Camping in Costa Rica can be a great way to save money and see the country from a very different perspective. The problem is, there is very little information online about camping in Costa Rica. What information you do find is either out of date or inaccurate. More times than not, guide books also provide questionable advice and recommendations.
That’s where we come in.
Have just returned from spending a year in Costa Rica, I can tell you the ins and out of camping there.
Camping on the Beach
If you have spent any amount of time researching camping in Costa Rica, you have probably read about camping on the beach. Let me try to explain this in more detail than the other resources online.
Yes, camping on the beach is technically legal because no individual can own any amount of coastline in Costa Rica. Does this mean you could go camp out on the beach in front of a five star hotel? Maybe, but it would probably put a damper on your vacation experience. While you are allowed to do this, it is actually frowned upon, not to mention dangerous.
Camping on the beach may be free, but it is far from safe. This is especially true if you will be traveling by yourself. If you plan on camping on just about any beach in Costa Rica, you better be prepared to stay with your stuff 24/7. If you setup shop on the beach and go out to twon to party for the night, don’t count on your stuff being there when you get back.
Likewise, just because you do stay with your stuff doesn’t keep it safe. It is very possible that you may get robbed or held up at gun point. Yes, camping in a a group might lessen the odds of being held up, but it could also increase them.
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The point of all of this, don’t camp on the beach in Costa Rica unless it is at some sort of “organized” campground or facility.
Camping at National Parks
While Costa Rica may not have as many national parks as the United States, but they are working hard at building up their national park system. Many of the parks and reserves don’t offer any sort of camping, but there are a few that do and are worth looking into.
Some parks and reserves to check out:
Check out this post for more information about camping at a national park in Costa Rica.
Camping Gear for Costa Rica
If you only plan on camping out a few nights during your trip, any old tent will probably do. If however, you will be spending the majority of your time living out of a tent, there are a few things you will want to consider.
Check out these tents to start with:
The two major things to think about when buying a tent for your trip to Costa Rica is hopw good its rain fly is and how much ventilation it has to offer. Ideally, you will want a tent that is 90% mesh walls. These mesh walls will help keep you as cool and comfortable as you can be in the hot Costa Rica weather.
Mesh walls also help keep fresh air rolling through your tent. This will help prevent mold build up on your tent and anything in it. The full mesh walls will also help keep the tent cool in the event that you have to cover it with the rain fly.
When looking at rain flys, make sure that yours covers the entire tent. A good rainstorm in Costa Rica can come at you from all directions, if your rainfly is lacking, your stuff will get soaked. Try to get a rainfly that is waterproof rather than coated with a waterproof spray.
What to Expect
Many hostels, hotels, and even personal residents offer camping of some kind. Take my advice and try to find something that offers covered camping. This means you won’t have to worry about getting wet and you can sleep more comfortably without the rainfly in place.
If you will be camping in the jungle, try to find something that offers raised camping in addition to covered camping. The raised camping will make your life much more comfortable. Very few parts of the rainforest floor are flat. And those parts that are, are probably wet. Being raised off the groud also helps get rid of some of the creepy crawlies.
If you will be camping in one sport for an extended period of time, expect everything you own to start molding. This happens everywhere in Costa Rica and you just have to find your own way to deal with. If you can, try to move your tent into the sun from time to time to let it dry out temporarily. Be sure to wash things like clothes, sheets, and pillows regularly to prevent deadly molds from growing.