Costa Rica Travel Tips

Here you will find a few of our Costa Rica travel Tips. We get a lot of great questions about Costa Rica and want to share with you some of the most frequent questions we get. Go through and see if your question is listed or send us an email if you think we are missing an important question on our list. Find answers to entry requirements, driving, tipping, packing, we have compiled this to help you in the planning process.

Why don’t you list prices on the vacation packages on the website?

We are custom planners. This means there are no cookie-cutter packages, each trip is planned out with the clients travel style and budget in mind. Our packages listed online are just a sampling of trips we have done and that are popular combinations. These are meant to give you some basic ideas but the next step is to have one of our planners create a trip based on your interests.

You get the exact vacation you want at the price that you want. That is always our goal!

When is the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica?

There is no bad time to come really. You will hear the terms High or Dry Season and the Green or Rainy Season but this means different things in different parts of the country. The dry season for much of the country starts in mid December and lasts through April. The Green Season typically starts May 1st and runs through mid December. The worst months for rain are September and October on the Pacific side of the country. The further South you go the wetter it gets.

The Caribbean side of our country has its own set of rules when it comes to weather however. During those same months of September and October the Caribbean side gets its own dry season.

So when is the best time for a visit? Our favorite months of the year are May through July and mid November through January. This will give you lush green rain forests, full rivers for rafting, and the best vacation experiences you can have. But there really is no bad time to visit.

Do I need a passport or Visa to go to Costa Rica?

Yes you do need a valid passport to enter Costa Rica. Travelers need to have a passport with at least six months remaining before the passport expires. Your passport needs to be in good physical condition.

Depending on your country of origin you may or may not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. USA, Canada and many European countries do not need a visa.  As a  US or Canadian citizen you have 90 days that you are allowed to stay before needing to leave the country for a period of 72 hours.  Check and see your countries visa requirements. http://www.projectvisa.com/

Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?

No. Many countries will not let you enter without proof of traveling onward outside the country. If you have proof of an outbound bus ticket this will satisfy the requirements.

Is Costa Rica expensive?

In a word, yes. Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America. Many items are cheaper than you might find in the USA or Canada but many items are more expensive too. Vacations can start at around $500 per person and go as high as your imagination can take you depending on what you are looking for. The average 8 day 7 night mid-level vacation for 2 is around $2200-  2500 USD, This would include hotels, tours, transfers, and some meals. This does not include airfare.

Is Costa Rica a safe country to visit?

Costa Rica is safe, much more so than almost any major city found in the world. We do have problems with petty crimes such as theft but these are normally crimes of opportunity and the majority of visitors that come each year have no problems at all. In the history of our company we have never had any clients have any problems with crime and we hope this is how it continues until the day we decide not to be in travel anymore (never).

Use common sense when you are here. Try not to bring expensive items or jewelry. We are not the kind of country for this type of travel. We are a humble country of humble people.

Is Costa Rica a good honeymoon destination?

YES. Honeymoons, especially Adventure Honeymoons come to life in Costa Rica. Whether you are looking for relaxation and pampering on your honeymoon, or the adrenaline adventure of rafting down rivers and trekking through rainforest, Costa Rica will not disappoint. Our travel agents all have a minimum of 10 years experience working in the tourism sector of Costa Rica and can design for you a honeymoon you will cherish for a lifetime.

Are there many volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica?

Yes, there are many opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica. Whether you want to help with animals, children, communities, there are several wonderful organizations and we are happy to put together a volunteering adventure for you. We add no fees to any of our vacation planning services and volunteering is no different. We will help guide you and provide support every step of the way.

What wildlife will I see in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is an amazing country. For our size we have an incredible amount of bio diversity within our borders. Rain forests, cloud forests, tropical dry forest, wetlands, beaches, volcanoes, our richness of diversity are our greatest asset here in Costa Rica. With close to 30% of our country marked as protected travelers will enjoy our country for years to come.

Aside from the geography of our country you have the opportunity to see nature in her many forms. Here are a few of the highlights of what you may encounter.

  • Monkeys –  Up to 6 species have been reported, but only 4 confirmed. On your adventures you will certainly come across a few varieties including the Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii), the White-headed Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), the Mantled Howler (Alouatta palliata) and Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
  • Over 800 species of birds call Costa Rica home including several varieties of Toucans, the Scarlet Macaw and Resplendent Quetzal. Learn more about Birds of Costa Rica.
  • 6 species of wildcats can be found within our borders including the Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, and Tigrillo. All are endangered and we mist all work together in saving these magnificent animals.
  • Orchids – We have about 1200 species of Orchid in Costa Rica and more are being discovered all the time.

There is such a wonderful mix of nature you can spend a lifetime getting to know our country and still only scratch the surface.

What should I pack?

Costa Rica has several different micro climates. This makes the answer to this question complicated. If you are spending all your time in the mountains and off the beaten path then you would pack differently then you would on a beach vacation.

In the mountains the weather is usually warm by day and then it cools off dramatically at night. On the beaches you are going to have hot and sometimes very humid weather.

As a general rule pack light quick drying fabrics. In the mountains the humidity from being in the clouds and rainfall can be high, on the coast it can be very hot, so either way you are going to want clothes that dry easily.

For hiking unless you are doing some serious off the beaten path stuff, a good pair of sneakers is all you will need. On the coast flip flops are the preferred footwear.

All you need for raingear is a pocket poncho. These are lightweight and fold up to fit in your pocket, Leave the expensive rain gear at home, you won’t need it.

It is always good to bring at least one pair of long pants. If you go hiking, or horseback riding, or if the weather is cooler in the mountains at night, you will be glad you packed accordingly.

Many items such as sun block, bug spray, and items of this nature are readily available here if you forget to pack them.

Is there good internet access or WiFi in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica may be considered a third world country to some, but this is not the reality. Internet services can be found in many parts of the country and WiFi is quickly becoming the standard. Most hotels offer free WiFi or at the very least a free internet terminal for its guests.

When is the best time to visit to witness Sea Turtles nesting?

Sea Turtles nest on both of our coasts. The Leatherback, Green Sea, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley all find their way back to the beaches they themselves were born on to lay their eggs. All Sea Turtles are endangered and it is important that we all work to what we can to help. Just the simple act of going on a turtle nesting tour helps to preserve the species. Money earned goes to further protect the species and ensure they survive long into the future.

  • The best time on the Caribbean side of the country tends to be July – October
  • The best time on the Pacific varies but if you are looking for something truly spectacular then you are going to want to see the arribadas or mass nesting the Olive Ridley’s do each year. During this event you could witness tens of thousands of turtles nesting at the same time in a single night. Olive Ridley arribadas peak in September or October.

 Check our interactive map for Sea Turtle nesting in Costa Rica.

What are the driving requirements for travelers?  Do I need an international license?

No, you do not need an international license to drive in Costa Rica. A valid drivers license from your home country can be used.

How are the roads in Costa Rica? Do I need a 4×4 to get around?

Many of our areas do not require a 4×4 at all. Several of our most popular areas such as Arenal and Manuel Antonio you would be fine in any vehicle type. If you are headed to some more of our remote areas then a 4×4 starts to be a necessity. We will help advise you on the correct vehicle to rent while you are on your Costa Rica adventure based on your destinations and time of year.

How can I get married in Costa Rica? What documents do I need?

Foreigners can get married in Costa Rica. The documents needed are:

  • original birth certificate
  • affidavit of single status
  • police record
  • valid passport
  • divorce decree (if applicable)

These documents need to follow the authentication procedure before being taken to Costa Rica.  This means you must take or send these documents to a Costa Rica Embassy in your country BEFORE you come.  They will attach tax stamps and return the documents to you.

What should I leave for a tip?

Tipping in Costa Rica is left to the discretion of the traveler. If you enjoyed a particular service, be it a guide, tour, or meal, then leaving a tip will always be appreciated but never expected. You will not find anyone here holding their hand out in expectation.

This is just an idea of how much to tip.

Tour = $5 – 10 per person if the tour or guide was exceptional

Transfer = $20 per couple or group if you particularly enjoyed the trip

Meal = Just a dollar or 2 in a local soda, as the restaurant goes up in price this should also be adjusted accordingly.

Is the water safe to drink in Costa Rica?

Yes. In most areas of Costa Rica the water is fine to drink. Bottled water is also readily available for those who wish to take extra care. Always wash fruits and vegetables before consumption in Costa Rica.

What is the currency in Costa Rica? What should I use?

In Costa Rica we use the Colon. US dollars are also widely accepted. Generally speaking if a price is marked in dollars, pay in dollars, if it is marked in Colones then pay in Colones. Most all of your tourism related items are paid for in dollars. Hotels, tours, transfers, but much of what you do on the ground may be in colones. Taxis, restaurants, grocery stores, so it will be necessary to have Colones close at hand.   For current exchange rates visit the Currency Exchange

Where is the best place to exchange money?

Local banks will always give you the best exchange rates. Avoid kiosks in the airports offering exchanges. Paying in dollars in many shops, restaurants, and businesses you will often get a poor exchange rate. They are under no obligation to go with what the banks set daily.

Can I use ATM machines in Costa Rica?

Yes you can. You can find ATM machines in almost all corners of the country. You can take Colones and sometimes dollars from area ATM’s.

Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?

Credit Cards are accepted throughout most f the country. In some of he more rural areas however this may not be the case.

Do I need any shots traveling to Costa Rica?

No there are no shots needed to visit Costa Rica. For travel in general it is good to get a tetanus shot.

Do I need an electric adapter?

Outlets in Costa Rica are 110v with a standard US two prong plug (three prong if grounded). Some travelers visiting may need to bring an adaptor but those traveling from the USA or Canada will be fine.

What are the beaches like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has beaches of many different kinds. Sand colors of white, black, gold, grey, pink, and brown can be found here. The best snorkeling beaches are on he Caribbean side of the country but you can find some diving and snorkeling on either coast.

What documents are required to bring my pet to Costa Rica?

Dogs and cats entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, endorsed by a veterinarian service (VS) veterinarian. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to traveling to Costa Rica. The required vaccinations are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies (for animals 4 months or older). Generally, rabies must be given between 30 and 364 days prior to arrival date while all other must be given within 30 days or arrival.

Is there and exit or departure tax in Costa Rica?  If so, how much is it?

Departure tax is $28 and can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with a Visa card.  This must be paid at the point of exit.