Gardening In The Guanacaste Region

Rumor has it that if you plant a stick in the ground in Costa Rica it will grow! The soil here is rich and fertile. Gardening in the Guanacaste region is satisfying but still a labor of love, no matter how rich the soil.

Flowers in Guanacaste

For those who love flowers, I have great news…You can have blooms all year long! In my own garden, I have a plethora of different heliconia species. Many of these heliconias came from cuttings I collected off the side of the road and simply stuck in the ground. Torch ginger and canna lilies flowers burst open from the tops of tall stalks. Ixora flowers line my sidewalks and driveway. Bougainvillea bushes create vibrant pops of color throughout the yard.

Gardening in Guanacaste Costa RicaBut keep in mind that just because these flowers grow well, doesn’t mean they don’t need some maintenance. Here in the Guanacaste region, we have 6 months of no rain. It is important to make sure you water these tropical flowers regularly or have an automated irrigation system. Also a “full sun” loving plant may not necessarily be tolerant of the full sun strength in this region.


Hanging plant with flowersAside from flowers growing in my garden, I have a variety of fruit trees. The mango and avocado trees I planted from seeds 3 years ago are already taller than me! You only need to wait 5 to 8 years for fruit on a mango tree planted from seed. Avocado trees will start to fruit after just 5 years. The 3 year old lime trees are full of fruit and the orange trees are starting to blossom. Bananas and plantains grow wild with enough water. I get so many bananas, I often give them away.

If you plan on growing fruit, make sure you learn about each one. The mango or lime tree may grow tall and wide but they don’t always give fruit depending on their conditions. It’s important to make sure these plants are well fertilized and cut back in order to provide delicious fruits. Also keep an eye out for pests and critters that want to make a meal out of your fruits. Some fruits must be protected, bagged or picked early to insure that you will be able to enjoy them.


The best resource for those looking to start their own garden is taking a trip to a local viviero (plant nursery) and talking to the jardinero (gardener)! These folks know everything there is to know about gardening the local plants in our region and how to best take care of them. If you prefer a low maintenance garden they will point you in the direction of plants you can practically forget about. If you love flowers, they will help you so that your garden is in bloom year round. They are happy to accommodate every type of gardener.

Landscape gardening - flowers in a landscaped garden

Gardening is a great hobby for those interested in moving to Guanacaste, or anywhere in Costa Rica.  It’s an easy way to stay fit and grow enough limes for endless margaritas! Be sure to check out the photo album I added to my website ( Many of these photos were taken in my garden.

DEKRA The New Vehicle Inspection Company

UPDATED Dec. 9th, 2022

Great news, DEKRA is now up and running! You can schedule your inspection by going on this website

Simply select the type of vehicle (car/motorcycle/atv), then location (Liberia is the closest), the date and time, and finally your personal information (plate number, first and last name, email, and phone number). You should receive a confirmation and you are all set!

The website is in Spanish, but if you have Google Chrome you can use the translate feature to put it in English. Have any questions? I am happy to help! Good luck on your inspection and I hope to see you driving in paradise.

Out with the old and in with the new. After 20 years of doing vehicle inspections for Costa Rica, the Spanish company Riteve will be replaced by DEKRA, a German company. 

Dekra logo

Every year all vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, golf carts, atvs etc) must pass an annual inspection in order to be legally driven on the roads here in Costa Rica. This annual inspection tests the safety of your vehicle such as the breaks, headlights, windows, windshield wipers, seat belts, suspension and so on. As well as the pollution levels coming from the exhaust. The month that your inspection is due corresponds with the last number of your license plate. 

Riteve had signed a contract in 2002 for an initial term of 10 years and only one possibility of extending it with an equal period. So on July 15th, 2022 at 4PM Riteve stopped providing their services and handed the land, stations, and equipment back to the government. The Costa Rican government now had to quickly close contracts with Riteve and decide on a new operator to provide the vehicle inspection service. 

Costa Rica’s goal was to find a company who would agree to lower the price of the vehicle inspection yet maintain the inspection quality. On August 24th, the government announced that DEKRA would be taking over the operation for the next 2 years. DEKRA promises to offer inspections at half the price as well as not charging for re-inspections for minor defects. The new rates will be between ¢7,318 – ¢8,125  (+IVA) for light passenger vehicles and between ¢4,822 – ¢5,354 (+IVA) for motorcycles. 

DEKRA hopes to be operational by the end of October. This is especially important since the Marchamo payment collection starts November 1st. (Marchamo is the vehicle registration or right of movement permit which is identified by a sticker that is placed on the windshield of your vehicle) But Marchamo can only be paid IF you pass your vehicle inspection. 

Due to the fact Riteve has not been operational since the middle of July, many vehicles have not been able to receive an inspection. To accommodate this, INS is granting amnesty to the following plate numbers (​​6, 7, 8, 9 and 0). INS confirmed that those plate numbers will be able to pay the 2023 Marchamo and get a sticker even though they did not pass a vehicle inspection.

Once DEKRA becomes operational, MOPT has outlined a specific time frame for accomplishing your vehicle inspection. For example plate numbers 5 & 6 will have one month after the restart of the service to schedule and pass the inspection. Vehicles with plates ending 7 & 8 will have two months, and three months for 9 & 0. 

Already off to a great start by lowering the cost of inspection, let’s hope DEKRA is also able to ease the anxiety of this annual chore. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any additional questions! I would be happy to assist you. 

Market Update For The Papagayo Region

Before you know it the high season will be upon us once again so I wanted to share a general real estate market update for the Papagayo Region. A lot has changed over the past two years and our market definitely reflects that. 

Sunset in Papagayo Costa Rica

The COVID pandemic was a big factor in changing mindsets and lifestyles. Costa Rica became a destination for those looking for a healthier, easier, and more positive life. Those who can now work from home prefer to have a view of the ocean. Others decided to change their careers completely and start new businesses in paradise. Some realized it was time to retire and relax. Whatever the reason may be, Costa Rica became the perfect option.

Although the market has slowed down just a little bit, properties are still selling at listing price or very close to it. Inventory is low and well priced properties sell rather quickly.

If you are interested in purchasing a lot to build your dream home, options are becoming limited. In the last two years many of the available lots in the Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, and Playa Panama have been bought up and new homes have been built. For a decent ocean view, lot prices are starting at $150,000-$200,000 and for a spectacular view prices start at $300,000-$350,000.

Image showing a top quality ocean view lot

Condos have also been a big hit! The ease and convenience of condo living has made available condos scarce. A 2 bedroom/1.5 bath condo, walk to the beach can start around $200,000 while an ocean view condo starts around $350,000. Those looking for a good deal or steal will realize that many of the “fixer upper” condos have been purchased and beautifully renovated.

Aerial view of a home being constructed in Costa Rica

Construction has been booming, for those who are familiar with the Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco area, you know that homes have been popping up overnight. So many have decided to build their dream home or make some extra money by building a spec home. Homes vary in prices greatly. You can still find a nice 2 or 3 bedroom home without a view starting at $300,000 but an ocean view home will start around $700,000. 

In this market update I also wanted to share another big piece of news! The Papagayo Region is getting 4 new luxury hotels. On the Cacique Peninsula (located between Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco) land movement has already started for the Waldorf Astoria. On the other side of Playa Hermosa, next to Condovac, the Only and Only (a seven star hotel) will be constructed. Out on the Four Seasons Peninsula the Ritz Carlton and Six Senses are already in motion! This area is really starting to see a lot of action! 

Don’t miss your opportunity to live and own in paradise. Please contact me if you have any questions about purchasing property or if you would like to schedule a time to chat. Just in case you missed my previous blog, financing is now available in Costa Rica to foreigners (click here to read). Hope to see you here soon!