In the most populated parts of Costa Rica, especially the inland Central Valley region, the roads are paved and reasonably well-maintained. It’s easy to get around from place to place.
Costa Rica is a small country, about the size of West Virginia. But it does have an extensive coastline, with 780 miles on the Pacific Ocean, and 132 miles on the Caribbean Sea.
As I drive east out of San Jose and its suburbs, the gridlock, gleaming shopping malls, and dense urban development of Costa Rica’s capital slowly melt away. Within 30 minutes I’ve found myself in the countryside, following a winding road that hugs a mountainside as it descends into the valley below.
Just 10 minutes’ drive south from the popular tourist destination and expat hotspot of Playas del Coco, is an escape. Playa Ocotal is one of the prettiest beaches on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a little out-of-the-way but definitely worth the journey to get there.
For the most part, I consider myself a pretty downhome kind of a guy. I stay in simple hotels when I travel—if there’s internet, I’m set. Fancy restaurants are okay. But usually I have more fun and get tastier food where the locals eat.
Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast is known for its dramatic coastline of tree-covered mountains dropping suddenly to the ocean, empty beaches, and lush rainforest full of wildlife like toucans, howler monkeys, sloths, and dozens of other species.
There’s a steady breeze blowing. The sand is black—it’s volcanic—flecked with small crystals that twinkle in the sunlight. The sand is quite hot too in the heat of the day…best to wear flip-flops.
Whether you’re looking for a bustling beach resort town with plenty of restaurants, chic boutiques, and nightlife…or you’d rather string up your hammock between two palms and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves and not see another person all afternoon…you can get it in Costa Rica.
What makes for a good retirement destination? For those on a budget (and those who aren’t) a place with a lower cost of living is key. But it’s not only about the money. You want to be comfortable and feel safe. Modern services like high-speed internet, top-notch medical care, and good value real estate are also important. And if you’re from a northern climate, the benefit of warm weather year-round (no more coats, no more snow tires) might be the biggest motivator.
I was hurtling down a mountain, on a narrow two-lane road, surrounded by jungle…while avoiding the deadly scratches of a terrified animal. How did I get here? Let’s go back to the beginning. I had traveled to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast to check out the expat communities there.