Q COSTA RICA TRAVEL – From the Lonely Planet forum: My girlfriend and I are extremely interested in backpacking around Costa Rica, though we would prefer to cut costs by hammocking and scavenging for food. We are experienced backpackers and used to living homeless, but we’re concerned about the legality of it. We plan on being in the Dominical-Uvita area. Anyone have any thoughts to share on this?

The replies:

1. There are homeless in Dominical, sleeping on the north end of the beach, mainly drug heads, down and out, thieves and low lifes.

Its funny, you won’t find many homeless Ticos (locals), but there is plenty of losers and broke moocher gringos begging and stealing their way around. It aint a pretty sight.

It is illegal to camp on private land. It is also not very safe. There is no way to secure your belongings, and locals target gringos. Its is also very hot and humid on the coastal and lowland areas, and add to that rainy season, means heavy rains in the afternoon and at night. The Osa, or the Southern Zone, which is where Dominical/Uvita is located, gets more rain than almost all the rest of the country as well, it can rain days on end, one time there, in August, it rained so hard, the swimming pool overflowed in under a hour, and the roads washed out. Paradise?

You also can not fly into Costa Rica on a oneway, you need to have a roundtrip flight within the 90 days of the Tourist Visa. You will be asked upon Check In, for a flight to CR, for proof of leaving the country, not a country next door. This also applies to border crossings as well, as “Onward Travel Requirement” is enforced by the airlines, and Immigration.

Costa Rica is the most expensive country in CA, almost on par with the USA in many regards, especially food cost. Belize as well. You might be better served in Nicaragua, its also safer. San Juan del Sur has your names written all over it. LOL

2. Costa Rica would be an odd choice because costs are among the highest in the CA region.

By “scavenging” do you mean begging?….as per #1 begging in CR is quite rare because of strong and extended family support and tends to be among druggies who elicit little sympathy.

You could mooch to tourists- there is a daft one born every minute. Take care in tourist resorts such as Tamarindo which are “controlled” by the Colombians. If they don’t like the look of you then you could disappear (and I am not being melodramatic!).
If you can afford the air fare then you can probably afford a surf camp. These appear on or near good breaks on the Pacific coast and offer very basic facilities on the less known beaches.

It is legal to camp on the beaches in CR so these offer hammocks, basic cooking facilities and a hippie like existence. Of course if you don’t surf then I guess conversation over the fire at night might be a bit limited!. Check out the surf camp at Playa Avellanas- it was pretty idyllic and a few bucks a night last time I was there (driving by I mean!) and you could always wander down to Lola’s (beach bar/restaurant) and sell beads to the rich twits from the Marriott…hehehe…

3. Not sure what you mean by scavenger fruit and veggies off the land? You won’t find anything, they don’t grow near the coast, and the monkeys will have eaten long before you get up a 40ft tree.

All the land around Dominical, and Uvita, is private. You can’t just walk around off the beach, there are guard dogs, security with guns and machetes, and owners don’t like strangers snooping around…

Dominical is a tourist town, as its a surf town. Uvita is a tourist town as its a hub for boat/nature tours.

Rule #1 in CR & CA, don’t ever leave anything in the car unattended.