What I Spent for 1 Month in Costa Rica

I read that Costa Rica was expensive, but I had no idea how much I would actually spend there for a month. After totalling everything up I’m kind of shocked. I didn’t really set a daily budget for myself so I could have spent less most likely. But as I’ve gotten older, I don’t travel in the same kind of backpacker way that I did ten years ago. I’m happy to spend a little bit extra for more comfort and better meals.

Length of Stay: August 7th-September 4th, 2016 (29 days)
Accommodations: $759 (includes 2 homestays that served breakfast and dinner)
Food/Drinks: $461 (doesn’t include the meals I had during my homestay)
Transportation: $504
Fun/Entertainment/Gifts: $133
Total Expenses: $1857

Here’s where I went:
Playa Hermosa – 5 days
San Jose – 5 days
Heredia – 6 days
Montezuma – 2 days
Samara beach – 8 days
La Fortuna/Arenal – 3 days


Accommodations – $759

When I arrived in Costa Rica I started my journey in a little beach town called Playa Hermosa on the Puntarenas Peninsula. Here I did Spanish lessons with the Perfect Sunset School. The town was too small for me and the accommodations a little too rugged so I moved on to the city of Heredia to take classes with Intercultura. I did have some tasty food, great soy lattes, and two wonderful yoga classes at Pranamar.

In order to save money, I did two homestays while doing classes with Intercultura. One in Heredia and one at the beach in Samara. For $175 a week I got a private room, breakfast, and dinner. That’s $25 a day, plus whatever I spent for lunch. So technically this category would be a little less and the Food category would be a little more if I was to price everything out. To read more about my experience with taking Spanish courses with Intercultura click here!

Before starting my classes in Heredia I spent the weekend at a wonderful hostel in San Jose called TripOn Hostel and explored the city. It was $13 a night for an 8-bed dorm room with a private bathroom and included a huge breakfast that even a vegan could enjoy. This area of town is hands-down the best and most safe in San Jose. I’ll talk more about the great food below. Trust me, if you have to stay in the city for a transition to another area of CR stay here.

I took a weekend beach trip with my classmates to Montezuma. Two night stay with an island/snorkeling tour was $165 so that is included under the Accommodations category. I splurged on a very nice hotel near the airport for two nights before I headed back home at Country Inn Suites ($70 a night).


Transportation – $504

This total includes my flight to and from Costa Rica, which was super cheap, about $250 round trip. That’s the only thing CR has going for it; you can get there cheap AF, but once you get there they will take all your money!

When getting to the Puntarenas Peninsula on the far west coast from San Jose airport you have two good options for transportation. You can take a huge bus with no air conditioning with a ferry ride for $15. The positive about this option is your luggage stays on the bus while you chill on the ferry, then you get back on to continue the journey. And it’s cheap. The negative is it was hot and if you get car sick easily the bumpy ride will not be fun. The second option is to take a private van for $45-55. This has air conditioning but is only slightly more comfortable because they pack as many people on the van as possible. Another negative is you have to take your luggage with you on the ferry and they switch vans on the other side. So the choice is yours!

Uber runs in Costa Rica and it’s much cheaper than taxis. And safer. I used it multiple times with no problems.


Food/Drink – $461

My food costs were all over the place. If I ate at a more traditional Costa Rican hole in the wall I could get a vegan casado for $5. If I went to a more western owned nice restaurant I could spend up to $15. In San Jose, I spent the most for meals and splurged on going to the fancy vegan and vegetarian restaurants in my neighborhood.

My favorites were Verdismo, who has the best sangria I’ve ever had. And Mantras Cafe who has the best menu of food I was used to like bowls, wraps, curries and the most delicious cakes and desserts.


Fun/Entertainment/Gifts – $133

This category includes gifts for my hosts, yoga classes, a tour to the hot springs and volcano in Arenal ($35), a coffee tour near San Jose on my last day in Costa Rica ($39), and coffee and chocolate that I bought there for myself and friends.

This isn’t exact for the reasons shared above but here’s about where my money went for the month in Costa Rica.

Accommodations – 41%
Food – 25%
Transportation – 27%
Fun – 7%

Could I have spent less? Most definitely. I could have made more meals at home and ate out in restaurants less, but as a foodie and a vegan, my favorite part of traveling is trying new foods! To see an exact breakdown of all my expenses in Costa Rica visit this Google spreadsheet.

Have you been to Costa Rica before? How much did you spend?

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