Spring Break in Costa Rica on a Budget: Money-Saving Tips for Lodging, Activities & More

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If you’re planning your spring break in Costa Rica – and especially if you’re planning spring break 2023 – then it’s time to get moving. Spring is just around the corner and accommodations are filling up, activities are selling out, and travel is kicking into high gear.

No stress, though. We’ve pulled together a few of our favorite tips for spring break on a budget: what to do (and what not to do), what free + low-cost activities to enjoy, and where to stay – yes, even if you’re looking for availability this year! So, let’s get started.

Budget Tip #1: Skip the Rental Car

There’s no other way to say it: Rental cars can be a major expense in Costa Rica. (Think: $100-$250+ per DAY, including insurance.) So, if you’re on a budget and don’t plan to travel up and down the coast every day, then you may want to skip this one in lieu of a few more budget-friendly alternatives.

So, what are those alternatives? We recommend starting with a combination of airport transportation, private drivers/taxis/Uber, public buses, bike rentals, and walking, depending on where you’re headed. Or, if you’re truly an independent, adventurous spirit with a need to feel the wind in your hair, ask our concierge, Cris, to find you an all-in rental car price to fit your budget. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you figure it all out!

Budget Tip #2: Rent a House!

Unless you’re traveling on a true shoestring and staying in shared hostel rooms, then “budget” probably falls into the realm of $75-$100/bedroom/night. And if that’s the case, then there’s no better buy for your vacation buck than a vacation home.

Here’s why: In addition to offering more spacegreater privacy, and private amenities, vacation homes are often less expensive than their hotel counterparts. For example, several of our Tamarindo vacation homes are under $100/night per bedroom – and they offer a lot more than a bedroom (in a lot more space than your standard 200-square-foot hotel room).

Budget Tip #3: Cook “at Home”

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Pictured: The kitchen at Ibis Condo #1

One of the greatest budget hacks of a vacation home for your spring break in Costa Rica? Your in-house kitchen! So, use it. Visit one of our local grocery stores – the trip can be a cultural and enjoyable experience, in its own right! – and stock up on both your favorites and a few new fruits, veggies, and other ingredients.

You’ll find that cooking at home, whether it’s just a few of you or a whole group, is much more economical than eating out. That’s because staples like coffee, milk, fruit, fish, eggs, bread, pasta, vegetables, and even Costa Rica’s national beers are not expensive.

Budget Tip #4: When You Do Eat Out, Look for Sodas

If you’re going to eat out, start at sodas, Costa Rica’s version of a family-owned diner. No, you won’t usually find them beachfront or with spectacular ocean views, but you will find great food at a great price.

Sodas typically service traditional Costa Rican fare, and the most popular, traditional, and filling of them all is the casado, which “marries” (casado means “married”) many of Costa Rica’s most traditional dishes, including your choice of protein (beef, chicken, pork, or eggs/fried cheese for the vegetarians), rice, beans, salad, and fried plantains, often served with a small fruit juice. For $3-$5 (at local sodas, not tourist traps), you cannot beat this cheap and filling meal!

Tip #5: Fill Up on Free + Low-Cost Activities

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Costa Rica offers an incredible array of vacation adventures. The problem is, they’re not what anyone would call cheap. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth it, though! Our top tip: Prioritize a few of the pricier adventures you’d most love to do, then round out your itinerary with free and low-cost activities.

These include:

  • Boogie Boarding/Body Boarding: If you don’t want to rent a surfboard (about $20/day), then consider buying a cheap boogie board (about $15-$20 total) or, if you want to go completely free, body surf! Tamarindo’s waves are for everyone.
  • Beach Evenings: Tamarindo is a party town (ideal for spring break in Costa Rica!) but here, it’s less total bacchanalia and more incredible ambiance. That includes absolutely jaw-dropping nightly sunsets (5:30 to 6:30 p.m., year-round) at the oceanfront, followed by toes-in-the-sand fire dancing at TamaOnda (7:00 to 7:30 p.m.).
  • Beach Hopping: You don’t have to have a car to go beach hopping! Hop a bus, grab a taxi or Uber, or do the Sunday Pool & Beach Crawl (includes a party bus) and see as much of the area beaches as you can. Reserve at least $1 to buy an ice-cold pipa (fresh coconut water) at each!
  • WhatSUP: Stand-up paddle boarding is a great way to get out on the ocean and do something exciting, adventurous, and challenging. And at $20 for a board rental, it’s also one of the better deals in town, when it comes to not-your-standard activities.
  • Wander the Tamarindo Market and Night Market: By day or by night, Tamarindo’s markets (Night Market: Thursdays only, from 6 to 9 p.m.) offer cheap eats, artisan goods, and a great atmosphere that will put a huge smile on your face without gouging your wallet.
  • Take a Turtle Tour: One of Tamarindo’s best-kept budget secrets? If the leatherbacks are nesting at nearby Las Baulas National Marine Park, then you can observe turtle nesting for a mere $25 entrance fee. And it’s worth every penny! 

Of course, there are many, many more low-cost and even free to almost-free activities here in Tamarindo. Really, it’s the beach! You can make a day of strolling the sand, bathing in the tide pools, walking the rocks at low tide, and sipping cold coconut water beneath the palms.

Spring Break in Costa Rica: Where to Stay in 2023

Holiday dates in Costa Rica often book up months or even years in advance. Here are a few options that still have availability for certain spring break 2023 dates:

Ibis Condo #1

Tamarindo | 2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 6

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When you seek tranquility, convenience, and total relaxation on spring break in Costa Rica, Ibis Condo #1 delivers. Just right for small families, friends, and couples traveling together, this ultra-convenient condo promises big amenities and serious oceanfront charm.

Located at the serene and beachfront Langosta Beach Club, this great spring break choice sits directly across from the beach and is just a short 10-minute stroll to downtown Tamarindo. This is where you get to have peace when you want it, then party life when you want it. Go ahead, out on your private terrace, surrounded by forest foliage. Enjoy full membership privileges at Langosta Beach Club, with its beachfront, infinity-edge swimming pool overlooking the warm Pacific, plus upscale amenities including a French restaurant, full fitness center, Pilates and yoga studio, and a great bar with spectacular ocean views.

And then, head into downtown Tamarindo for those daytime activities and promised nightlife you’re so looking forward to. Absolutely no rental car required.

>> Inquire Here <<

Monte Perla 2

Tamarindo | 2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 5

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Located in the heart of Tamarindo, this upscale two-bedroom condo is another favorite, thanks to views of green hills and Pacific Ocean views, paired with easy access to downtown Tamarindo.

This is a choice for spring breakers who seek incredible sunsets and spectacular ocean views, evening barbecues and afternoons in the resort pool. For people want to be just far enough removed from it all to enjoy a true break on their spring break in Costa Rica, but don’t want to miss out on markets and surf and restaurants, either. Welcome to a world where you can have it all!

>> Inquire <<

Need More Tips for a Budget Spring Break in Costa Rica? Let’s Chat!

Whether you’re venturing off the beaten path or sticking firmly to it, we can help you make the most of your time here – even and especially if you’re traveling to Costa Rica on a budget. At Vacation Rentals of Tamarindo, our job and calling are to make you feel at home, everywhere and anywhere you find yourself adventuring.

We offer everything from cozy two-bedroom condos to well-priced family vacation rentals equipped with swimming pools, a fully equipped kitchen, and so much more. Search our inventory to find your perfect vacation home!