Camping at Playa Negra
Camping at Playa Negra

No one understands the desire to be out under the stars more than I do! Sure, Costa Rica offers many luxury hotels that are a nice way to treat yourself with comfy beds and spa services, but for me, I like to be outdoors as much as I can. That is one of the reasons that I am able to connect so well to the Central America visitors that choose to camp while they are visiting Costa Rica.

I always stop and visit with campers in Costa Rica, and each time I learn something new about the experience. I like to visit campers on the beaches, in the cloud forests and on campsites, and I’m amazed that there is always so much more to learn about Costa Rica, even for someone like me that has been traveling around all the regions his own life! Here are some of the tips I have for anyone planning to camp during their stay in my homeland.

When To Go

One of the many great things about Costa Rica is that you really can visit any time of year! For campers, you may want to consider coming during the dry season, which is December through April. Keep in mind though, that this is also busy season so you’ll want to plan ahead and secure reservations as necessary.

Travel and Packing Tips

As with anywhere you travel, you should do some research and learn at least the basics of the local language(s). You want to pack light, since you’ll be traveling frequently and carrying your belongs with you. Speaking of your belongings, don’t bring unnecessary valuables like jewelry and electronics. Here are some Safety Tips while traveling in Costa Rica.

Before you head to the location that you want to set up camp at, try to get a hold of waterproof maps of the area, and surrounding areas. Travel guides are also great to bring along! Some things you want to remember to pack or purchase on-site for camping in Costa Rica include:

  • Bug Spray
  • Quick-dry clothing
  • Towels
  • Lightweight, but warm gear
  • Flashlight

Budgeting and Amenities

Camping is a great option for visitors that are looking to extend their budgets and get the most out of their stay in Central America. By camping, you’ll be saving your budget for the fun stuff, like taking an adventure tour to watch dolphins, zip-line, surf or even play a round of golf – my favorite! Most camping sites at parks, hostels, or even on private property, in Costa Rica will run you under $20. Amenities like showers, restrooms, cooking pits, grills and potable water will vary by location, so you’ll want to look into that ahead of time so you can prepare.

Where To Camp

The first step in deciding where you want to camp is decide what type of experience you want. It will be hard to choose, but some of your options include beachfront camps, reserved space at national parks, rainforests, and hostel properties with some facilities. I find that the beachfront camping always ensures a great nights’ sleep with the waves as a lullaby, and camping in the national parks means you can get an early start on hiking the next day!

Here are a few places that you can look into for your camping grounds:

Waiting to take the bus with a surfboard after camping in front of Witches Rock surf spot in Santa Rosa National ParkWaiting to take the bus with a surfboard after camping in front of Witches Rock surf spot in Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa National Park

This amazing area protects a large tropical dry forest and offers world-famous waves for surfers. A great option for your camp grounds that is inexpensive and offers some amenities at ranger stations, this location will also give you plenty to do during the day.

Palm Trees aligned on a secluded beach in Corcovado National ParkPalm Trees aligned on a secluded beach in Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park

This location is a trade-off for campers – the experience will be unmatched as this area boosts a huge variety of wildlife, but the ranger stations are isolated. Once you do arrive at your station, you’ll have access to showers, toilets and water. Don’t forget to make reservations!

Beautiful Beach at Entrance to Ballena National Marine Park near UvitaBeautiful Beach at Entrance to Ballena National Marine Park near Uvita

Ballena National Marine Park

I have one word for this location: beachfront! If you want to be sung to sleep by the waves, this is your camping spot. You’ll see plenty of marine life, including whales, turtles and dolphins. You will have some amenities at the ranger stations, and should have access to grills also. Don’t even think about having a campfire though; they aren't permitted.

There are a lot more places that you can find that will offer camping options. Before you take your trip, do your research on this site and make sure you have a plan to follow. Stick around and explore my blog some more to find more places to stay in Costa Rica! See you around.