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Solo Travel Guide to Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Central America, the new Southeast Asia perhaps? Well political tensions aside the region is looking more stable and friendly towards independent travellers. Two of the most stable countries are Costa Rica which is possibly the most stable country in the whole of Americas and Nicaragua which is well on the road to stability after a turbulent 20th century.

Both countries are well set up for solo travellers and have well trodden backpacker routes, perhaps not quite  as well trodden as the south american gringo or southeast asia banana pancake trail.

We’ll start off with Costa Rica.

COSTA RICA seems that this is the only country in this area that’s managed to keep itself out of trouble throughout most of its history, due in part to its complete lack of mineral wealth and hence nothing for the Spanish to covet. Coffee is it’s major export, and tourism’s doing quite nicely, too. Particularly if you’re into the outdoors…

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Solo Budget Accommodation in Costa Rica

There are some backpacker hostels in San José. Apart from these the cheapest options are bed and breakfast and the lower end hotels, the former obviously having the advantage of one included meal in the price. If you go between May and November the cost of accommodation will be much lower, as will going in a group and splitting the cost of a room, the more people per room, the cheaper it seems to be per head.

A Traveller’s Budget for Costa Rica

Sadly Costa Rica is a little more expensive than it’s neighbours. It’ll cost around US$30 a day for your basic food and accommodation and you’ll need to budget more to take advantage of all the stuff there is to do round here.

Public transport is per the usual bus service, not expensive and fairly reliable but it doesn’t cover the more remote areas. If you can travel in a group, or form one there from some drinking buddies, a car will be a good budget option and it’ll get you into those national parks (rent a 4WD). If you want to go it alone, a mountain bike is a good option to tour the country if you have the time.

Foodwise, eat locally made dishes and you won’t go far wrong with your budget. Again it’s more expensive here than in neighbouring countries but sticking to the small restaurants – sodas – should help.

Solo Activities

Mountain biking from coast to coast

Climb the Cerro Chirripó

Check out the turtles in the Parque Nacional Tortuguero

Do the Sky Trek Zip Wire at Monteverde

Visit the museums / nightlife in San José

Spend time surfing or just chillin at the beach, Pacific or Caribbean, you choose.

NICARAGUA sure is a nice place , despite the fact that there is a lot of underlying dissatisfaction regarding the political present and recent past. It straddles three continental shelves however so it’s not necessarily just the political situation that’s potentially volatile.

Cheap solo Sleeps in Nicaragua

Most towns have budget options in the form of lower end hotels and if you go out of the main cities cheap hotels are about all you’ll find.

A Traveller’s Budget for Nicaragua

To get around the country it’s bus or bus, really, unless you’ve brought your bike with you. The buses are the cheapest in Central America but bear in mind you get charged for any lugage which has to go on the roof. Having said that, if there’s a group of you and you want to see a lot of the country, hiring a car doesn’t cost the earth here so it might be worth looking into.

Food is readily available at a cost that won’t make your wallet cry, nacatamales are good, cheap and filling, as is gallo pinto, rice and beans.


Climb the volcano on the Island of Ometepe and watch out for the monkeys

If churches are your thing you won’t be disappointed in León

Visit Grenada, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in all the Americas

Surfing off the pacific coast

Snorkelling and diving off the Corn Islands