Costa Rica Personal Guide Service

 You’ve got a friend in Costa Rica!


Costa Rica Guide Service
My service is unique and personal because I take only individuals, couples or a family group of no more than three people. I can pick you up at the airport and show you around. I offer a wide range of activities – things I’ve enjoyed myself.  We can also be adventurous and do something new. I’ve documented activities with photos and descriptions on my Guide Service Activities page, to help you decide what you’d like to do. Or we can customize: want to do something different, explore somewhere new? I’m ready to go!
While we are together, my time and attention is yours. I will share my experience gained from living in Costa Rica for nine years, answer your questions and focus on accomplishment of the goals for your visit. My aim is to ease your nervousness about traveling in a foreign country, especially if you are traveling alone. I’ll work with you in advance, emailing and talking on the phone as much as necessary, in order to get a good idea of what you want. Then together we’ll make plans, culminating in a trip that is productive and fun.

Feel free to email me with your questions. I’m looking forward to meeting you!





I can answer most all your questions on visiting and living in Costa Rica by phone or in person.


I can pick you up at the airport, and bring you out to see Costa Rica’s beautiful Caribbean side, where I live.


It’s all about cultural immersion. No one likes to be on the outside looking in.



Here is a wonderful testimonial from a client, Clint West:

Colorful Cacao

Guide Service Client Clint West

During my seven-week stay in Puerto Viejo, I used Lisa Valencia’s personal guide service in several ways that proved critical to my successful trip.  I realized before my departure that I did not have sufficient local knowledge of Puerto Viejo to choose my long-term lodging without risk.  I asked Lisa to help. She secured a wonderful bungalow, safe and surrounded by nature.  I needed to purchase a cellphone upon arrival. I hired Lisa to pick me up at the airport,  to help me purchase the phone and to transport me to Puerto Viejo. Her knowledge of Spanish and of the area proved critical to my communication with my family. I also used Lisa after my arrival in Puerto Viejo for two short orientation tours. Afterward Lisa continued to help me by introducing me to people that she thought I would like, suggesting activities, and helping when I was sick. After I injured my foot near the end of my trip, I hired Lisa to take me back to San Jose for my return airline flight to the US. Lisa was always exceptionally professional, and her personal knowledge and caring nature improved the quality of my trip immeasurably.

You can contact Clint at:

Puerto Viejo Rental

Janet in her New Home

I do all kinds of jobs for my clients. I found a nice long term rental for Janet, who moved here from Indiana. I can’t always promise such a great deal (this place could have rented for $200.00 a month more than she is paying), but I always do my best. Here’s what Janet had to say about it:


Based on information gleaned from her website, I recently hired Lisa to find me a rental home in Puerto Viejo.  Lisa came through with flying colors! I explained what my wants were in moving to a new town. I wanted to be close to the beach and shops, in a safe and peaceful neighborhood – all for $500 a month. By knowing so many people in Puerto Viejo, Lisa was able to find a property that had not been listed yet . In just a few days , I went from having no prospects, to moving into the perfect place. Thanks Lisa for a job well done! You can contact Janet at


Costa Rica Guide Service

Eric in the Waterfall

I took Eric to the waterfall. His picture says it all! Eric from South Carolina said:” On Wednesday, May 12 you guided me and Letta to the waterfalls. We had a great time! What a peaceful and scenic hike. Very fun and relaxing.”

TRAVEL IN COSTA RICA can be complicated and confusing especially if you don’t speak the language. I’ve been through it all. (If you’ve read my book, you know what I mean.) I can help smooth out the rough edges and make your visit lots of fun!

I’VE LIVED IN COSTA RICA for nine years; flown back and forth from the States many times and crossed into the bordering countries of Panama and Nicaragua. And I have done it all on my own. I bought a car and lived in San Jose long enough to get my bearings around the city and then I moved out to the Caribbean, which is the area I know best.  I speak Spanish pretty well. And I’m always learning, discovering more about this enchanting country. I would love to share it with you.

I offer my services as a guide so you can benefit from my experience. I am most interested in working with individuals traveling alone, as I know how difficult that can be. But I am open to most any kind of situation. I can help you with your trip from start to finish, beginning with advice on where to go and when. If you like, I’ll pick you up at the airport and set you on your way or I can accompany you throughout your trip. We’ll talk and figure out what works best for you.

MY BASIC FEE is 100.00 per day. This covers my time and includes transportation in my car. Additional costs would be determined by your needs and interests. Together we can design and create an unforgettable experience.

Tour of Costa Rica Waterfall

Kirk and Leigh in the Waterfall

      We met Lisa Valencia through Trip Advisor. She turned out to be a wonderful resource. Lisa answered questions, alleviated concerns and offered suggestions. Before we even traveled, I felt I had a friend in Costa Rica. Lisa watched the weather report, and helped us choose the best day for our waterfall excursion. We had an amazing and memorable day. Lisa was very knowledgeable, introducing us to people on the beach, in the town, and everywhere we went. She was fun, interesting, easy to converse with, adventurous and hospitable. She took pictures so I didn’t have to. She was affordable. I can’t say enough. I highly recommend my new friend, Lisa.

Leigh and Kirk Heskitt

Leigh may be contacted at:


Of course I’d like you to stay at my place, Hidden Jungle Beach House or Casita Azul. You’ll get a good feeling of what life would be like if you lived here. But if you need something we don’t offer, like air conditioning, I’m happy to help you find the right place just for you.

You can enjoy quarters from jungle rustic to elegant five star; but the attitude is always casual. The Caribbean is an easy going, laid back place with a culture all its own, unique to Costa Rica. The natives, of Jamaican, Indigenous and Latino descent, are proud of their homeland and happy to share it. They are some of the sweetest and most friendly people I have known.

As part of my guide service, I want to help find you the perfect place to stay. There’s lots of information on the internet, but as some of my clients will attest (see below): What you see online is not always what you get. Better to talk to me first.

Costa Rica Guide Service

Kate with the Monkeys

TESTIMONIAL: This is Kate with the monkeys.
I discovered Lisa’s site and as soon as I e-mailed her, I had a friend. She was helpful before I ever met her – she told me how to navigate San Jose and how to move around Costa Rica. All the info was completely invaluable and so reassuring.

Once I arrived in Puerto Viejo I went to the resort I had made reservations for and realized what a mistake I had made in choosing the lodge. Lisa swept in and saved me again. She relocated me to a terrific place which exactly fit my needs. When she was finally my “official” guide we had great fun zipping from location to location and chatting. I learned so much more than I would have from a traditional guide service.

Being with Lisa is like being with a friend. I loved Puerto Viejo for the location, and for the opportunity to hang out with Lisa. When it starts to freeze over here in Alaska, I will think of Puerto Viejo and feel warm inside!  Kate Conley, King Salmon Alaska USA

Costa Rica Guide Service

Bruce Walker with Lisa


Bruce, a property manager who lives in Arizona, will soon be living in Costa Rica. He liked my tour of the Caribbean side so much that he has decided to come back and open up a business here.

I hired Lisa because I wanted to see a part of Costa Rica that was not overrun; where I could meet the people and enjoy the rain forest and Caribbean Sea. Not only did Lisa show me around, she introduced me to the locals. They were very warm, friendly and open. Lisa was a gracious host and made my trip not only fun but exciting and one I’ll never forget.

Even when the weather doesn’t go the way you hope, Lisa went out of her way to make sure I still had a great time. We were rained out of the Zip Line so we hiked in the forest to a beautiful waterfall and swam in the river. Along the hike I saw red tree frogs, lizards, banana trees and some of the most beautiful plants you can imagine. And we got to see a local BriBri Indian boy on horse back heading home into the rain forest. We also went horseback riding on the beach and through the jungle, where and ate some interesting and very tasty fruit, growing wild
Because of Lisa and the people I met in Costa Rica, I will be returning and making Puerto Viejo my home. I would highly recommend Lisa to show you around and to get a feel of the Caribbean. In comparison, after I left Lisa, I took a large commercial tour to other parts of Costa Rica. I got to see a lot, but Lisa far out-did the commercial tour, by making me feel a part of the people and the country. She was very professional, and very personable.

I may be contacted at: if you have any questions.

Costa Rica Guide Service

Bruce in the Waterfall

THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO:Costa Rica Guide Service

The Caribbean side of Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Start the day with a yoga class. Then watch the surfers and smiling sunbathers or amble along an isolated stretch of sand where you won’t see a soul all day. In the afternoon you can go to the spa for a massage and then into town for a Caribbean style dinner at one of the exceptional restaurants. Costa Rica Guide Service


You’ll be enraptured by the jungle world. In the Caribbean everything is outdoors. People walk, talk, work, play, eat and sleep, always surrounded by nature. You’ll hear howler monkeys throughout the day, see the most colorful birds and butterflies and as you walk along, the fragrant scents of the jungle flowers and ocean air will mesmerize you. There are national parks for hiking and Costa Rican jungle guides who can tell you about every plant and animal therein. There are butterfly tours, an animal rescue center where you can see the wild animals up close, botanical and organic gardens and some amazing waterfalls. There is no end to the enjoyment of nature in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Guide Service

This stunning view can be reached in a few hours hike and you can see the stars from the same spot, if we stay overnight! Check out my Hike to the Mirador.


Costa Rica Guide Service

Puerto Viejo Master Surf Instructor, Kendrick

We’ve got plenty. There’s river rafting, surf lessons, snorkeling and diving, fishing with a local, gliding through the treetops on a zip line, hiking up a to a beautiful mirador (lookout), horseback riding on the beach and a lively night life of Latin and Reggae music. The photo below is of my friend and Master Surf Instructor, Kendrick. He has been surfing since he was small and has won several surf competition awards. It is fun to learn with Kendrick!

Costa Rica Guide Service


Here’s another vast area to explore. You can take Spanish classes or learn to dance Salsa. You can watch as chocolate is made the traditional way, at a visit to The Cacao House and learn about Costa Rica’s sumptuous coffee, grown in the mountains and roasted locally. If you enjoy other cultures, you’ll love the cosmopolitan feel of Puerto Viejo. I’ve met people from almost every country in the world here, some are tourists but many are residents who visited, fell in love with Costa Rica and decided to stay.

Costa Rica Guide Service


That calls for a research mission. What kind of climate do you prefer? Looking for beach front, mountain view or riverside? Part time or year round? Would you like to rent or buy? I’ll do the preliminary work so when you get here your time will be put to best use. And what’s more, the most well informed real estate man in the area is a trusted friend of mine. He has lived in Costa Rica for twenty years, speaks fluent Spanish and runs several businesses. Charlie Wanger is a dynamic, get things done, kind of guy. He’s done his homework, studied the laws and learned much through his own experience. And being married to a Tica (Costa Rican woman) gives him an invaluable understanding of Costa Rican culture. This kind of knowledge is essential for a successful real estate deal or the start of a new business.


WHAT MAKES YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH ME DIFFERENT AND BETTER than with the usual tour guides is that you don’t feel like you’re on a guided tour. You feel more like you’re hanging out with a friend. A friend who has an “in” with all the cool people, places and things that interest you. So remember, a friend is only a stranger you haven’t met. You really do have a friend in Costa Rica.


A GOOD GUIDE IS SOMEONE YOU ENJOY BEING WITH – a good listener and communicator.

My clients say that with me, their experience feels less like a business venture and more like being shown around by a good friend.
I like people, consequently they like me. As a writer, I am interested in peoples stories, ideas, thoughts and dreams. Years in my former career as an interior designer, helping people create an optimum living environment, have taught me to listen and understand what my clients want and need. My business experience has taught me how to deal with people in a strait forward and professional way. My years of life experience has given me the patience and desire to find out who my clients are as individuals and hone in on their goals for a fantastic trip to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Guide Service

Jim and Nancy Smith

I took Jim and Nancy Smith (a honeymoon couple) to the Waterfall, the Animal Sanctuary and on a little boat trip up the Sixoala River and across to Panama. We also went on a guided tour through the amazing Gandoca Reserve. Jim and Nancy got to meet a Bri Bri family and see how chocolate is made and we drove all over the area, just having fun. They liked the Caribbean so much, they have decided to move here and a week after returning to New Jersey, their home is up for sale. They already have a potential buyer! Here is what they wrote me after our tour:


Our honeymoon to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica was absolutely perfect, truly better then we hoped it would be. One of our main desires was to keep the trip easy and with Lisa Valencia’s help it certainly was. We had exchanged various emails with Lisa before we arrived and were thrilled about her flexibility. When we finally arrived in Puerto Viejo and met Lisa we were even more impressed. Lisa’s friendliness, enthusiasm and energy is contagious. While we did not have any specific plans made for how we were going to spend our days, we ended up going on several adventures with Lisa. We hiked up to some beautiful waterfalls, took a ride in a small boat on the Sixaola River, drove through the scenic mountains and had a guided tour in the jungle near Manzanillo. Since then, we fell in love with the area and have decided to move there. Lisa was able to share her experiences and show us places and things that the casual tourist would not necessarily see and do. The time we spent with Lisa created memories that we will cherish forever. We left with the feeling that Lisa is more then a tour guide but a very good friend.

Jim and Nancy may be contacted at:,


My positive can-do attitude to can help overcome the challenges that invariable beset any tour. Dealing with the necessities of life in Costa Rica has given me invaluable experience in many areas.

I have traveled in and out of the airport, gone by car and by bus to various parts of the country, lived and driven around in San Jose (which is no small task!), crossed the border and dealt with customs officials numerous times. I can help people safely and confidently get to where they need to go.
I also obtained a bank account and a cell phone. I’ve bought and sold cars, bought property and opened a run a successful business.  These things that may seem normal and simple in the USA can be confusing and intimidating in a foreign country. Having dealt with them all, I can help others with some of the logistics of a visit or a move to Costa Rica.

My area of expertise is the Costa Rican Caribbean, because that is where I live. I’ve have traveled to various other parts of Costa Rica and I intend to explore the country more. I pride myself on being versatile and adventurous. If we come across a point of interest for you in which I am lacking in knowledge or experience, I’ll take on the challenge and find out all about it.

Costa Rica Guide Service

Bob Oxford Zip Lining



Bob, from North Carolina is thinking of moving to Costa Rica. Feel free to email him to inquire further. After our four days together he said:

Lisa, I think you did a great job and I would recommend you to anyone I know. You were very understanding and very adept at locating all of the places I wanted to see as well as what I wanted to do while I was there. I think you managed our time very well getting me the most out of my stay. Your Spanish speaking ability was more than adequate to serve my purposes. And what I appreciated most is that you were very concerned about meeting my expectations and acted as a concerned friend rather than a business venture.

Bob Oxford


My love and respect for the Costa Rica culture is a great asset. I immerse myself in their world at every opportunity. I have lived with several Latin families who speak no English. I love the Spanish language and I am able to communicate on a level that is more than sufficient to get things done. I have successfully dealt and solved problems with merchants, mechanics, banks, and government workers – all in Spanish with no interpreter. I taught English for a year – on my own; and the local hardware store hired me to teach their employees. This experience improved my Spanish speaking ability, taught me more about the Costa Ricans and even a bit about the hardware business. Through my own experience, I can share what I know of the people and their customs, promoting a more comfortable experience for the vacationer and helping the potential expat to decide if this is the place for them.

My job is not to replace the local Costa Rican guides who can take you sport fishing or show you medicinal plants, on a jungle hike. There are some very good, specialized, Costa Rican guides who I can recommend. What I can do that they cannot, is to see things through a North American perspective. Being North American, with an understanding of the Costa Rican culture, enables me to communicate with locals and access the needed information to successfully achieve my client’s goals for their trip.


Costa Rica Guide Service

Ed Crupar

Ed, a fireman from Florida wrote me this note.
Feel free to email him to inquire further.

Hi Lisa, I am writing to thank you for the great experience that I had with you while visiting Costa Rica. Your attention to detail made my trip very enjoyable and by the time I was ready to leave I felt like one of the locals there. All of the people that you introduced me to were very friendly and treated me like a long lost friend. I will be contacting you again for my next trip to Costa Rica.
Ed Crupar

Costa Rica Guide Service

Ed Cruper – back for a second visit

Ed is back! Ed Crupar has come back to the Caribbean for his third visit. He wants to slow down the pace of his life and is thinking of living here full time. As a fireman and paramedic in the States, Ed wants to help and contribute to the community. He’s got a great idea for a new business here in Puerto Viejo. I hope he makes the move. Here is what he wrote to me:

Again another great trip with Lisa. I enjoyed driving around the Talamanca Mountains – didn’t know Panama was so close. (Together we took the Gorgeous Mountain Drive.) I continue to be impressed with the friendliness of the locals. I hope some day to make this my home. Thanks for the help with the real estate and with my business plans.


Joan and Stuart Estra are thinking of moving to Costa Rica:

Costa Rica Guide Service

      We really enjoyed our tour with you. You were very informative and were able to give us the flavor of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. For us, it was nice to talk to someone who has made the transition to Costa Rica. We also liked meeting your friends and seeing their house. In general it was a day well spent to get acquainted with the area. Thanks again for your help and for the photos.

Stuart & Joan Estra


I had the good fortune of finding Lisa online. Then through a few Skype ‘meet and greets’ we decided on the best ways to plan my trip. And, in fact,Lisa planned it all down to the last detail including a dentist and lawyer visit.

Costa Rica fun

Cliff and my friend Linda

I booked Lisa’s guide service for about ten days. Traveling with Lisa is more like getting with an old friend and making a road trip. We got along famously. I found her to be very accommodating and knowledgeable about Costa Rica, our surroundings and our itinerary. One of her ‘hidden’ qualities is who she knows. My first night she had us booked into one of THE gringo hangouts. And, indeed for the rest of the trip, I was introduced to the nicest people imaginable. Thanks Lisa! My trip was a resounding success and I will not hesitate one iota to call on her on my next visit. Cliff

Contact Cliff at

WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO, whether you want to vacation or live here, buy property, start a business or just check the place out, I can help you get it done and have a good time while you are doing it. Email me and let’s get started!