I (Vicki Skinner - aka "THE Sarong Goddess") created this blog in 2007 to share DETAILED Finds•Lists•Info•Events•Experiences to help bring more EASE to people living in, visiting or thinking of moving to Costa Rica since DETAILS are NOT easy to find!
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HOLIDAY BREAK - How to decide WHERE TO GO during the Christmas • New Years Holiday Break in Costa Rica

I've you live in Costa Rica or have been here during the 2 weeks between Christmas and New years, you KNOW that certain areas can be INSANE!!!  Actually - throughout the world when those SnowBirds - people that live in areas that are cold/freezing and not so much fun - MANY (non-snow bunnies) flock to places that are warm•hot and with water•beaches.

Costa Rica is no exception!!  The masses seem to head out to the beaches - with the MASS EXODUS being from December 26 till - well - that depends on when January 1 falls on.  In 2013 it's on a Wednesday so since the majority of the country usually gets that WHOLE week off - the Mass Return will probably be on/around Saturday January 4 (don't EVEN think of being on ANY road on that day or Sunday January 5 if you don't ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO!


At that time of year it can be VERY CHALLENGING to find hotel rooms - ESPECIALLY at a reasonable price.

Many people are not prepared for the BIG PRICE TAG they WILL encounter at hotels - when MANY hotels TRIPLE their price from Low•Green Season (are they REALLY gouging you?  Or is it because MOST consumers MAINLY CHOOSE to go JUST during that time, so hotel owners ONLY have a VERY short window of opportunity to recoup their investments - mainly - from New Years till Easter•Samana Sante????  Had you thought of that before?  When do YOU usually go to the beach??).

Many people don't think ahead of time (or remember) the TRAFFIC getting there and home from (is there ANY way you can avoid that??  Perhaps by going on another day - or heading out at WAYYY earlier hours [I would NOT suggest people driving at night in Costa Rica for MANY reasons - from the MANY UN or barely lit roads, hardly any signage, the normal dangers of the road - but MOST IMPORTANTLY - all the PARTIERS are out and driving home!!!])

Buses and ferries are booked up•full WEEKS in advance!!!!!!!!!  They usually add on additional buses or ferries but note they might be at a higher price.

They forget the LONG WAITS in restaurants or the booked up WEEKS•MONTHS in advance tours and activities.

And just coming out of Rainy Season in Costa Rica, it's REALLY EASY to forget how HOT it can get at the beach and the mosquitoes (ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT to be CONSCIOUS of this as there IS a problem in MANY areas with DENGUE.  On that note, MANY areas with DENGUE problems are doing heavy duty MEGA TOXIC CHEMICAL SPRAYING - at least once a week - or MORE!!  Do you REALLY want your body or your kids body exposed to that??).

And/or they forget the P-A-R-T-Y • Drunk Fest that goes on HEAVILY in these ares (or perhaps that's WHY they're going there?!?!?)!!!

Then there's the safety issues involved - both there at the beach (do NOT get stupid and get wasted and put YOURSELF into situations to be robbed, taken advantage of or raped [and think twice about crying "I'm a Victim" when YOU'VE done it to yourself!!!]) where no matter where you're staying - EVERY SECOND you're not in your room - LOCK EVERYTHING UP WELL (BIG HINT - if you're staying in a hotel with an air-conditioner that you can remove the front from, this is a GREAT hiding place for your passport and money if you don't have a safe in the room.  Just make sure to take them out when you come back and turn the A/C on!!!  Another good "hiding place" for passports/$$ is under the tv if it's not bolted down).

A BIG SAFETY ISSUE to keep in mind is your HOME - because trust me, the banditos KNOW you're away and this is THE BIGGEST TIME OF THE YEAR for break-ins (and do NOT be STUPID and leave ANY sign of what you got for Christmas out on your curb or ANYWHERE!!  NO BOXES!!!  Break them down and do NOT have that 45" tv writing facing out!!

This U.S. Embassy has created a page with other Safety Hints at:

PLEASE remember your pets back home as this is THE SEASON for Fireworks going off BIG TIME - pretty much throughOUT the month of December - but HEAVIEST December 24 and 25 and days leading up to December 31 and January 1.  MANY animals literally FREAK OUT from these sudden jolting sounds!!  SERIOUSLY, if you REALLY LOVE your pet - if they're like family -  
to stay there WITH them (and find a responsible person that's not going to go out partying on New Years Eve!!!)!!!  If you're looking for someone to watch your pets or home, email me at LivingLifeInCostaRica@gmail.com as I know many people.  I do it but I've turned down numerous gigs because I'm looking for a family where the pet(S) have serious issues of fear from the fireworks as I have some special skills with that!!!  
I also have a VERY RESPONSIBLE guy in Escazu that is available for AFTERNOON•EVENING (NOT overnight) visits•feeding and DOG WALKING - so ask about that.


So you think escaping to Nicaragua or Panama might be fun??  THINK AGAIN!!!!  Because a large percent of Nicaraguans get those 2 weeks off between Christmas and New Years in Costa Rica, TONS of them go home!!  In 2012 they estimated OVER 100,000 people crossed the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border!!!!  So what does that mean•translate to??  Waits in line on BOTH sides can total 3-6 HOURS - STANDING under the HOT SUN.  And with that new $7 Land Exit Tax/Aduana Tax FIASCO where you have to either pay it before you get to the border or last in what I'm pretty sure will be HOURS LONGER 2nd line - you might want to bring your water bottle and some food!!

But people go and have a good time with family and friends - and bitch about it with each other or on Facebook - and are pretty good - till it's time to go home - but they focus on their memories and forget the negatives/drawbacks - till next year - and so the cycle goes (NOT for ALL!!).

 So if you just need to get away to the beach - ANY beach - for the holidays, how do you decide which beach to go??

If it were ME, since I'm NOT one desiring to deal with the masses•crowds•traffic•long lines in restaurants•booked up tours - so I'D look for the beach area expecting the LEAST amount of people.

"Where might that be?" you ask??

Camara Nacional de Turismo - CANATUR - CANATUR.org - the National Tourism agency - is ESTIMATING the following Hotel Occupancy for the New Years week 2013 in Costa Rica to be:
Central Pacific - 87%.
Puntarenas (islands in the Gulf and including Monteverde [odd they’d lump MonteVerde in with it as that seems like a different/NON-beach crowd.  I’d think that would be lumped in with the Northern Zone - hmmm]) - 83%
Southern Pacific Zone - 79%
Guanacaste - 77%
Caribbean Coast - 76%
Northern Zone (I think this includes the Arenal area) - 75%
Central Valley - 72% (this number BEYOND shocks me since it’s literally practically dead overall in the Central Valley [unless they’re calculating in arrival/departure night stays].  If you do NOT need beaches - this is a GREAT area for tourists to come to as there's hardly any wait/crowds at many of the popular tourist things like La Paz, Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Plantation Tour, etc. and MOST of them are OPEN!!  The big drawback is the majority of businesses are CLOSED - including LOTS of restaurants, etc. [though - Goddess forbid, you can usually count on the Gringo•Americana restaurants to be OPEN - even on Christmas and New Years Day).


I'm working on creating a page on my blog of where to go for Christmas Eve, Christmas Mass and Christmas Dinner around Costa Rica so Bookmark
I'm working on creating a page on my blog of where the New Years parties are around Costa Rica so Bookmark

Whatever you do - have FUNNNNN and BE SAFE!!!!


Share this with anyone you know trying to figure out where to celebrate their Christmas•New Years Holidays in Costa Rica

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