily go out of their way to help younger travellers. Costa Rica is a country you can take your offspring to without feeling unsafe. Here are some of the things we’ve picked out for children travelling to this tropical nation.

The Best Beach

Magalie L’Abbé / Foter / CC BY-NC

Kids in Costa Rica should stay away from the beaches near San Jose. They have questionable levels of cleanliness due to their proximity to the big city. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean side is a very clean beach with the utmost privacy. The tranquil waters don’t have any dangerous hidden currents and the sand is so pure it’s almost pink.

The nearby town has plenty of accommodation and eateries too!

Water Parks

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The Las Musas water park in San Ramon is a water park with a distinct absence of tourists. It’s a favourite amongst the local Tico population, though. Make sure you get here early to grab a table and a bench, otherwise prepare to sit on the ground. There’s a large pool and a smaller kiddie pool, along with a large waterslide.

What stands out about this park is the 300-foot waterfall used to recycle the water. There’s no chlorine and no salt in the water, yet the water is still pristine. It’s an object of wonder as well as a practical addition to the park.

Great Public Parks

Bogdan Migulski / Foter / CC BY

In San Jose, the best park to visit is the busy La Sabana Park. It has something for everyone in the area. There’s a big pond with lots of ducks playing in the middle. A new National Stadium was built on the grounds. It consists of baseball fields, a swimming pool, football fields, and playgrounds. The National Art museum is on the edge of the grounds and is free to enter on Sundays.

For the sheer number of attractions this gets a spot on this list.

Road Trip!

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It’s risky to take your child on a long road trip, but if they can handle it take the road from the Central Valley to Orosi Valley. There are so many attractions to enjoy along the way. Split it into two days with an overnight stay in Orosi or do it in one full day. The biggest (literally) attraction is the Irazu Volcano. This 9,000-foot behemoth provides awesome views over the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean from the summit.

Visit the Santiago Apostol Parish ruins. This famous church was destroyed by earthquakes which destroyed the town of Cartago. Cartago was once the capital until 1823.

The roads are well-travelled, and therefore safer, and the attractions are all family friendly, whilst offering enough to keep kids in Costa Rica interested.

Kids at Shaka

All of our surf and adventure activities can be tailored to suit all abilities and ages over 6. Contact us for more details. Unfortunately due to our intense surf & yoga instruction programs and the retreats small and intimate size, we do not offer packages to children under the age of 6.

 

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  Talk about Costa Rica and you usually talk about the safari adventures in the jungles. You might talk about visiting the beaches and meeting some of the locals. Driving in Costa Rica is a scary experience if you only have memories of driving in Europe and North America. It’s an adventure in itself and it’s bound to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins. Here are some of the nuances you need to get used to if you intend on renting a car during your stay.

Ticos Drivers are Crazy!

Songkran / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

It’s a harsh subheading to kick off this article but it’s true. Drivers in Costa Rica are simply crazy. You don’t have right of way as a pedestrian and people are very casual about safety. They’ll happily barrel on by despite the huge cliff drop a few inches from their rear wheel. If you value your life, let them pass and don’t try to get into a fight with a Tico driver.

Can You Drive?

Anyone can drive a vehicle in Costa Rica if they have a valid driver’s licence. Your licence from your country of residence will suffice. Your visa must be valid for it to be enabled within the country. This is a real problem for tourists who don’t need visas to enter the country. You may well need a visa to actually drive a car, though.

Finding Your Way

Wha’ppen / Foter / CC BY-SA

It’s common in many Latin countries to not have street lights and signs. The same thing applies to addresses. If you’re planning on driving somewhere, take a map and don’t rely on spotting a sign to guide you. Make sure you know precisely where you’re going. Take a local guide if you need to. You don’t want to risk getting lost on these poorly maintained roads.

The Roads

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The roads are terrible, especially in remote areas. You’ll find potholes which can kill your suspension if you hit them. Sometimes there are manhole covers missing and you’ll occasionally see a tree growing in the middle of the street. You should also watch out for any telephone poles. Telephone poles in Costa Rica don’t give on impact, so it will be your car bearing the brunt of the damage.

Bridges

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Watch out for the bridges. They rarely have guardrails and they’re very narrow. Only one car should pass at once. For your own safety, let the other person pass if two of you approach the bridge at the same time. It’s very disconcerting to look down and spot a drop of about 200 feet.

Driving at Night

Adam C. Smith Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Driving at night is something you should generally avoid. Despite all the hazards of driving in Costa Rica, it’s still a safe thing to do if you’re careful and a good driver. Driving at night is a whole other world. There are no lights on the roads and you have to rely on your own skill. Unless it’s an emergency, leave the car at home and stay off the roads at night.

If you’re still thinking of taking a road trip around Costa Rica, be sure to contact us first for some helpful travel tips. Already been there, done that and survived to tell the tale? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Drop by our Facebook page and share your Costa Rican adventure story

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Fishing trips are a great way to get away from everything and relax, as well as catch your dinner. Fishing in Costa Rica is a popular sport as its waters are teeming with aquatic creatures. Competition fishers also come to Costa Rica to train for their next event. You can sail around the country and encounter hundreds of different creatures. Read on if you want to take to the waters!

Where to Fish?

-just-jen- / Foter / CC BY

In short, you can fish anywhere where there’s water and still be successful. Sail off the west coast in the Pacific Ocean to catch sailfish.

The costs of hiring a boat are quite high, though. For a full day, prices can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Move away from the more popular areas for lower prices. Most tourists settle on the central coasts where there’s a high concentration of marinas, It’s not uncommon to catch a fish one every hour for proficient fishers.

You might also want to consider paying a visit to the Osa Peninsula. As well as fish, you can spend some time whale watching. Make sure you arrive at the right time, though! Contact us before you book to ensure your visit coincides with prime whale watching time if this adventure appeals to you.

If you want to stay on dry land, try some fly fishing. Many of the inlets and waterways have their fair share of fish to catch. It’s ideal if you intend on combining hiking through the jungles with fishing.

Guides and Experts

Hooked albacore tuna
Always take a guide with you. If you charter a boat from a marina you’ll get someone automatically. If you’re hiring a boat yourself, hire some help alongside it. The local Ticos know about the tides and when and where to fish. They’ll keep you safe and show you some of the best fishing action around.

Here at Shaka we have two great nearby fishing spots to set off from, the cost is around $60 per hour for hire of the boat, skipper and bait. Our boat has a capacity of four. See our activities page for more details.

Splitting the Cost

A great tactic to use to keep the costs of fishing in Costa Rica down is to meet some other visitors and split the costs with them as part of a joint fishing trip. Most boats are not full and they can accommodate large numbers of people. You can meet some new friends and potentially find someone new to travel with as you make your way through this colorful country.

Fishing Gear

Most marinas will have fishing stores nearby. Since fishing in Costa Rica is popular for both autonomous settlements and visitors, there are big fishing stores in most major towns. In the smaller villages you can probably find someone who will refill your stores of bait and hooks.

Flawka / Foter / CC BY-ND

 

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