A Complete Guide to Solo Travel Costa Rica
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Costa Rica is a gorgeous island filled with natural and cultural beauty. Whether you prefer to see active volcanoes, bask on the beach, seek out wildlife, or party like a local, the opportunities for fun are nearly endless.
But this beautiful place isn’t just for couples and groups. While the thought of traveling to Costa Rica alone may be a bit daunting, it’s actually the perfect place for solo travel!
As it turns out, there’s a thriving community of travelers and digital nomads that come to Costa Rica’s beautiful shores. There are plenty of affordable hostels, incredible excursions, and fun activities that you can easily do on your own or with the new friends that you’ll make!
If you’re ready to step out and be adventurous, check out our guide to Solo Travel in Costa Rica!
Best Towns in Costa Rica for Solo Travel
As a whole, Costa Rica’s various towns and locales are incredibly solo-travel friendly. The people are helpful and welcoming, and you’ll find plenty of other solo travelers to befriend. However, if you’re looking for prime spots for adventure and meeting other travelers, here are the towns you’ll want to prioritize.
San José is the perfect spot to start your solo travel adventure, with lush mountains just beyond the city borders and lots of things to explore in the nearby area.
Start with visiting El Centro’s museums, National Theater, and Mercado Central for cultural experiences. When you’re ready to party, the Barrio California district is the place to be—just be cautious after dark. Finally, don’t miss the botanical gardens or the Spirogyra Butterfly Gardens.
Around San José, beauty abounds in the mountains and surrounding towns. We highly recommend a day trip to nearby Alajuela. Here, you can see an active volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, a stunning sanctuary with over 100 types of animals!
A trip to Costa Rica would be incomplete without a stop in La Fortuna to view the country’s lush rainforests! This area has some of the best rainforest and wildlife on the entire island, plus the Arenal Volcano and the soothing natural springs that it heats.
This area is one of Costa Rica’s most popular hubs for solo travelers, as well, so you’ll find plenty of things to do on your own or new friends to do them with! Try an ATV tour, horseback riding, or whitewater rafting through a local tour agency. Or, for a real treat, head over to the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park and trek through the rainforest at the same height as the spider monkeys!<
If you like surfing (or just the beach and nightlife that come with it), you’ll want to stop in Tamarindo. This is one of the most popular stops for Costa Rica solo travelers.
Top activities besides surfing include the Monkey Park animal sanctuary, relaxing on and exploring the Tamarindo and Playa Avellana beaches, and boating. However, you’ll also want to check out the Tama Market by day and the Tamarindo Night Market for fresh food, artisanal items, crafts, and more!
For a more unique adventure, be sure to stop by Playa Grande to see the leatherback turtles nesting or the nearby sloth sanctuary. You can also visit Tenorio Volcano National Park, where two rivers merge and create incredibly blue waters, or do a local waterfall tour for some epic views!
Did you know that Costa Rica has a Caribbean side? While most of the island has a Spanish influence, a small area along the coast has a rich Caribbean background. Puerto Viejo is in this fun little pocket and has a heavy Jamaican population. You’ll see colorful houses, white and black sand beaches, and a fascinating indigenous community!
Don’t miss out on a chocolate tour, the coral reef and rain forest at Cahuita National Park, or the incredible wildlife at Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. And for a close-up encounter with Costa Rica’s amazing creatures, take a guided tour of the Jaguar Rescue Center to see all of the animals they’ve rescued.
When you’re ready to mingle, just head into town to enjoy the musical nightlife and make some new friends!
Best Budget Hostels for Costa Rica Solo Travelers
For solo travelers, a budget can be a big deal. That’s why hostels are such a haven for those who prefer to explore Costa Rica alone. The country in Central America abounds with hostels that range from dormitories with shared bathrooms to private suites with yoga decks for yoga classes with stunning views. Even in a tourist town, the capital city, or the Caribbean coast – you can find cheap hotel prices for solo female travel.
Lost in San José
If you’re looking for a cozy spot near the airport and supermarkets, Lost in San José hits the mark. You can choose from various room options, but most include a private bathroom and four-poster beds. Guests also get to enjoy free Wi-Fi, a huge outdoor space, complimentary beach shuttles, and full-service kitchen access.
And with prices starting at just $31 per night, you can afford to stay a while.
Tamarindo Backpackers Hostel
If you’re stopping by Tamarindo for the city scene or beaches, the Tamarindo Backpackers Hostel is an excellent choice for solo travelers. Dorm rooms start at just $15 per night, while private rooms (with shared bathrooms) are $35 and can sleep 2. When you’re not lounging on the beach or enjoying the nightlife, relax at the hostel’s pool (towels included) or take advantage of their free WiFi and flat-screen TVs.
For incredible tree-house vibes, Hostel Plinio in Manuel Antonio is a must-stay! This full-service hostel has everything you could want, including a restaurant, pool, Wi-Fi, garden and ocean views, and even a game room! Plus, it’s just a few miles from Manuel Antonio National Park.
A single bunk in the dorm will only cost $15 (breakfast included), while a private room with a shared bathroom jumps up to $32. Either way, you’re sure to love the fun atmosphere with balconies, hammocks, sun-filled rooms, and tropical tree-house ambiance.
Things To Do in Costa Rica, Especially For Solo Travelers
Costa Rica is home to some of the most incredible nature in the world. Costa Rica, known as the ‘rich coast’ because it has so many natural resources, is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth with over 600 species of birds and around 140 species of mammals alone. This makes it an amazing place to explore – but if you’re traveling solo, it can be tough to know where to start.
Here are a few ideas for things to do when you visit Costa Rica, especially if you’re traveling on your own:
Visit Corcovado National Park
This park is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and is home to everything from monkeys to jaguars. You can go on a day trip from the city of Puerto Jimenez, which is a great place for a longer stay in Costa Rica because it’s close to fantastic nature but has a charming local feel. Corcovado National Park is definitely a must-see when visiting Costa Rica.
Go Hiking In Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal is one of the most famous volcanoes in all of Costa Rica – and for good reason! This volcano is constantly active, and the lava flows and eruptions are a sight to behold. The park is also home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, making it a great place to spend a day or two exploring the volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall. Consider taking a cruise on Lake Arenal or join a guided adventure tour to meet other solo travelers.
There are a few different ways to visit this national park as a solo traveler – you can take a day trip from San Jose, or stay in the town of La Fortuna which is close to the park. There are fantastic hiking trails in the park, so be sure to bring your walking shoes!
Take a Guided Tour To Piedras Blancas National Park
This lesser-known park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including Baird’s tapirs, white-lipped peccaries, and three-toed sloths. It’s also one of the few places in Costa Rica where you can see jaguars in their natural habitat.
Visit a Coffee Plantation
Costa Rica is famous for its coffee, and a visit to a plantation is a great way to learn more about the coffee-making process. Many plantations offer tours and tastings, so you can not only learn about the history and cultivation of coffee but also taste some of the best coffee in the world.
We recommend staying at the boutique-style property Finca Rosa Blanca in the greater Central Valley area for a few days. It is just an hour outside of San Jose and you can take local buses to get there. Guests can take tours through their renowned coffee plantation and meet fellow travelers who are enjoying some peace and quiet on their Costa Rica trips.
Go Zip Lining in Monteverde
How about trying the longest zipline in Latin America? Aventura Canopy in Monteverde is a zip lining park that is perfect for solo travelers because the zipline tours tour includes free transport from Monteverde hotels.
There are plenty of different courses to choose from so you can find the right level of challenge for you. No matter what you choose, you’re sure to have a thrilling time flying through the Costa Rican jungle. This should definitely be on your list of exciting destinations in Costa Rica.
Take a Surf Lesson in Tamarindo
If you’re looking for an activity that’s both fun and challenging, why not try surfing in Tamarindo? This town on the Pacific coast is a surfer’s paradise, and there are plenty of talented tour guides to show you how it’s done.
Tamarindo is a popular destination for people from all over the world, so there are plenty of great places to stay in this town. You can find hostels and hotels around the center, or if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, there are some luxury resorts on the outskirts of this small town.
Go Whitewater Rafting in the Pacuare River
The Pacuare River is one of the most popular destinations for white water rafting in Costa Rica. This Class III-IV river is a challenging but rewarding experience, and it’s perfect for solo travelers who want to test their limits.
There are a few different companies that offer rafting trips down the river, and most of them will provide transportation from the nearby towns. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about rafting – tour guides are highly experienced in this area and can help you navigate down the river safely.
Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
This national park is famous for its beautiful beaches and wildlife, including Costa Rica’s very own monkey species – the white-faced capuchin.
Solo travelers can explore the park by themselves, or join a guided tour. There are plenty of things to see and do in the park, so be sure to bring your camera!
There are plenty of great places to stay in Manuel Antonio, from hostels to luxury resorts. We recommend staying close to the park so you can easily explore it on foot.
Costa Rica Tours For Solo Travelers
Guided tours are a great way to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer, and they’re perfect for solo travelers. There are tours available for all interests and budgets, so you’re sure to find something that’s perfect for you.
How To Get Around In Costa Rica
Getting around in Costa Rica is easy and fun, but it can be a bit confusing at first.
Because the infrastructure is still developing, it’s not as simple as in other nations. However, it is a low-cost alternative to traveling across the nation, and it is an excellent way to get a feel for local culture. Buses are privately owned and conditions vary, so taking public transportation requires a bit of research.
The good news is: From San José, you may travel by bus to any major tourist spot at a low cost. If you plan to take the bus as a female solo traveler, beware of scams. Don’t let strangers “watch” your belongings for you.
Other transportation methods in Costa Rica are taking an Uber (in bigger cities), shared shuttles, or renting a car.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Costa Rica Alone
If you travel solo, one of your top questions may be, “Is Costa Rica safe for solo travel?” In short, yes, but be smart.
As a whole, Costa Rica is very safe for solo travelers compared to other countries in Central America. Still, like any place these days, you need to be careful about walking around alone at night and while you’re at the bars. While violent crime isn’t common, pickpocketing and other petty crime are. Use common sense and head back at a reasonable time or make sure you’re with a safe group from your hostel. Most importantly, don’t flash around your cash or valuables to make yourself a target. We also recommend buying travel insurance for your Costa Rica trip as a solo female traveler.
Conclusion About Solo Travel In Costa Rica
Solo travelers who want to experience the jungle and white water rafting can find a trip for them in Costa Rica. The country is very safe and welcoming to solo travelers, and it provides incredible opportunities to take unforgettable tours and meet fellow adventurers. Don’t forget: If you’re traveling as a female solo traveler, be conscious about walking around alone at night and flashing around your valuables. Use common sense, explore, and have an amazing time in Costa Rica!