Our budget for five weeks in Costa Rica (2024)

Costa Rica is a fascinating, beautiful country to visit. It’s also a brilliant destination for a family holiday. But Costa Rica was the one country that seriously concerned me during the budget planning for our world trip. I knew that it definitely wouldn’t be cheap!

I struggled to figure out in advance just what our daily spend might look like. How much would we need to eat out as a family of four? How much would we spend on activities?

So if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, then hopefully this post can help. I’ve pulled together all the info on EXACTLY what we spent. We spent five weeks in total travelling the country.

We loved Costa Rica – it certainly wasn’t the cheapest destination but in our opinion it was worth every penny!

How much did we budget for five weeks in Costa Rica?

After a huge amount of trawling the internet, I attempted to come up with a budget that I separated out in to different sections: accommodation, ‘big’ ticket transport (such as flights and private shuttles), daily costs (including food and local transport) and activities. I found it easiest to separate out the activities as I could research these before we left and allocate a total amount to them (and add things in/take them out as the budget allowed). 

Accommodation Budget: £2,520

This was for a total of 36 nights accommodation; for Costa Rica I went with a budget of £70 per night. We were aiming for low-mid range accommodation – preferably with kitchen facilities to allow us to save on eating out.

Activities Budget: £1,262

This was a very specific amount! To get to this I researched all the activities that I thought we would possibly want to do. I added the exact cost of these for a family of four to the budget. This included a whole range, from national park entry fees to whitewater rafting! I’ll list all the activities we actually did below when we get to the ‘what did we actually spend’ section.

Transport Budget: £550

Again, this exact figure came from researching the actual costs of all ‘big ticket’ transport such as long distance buses/minivans and any flights in the region. I did NOT include the cost of short taxi or bus journeys in this section as I was hoping that the daily budget would be sufficient to cover these.

Daily Budget: £2,628

I separated out the remainder of what we could afford into a daily budget that I hoped would be OK. This equaled out to £73 per day for food, local transportation, cheaper activities, laundry and any other miscellaneous spending.

Total Budget for Costa Rica: £6,960


How much did we actually spend?

So did all my careful budget planning for Costa Rica work? I’ll breakdown what we spent on each category below so you can see for yourself!

Accommodation Spend: £2,223

This comes in at an average of £61.75 per night, so under our anticipated budget. Certain places came in well under (at around £40-45 per night). But we also splashed out on a stay at Rafiki Safari Lodge at the other end of the scale!

Activities Spend: £1,514.25

Despite my careful planning in advance we went over on activities. There was just so much on offer and we wanted to do it all!

This total spend included all of the following activities:

  • Whitewater rafting: £210
  • Cooking Class: £81.50
  • Ziplining: £193.50
  • Sky Adventures – Hanging Bridges and Cable Car: £242
  • Sloth Tour: £80
  • Entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park: £48
  • Bioluminescence Tour: £188
  • Nesting Turtles Tour: £160
  • Arenal Volcano Walk; £43
  • Entrance to Snake Garden: £48.50
  • Ethnobotany Tour: £49
  • Chocolate Tour: £92.50
  • Jaguar Rescue Centre: £38.75
  • Entrance to Cahuita National Park: £9 (donation)
  • Entrance to Manzanillo National Park : £7.50 (donation)
  • Entrance to Cabo Blanco National Park: £23
Transport Spend: £1,018

Again, we overspent on transport. I’d looked in to buses in advance but once we got to Costa Rica we found it harder than we anticipated to get around (except on certain routes). Private shuttles cover most routes but these were very expensive (we took one for the journey from Sarapipui to Cahuita and it was over £200). To save on shuttles we hired a car which was just so much easier!

Daily Budget Spend: £1,779

While we might have gone over on activities and transport, we did save on the daily spend. We rarely ate out (except for ice-creams and snacks) which saved us a significant amount. During the last couple of weeks on the Caribbean Coast we’d got our daily spend on food/essentials down to around £25-40 a day (not including accommodation, activities and transport – these are included above).

We were also lucky enough to have my Mum with us for two weeks – she did treat us to a couple of meals which was lovely!

Total Actual Spend: £6,534.25

How did we manage our budget in Costa Rica?

I’ve used the Trabee Pocket app throughout our trip for tracking every single penny (or peso, colones, ringgits etc!) so that we have an accurate idea of what we’re actually spending. This is critical for us as we’re not earning during our year away so when the cash runs out, that’s it!

The Trabee app lets you log your total budget for your trip, then you can log each item you spend on, assigning each thing to a category (such as accommodation, transport, food etc). You can then download this data into an Excel file or view the stats in the app to see how you’re doing. It’s been a great way for me to stay in control of our spending and make sure it lasts us all year!

What could we have saved money on?

At the start of the trip it took us some time to figure out how to eat cheaply. Buying pasta, sauces and cereal in the supermarkets does save money on eating out but is much more expensive than local products like rice and beans.

By the last couple of weeks we’d worked out a basic diet of rice, beans, veg and eggs OR pasta, tuna and veg (slightly more expensive but we needed some variety!).

We did a lot of activities – you could easily make the choice to reduce this number but we wanted to really max out our time in Costa Rica.

All in, I was pretty darn pleased that my number-crunching didn’t end up being far off the mark. The activities we did were expensive so planning these out in advance and allocating a separate amount to them really helped when we had to take the plunge and pay for them!

Tips for a Costa Rica budget

If you’re trying to budget for a trip to Costa Rica, then here are a few of our top tips!

  • Suncream and insect repellent are REALLY expensive in Costa Rica. Try to pack enough for your whole trip if possible.
  • If you are a family then hiring a car might actually save you money on longer distance travel
  • Book accommodation with basic kitchen facilities so you can save on eating out – this is really key to saving money
  • Choose foods that are produced/eaten locally like rice and beans – these are much cheaper!
  • Animals are everywhere – whilst we did one guided sloth tour you can see so much of the wildlife without hiring a guide

Planning a family trip to Costa Rica?

If you’re planning a family trip to Costa Rica, then check out some of our other posts for inspiration on where to go and what to do!

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