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If you have visited Costa Rica or is planning to do so the most probable is that at some point you will wonder if taking a tour in Costa Rica is worth it or not.  Today we give some pieces of advice that will help you find out if a tour is for you or if self-driving is a better idea.


Taking a tour in Costa Rica, when is a good idea


No matter which part of our beautiful country will you be spending your holidays at, you will find a wide variety of places to visit and an even wider selection of tours and tour operators.


Costa Rica´s main economic activity is tourism and it has been the Mecca of eco-tourism since the 80s.  Every single corner of our country can be visited through a tour.  But, taking a tour in Costa Rica and paying for it may be not an attractive idea for everyone. Not only for the cost, but for the idea of having someone telling what to do and when to do it.  And, even worse thinking about sharing with a bunch of people whom I do not know and maybe don´t even speak my language.

tour in Costa Rica guide

But a tour in Costa Rica doesn´t really have to be like mentioned above actually, there are many different types of tours.  So, let’s go through each of these “negative” perceptions:


  • The cost: It is true that when you read about the price of tours it could seem a lot, however, many times you will end up paying the same or even more if you drive yourself. Here is an example:
    • Private Tour to Rincon de la Vieja area with zip lining: From $193 per person, 2-pax party
    • Costs break-down:
      • Two-days of car rental estimate: $100 (basic protection, during low season)
      • Fuel: $50
      • Zip-lining and horseback riding: $65 per person, $130 total
      • Lunch: $35 – $40 per person, $70 – $80 total
      • GRAN TOTAL: $180 per person (excluding having a private driver, a private guide, free drinks in the van, insurance, and the priceless feeling of knowing you won´t get lost in the middle of anywhere in an unknown country)
    • The timing: if you feel you will enjoy less because someone will be pressuring you to go with a schedule, there are many options of private tours that can be custom made according to what you would like to experience. When you read a tour in Costa Rica description it is true that it will list all the activities It includes however, if you go with a private tour, be totally certain that your guide will be flexible and will not impose you what time you should spend in any of the activities.
    • The forced groups: If you are a solo traveler, you will probably enjoy meeting new people during your tour in costa rica. But, if you are looking to spend quality time with your family, couple or friends, maybe you don´t want other people in your tour.

If you identify with the latter scenario, maybe a private tour can give you all you need on a tour without having to share with strangers.

However, it is always important to mention that even if you opt for a private tour, this will mean more like private transportation, because once you get to your destination, especially if it is an activity like zip lining you will have to share some time with other tourists at some point.  So, if your budget does not allow a private tour, and think that driving by yourself will mean not have to deal with other visitors, probably it will be inevitable anyway.

tour in Costa Rica women lost

Here are other reasons why a tour can be actually the best thing can happen to you:


  • Driving in Costa Rica can be confusing. Please have in mind that roads and road signage would be very different from what you are used to back home.  Most touristic attractions are located in rural towns with unpaved roads and no signage at all.
  • Even if you want to use some help from technology, google maps or Waze could not be available if the mobile reception is poor.
  • Ticos do not use addresses like you. In Costa Rica, street names or numbers are not used for giving an address.  A typical address in Costa Rica would be: From the old Higueron tree (yes, a tree) 200 meters north and 100 meters east.
  • The goal of most tours is to spot some wildlife, let me tell you that maybe you will end up disappointed if you decide to go by yourself. Guides usually have years of experience going to the same place looking for that slot or monkey you wish to see so hard. They will know exactly where to look and when.
  • Insurance and safety. Of course, having an accident during your holidays could be the worst thing to happen and no one likes to talk about it. But the truth is it happens, and not only in Costa Rica but everywhere in the world. So, if something happens, you will at least have the support of the tour operator insurance. Of course, understanding that you hired a trustful tour operator with a name and background. (please never go with the casual guys that offer tours at the beach)



Taking a tour in Costa Rica, when is a bad idea

tour in Costa Rica horseback riding

Of course, there are all types of travelers and people, so there are always situations and cases when a tour in Costa Rica is not the way to go.  Here are some examples of when to go by yourself:


  • Limited budget. If a tour costs way more than your accommodation daily rate, probably a private tour is not an option for you.  If this is the case, please do not accept going in tours that are mysteriously cheap. Like in any other part of the world there are people that are not honest or that do not have the conditions to offer this type of services, including insurance, knowledge and legal permissions.


  • You are not interested in nature or new experiences. If your notion of the ideal vacation is to stay at the resort´s pool all day and don´t leave your all-inclusive hotel, maybe a tour with an adventure or nature´s theme will not suit your needs.  Also, if you are looking for a shopping tour maybe a tour in Costa Rica is not what you are looking for.


  • You have visited the country many times. If you have visited our small but beautiful country before and have visited many of the destinations you are planning to revisit, then, taking a tour could be pointless. However, some people like me, a Tica that actually have visited many of the destinations the tours in Costa Rica offer, still prefer to take a tour instead of self-driving, just for the reason of being pampered. Who doesn´t like that feeling?



On your next visit to Costa Rica, stay in our breathtaking ocean and golf view condos and talk to our concierge, she will be glad to give you more tips to plan your perfect vacation.  Contact us now for more information.


Share with us your experience and leave us your comments.