There’s no denying that Costa Rica’s highlights are best enjoyed during the day; between the incredible National Parks, sublime beaches and endless myriad of adrenaline-pumping activities, most visitors are usually not left with much energy at the end of the day. Or so one would think. But in reality, being on vacation, away from the pressures of everyday life, and in the midst of one of the world’s most spectacular countries, has a way of re-energizing even the most exhausted adventurer.
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Got your second wind yet?
Here are just a few tips to help you enjoy Costa Rica by night.
What’s on offer, and where
Costa Rica’s nightlife is as varied as its wildlife, so here you’ll find an eclectic mix of fun stuff to do after sunset. Laid-back bars, trendy nightclubs, chilled our cigar rooms, live music joints and a plethora of dance parties are held everywhere although, naturally, your options for any of these are greater the bigger the city. It would reason then, that the capital, San Jose, offers the best options when, in fact, some of the most vibrant and lively night-time haunts are in popular seaside resort towns.
San Jose boasts a few night-time hubs which include San Pedro (revered by students and backpackers), Gringo Gulch (for loud live music, karaoke and heavy partying) and El Pueblo Antiguo, where traditional restaurants and dance evenings are more suited to an older crowd.
Other major party spots are in Jaco Beach (Puntarenas) which is the reputed wild-child of Costa Rican nightlife, and Quepos (also in Puntarenas) which is a much more subdued party town renowned for fantastic live jazz clubs.
Socializing with locals
Ticos are party lovers and enjoy nothing more than listening to music, dancing and having a good time with their friends. Being so friendly and extroverted means they also love nothing better than to drag a hapless tourist onto the dance floor, and whirling them around with glee.
Don’t know how to salsa or merengue?
Don’t worry, you soon will. If you really want to have a blast on vacation, then you could do no better than to learn a few dance steps from the proud locals, who believe they (but of course!) are the best dancers in the Caribbean! Everyone simply loves to dance here, to show off their skills or indulge in their hobby, so don’t be alarmed to find many locals asking you to dance. Ticos are not backwards in coming forward and, most of the time, genuinely only want to dance. This is one of their most endearing qualities so indulge and practice those steps.
If you’re lucky enough to make new friends when visiting, you should also be aware that Ticos (like all Latinos) can be quite touchy-feely so if you’re not used to that it may feel a little strange. Friends will often walk arm in arm and because chivalry is still alive and well here, many males will automatically take a female friend’s hand when crossing the road.
Take some dance lessons
Every major city or resort town will offer plenty of chances to perfect those dancing skills. Many restaurants and clubs will offer free dance lessons before the night’s party gets in full swing, and you’ll also find quite a few resorts which will offer daytime lessons for those who are taking a time out from excursions. Now would be a great time to learn some salsa! Easy, fun and incredibly social, dance classes in Costa Rica really are one of the best way to have a fun night out with friends.
Know the deal
It’s probably a good idea to mention that there is a distinct difference between a nightclub and a Costa Rican nightclub. Here a nightclub is a strip club while a club is a dance club, so it really pays to keep this in mind when asking for recommendations from locals. Strip clubs are usually frequented by single males or couples (male and females together) and are not nearly as undesirable as they may be back in your own country.
While you’re at it, you may as well also know that public drinking is illegal in Costa Rica, so enjoy your beer or cocktails in licensed premises only. Moreover, just because you see locals enjoying an alcoholic beverage at the beach or in a park, without being fined, it doesn’t mean the same lax attitude will be extended to foreigners.
Catch a Fiesta Patronales
Timing your visit with a celebration of a Patron Saint is one of the best things you could do. Patron Saints are a really big deal in Costa Rica and you’ll see even the smallest town or village put on an incredible fiesta to celebrate their holy protector once a year. These are family friendly events held for an entire day and usually include horse-riding competitions, bull-friendly-fighting and lots of fun games and rides. Plus, of course, there is always an abundance of delectable local food which alone makes these festivals an absolute highlight. Live music and dancing is guaranteed to go on until the wee hours of the morning and, if you’re a visitor to Costa Rica, this is bound to be a truly unforgettable night time activity.
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