For solo vacation destinations, it’s hard to beat Costa Rica. It has something for everyone and at an affordable price. If you choose, as I did, to go in the off-season, it’s an even better buy considering the surcharges that are routinely added to solo travel packages, making it difficult to find well-priced luxury travel options for individual travelers. These price drops come quickly after the summer crowds return home, so I took the opportunity to visit in September. Although it was still the rainy season, I don’t remember having to dust off my umbrella even once. Fall deals may also reflect smaller crowds where some tourists may avoid the entire Caribbean due to hurricane hype. In reality, Costa Rica is rarely affected by direct hurricanes and, despite its size, has several different climate zones. All in all, it was one of my best solo travel destinations.
Hotels abound in a wide range of prices, from high-end global chains to smaller, locally owned properties. TripAdvisor lists 120 hotels in 20 different locations within Costa Rica. A local site listed 61 hotels categorized as 5-star with nightly rates from a modest $113 rise to $1240, providing virtually limitless luxury travel options for individual travelers. Seven of those 5-star hotels were in the $200-$299 range and, while not cheap, compare favorably to resort prices around the world.
Costa Rica is one of the best resorts for singles as it offers 4 different types of top vacations for solo travelers: 1. historical and cultural travel packages that reflect both Caribbean and Latin American heritage, 2. ecological or ecological travel packages , 3 offers of adventure tours and 4. beach getaways not only for honeymooners.
I began my journey in the capital, San José, putting together my own cultural travel package as I went. The Spanish colonial history of the country began in the early 16th century when Christopher Columbus on his voyages was given the name Costa Rica. After the arrival of the first Spanish settlers in 1522, approximately 300 years passed before independence was achieved.
The city has a number of museums to explore, such as the National Museum of Costa Rica. However, it was the Gold Museum that really intrigued me. Not only was it filled with gleaming gold artifacts, but it represented the much older pre-Columbian figures before the arrival of the Spanish. (Plus, the adjacent gift shop sold copies of these one-of-a-kind items, perfect to take home as gifts for friends and family.)
History scholars and architecture enthusiasts may be disappointed to find that most of the intact buildings in the capital only date from the 19th century and not the colonial period. The impressive Metropolitan Cathedral of San José was built at the end of the 19th century, replacing the original structure destroyed by an earthquake. Newer, but considered the best historical building in San José, is the National Theater of Costa Rica, which also dates from the end of the 19th century. Now celebrating its 117th anniversary this year, it’s known for its ornate pink and gold marble interior, but it’s also home to a chic Viennese-style café. Up front, two towering statues, Ludwig van Beethoven and 17th-century Spanish playwright Calderón de La Barca, watch 21st-century visitors intently as they enter.
After leaving San José and heading into the countryside, it’s easy to see that Costa Rica is one of the world’s top ecotourism destinations offering affordable travel for individual travelers. The rainforest, parks and wildlife sanctuaries make up 25% of the country. Although small in square miles, Costa Rica has some of the richest biodiversity in the world. In keeping with its green approach, the government has embarked on a time-long program to voluntarily achieve carbon neutrality in 2007. The highly photogenic red-eyed tree frog is most typically depicted to represent Costa Rican wildlife. As I found out, you don’t have to look far to see colorful examples. From the patio of my hotel, a low-flying hummingbird, one of 26 local species, accompanied me to breakfast every morning. The rainforest, with its 3-4 distinct levels, provides the opportunity to see sloths lounging in the trees and howler monkeys high in the canopy; however, dense growth can make detection difficult.
There is a third option for solo travelers looking to pick up the pace. Beyond peaceful bird watching and wildlife photography, Costa Rica offers abundant opportunities for adventure vacations for singles, from ziplining high up in the treetops or rappelling down waterfalls in LaFortuna/Arenal. Six to seven rivers have whitewater rafting, while both coasts offer snorkeling and diving. Although the Arenal Volcano no longer draws crowds at night after its nightly eruptions ended in 2010, there remain six major volcanoes for hiking. The resulting hot springs remain an ideal spot for “Happy Hour” watching the sun go down. Not being prepared, I was glad to see that the gift shop was selling attractive swimsuits in bright tropical colors, albeit a bit short on fabric!
Finally, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting the nearly 300 beaches of the Pacific coast in the west and the calmer Caribbean in the east. I recommend trying both sides.
For me, having my home base of operations in San Jose in the Central Valley was ideal as it was an easy day trip to the rainforest, but with the beaches and boating still close at hand. . The quality and prices were definitely pretty good even for solo travelers. If you can’t decide if you want to go to the Caribbean or Latin America, Costa Rica offers “2 for the price of 1” instead of what single travelers often find “1 for the price”. 2″ price! Whether you’re looking for a boomer trip or a millennial adventure, go ahead and add Costa Rica to your bucket list.