When I first traveled to Costa Rica for vacation, shopping was the last thing on my mind. I was distracted by gorgeous beaches, erupting volcanoes, cute baby sloths, and class 5 rapids. Well, after traveling here for three years and living here for one+, I have had enough time to shop around and find the best things to buy in Costa Rica.
The following list is my top four favorite made in Costa Rica souvenirs:
At first, I made the mistake of thinking that any coffee at the grocery store was good coffee, but little did I know that most of the good stuff is exported out of Costa Rica. The majority of the brands on the shelves in Costa Rica are not export quality and even contain additives such as sugar. However, there are two brands that can be picked up in the grocery store that are delicious: Café Britt and Volio. Volio is the least expensive, but can only be bought in Automercado, Megasuper, and sometimes AMPM. Café Britt can be found in all the grocery stores and offers a variety of roasts. My absolute #1 favorite brand is Doka Estate, specifically the peaberry. They have been growing and perfecting their coffee for three generations (tres generaciones), since 1940. This gem of a coffee can only be bought in certain souvenir shops or directly from Doka Estate.
2. Bio-Land beauty products
Inconspicuously hanging out on the lower shelves in the grocery stores, Bio-Land produces an array of organic body products such as soaps, lotions, masks, creams, balms and gels. The company is committed to respecting the health of human beings and their environment, so I can feel good about purchasing their product as well as using them! So far my favorite Bio-Land products are the Organic Fruits Anti-Free Radicals Hydrating Cream, the Volcanic Clay Purifying Mask, and the Organic Oatmeal Soap. Bio-Land personal products are a bargain between $3 – $13.
3. Chocolate mmmmmmm
Buy some freshly made chocolate on a chocolate tour, which will take you through the steps of making chocolate – from cultivating the cacao to tasting the final product. An experience not to be missed for fellow chocolate lovers! If you don’t have time for a tour and want to purchase a package of ready-made chocolates, pick up a box of neatly decorated Sibú. The chocolates are made from 100% organic cacao, the packaging is made from recycled materials, all the ingredients are produced locally, and they work with the Rainforest Alliance. Sibú says “Save the planet…it’s the only one that has chocolate.”
4. Carved wooden masks
Costa Rican masks come in a variety of styles: Bright colorful masks depicting red-eyed tree frogs or leopards, devils sticking their tongues out, or naturally-colored wooden masks with turtles or landscapes. I love all of them and they make beautiful pieces of art for any home. You can find these masks in just about every souvenir shop around the country. Price and quality will vary depending on location ($25 – $400). My favorite place to pick these up is in Puerto Viejo as well as the souvenir workshop in Alajuela.
Those are my top four. What about you? Have you picked up or received any Costa Rican souvenirs that didn’t make it onto my list?