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BlogTravel tipsDiscover pura vida: The ultimate Costa Rica solo Travel Guide
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Discover pura vida: The ultimate Costa Rica solo Travel Guide

Dec 13, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

If you’re considering solo travel, Costa Rica should be at the top of your list. After all, we ranked it one of the best places to travel solo for a reason. When you join us on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour, you’ll have countless opportunities to immerse yourself in nature, observe Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife, and forge a deep connection with your fellow travelers—and yourself.

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, and when you go guided on our Solo Tour of Costa Rica, we’ll do our best to make sure you don’t miss a single howler monkey, blossoming orchid, or brightly colored quetzal. Whether you want to experience something new, like ziplining through the treetops of a rainforest, or simply spend a peaceful afternoon relaxing on the softest shores you’ve ever visited, we think traveling to Costa Rica as a solo traveler is an excellent idea. Read on for our Costa Rica solo travel guide, including where to go, what to do, and our best Costa Rica travel tips.

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Why travel to Costa Rica solo?  

Where to visit as a solo traveler  

What to do in your free time while traveling solo

Why should you visit Costa Rica as a solo traveler on a guided tour?

Thinking about experiencing solo travel in Costa Rica? Ready to experience the best things to do in Costa Rica and cross some things off your solo travel bucket list? Here are some reasons why we think going guided for your solo trip to Costa Rica is an excellent idea.

The locals are friendly, kind, and genuine

“Costa Ricans are some of the nicest and most kindhearted people I have ever met,” wrote solo traveler Lauren on her list of reasons to love Costa Rica. “No matter where we were, the people were welcoming and kind. If we needed directions or recommendations, everyone was so willing to help and engage in conversation. If we wanted a photo taken, locals were quick to ask if we needed assistance. I’ve been to a lot of places and have never seen such kindness toward tourists. The locals chatted and joked with us as if we’d known each other for years.” Costa Rica solo travel doesn’t have to feel lonely—when you go guided, you’ll always have your fellow travelers and new local friends nearby.

You’ll learn about the environment and how to protect it

Individuals can have a profound impact on the environment. Whether you’re observing crocodiles in Tárcoles or learning about medicinal plants on our Rainforest Sky Cable & Ziplining excursion, solo travel to Costa Rica presents numerous opportunities to surround yourself with nature and give back. When you travel on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour, you’ll learn about the flora and fauna of Costa Rica (one of the most biodiverse places on Earth) and take part in activities like the mangrove reforestation project in Playa Palo Seco—one of the many projects we support as part of our responsible travel initiative.

Your Tour Director and local guides will help you with the language barrier and logistics

Did you know that going guided can help quell your travel anxiety? If you’re feeling apprehensive about your potential solo Costa Rica travel plans, know that your expert Tour Director will be with you every step of the way. They’ll handle the logistics, offer insider recommendations, and share valuable local insights. “It was an exciting, whirlwind, tiring, beautiful, and educational trip, and we’ll never forget it!” said traveler Elizabeth after returning from our Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama tour. “Rainforests, cloud forests, bridge walks through the canopy of rainforests, monkeys, birds, sloths; coffee farms and folkloric dancing; indigenous tribes with food and crafts. … Our guides were wonderful and to top it off, we also had two Go Ahead staff with us. How lucky we were. ... Go and sign up now!”

You’ll have the freedom to decide how you’ll spend your free time

One of our favorite things about solo travel is that it presents us with an opportunity to really listen and cater to our own desires. Want to learn how to surf on the Guanacaste Coast? Sign up for a lesson. Feel like spending an afternoon museum-hopping in San José? You’re on your own schedule. Rather spend an entire day taste-testing the best Costa Rican street food? The world is your oyster! Costa Rica solo travel offers you an excellent chance to embrace a positive, relaxed, and adaptable attitude because it’s already so ingrained in the local rhythm of life—the concept of “pura vida” is part of the Costa Rican cultural identity and is used as a way to embody the balanced, optimistic, laid-back lifestyle of the locals.

“Costa Rica is an amazing country that people all over the world could learn a lesson from!” said traveler Stacy after returning from our A Week in Costa Rica: San José, Arenal & Guanacaste tour. “The people of Costa Rica are the happiest, kindest, most helpful people I have encountered. Pura vida! I love the desire to work hard and live a greener, healthier lifestyle. They value everything they have and take care of it. The country is beautiful. It looks straight off a postcard in most places. I am a better human after going on this amazing trip! I loved every minute, learned a lot, and enjoyed Costa Rica. Go and learn the pura vida (pure life) lifestyle—you won’t regret the choice.”

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What are some of the best places in Costa Rica to visit for solo travelers?

The best places to travel in Costa Rica as a solo traveler allow you opportunities to immerse yourself in nature and connect with the Earth, the locals, your fellow travelers, and yourself. Below are some of our favorite places to visit when we travel to Costa Rica solo.

San José Region

Costa Rica’s capital and largest city, San José, is one of the best places to travel in Costa Rica as a solo traveler. The multifaceted city provides a mix of cultural, educational, and culinary experiences and is conveniently located near some of the most remarkable things to do in Costa Rica, making it the ideal starting point for your solo trip to Costa Rica.

What should you do as a solo traveler in the San José Region?

  • Explore Poás Volcano National Park. If you’re traveling to Costa Rica, prepare to be blown away by the country’s awe-inspiring landscapes, like the soaring Poás Volcano. The nearly 9,000-foot-tall volcano is the largest open volcano in the world—and you can peer into the heart-shaped sulfuric lake in its crater from your vantage atop a viewing platform. One of our best Costa Rica travel tips? Bring warm layers—the changing altitude in places like Poás Volcano National Park can mean dramatic temperature shifts throughout your exploration.
  • Learn about coffee production at a family-owned farm. Costa Rica produces high-quality, distinctive coffee known for its bright acidity and balanced flavor. When you join us on a tour of Costa Rica, you’ll learn about coffee cultivation on a family-owned estate and gain insight into the company’s commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
  • Observe the unique ecosystems of the Braulio Carrillo cloud forests. Costa Rica’s tropical cloud forests foster unique and thriving ecosystems in the country’s mountainous regions. Explore the misty, verdant wild of Braulio Carrillo National Park on the Cloud Forest Nature Walk & Toucan Rescue Ranch excursion offered on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour, then learn about the rescue and rehabilitation efforts of the nearby Toucan Rescue Ranch—one of our top destinations for responsible wildlife experiences.

Central Pacific Coast

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast is an area rich in biodiversity, natural beauty, and warm, welcoming locals. It’s one of the best places to travel in Costa Rica for solo travelers interested in wildlife spotting, but when you visit the Central Pacific Coast on our Solo Tour of Costa Rica, you’ll also find that it offers relaxing beaches, planet-friendly initiatives, and some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world.

What should you do as a solo traveler on the Central Pacific Coast?

  • Spot crocodiles while cruising down the Tárcoles River. Board a boat and set sail on the meandering Tárcoles River to safely observe American crocodiles in their natural habitat. American crocodiles are one of the largest crocodile species in the world, reaching up to 15 feet or more in length. Tárcoles is home to one of the largest populations of the impressive creatures, which were once listed as a threatened species before efforts from Costa Rica and other countries helped combat their population decline. In addition to these impressive crocodiles, you might also spot iguanas, monkeys, and rare exotic birds as you cruise past jungles and through mangrove forests.

  • Take part in a mangrove reforestation project in Playa Palo Seco. Playa Palo Seco is home to one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in Central America, and when you join us on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour, you’ll have the chance to help combat deforestation in the region—it’s an excellent way to give back to the community when traveling to Costa Rica. You’ll learn about the mangrove forests’ important roles in the ecosystem and help offset your carbon footprint by planting a new tree. Solo traveler Lauren participated in a similar program on our Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour. “There were so many itinerary highlights, but planting trees at the Heliconia Ranch in Monteverde was very special to me,” she mentioned as another of her reasons to love Costa Rica. “Everyone got to plant a tree to work toward offsetting our carbon footprint. The holes were already pre-dug for us, which was super helpful, and it felt great knowing we were doing something good for the planet. It was also cool seeing all the other trees that were planted by past travelers and how they’ve grown.”
  • Appreciate the natural wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park. From soft sandy beaches to scenic hiking trails, Manuel Antonio National Park is teeming with gorgeous landscapes waiting to be discovered. Spending a day exploring the natural beauty of the park is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica, regardless of whether you’re flying solo or with a group. Not only will you see waterfalls hidden within the forest and panoramic views from atop Cathedral Point, but you may also come face to face with yellow-throated toucans, howler monkeys, and three-toed sloths. “Manuel Antonio is a beautiful beach area to visit,” said traveler Karen on our Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour. “Sloths in the trees and monkeys playing around. The water is warm and inviting.”

Guanacaste Coast

If you’re planning a Costa Rica solo travel adventure, don’t miss Northern Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Coast. The region boasts breathtaking beaches, vibrant seaside towns, and a wealth of marine and jungle wildlife.

What should you do as a solo traveler on the Guanacaste Coast?

  • Visit a wildlife sanctuary and learn about local efforts to protect Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife population. When you join us on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour, you’ll spend your first morning on the Guanacaste Coast strolling through the grounds of a wildlife sanctuary that houses ocelots, monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, macaws, and more animals that have been displaced by deforestation and hunting. Here, you’ll learn about the sanctuary’s efforts to provide refuge for these animals and protect the local wildlife and their ecosystems.
  • Relax on one of Guanacaste’s inviting beaches. Spending some time at the beach is a must when you travel to Costa Rica, and the crystal blue water and soft, white sand of Guanacaste’s beaches make them the perfect spot to stop and relax on your solo tour of Costa Rica. “The beach in Costa Rica [is] top notch and one of the best I’ve ever been to—and I’ve been to a lot of beaches,” said traveler Laran after returning from our Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama tour. Spend the day stretching out in the sand, taking a surfing lesson, or joining us on the Guanacaste Sailing & Snorkeling with Lunch excursion offered on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour. You’ll cruise along the shoreline, snorkel among tropical fish, and spot dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and humpback whales from the deck of the boat.

Volcano Region

If you want to continue your solo Costa Rica travel—and we can’t say we blame you—join us on the Volcano Region extension of our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour to explore one of the country’s most scenic and unique areas. Here, you’ll find a landscape adorned with volcanoes—both active and dormant—and teeming with flora and fauna, some of which are unique to the region.

What should you do as a solo traveler in the Volcano Region?

  • Marvel at the turquoise Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park. One glimpse of the sparkling, blue-green waters of the Rio Celeste is enough to take your breath away. The river’s distinctive, brilliant hue is the result of its mineral-rich waters causing certain wavelengths of light to scatter. When you travel to Costa Rica, you’ll be able to observe the dazzling river and its powerful waterfall from a series of surrounding paths and stairways.
  • Immerse yourself in the beauty of Arenal Volcano National Park. “The Arenal region of Costa Rica is lush with vegetation, animals, a volcano, etc.” said traveler Jacqueline after visiting the area on our A Week in Costa Rica: San José, Arenal & Guanacaste tour. “We had an opportunity to hike a path [around] the volcano, visit an eco-farm for farm-to-table cuisine, and enjoy the hot springs.” Explore the pastures, hillsides, and tranquil lake surrounding the nearly-mile-high Arenal Volcano and join us on the Arenal Hot Springs & Dinner excursion offered on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour to take a dip in warm pools of water that are heated naturally by the volcano’s geothermal activity.
  • Visit an eco-friendly ranch in La Fortuna. La Fortuna is a charming, friendly town nestled among the lush landscapes of the Arenal region. Stroll through the town’s central square and lively markets, then pay a visit to a carbon-negative ranch growing crops used in the local cuisine and herbal medicine—you’ll even get to sample some of the fresh produce when you sit down to a farm-to-table meal with your local travelers.
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What to do in your free time while traveling solo in Costa Rica

One of the best parts about solo travel is that your free time is truly your own. You can spend it however you like, without having to accommodate the wishes of friends or family members. Below are some of the best things to do in Costa Rica in your free time as a solo traveler.

Enjoy the traditional food and drinks

Costa Rican cuisine is simple and fresh, incorporating a variety of tropical fruits, meat, and seafood with staples like rice, beans, and corn—and one of our best Costa Rica travel tips is to enjoy it every opportunity you get. When you join us on one of our Costa Rica tours, taste your way through the food stalls of San José’s Mercado Central (eating your fill at the local markets is one of our favorite free time activities for solo travelers), or try local favorites like Olla de Carne, a hearty beef stew, in sodas—“mom and pop”-style eateries serving traditional cuisine. Join us on the Costa Rican Folklore Dinner excursion offered on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour to sample a buffet of traditional foods and enjoy a glass of rum punch along with a night of music and dancing.

Go ziplining through the treetops

Costa Rica solo travel offers plenty of opportunities to experience something new, so why not soar through the canopy of one of Costa Rica’s verdant rainforests on a ziplining adventure? Join us on the Rainforest Sky Cable & Ziplining excursion offered on our Costa Rica for Solo Travelers: Volcanoes, Jungles & Beaches tour and soak in the thrill of adventure as you zip above the trees. You’ll be treated to a unique perspective and panoramic views of Costa Rica’s lush landscapes.

Practice your photography skills (and your reflexes)

Costa Rica is one of our top tropical travel destinations for its diverse wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds. Consider your trip to Costa Rica an opportunity for a solo travel Costa Rica crash course in getting the perfect shot—the animals may be photogenic, but they’re unlikely to pause in front of your viewfinder for long, so we recommend keeping your camera ready at all times.

Embrace the local community

You don’t have to wait for inclement weather to present you with an opportunity to lend a helping hand in Costa Rica and support the local community. Whether you actively participate in the Responsible Travel initiatives included on our Costa Rica tours, support local businesses, or engage in conversations with residents about their community, our Solo Tour of Costa Rica promises numerous chances to make a positive impact.

Experience pura vida on tour

Ready to travel solo to Costa Rica? Join us on tour to embrace pura vida!


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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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