Here is a list of costs (excluding airfare+departure tax). All costs are for two (not per person) and include taxes+tips and are in USD.

Hotels: $897

Transportation (Car rental, mandatory insurance, GPS, gas, tolls): $396

Tours/Activities/Entrance Fees (not including massage): $425

Food: $216

Misc (Gifts, souvenirs, laundry): $45

Total: $1979 or $990/person (or $1089 CAD at the time of the trip) for 8 full days.

List of:

Hotels: La Posada (MA), Presidente (San Jose), La Quinta (Sarapiqui), Tree Houses (Arenal).

Transportation: Vamos

Tours: MA entrance x 3, MA guide, Jungle Crocodile Safari, Poas entrance, La Selva tour, Skytrek, Proyecto Asis tour, night walk at Tree Houses

We paid more than we had hoped to but I still feel we got a great deal. I chose all the hotels I wanted to stay in with no regard to cost, and one could easily stay in clean hotels with private rooms for less than half what we paid (our hotels truly were worth it, though). We also did every activity we wanted, most of which were $30/person, and ziplining for $61/person. And our food was amazing! Overall, if we wanted a vacation of the same calibre in the US/Canada I think we would have had to pay much more.

General Observations:

1) All our hotels allowed flushing toilet paper. This was a requirement of mine, and I emailed all of them beforehand asking about it (I know, we’re very Norteamericano, don’t judge too much!). All bathrooms outside the hotel (restaurants, airport, etc.) did not allow flushing toilet paper, and some of the bins did not have a lid on them, which I find a little disgusting. But all the bathrooms were very clean!

2) The food was amazing everywhere we went. I would be very happy living the rest of my life on Casados, fish, and Italian, which seem to be the staples of a Costa Rican diet.

3) Virtually every soda/restaurant we went to was nearly deserted. Maybe because we ate at 6 pm? Either way, I wasn’t complaining, it was nice having all these great places to ourselves!

4) Even though it might be the most expensive country in Central America, I still found everything (except gas) to be better priced than in the US/Canada.

5) There are tons of stray dogs.

6) And cows and other farm animals. Every time I looked out the window, on every highway, there would be cows. I used to think Vermont had lots of cows, but nothing compared to CR!

7) With the exception of San Jose, everywhere we went was very, very hot and humid. More than I had expected – it felt hotter than Florida. I wore shorts and T-shirts the whole time, and had no use for anything with long sleeves. AC is definitely necessary, at least at all the places we went.

8) Bug spray is necessary, every 6 hours. I got some bites in MA when I went too long between applications. There were mosquitos at all the places we went (except San Jose).

9) I didn’t see any bugs in our room in MA or SJ. Sarapiqui had a bunch of tiny bugs and at Tree Houses we saw a lot in our room, of all shapes and sizes. You are in Costa Rica though, so no complaints!

Overall, I loved our trip and I am very happy with the itinerary I picked out, and I would be very happy spending a week in each place (except San Jose, it only needs a few hours). If I needed to recommend an 8 day itinerary, I would suggest mine exactly – though I am not you, which is why I vote for independent research and travel! I am very excited for my next trip (most likely trips plural) to CR – I will have to resist the urge to return to the same places.