Costa Rica

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Surfer at Punta Cocles (Photo: Costa Rica Tourist Board)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 6, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, beach, Christine Sarkis, Costa Rica, Fort Myers, hotel, Houston, New York City, Reno, vacation package.

Whether you're looking for Costa Rica on the cheap or simply want to get the most out of every vacation dollar, you've got options this summer. Late spring through the end of fall is the country's wet season, but most people find the episodes of tropical rain to be a small price to pay for the smaller crowds and discounted prices.

At press time, mid-July fares on JetBlue started at $129 each way from Orlando (putting the round-trip total, with taxes, at $338). We found a total fare of $318 from Spirit from Fort Lauderdale with similar July dates, though keep in mind Spirit charges for carry-ons and the first checked bag, while JetBlue does not. Beyond Florida departure cities prices rise, but good deals exist. With Continental's current sale an mid-July flight between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica, came to $605, including taxes and fees. While they're not currently running sales, American and Delta often discount Latin America routes, so they're worth a look before you book. And though it's a bit more expensive, we found July nonsale first/business class fares on American from San Francisco for $1,121 round-trip, including taxes and fees.

Bundled air-and-hotel packages from providers offer another option for keeping costs low, especially from departure cities where à la carte airfare is higher. Pleasant Holidays had a mid-August five-night stay at a mountain lodge plus round-trip airfare on Continental from Washington, D.C., for $940 per person, including taxes and fees. Cheap's package with airfare from Washington, D.C., and a five-night stay at an all-inclusive beach resort came to $1,100 per person, including taxes and fees.

Looking for cheaper? Volcano-facing rooms with balconies at the Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa are $89 per night during July and August. And community-based rural-tourism organization ACTUAR offers 12-day guided trips for around $88 per day for two people.

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