The SpaceThis is an opportunity to have an authentic Costa Rican experience. Eat typical food, eat at the restaurants only the locals know about, see wild life and traditional farms before commercialization changes them forever. You'll have opportunities to visit local farms, my parent's organic shade grown coffee plantation in the mountains of San Ramon, and simply experience the natural beauty, delicious food, and most importantly, the local people's kindness that defines Costa Rica.
My family owns a property with two houses and a restaurant that is located in almost the exact center of Costa Rica, only 15 minutes away from Juan Santa Maria International Airport. My Tia Lidia and her family live in one house, and we rent this one to guests.
The house is conveniently located in front of a bus stop with buses that go to central Santa Barbara, San Juan, Alajuela, and Heredia. There are¨pulperias¨ (small convenience stores), bakeries, restaurants, and parks within walking distance.
The house is a fully furnished 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch house with a large front porch with rocking chairs. It is fully stocked with sofas, benches, dining counter for up to 10, utensils, plates, glasses, oven, microwave, rice cooker, pots, pans, etc. There is wifi for you to use, and the showers are equipped with hot water (which is not standard for Costa Rica).
Bedroom 1 has a full size bed (2 people) and twin sized bunk beds (2 people) with an ensuite full bathroom (4 people total).
Bedroom 2 has a bunk bed with a full sized bed on the bottom and single on top (3 people). The second bathroom is accessible through bedroom 2 as well as the common area.
Bedroom 3 has a twin sized bed with a roll away twin bed underneath it (2 people total). Guest AccessGuests will have complete access to the house. Interaction with GuestsMy Tia Lidia has over 30 years of experience in the best seafood restaurants in Heredia and Alajuela. Her husband, my Tio Rigo, has over 40 years of experience in the tourism business, and my cousin Isleivin has over 20 years of experience in tourism. They currently own a small, local restaurant and are looking for additional income.
Tia Lidia's restaurant (Cevichera Flores, located at the front of the property), serves lunch and dinner from 11 am to 9 PM daily, but will be more than happy to prepare a meal for guests a little before opening or after closing. She serves fried fresh sea bass ($5), Arroz con camarones ($6), Sea Bass or Shrimp Ceviche ($5), fried plantains ($3), as well as many other typical Costa Rican food like gallo pinto, platanos, fresh fruit milkshakes. She's extremely accomodating to guests and will be sure to come up with a dish that meets your dietary needs and tastes.
Most AirBnB guests that stay with us agree that interacting with my Tia Lidia, her family, and the restaurant is the highlight of their trip. The NeighborhoodTour opportunities
Since the house is so centrally located this really opens up tons of great day trip opportunities. Within an hour drive you can
-Explore the crater of the Volcan Poas ($20) and go zip linning ($50) across it's lake.
-Visit my parent's shade grown, mountain coffee plantation. (For $35 a person you can rent horses from a neighbor and go on an amazing tour including a waterfall where you can swim and a mountain peak where you can see the ocean despite being in the middle of the country.) Also it's the spot George Clooney picked to buy the coffee for his high end nescafe line of products.
-Visit Sarchi, the country's cultural art center. See artisans construct highly decorated Ox Carts that used to be used to pull coffee (the nations previous #1 export) from the mountainous central region to the coasts to be shipping around the world. Also, the largest ox cart in the world is located here.
-Visit San Jose and see the beautiful cathedrals, government buildings, and attend a performance at the National Opera House. ($10 per person for professional tour)
-Go to Downtown Heredia and walk in the beautiful parks, enjoy homemade ice cream, or explore the great nightlife with salsa and cumbia dancing.
-Drive to Mirador Quetzal and go on a 5 AM walk through the cloud forest to try to see the elusive Quetzal.
-Drive to Jaco Beach and bum around the beach, take surf lessons ($40), or adventure into the nightlife.
-White Water Raft on the Pacquare River ($100).
-Go to a traditional farm that is also a butterfly sanctuary and learn about Costa Rica's wildlife and how local farmers try to grow organically. ($35pp with lunch included)
My cousin would also be happy to book hotels, tours, and anything else you'd be interested in doing. Please pick his brain on the over 200 different tour routes he's been a part of over the past 20 years.
The town of Santa Barbara is known for its fried chicken and seafood restaurants. If you decide to take a day or two to explore Santa Barbara, I highly recommend checking out the local church and its garden, playing a pick up soccer game called a mejenga in Costa Rican Spanish, and trying some exquisite seafood at my aunt's restaurant and others. The local bakeries make great pastries called Patitos, "little ducks", filled with dulce de leche. The local Ice Cream shops carry flavors of tropical fruits like passion fruit, guayaba, and melocoton that you should try if you get a chance.
In terms of night life, a cheap and quick cab ride can get you to either San Pedro where Kareoke reigns supreme or the dance clubs of Heredia. Definitely try the Chifrio, a combination of fried pork belly, rice and beans, and some times avocado or tomato that's a popular bar food. If you are feeling adventurous and they are in season, you can try a turtle egg shot at most bars. It is an egg of the Olive Ridley sea turtle in a tomato vodka shot.
Pedicures, massages, and spa treatments are all extremely affordable in the Santa Barbara area as well. Most will make in home appointments which is a great option if you choose to have a relaxing day in after an exciting tour the previous day. Getting AroundTransportation options:
There is a bus stop directly in front of the house that can take you to Santa Barbara, San Juan, Alajuela, or Heredia for $0.50-$3 a person. If arriving from any where other than the airport, simply take the train or bus from where you are to either Heredia or Alajuela from there ask for the bus that goes to Santa Barbara and passes through San Juan. Tell them the bus stop in front of Panaderia Las Rosas.
Taxi´s charge $1 for initial pull and $1 for each additional kilometer. There is a $3 airport fee, so a taxi from the airport to the house will cost between $10 and $15, but it the most cost and time effective option from the airport. Other Things to NoteNotice of pets
Although there are no pets in the house, my cousin that lives on the same property in a different house owns a talking parrot, a hedgehog, and a dog.