Costa Rica Currency Is Easy to Spend
Costa Rica currency is pretty easy to figure out in dollars. It's 500 colones for every dollar. There's a 500 colones coin, and paper money for larger amounts.
When Foxy and I visited recently, I realized that because of the currency conversion equation, I was tempted to think prices were cheaper than they were.
For example, dinner costa 9500 colones. Cool, right? My subconscious tells me that's about $9.50, but it's not. It's $18. After a couple glasses of sangria, a girl can get addled.
That swim-up bar sells beers for more than they cost in San Francisco. Uh-huh.
What to expect from Costa Rica's prices
If, like me, you've traveled in Mexico or other parts of the world where the currency is devalued, you might expect bargains galore in Costa Rica.
And, my dear, you will be disappointed.
Yes, you can eat pretty cheaply at a soda, the workingwoman's restaurant common in Costa Rica. The "plata del dia" is about $3-4, which is great. But souvenirs, park admissions, taxis, and some lodgings are not that cheap, maybe 2/3 of American prices. And regular restaurant prices are much higher than soda prices.
I'm only telling you so you won't be surprised, OK? You should still go. There are lots of great ways to save money in CR.
Ways to save money while still having fun
La Gringa is all about a good time. I do not believe in traveling to a wonderful country only to sit on my butt "saving money" the whole time. But, my Foxy is good at figuring out how to cut corners and still have a blast, so here are some ideas.
1) Buy a beer, hang out on the beach at night. It's really fun. We did this to save money but enjoyed it even more than hanging around a bar or restaurant. The ocean breeze is great at night.
2) Find a rental that includes a little kitchen and bikes. You can at least make coffee and breakfast, and you won't have to shell out for bike rentals.
3) Shop around for souvenirs. Prices can vary a lot for the same items.
4) Put your money toward real adventures. It's easy to fritter away colones here and there (believe me, I did my share). But spend the bulk of your cash doing the important stuff. For me that was ziplining, snorkeling, and visiting the animal rescue center. I didn't mind cutting costs in other areas because I could do all that awesome stuff.
5) Hike! It's free, and it's one of the best ways to see Costa Rica.
Just so you don't get confused by the heat or alcohol
Costa Rica Currency
500 colones = 1 dollar
Now that you've got your money all sorted out, link from Costa Rica Currency to Travel Tips to find out more and link to even more awesomeness.