Looking for a unique travel experience during your vacation in Costa Rica? Want to connect more with locals and try something different from the typical all-inclusive resort? Why not try Airbnb in Costa Rica? Airbnb opened the world up to alternative lodging options when it launched in 2008 and is now one of the go-to travel booking websites when it comes to vacation rentals and different accommodation options.
What is Airbnb? For those who are new, Airbnb is a website/app that allows people to list their properties or residencies and travelers can book them directly on their platform. There are all sorts of interesting lodging options from your standard hotel room to tree houses and castles.
We have used Airbnb in Costa Rica quite a few times. I love the variety of listings and more Costa Ricans are catching onto Airbnb so you can use it as a way to connect to the locals. I have found that on average, prices are a bit cheaper than hotels and you have more options. But there are a few things you need first about using Airbnb in Costa Rica so you don’t run into any issues.
How to Use Airbnb
First, you need an account. It’s free and we offer a $20 credit when you sign up through this link.
Then you need to fill out your profile information and include a picture. Try to fill it with pertinent information and put up a nice photo. Some listings need pre-approval before booking so if you’re new and don’t have any reviews, you’ll want to put a nice first impression.
Once your profile is all set up, type in the search box your destination, dates and how many people. On the next page, Airbnb has a lot of filters which makes it easy to find what you want.
You can select if you want an entire home, private room or shared room and there is also a slider to set a price range. Click on “Filters” to apply. You can search for places that have Wi-Fi, a TV, # of bedrooms/bathrooms /beds, pets allowed and much more.
Once you’ve done all that, the next thing I like to do is to check the map.
This is my search box when I looked for places in Playa Tamarindo. As you can see, Airbnb puts the destinations on the map along with prices which you can click on.
You need to choose a place that will be suitable for your trip so you need to think about these things.
- Are you renting a car or taking the bus? Do you need to be close to public transportation?
- Do you want to stay close to town, be on the beach or further away?
- Are you a solo traveler?
- Do you need a parking space?
- What kind of amenities do you need?
These factors are important in narrowing down the right Airbnb for you. If you’re not renting a car and relying solely on taxis or public transportation, you’ll want a place that’s close to town so you are in walking distance to restaurants, the bank, pharmacies, etc.
This also applies for solo travelers as most of them want to be around other travelers to meet people, so picking a place close to town is best.
Ready to Book?
Once you’ve found a place you’re interested in, you can do 3 things.
- Contact the host if you have other questions
- Save it to your wish list if you still need some time.
- Book the place if you know you want it. Airbnb gives hosts two options when it comes to booking. Guests can Instant Book or Request to Book.
If you need a place immediately, find a place that has Instant Book. Request to book requires the host to approve you and not all hosts reply quick enough. However, if you scroll down past the reviews, you will see the profile of the host and how fast their response time is to help you decide if waiting is worth it.
Prepare For Your Trip
Once you’ve confirmed the booking, there is a section where you can introduce yourself to your host. Let them know who you’re coming with, what your plans are and what time you are planning on arriving so they know when to expect you. Make sure to read the guest manual as well.
Respect the rules, respect the check in and check out time and treat the place as if it’s your own.
Tips for Using Airbnb in Costa Rica
- Most Airbnb hosts are foreigners. More Costa Ricans are using it but still not as many as foreigners. If you want to stay with locals, you will have to read the host description. It takes a bit of sifting through, but to get that true local experience, it’s worth it.
- Even if the dates on the Airbnb calendar say the place is available, do not believe it 100%. Many Ticos don’t update the calendar so make sure you request more than one place and have back up choices in case the place is not available. This has happened to me 3 times when I did Instant Book because the calendar said it was available and the host wrote back saying it was not.
- Most Costa Ricans speak good English, particularly those who work in tourism.
- Make sure to ask your host if the water is drinkable if you are staying in an apartment/condo.
- Most Airbnb in Costa Rica do not offer breakfast or charge for breakfast so make sure to check that if you want it.
- Most Airbnbs don’t have any toiletries so bring your own shampoo, soap and other bathroom essentials. They do have towels.
- Make sure to communicate with the host what time you are arriving and how to pick up/drop off the keys. Some rentals are managed by a third party property manager and you may have to go to a separate location to pick up keys.
- Read reviews. Seems like common sense but I like to read reviews to get tips from previous guests. I specifically chose our Airbnb in Arenal because the reviews mentioned the kind of wildlife around which was what I was looking for.
- Not all Airbnb hosts can book tours for you so keep that in mind if you want to book tours. You can ask them before you reserve the room and do your own research for tour companies if they cannot.
- Also remember that some tour companies may charge extra to pick you up at your Airbnb if it is very far or out of the way. Some may also ask you to go to town or a more central meeting point for the pick up location.
- You may also see some hotels/hostels listing their rooms on Airbnb. I booked a room in a hostel once on Airbnb and found out later it was cheaper on their website which was very bad travel planning. Make sure to compare prices.
- I recommend getting a pre-paid sim card if you’re planning on using Airbnb. This way you will always have access to email and you can call/text your host in case of emergency or if you have any questions.
- If you are going to Guanacaste from January – April, particularly up by the Gulf of Papagayo, make sure to ask the host about water. During these months, sometimes the water company has to shut the water off during certain hours to conserve it. Most apartments don’t have an extra water tank so ask your host to check if water will be an issue.
- If you want to rent a place for long term (more than a month), message the host directly to set up a rental plan/contract. That way you can avoid extra Airbnb fees.
Ready to start booking your Airbnb in Costa Rica? Remember to get $20 credit here first!
You can read about our experience with Airbnb in Arenal.
Read more Costa Rica travel tips here!
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