If you are searching for a holiday destination with a perfect mix of urban life and natural landscape, look no further than Costa Rica. With beaches surrounded by both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, national parks, and a vibrant city life, Costa Rica certainly has plenty to do and see. And that is true for Natalia Vindas, a wheelchair user who loves the ocean.
Natalia has compiled a few wheelchair access travel tips and information from her trip to Costa Rica.
1. Plan Ahead
Of course, with any holiday, you should always start your planning process early. “Get all the information you can directly with the service provider, car rentals, hotels, diving, and tour operators,” Natalia advises. Planning early and booking in advance helps you to be more organized and aware of what you will be expecting from your trip.
2. Know The Best Times To Travel
Costa Rica only has two seasons: Summer is from December to April, while winter is from May to November. “August and September are great months for diving, the water temperature is mild and the water is very clean so you can have great visibility,” Natalia recommends. Late winter is not suitable for ocean exploration due to the high currents, and it is always rainy during wintertime as well.
Do be aware of the El Niño phenomenon, which will also affect weather patterns.
3. People, or Ticos
The people in Costa Rica are also called Ticos, and most of them in the tourist areas speak English. Natalia also found the Ticos to be extremely helpful and friendly. “A good phrase to remember is ¡Pura Vida! — an expression used often to indicate that everything is ok,” shares Natalia.
4. Sidewalks and Public Restrooms
Sidewalks are mostly inaccessible due to their bad conditions and obstacles like potholes and steps. Most areas do not have sidewalks as well. However, new building structures most often have better sidewalks with ramps.
As for accessible public restrooms, they are not common. As an alternative, you can use restroom facilities in restaurants (as long as you purchase something from the establishment – otherwise, you might have to pay to use them). Another tip is to use hotel restrooms because they usually have accessible restroom facilities.
5. Restaurant Accessibility
Many restaurants are accessible for wheelchair travelers. They usually have a flat entrance or a ramp to enter. Most of them have accessible restrooms as well. There is also a good selection of delicacies to choose from, such as pizza, sushi, and seafood.
6. Places of Interests + Activities
By the Pacific Coast, Guanacaste is surrounded by beautiful beaches and national parks. One such beach to consider is the Playas del Coco, which “has a boulevard just in front of the beach that allows wheelchair users to get around with ease,” Natalia shares.
While none of the beaches have accessibility features, Natalia says it is still possible to enjoy them. Most of the beaches have stable and flat grounds, and with a little bit of help to get on the sand or into the water, you’d be able to access them. Don’t be shy to ask the Ticos for help, too! Some hotels do provide beach wheelchairs as well.
Costa Rica is a great destination for water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and surfing available. Although Natalia has dived with various scuba diving operators like Brindisi Group and Rich Coast Diving, none of the boats are equipped with accessible modifications, such as ramps or lifts. However, the Brindisi Group has a platform for easier transfer in and out of water. Even so, the staff are trained to assist people with disabilities on the boat and to teach them how to dive.
“No matter what company you use, I recommend checking the availability of professional divers trained to help people with disabilities before your arrival,” Natalia says. Do also be aware of your physical health and limits, and fill out a medical statement from the Scuba Diving Center in advance as well.
We hope that you’ll be able to enjoy an adventure-filled holiday in Costa Rica. Share this post with your friends who wants to go!