This weekend could not have been any more fun! I went to Puerto Viejo with my study abroad group, CEA Global Education, and all of the other students. The weekend was packed full of adventures, laughs, and great memories! However, I did learn quite a bit about taking an excursion while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Among those where what to bring, how to best plan my time there, and what not to miss!
First things first, packing for the trip. There are so many things to think about when packing for a weekend excursion to the beach in Costa Rica. You have to think about what all you will be doing, and what items are needed for your activities and things you just think you need. My recommendation is pack light! If you can fit everything in a backpack, then you’ve got just enough for your weekend trip. The things I think are must haves are 1) sunscreen, and lots of it 2) two swimsuits with cover-up in case one doesn’t dry all the way (like mine) 3) two casual but nice outfits for the evenings 4) two pairs of shoes: comfy shoes for walking around and site seeing and ones to match your evening outfits 5) some spending money (in cash) 6) travel sized everything (shampoo, body wash, etc.) and for the ladies 7) minimal makeup and beauty products (it’s more of a hassle so just bring the essentials!) By packing these things you take up minimal space, and have everything you need.
The casual but nice outfits will cover just about every place you’ll want to go after a great day at the beach. My cotton dress was perfect for the nice sit down restaurant we went to the first night. Make sure to wear the sunscreen you bring though, because the sun is extremely strong. Don’t bring a bunch of extra items such as more outfits, full sized bottles of shampoo and such, and useless items. They only take up more room, and make your things heavier to carry. There really isn’t much else to bring unless you’re going to Puerto Viejo, then bring insect repellant, and apply it just as much as your sunscreen.
The best way to plan your time on a weekend excursion is not to plan it at all. My friends and I had so much more fun, because we just went with the flow and figured it out along the way. Our snorkeling adventure was planned, because we had to reserve our time with the guides but that was the only event planned all weekend. I would recommend thinking slightly ahead about meals since the service is a more relaxed than most everywhere else. Don’t go when you’re really hungry, but as you start to get hungry and you’ll be right on the money. By just going with the flow it made it possible for everyone to get to try new things and do what they really wanted. Since we didn’t plan every little detail we enjoyed our time there, did what we all enjoyed, and caught the most beautiful beach sunset! In Costa Rica, the Ticos (natives of Costa Rica) are more laid back and it was easy to catch on. Decide what you would like to do as the day goes on and roll with the tides!
There were a few things I’m glad I didn’t miss! Renting a bike is a definite must do in Puerto Viejo, because it gives you the option to see the town and to bike to nearby beaches. Another thing I’m glad I didn’t miss out on was attempting to surf. Now I’m no Johnny Tsunami (for the old school Disney watchers), but it was certainly awesome to try. My friend Jillian and I rented a board together, and switched part way through which was great for splitting the cost. Even though we both body surfed on the board the whole time, we truly enjoyed it! I also recommend walking around the local shops. You never know what you’re going to find from local artists, and the only way to know is to explore! It was great just looking at all of the vendors first because I knew what I wanted, who had the best prices, and where to find the souvenirs I really wanted. The last thing I recommend not missing is the night life! From live music at local restaurants to sunsets on the beach to Latin dancing at the clubs, the night life undeniably contributed to our great memories of the weekend.
Excursions throughout the country are a definite must do while studying abroad. Costa Rica has so much to offer and so many places to explore. Take the time to enjoy the world around you and experience the culture. It is the greatest experience to have! Don’t forget to take a nap in a hammock either!
Written By Emily Gulick, Social Media Journalist