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Best 8 Places to Visit in Costa Rica | Secret Tips and Tourist Favorites

About a decade ago, my wife and I moved to Costa Rica to learn a new language and experience life in another country. I even wrote a book about it!

But because we knew our time there would be limited, we made a point to travel as much as possible from the Caribbean to coast to the beaches of Guanacaste and everything in between.

You can find videos of most of these destinations on my channel, but they were filmed and uploaded long before the days of 4K and ubiquitous GoPros. Also, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing on YouTube back then.

Now, I have a better idea –– sharing travel tips, stories, adventures, and the occasional recipe from my travels.

With that in mind, here are, in my humble opinion, the best 8 places to visit in Costa Rica, featuring a mix of tourist favorites and my off-the-beaten-path secrets.

In Central America/ Food

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe: The Best Breakfast Ever

What can I say about gallo pinto? First and foremost, it’s how I started many a day in Costa Rica. In the land of pura vida, it’s breakfast––rice mixed with black beans, cilantro, onions, maybe a red pepper, and seasoned with Salsa Lizano, a kind of Worcestershire sauce that’s truly the nectar of the Gods. This simple yet delicious combo is typically served with some scrambled eggs and a hot cup of coffee. I came to love gallo pinto in the same way I loved my ridiculously sugary breakfast cereals with cartoon mascots before I hit double digits.

If you’re looking for something different to make for breakfast that isn’t your typical egg-focused dish, pancakes, or cereal, then you ought to start working gallo pinto into your routine. It even stores and reheats nicely if you want to make a big batch. Just be sure to keep a bottle of Salsa Lizano handy so you can top yourself off with each plate.

For more Costa Rica, check out my book “Talking Tico: (Mis)adventures of a Gringo in and Around Costa Rica.

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In Asia/ Central America/ North America/ Podcast/ Travel

Kaila Yu Talks Beauty Blogging and Travels on Tour

Rocker Kaila Yu from Nylon Pink does a little bit of everything. She’s gone on tour, performing at anime convention centers from the United States to Costa Rica and knows a thing or two about the K-Pop scene. Now she’s transitioning to travel blogging with a focus on beauty and the history of that industry i various countries.

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In Central America/ Podcast/ Travel

Pico Bonito, Honduras and Using Snapchat While Traveling

Honduras comes with a travel warning that sounds like the synopsis of a crime film. So naturally I’ve been intrigued to see if, like my travels to El Salvador, reality paints a more nuanced picture. With that in mind, I share with Laura my experience traveling to and around Pico Bonito National Park in northern Honduras with The Lodge at Pico Bonito. Joe and Laura also discuss using Snapchat while traveling.

Editor’s Note: In the show, Laura and Joe discuss using a third-party to upload photos to Snapchat. Cailin O’Neil of has since let us know that using said third-party apps can get your account deleted from Snapchat if caught, so proceed (or don’t) at your own risk.

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In Asia/ Caribbean/ Central America/ Middle East/ Podcast/ Travel

How Terrorism is Impacting Travel

Laura‘s fresh off a trip to Vieques, Puerto Rico and Joe’s off to Honduras next week. But first, Laura and Joe look back on the string of terrorist attacks in Brussels, Ankara, Istanbul and Pakistan, and discuss how these tragedies may dissuade people from traveling, but also, how statistics show it’s very unlikely you’ll be a victim of a terrorist incident. On a happier note, Laura shares thoughts on a recent Cleveland staycation.

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In Central America/ Outdoors

Why You Need to Get Down to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from “Talking Tico.”

   The Osa Peninsula is one of the least-traveled corners of the country. It’s probably a good idea in the grand scheme of things that the Osa Peninsula remains fairly untraveled, because it’s one of the most biologically diverse places in the world; half of Costa Rica’s living species call it home. This is on top of the fact that Costa Rica itself is one of the most biologically active countries in the world. Some 500,000 species live over the country’s 51,000 square kilometers. Estimates say four percent of the world’s living species are in Costa Rica, some of which are endemic to the country.
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In Central America/ Podcast/ South America/ Travel

Zika Virus in Travel and How to Work with Editors

This week Laura Watilo Blake and Joe chat about how the zika virus relates to travel, working with travel editors, how to find your niche, and the controversy surrounding press trips. First, Laura plays the role of editor to answer some of Joe’s questions as a freelance writer. Then they turn to a listener question asking how to get started in travel writing, which leads to a conversation about finding your niche as a writer. To wrap things up, Laura and Joe end on press trips and what they mean for objectivity.

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In Central America/ Outdoors

Hiking and Ziplining Around the Cloud Forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Note: The video above showcases two trips I took over a couple of weeks with Gecko Trail Costa Rica. Below is an excerpt from my upcoming travelogue, tentatively titled Talking Tico, on living abroad in Costa Rica for 10 months and traveling around Central America.

I left for Monteverde via a shuttle pickup from a chain hotel off the highway in Santa Ana. At least I was able to take the bus there, I thought, though I’m sure I looked ridiculous to motorists as I lugged my roller bag behind me and prepared for a mad dash across Lindora Avenue to reach the hotel. (There were no crosswalks or lights for pedestrians nearby.) Continue Reading →