Costa Rica – 3 places in 1 week on a budget

Travel Photography
Montezuma, Costa Rica

This trip might have came with a $1200 price tag, but the experience and memories are worth every penny.

Best moment: Sitting on the beach in Montezuma after sunset. Slapping the sand to watch it light up. Seeing the glowing algae come in off the waves in the ocean. Having a beer not only with one of my best buddies, but also with some of the locals as we chatted about about living life.

Total Cost: $1200

Flight: $588 (Jan 13-20, Detroit – San Jose)
Accommodation: $119
Transportation: Roughly $120
Excursions: $78
Miscellaneous (food, drinks, souvenirs, etc.): Roughly $300, about $40 a day

San Jose


Airport to San Jose

  • $15
  • Shuttle brought us right to the hostel doorstep, which was great for getting in at 2:00 a.m.

Hostel Pangea

  • $16/night
  • Clean
  • Felt safe
  • Great bar area
  • Good affordable food
  • Nice clean pool
  • Great view of city, hammocks are a great touch
  • Was pretty quiet while we were there, didn’t have as much of a party atmosphere as it portrays on the website
  • Shuttle to/from airport is a great feature

La Fortuna


Bus from San Jose to La Fortuna

  • Took taxi to bus terminal – roughly $5
  • Bus –  probably under $4

Arenal Hostel Resort

  • $18/night
  • Best looking hostel I’ve ever stayed in
  • Lives up to the “resort hostel” claim
  • Clean, modern amenities
  • Friendly staff
  • Offers a good range of activities
  • Can walk to from the bus station
  • Fun bus party bar across the street

Backpackers Resort


Hot Springs with buffet dinner

  • $38 includes food
  • Definitely worth the money
  • Very relaxing getaway especially while backpacking
  • Clean, modern, beautiful
  • Good buffet

La Fortuna Waterfall Trek

  • $10 entry fee into the park
  • $10 cab ride to waterfall from hostel


Using his best english, our taxi driver asked us if it was okay if he took us an alternate route on the way back, and we said sure, why not. So he took us down a less traveled road and showed us where some of the locals lived. It was kinda shocking to see to small weather beaten houses, especially after we had just treated ourselves to a lavish little getaway. I definitely recommend taking the opportunity to see how the locals live if it comes up.



La Fortuna to Montezuma

  • $50
  • Shuttle, Ferry, Shuttle




Luz en el Cielo Eco-B&B Hostel

  • $17/night
  • Very friendly and welcoming staff
  • Close to town
  • Rustic eco feel
  • Could hear the monkeys in the morning
  • One morning the water didn’t work, so there was no flushing.. had to go to hostel next door
  • Didn’t have a reservation, just showed up, luckily they had room

Luz en el Cielo


Horseback Riding

  • $30
  • We just picked one of the vendors on the street

Montezuma Falls

  • Free
  • Make sure you wear good hiking shoes, there are some wet slippery rocks to walk through or along a bit of a cliff, your choice 😉


San Jose


Montezuma to San Jose Bus

  • $15
  • The bus left pretty early in the morning, but what a great chance to see the sunrise

Montezuma Sunrise

San Jose to Airport

  • $20 Shuttle from hostel

Costa Rica is an absolutely stunning country, and you can definitely navigate it on your own. So pack your suitcase and fly to one of the happiest countries on earth. It will be worth it.