Planning Your Trip to Costa Rica: 5 Tips to Reduce Your Planning Stress

JC's JourneysOctober is almost over, can you believe it?! It’s getting cooler up north and you’re probably starting to plan your trip to warmer weather in Costa Rica. But let’s face it, vacation planning can be stressful if you’re going to another country, especially if it’s your first visit. Here are 5 tips to help you make your way to the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica with less headache and more excitement!

#1 Reserve Transfers Early – If you’re traveling during the holiday season (November, December, January), you’ll thank yourself for not waiting until the last minute to reserve your airport transfer. As with anywhere, these months can get very busy in Costa Rica and specifically the Nicoya Peninsula. If you’re flying from San Jose to the peninsula (Tambor), be sure to reserve flights like… now! They will go fast! If you’re arranging a shuttle they can also fill up quickly during this time, so don’t hesitate. Even if you’re being adventurous and planning to take buses all the way to Montezuma, keep in mind, they may be pretty full depending on the day and time that you travel so don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a pre-arranged shuttle transfer to prevent the stress of figuring out how you’ll get there when you’re already at the airport.

#2 Decide on Tours – Most tours can be arranged somewhat last minute, but to make your life easier and enjoy a more relaxing vacation, try to research tour options before you arrive. Since you probably have limited time, pick a few must-do tours first, then contact a tour guide or operator before your trip to lock in a date for your tour. This may be more difficult with large group tours as departure often depends on the number of people who book. But if you’re P5520728planning on private tours or small group tours, you’ll want to reserve those early. Weather is not typically an issue with tours during peak season, but to keep options open, you may want to decide on primary and secondary tour options in case one doesn’t work out on the day you planned so you’re not left laying around the beach twiddling your thumbs for the third day in a  row on your 5-day vacation.

#3 Pack Light, But Well – It’s easier to move around and a lot less stressful if you pack with having to carry your bag in mind. Take essentials like cash (for when ATM doesn’t work) a few basic over-the-counter medications, and of course appropriate clothing and footwear, but try to keep it to a carry-on size suitcase or backpack. Small planes have strict luggage requirements anyway, and most shuttles from the airport to the Nicoya Peninsula still require you to carry your luggage onto the ferry to cross over. So again, to ease the frustration and scramble to move heavy luggage around, make it easy on yourself and check this blog for more packing tips.

#4 Check Your Calendar – Think about it, if you’re planning to travel Christmas week… how many other people do you think are probably trying to do the same? The ferry to Nicoya peninsula can become very crowded during holidays, and periodically schedules change as well. Check not only your calendar but calendars for local holidays and make sure there are no planned changes to transportation. Also, try to avoid the couple days around major holidays for transfers to airports for obvious reasons. Mark the days on your calendar so that when you’re traveling and carefree, you won’t forget what day it is! Also be sure to note closure dates for national parks so you don’t travel to them on those days.beach_puravida

#5 Mentally Prepare – Remember that it’s a vacation! If you take a little time to do some planning in advance, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience while you’re in Costa Rica. Remind yourself that although traveling during the holidays can be challenging with crowds, airport lines, and customs forms, you’re here to relax and be away from the office, cold weather, and typical holiday shopping pressure. Doesn’t that make it all worthwhile??

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Birding in Montezuma, Costa Rica

When the sound of singing tropical birds awakens you at sunrise on your vacation, what better thing to do than wake up with them and do a little bird watching? One of our guide’s favorite pastimes in Montezuma and Nicoya Peninsula (even outside the job), is bird watching. And there are many reasons birding makes for a great activity for all vacationers to the Nicoya Peninsula as well; young, old, couples, families or solo travelers. Here are a few reasons we think bird watching should be at the top of your list of things to do in Montezuma.

1. It’s Fun & Challenging

Birding is like a game, a real life Where’s Waldo or exciting scavenger hunt. Bird watching puts your attention to detail to the test and challenges your ability to spot movement, hear different songs, and put names to what you see. Whether you’re a die hard nature lover or just learning how amazing it can be, you may find yourself feeling like a kid again as you see colorful or rare species for the first time.

2. It’s Educational

Anyone can see beautiful birds and be amused, but you can also learn a lot from birding. Seeing an interesting bird can spark an interest to seek informBirding in Montezuma Costa Rica - JC's Journeysation about what a species eats, where it lives and how it migrates, which can be especially educational for kids. Birders as young as three or four years old can gain a lot of knowledge from bird watching and make for a very productive vacation!

3. Everyone Can Do It

Few tools are needed to be a bird watcher. Of course binoculars or a scope help see more distant or hidden birds, but pretty much anyone can be a bird watcher. Since it’s really not difficult, it’s a great activity for families with group members of varying ages. Even vision or hearing impaired travelers can enjoy this activity by listening for birds’ sounds, or viewing through a telescope if hearing is a challenge.

4. It Helps Conservation Efforts

Birding helps with conservation since it is educational and ensures that visitors gain a respect for the nature and environment they are in. It can also be a very low impact activity for the surrounding environment when you are on natural trails, and ensure you are with a tour company that uses best practices such as not disturbing the wildlife or environment.

5. There’s Lots of Variety

If you like to be different, a birding tour will ensure your vacation will never be exactly like anyone else’s. With 903 bird species in Costa Rica, you are likely to see many different ones than perhaps another group may see, but you’ll always be guaranteed to see something interesting. Here are just a few of the birds we have seen recently around Montezuma. Which do you hope to see on your Costa Rica vacation?

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*All photos by JC Aguirre

See our Bird Lover’s Morning tour to make a reservation for bird watching around Montezuma.