Shopping for Souvenirs in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
When we got to our Airbnb condo, the first thing that caught my eye were these fabulous, colorful geckos on the wall of our bedroom. We had just done some furniture re-arranging at home, and there was a new bare spot on the wall, just begging for something bright to fill it up. I told Trevor that I was going to spend an afternoon souvenir shopping, and that I was going to find myself some lizards for that bare bedroom wall! Trevor did a pretty good job of not rolling his eyes, and conceded that they would look quite nice in our room.
Souvenirs are not especially cheap in Playas del Coco. Once we worked out the exchange rate, most things were nearly as expensive as they would be in Canada. However, I still wanted those geckos, and to buy a few things to bring home to remember our trip – especially for the kids!
Both the stores and the street vendors offered prices in US Dollars and Costa Rica colones (CRC), which was convenient, but beware that the exchange rate is not in your favor. You are better to buy in colones, as everything priced in USD seems to be substantially rounded up. However, we found it a bit more complicated to keep track of how much money you are actually spending when buying in colones, as the exchange rate is a bit obscure and not easy to remember (454 CRC to the Canadian dollar, or 571 CRC to the USD as of January, 2018).
I went into almost every souvenir shop on the main strip of Playas del Coco. They mostly sell the same selection of carved and painted lizards, framed butterflies, clay bowls, T shirts, and hammocks. The prices were similar from store to store, so if you see something you like (and are not planning to go on any tours – see below), go ahead and buy it; don’t worry about shopping around for price in town. Haggling did not seem to be encouraged, though most stores were happy to make a bit of a deal if you paid in cash or bought more than one of an item.
We took a couple of tours through Sibu Tours, and on one of the tours, we requested to stop at a pottery shop. Diego, our guide, mentioned that the prices of the shops out of the main tourist areas could vary quite a bit; the pottery shop he took us to was selling their wares for around 40% cheaper than the shops in Playas del Coco, so if you are planning to do tours, keep this in mind and maybe save your souvenir shopping for after your tours. I ended up buying a large-ish pottery bowl for approximately $25 USD; similar bowls in Playas del Coco were priced at $40.
Our favorite souvenirs from the trip are two little bird whistles that we bought for the kids, my geckos (of course!) and that pottery bowl, which looks fabulous hanging on our livingroom wall!