Author Archives: Eddie Davis

Costa Rica Solo Travel Advice with Videos from Lizi on Location

liziThis week we are happy to host guest blogger, Lizi on Location.  Find her at LiziOnLocation.com

Lizi is available for custom videos of properties for rent!

Travel Costa Rica by Yourself without a Group

Have you ever taken a vacation alone? I mean travel by yourself to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? I hadn’t either until I took my first solo vacation a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. If this interests you, but you are still a little nervous, Costa Rica is the destination for you!

If you haven’t been there before, chances are a family or friend has. It’s a great place for your first international trip.  If you live in the United States like I do, it’s close, fairly inexpensive, and easy to get around.  Plus the locals generally like and want tourists because they bring money into the local economy. This means they will put up with your broken Spanish and offer directions if you get lost. So where do you go? What do you do? How do you plan it?

I was asking myself these same questions a few weeks ago while I was planning my trip.  Most of my friends have gone with a tour group, but that seemed unnecessarily expensive. Plus I didn’t want to be stuck with one group the entire time on a stiff schedule. I wanted a little more flexibility. I planned my first stop and then winged the rest.

First keep in mind when you book because their seasons may be opposite of yours.  Summer in the U.S. is June-September, but that’s their rainy season. It’s not very cold, but very wet.  The good news is sometimes fewer people venture there and the colors are outstanding; the bad news is that depending where you are, it may rain literally every day. I would suggest buying a poncho at the drug store for $2. I know so many people who spent $100 on a new weatherproof jacket, but I’m telling you, the cheap plastic was better!

Next: how are you going to get around? Budget travelers rejoice—their bus system is easy and cheap.   You can also look at their shared shuttles for anywhere between $25-50. I rode Interbus, but there’s also the Gray Line.  They even have some routes that pick you up straight from the airport. Plus it’s a great place to meet people.

You can always rent a car. It wasn’t in my budget, but I hitchhiked with a fellow traveler for a few stops. Keep in mind some of the roads are unpaved, bumpy, and slow, but you can make unplanned stops. WARNING: it may be unsafe, but I had a good experience and now have a new friend from it!

So how are you going to pay for everything? I did use the ATM to exchange money for the Costa Rican Colon, but honesty, almost everywhere I went accepted the US Dollar.  It’s not a bad idea to have a little of their money, especially for the more rural/less touristy places, but you should be find if you don’t. Gone are the days when Costa Rica was “cheap.” You are not going to travel, eat, and stay for $20 a day, unless you work at it.  I wouldn’t call it expensive, but if you eat out, chances are your meals will be more than $10 each, especially if you are in a touristy place.

So where should you go? Like I said I planned my first stop by booking transportation, a hostel, and a few adventure tours until I got the lay of the land.  When you don’t know where you are going next, asking a fellow traveler about their experience gets the conversation rolling. Most likely the traveler just went some place cool and is dying to share his/her experience. This gives you someone to talk to and some ideas of where to go next.

I found the tours/excursions were between $30-45 US dollars.  You can book through a concierge service like Anywhere Costa Rica or directly from the tour company and ask them to waive the service fee.  I hiked the base of the Arenal Volcano, relaxed in the Baldi hot Springs, and rappelled down waterfalls.  You can see all of this in my video below. I loved it all, but if you only have the chance to do one, rappel! The first step is scary, but once you are over the edge, you can control your speed, and swing down. It is such a rush and great for all ages. There were kids in front of me and a woman in her 60s behind me.

I escaped the sticky humidity and headed to Monteverde next (see video below). It was much cooler in the mountains.  The town is charming.  The main drag of Santa Elena is a triangle that takes eight minutes max to walk where there are plenty of eateries and places to stay. I wandered around and found the Ecological Sanctuary. It cost about $12 to enter. I enjoyed the beautiful green plants, breathtaking overlooks, and even saw some unusual animals.  If you want a guided tour of nature, ask at your hotel/hostel about local night walks.

The next day I ziplined with Adventura. The company boasts having the longest zipline in Latin America and it was high! I also did their Tarzan Swing which is a freefall.  I wore my GoPro and still get butterflies in my stomach when I watch the video. I can’t believe I did it, don’t know if I will ever do it again, but loved it!

Next I headed to Manuel Antonio, stopping at Playa Hermosa to wiggle my toes in the black sand from the lava deposits and eat fresh coconuts off the trees. The sunset in Manuel Antonio was indescribable. At one point there was pink and blue, at another point the sky was yellow and orange. There are plenty of restaurants/bars overlooking the ocean to enjoy it over a cocktail. I chose to visit the market across from the public beach and enjoy it at sea level.

The allure of Manuel Antonio is inside gates of the National Park.  All the guidebooks said admission was $10, but they apparently raised it to $16 the day before we arrived.  There are plenty of certified guides you can hire with great cameras outside the park. We ended up guiding ourselves and still saw some really neat creatures. There was a sloth hanging above the tourists, close enough to capture with a zoom lens.  Deeper in the park on one of the trails I saw a monkey! I had been waiting all trip to find one and I finally did. It was just as cute as you imagine, but I hear they can be tricky and steal your food from you as well.  The swimming cover inside the park was packed with people, but beautiful. It is surrounded by hiking trails with breathtaking overlooks.  The trails aren’t difficult, but there are a handful of hills.

After about a week in Costa Rica I felt comfortable to get out of the tourist loop. A local has suggested heading south about an hour (maybe a little less) to Dominical, another awesome beach.  It is a surfer’s paradise.

The next day I looked at the map and saw a big green space a little north of the Pacific and discovered the Chirripo National Park. After further research I found it takes two to three days to hike, but there is a point where you can see both the Pacific and Caribbean. I didn’t have that time, but enjoyed a day hike nearby in the Cloudbridge. Check out the video I shot from our hike.

When we arrived Dr. John Himes, manager of the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, explained that the 700 acres are mostly reforested.  Much of the land had been used for livestock, but is now going back to its natural state.  Early in the trail you will find flowers, a meditation garden, and access to the waterfalls.  This isn’t a “walk in the park,” it is a hike up a mountain. No need for special shoes or gear, but it is steep and rains often, which makes the path slick.

I LOVED my trip to Costa Rica and know you will too.  Don’t miss out on what could be a great life experience just because you can’t find a travel companion.  Try it out yourself! Costa Ricans have a saying that means “Pure Life” so I’ll leave you with that. Enjoy your trip and “Pura Vida!”

For more of my travel writing visit: www.LiziOnLocationcom and you can find me on twitter/facebook/Instagram/youtube: Lizi On Location.

For first time visitors, check out this video:

Visit Lizi’s YouTube Channel:

Arenal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv5VMuRC2fY

Cloudbridge:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICUlr0diEUI&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Manuel Antonio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfMHaHOvbxw&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Monteverde:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6CekOAcrXQ&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Traveling to Costa Rica:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKF_jtqjApU&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

2014: The Rise of Spherical Photography?

Read Wired magazine or other technology publications and you will see various start-ups offering spherical cameras, many of which look like soccer balls.

Spherical photos are really a series of individual photos stitched together and smoothed. The new cameras are really a series of cameras pointed in different directions that take a synchronized photo in every direction.

Apps that create synchronized photos from a smart device have to be moved around to every angle, which works fine for inanimate objects but not so well with movement.

Wired has a great article here about one competitor who was at the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2014/01/panono-ball/

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Here at For Rent Costa Rica, we are already being approached by various people that want to sell us spherical photography as a service: both the actual taking of the photos and the hosting of the photo such that the user will be able to navigate within the listing. Although we do not produce the photos of the listings we offer internally, we think this service would be of great value to our users.

We are totally in favor of offering spherical photography in our listings! We think tenants will love being able to see the property’s highlights from the perspective of standing there and looking around.

What options does an owner have to get spherical photos?

  1. Look to a manager. We think that managers may adopt this technology to get a competitive advantage over others in their area and pony up for a spherical camera themselves.
  2. Find a service such as We Get Around that allows you borrow the equipment to capture the data and then also creates and hosts the embedded viewer to add to the listing.
  3. Do It Yourself – Google’s Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones have a built in spherical photo option as part of the phone app. Bubbli is an app you can download if you are an iPhone user.

Check back to the In the News section of For Rent Costa Rica for more on this emerging tool for displaying real estate and improving your rental marketing.

Check out this embedded shot of Ryan Seacrest.

Press Release: Where Is Costa Rica?

Read our press release based on recent survey results:

Surprising results from a research survey commissioned by the rental website www.ForRentCostaRica.com, revealed that less than 40 percent of all Americans can locate the Central American nation of Costa Rica on a map given five multiple choice options.

The research survey “Where Is Costa Rica?” found that only 36.8 percent of the 1,007 respondents could accurately locate the nation on a map showing Central America and the Caribbean. The results, which have been made available to the publichere, reveal that individuals 65+ were more likely to answer correctly.

Respondents with age between 18 – 25 correctly chose Costa Rica 29.6% of the time, while respondents age 65+ were correct 45.8% of the time.

mapSurvey Methodology

Using the Google Consumer Surveys platform, a generalized population of internet users were asked a survey question which included an unlabeled map of Central America and four highlighted countries: Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. Respondents could also select a fifth choice, “None of the above.”

Survey Results

The correct answer locating Costa Rica, choice D, was chosen by 36.8 percent of respondents with a margin of error, +3.6 / -3.5 percent; 17.2 percent of respondents selected Belize; 14.3 percent of respondents chose Puerto Rico; 12.0 percent of respondents thought the answer was Jamaica; and 19.7 percent of respondents believed the correct answer was not shown on the map.

Age Divide

In unweighted percentages and with a larger reported margin of error, only 29.6 percent of young adults ages 18-24 years old correctly identified Costa Rica, and 29.8 percent of adults ages 25-34 selected the right answer. Respondents between ages 35 – 44 found the right country at a rate of 37.8 percent while those between ages 45-54 identified Costa Rica at a rate of 40.3 percent. The rate for selecting the correct answer dropped slightly to 37 percent for the age group 55-64. Respondents in the age bracket 65 of older achieved the most accuracy with nearly half, or 45.8 percent correctly identifying Costa Rica.

One of the most surprising findings was the number of individuals shown the survey that did not respond – approximately 40 percent, suggesting that many Americans did not wish to even attempt to locate the nation on the map, a potential indication that the actual number of Americans who can successfully locate Costa Rica is less than the research found.

Implications of the Research

The survey data from “Where Is Costa Rica?” indicates that the majority of Americans do not recognize the location of Costa Rica on a map. Coupled with the fact that the vast majority of tourists vacationing in Costa Rica are American citizens, there is significant value in building awareness of Costa Rica to an American audience. In fact, in 2011 approximately 859,000 American citizens arrived in Costa Rica, a number that has more than doubled since 2002, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Statistical Yearly Report.

For Eddie Davis, CEO of Apollo International Solutions, the company who developed www.ForRentCostaRica.com, this research begins to answer one of his long held questions.  “I’ve met many Americans, even already in Costa Rica, that think Costa Rica is an island.  Now I have an idea of how prevalent that belief is.”  The most likely cause is confusion between Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean and US Territory, and Costa Rica.  Over 30% of respondents believed Costa Rica was either Jamaica or Puerto Rico, both island nations.

There were also some interesting results with regards to age demographics.  Many businesses in Costa Rica are targeting retirees from North America either for relocation or medical tourism.  The survey seems to indicate that Costa Rica is already firmly on US Senior Citizens’ map.

The survey was produced by Online Marketing Agency Picobarn, picobarn.com on behalf of www.ForRentCostaRica.com an online provider of Costa Rica rental marketing.