Costa Rica has figured out good service, and paired it with well-preserved natural environments – forests full of wildlife and breathtaking beaches – and they seem to know what it’s worth.
Just to explain: We are about to move to Indonesia, but Bruno has a conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, so I am taking a few days of downtime on the beach.
This particular town, Santa Teresa, looks like just a small strip of shops restaurants and lodges along a lovely beach. The main draws seem to be surfing and the general vibe. My hotel has neat wooden cabins, daily yoga classes, an amazing view out over the Pacific (though it is not right on the beach), and it serves up fresh organic food.
It turns out that at $100 a night (after the low-season discount), this place is a bargain for the area. Luxury hotels here charge as much as $800 a night and even the crummy hostels are above $50 a night – per person, in dorm beds. A taxi driver just charged me $10 to go about 4 km (less than 2.5 miles).
But people pay up, and there are dozens of expats looking to build vacation homes here. (I passed Mel Gibson’s place just today.) The tourism industry seems to have really grown lately, which might be self-defeating in the end: My Israeli host, the owner of the lodge I’m staying at, told me today that when he starting building the lodge 11 years ago, the traffic on the road below could be described as “about two horses an hour.” Now the road is full of cars, trucks and ATVs zipping back and forth – and this is low season.
Still, the national focus on protecting nature and eco-tourism seems to keep this place clean and pure.
Over a few days, I’ve walked on the beach, done yoga with an ocean view, and hiked in a beautiful forest, were I saw monkeys, toucans and even a very large snake. What can I say? If you’ve got the money, this is a great place for a vacation.