Southern Nicoya Peninsula for Baby Boomers: 10 Tips to Help Older Travelers Prepare for the Trip

The Nicoya Peninsula is a fantastic place to visit whether you’re looking for the infamous health aspects of the “Blue Zone” or just looking to get away for a bit. But to make the most of your trip and be well prepared, there are a few things older travelers (or any traveler for that matter) may like to know before they arrive to ensure an enjoyable, healthy and safe trip.

1. Heat & Humidity

Unless you’re from a humid area, adjusting to the heat and humidity in the Nicoya Peninsula can take some time. It get’s HOT. And very humid. Go easy on the physical activity for the first couple days. Make sure you drink plenty of water (check out this filtration water bottle) but also replenish electrolytes. Since it’s humid, you’ll be sweating a lot so coconut water, citrus fruits, and bananas are good ways to replenish. Consider how direct sunlight may affect any medications you’re taking, and pack lightweight clothing (we like ExOfficio stuff), a wide brimmed hat, sunblock, and maybe a cold pack you can stick in the hotel refrigerator to help cool off when you’re out on activities. The humidity and moisture can mean more mosquitoes, so pack the repellent as well! (Here’s some of our suggested items to pack)

2. Road ConditionsLet's Get Local - JC's Journeys

One of the characteristics that makes the Southern Nicoya Peninsula attractive is it’s remaining ruggedness. That means many roads are still dirt and pebble and on some very steep hills. This may make it challenging to get around if you have any difficulty walking (i.e. knee, joint, heart conditions). The good news is it’s easy to rent a quad/4-wheeler for the duration of your stay. You can also arrange taxis and shuttles relatively easily through your hotel. The other note about rugged roads is that they can be very dusty during dry season, or muddy during heavy rains. So pack a handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth if it gets dusty to avoid any respiratory issues.

3. Medications

If you take any medications, bring them with you, take them wherever you go, AND bring your prescriptions. In the beach towns like Montezuma and Santa Teresa, there are no pharmacies, just a few over the counter items offered at the grocery stores. The closest pharmacy is several kilometers from there so please be prepared with any medical equipment you may need, including inhalers for asthma, vitamins, etc. Also bring an extra pair of eyeglasses and the prescription for them just in case. You can carry these items in a backpack or purse in a small first aid kit.

4.  Physical Abilities

Again because the area is natural and somewhat rugged terrain, it’s good to know your physical abilities and limitations. Whereas national parks in many places have paved or cleared trails, railings and steps, not all have these luxuries. Additionally, activities that are not part of the National Park system will often be even more challenging. For example hiking to the waterfall in Montezuma, while not that far, can be tricky on wet rocks and crossing the river. So if you’re unsure of your balance, climbing abilities or endurance, please consider alternate activities. There are also still easier ways to see some sights than to hike the hard way like many people do. (Check our Bird Lover’s Morning and Let’s Get Local for some less physically demanding tours in the area.)

5.  Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is neglected by many travelers but really everyone should get it. You never know when something could come up and to be covered for medical expenses in another country is just the way to go. Some credit cards provide coverage for travel interruptions such as medical issues or injury. So double check BEFORE you leave. If your credit card doesn’t provide it, you can easily get it through sites like FrontierMedEx. Just to prove why it’s necessary, we’ve seen someone break an ankle and have to be rescued from a waterfall… when asked if they had travel insurance, the answer was no, and the price was high. Better to be safe than sorry!

6.  Beach/Ocean Conditions

Another one that pretty much goes for any traveler to the area, currents can be strong! Exercise caution if you will be swimming in the ocean. If you’re not familiar with currents and riptides, ask a local and they’ll probably be able to tell you if it looks safe to go in. There are no lifeguards here so never swim alone either. Also keep an eye out for jellyfish. Once in a while they’ll be around but not too often. Keep in mind if you’ll be taking an island or boat tour, you’ll need to board from the beach. If the tides are high this may also make conditions a little tricky for boarding, and the ride a little (or a lot) bumpy.

7.  Emergency Services

As mentioned in #5 emergency services could get expensive, but they are also limited in the area. The only clinic in the area is in the town of Cobano, which is roughly 10 kilometers (or more) from the beach towns. If you have any serious medical conditions, please keep this in mind. There is a 9-1-1 system you can call from any phone for an ambulance, but just something to be aware of when you are visiting or staying in remote Let's Get Local - JC's Journeysareas. Same goes for police services in that they are few and far between in the area. Crime is rare but do keep watch of your stuff (cell phones and cameras) when you’re on the beach or if you venture onto a crowded bus.

8.  Guided Tours

All guided tours are not created equal. Book a tour or hire a guide if you plan to hike,  but ask in advance about the guide’s qualifications. You may want to ask for a private or small group tour so you  can go at your own pace and don’t feel the need to keep up with the pack. When booking your tour, you might also ask about the level of physical fitness required for the activity, what times meals will be served, what equipment to bring, etc.  and be specific in your questions to get all the details that will make you feel assured you’re in good hands.

9.  Snacks and Water

Wherever you go, carry a snack and water. The benefit is twofold, you’ll be able to regulate blood sugars and hydrate if you’re not near a restaurant or grocery store, but also it could come in handy in an emergency. This is one of the driest areas of the country and during the dry season (November-April) there may be short periods of no water access. Additionally, earthquakes do occur, so in the event of any kind of emergency, having even a small amount of food and water on hand is a good idea.

10.  Public Restrooms

Last but not least, we all want to know; how are the public restrooms? Conditions of bathrooms in restaurants vary, and that’s about as “public” a restroom as you’ll get. Restaurants in the beach towns are pretty good about letting you use their facilities without being a patron, but buying a drink or small item is always a welcome gesture. It’s a good idea to carry tissue and hand sanitizer in the event that there is no water (as does occasionally occur during the summer).

 

Well we hope you’re well prepared now and ready to set out on your adventure. The Southern Nicoya Peninsula is a gem and the beauty of it should not be missed. So pack your bags and please let us know if you have any other questions, we’ll do our best to answer anything!

Adventures in Osa Peninsula

In our last blog we told you about our Road Trip to Rio Celeste, but what we didn’t tell you is that we kept heading south after that and made it all the way to Osa Peninsula. It was absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. Full of natural beauty, green, wild, rugged, and very inline with the images that come to mind when you think of Costa Rica. This area is fascinating as there is so much going on in terms of conservation, community and also responsible and sustainable tourism.

Bridge to Rancho Quemado

Sustainable Tourism in Osa    Cable Tree Rancho Quemado

What most people know about Osa Peninsula is associated with the large national park there; Corcovado National Park. But there is much more going on in the entire peninsula. We took a long rocky road to Drake Bay and passed through an area which we later learned was becoming part of a new rural tourism initiative. We were so lucky to meet Jessica Roldan who’s working to help the local community benefit from rural tourism. She explained to us one of the new projects called Rancho Quemado, where visitors can experience a traditional and local way of life, with everything from more nature trails to sampling homemade cuisine, and making handmade sweets using a traditional sugar mill. Projects like these benefit the community, help preserve cultural traditions, and contribute to  environmental conservation.  (See our Let’s Get Local tour for a similar concept in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula).

While we didn’t have time to explore this area more, we found that people in Osa and particularly in Drake Bay were especially helpful, proud of the environment they want to conserve, and willing to offer lots of unique tips for seeing the best of area.

 

Tips for Visitors

Osa Peninsula1. Getting there: Getting to Osa can be challenging and few tourists make it here. It is possible to get there by car, but the road conditions definitely call for a 4×4 vehicle, and your rental car will probably hate you for subjecting it to this drive. There are buses that go all the way to Puerto Jimenez. From there you can book a tour either to Corcovado or reach the town of Drake Bay by boat. There is also a small airport in Drake Bay which Nature Air flies to from San Jose. Keep in mind rainy season (September-October) will make road travel to this area virtually impossible.

2. Tours: Give yourself at least 3 or 4 days in the area, and book your tour to Corcovado in advance! We found out the hard way that you cannot go to Corcovado without a booking a guided tour, so make sure you plan to spend around $75 for a day tour depending on where you start from.

3. IMG_4982Where to Stay: We didn’t stay overnight in this area, but from many recommendations, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge  is an excellent option. They are truly committed to ecotourism and offer many social and environmental programs. There are also very affordable and modest cabins in the area like Rancho Verde Bed and Breakfast. You can also stay in Drake Bay (pictured left) where there are plenty of accommodations. (If you need some more options or recommendations, comment or email us. We made some great friends and connections in the area!)

4. Bird Watching: If you’re coming to Costa Rica to do some birdwatching, this is definitely an amazing spot to do so. You’ll see plenty of the desirous toucans, macaws and sooooo much more.

5. Conservation: Because the area holds so much natural beauty… let’s do our best to keep it that way. Book tours with responsible guides and companies, and be sure to work in a tour that relates to rural tourism to support the local communities as well.