50 Things To Know Before Visiting Costa Rica And Best Costa Rica Travel Tips
All about Costa Rica travel tips and all the cool facts about Costa Rica and things to know before visiting Costa Rica from first-timers to seasoned travelers.
This post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Costa Rica and what awaits you from amazing beaches, beautiful landscape and Natural Parks to delicious food to try in Costa Rica.
Things To Know Before Visiting Costa Rica
COSTA RICA TRAVEL TIPS: QUICK FACTS ABOUT COSTA RICA
1. IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL IN COSTA RICA?
Costa Rica prides itself for being one of the safest country in South and Central America. This is why this beautiful place is oftentimes is travelers’ first choice. Just don’t flaunt your belongings to attract criminals, it’s a safe place after all.
Just use common sense when traveling like using taxi or Uber when going to bus Terminals and hotels at night time in the cities. The statistics show that in general Costa Rica is a safe place for tourists.
2. LEARNING SPANISH OR SPEAKING ENGLISH IN COSTA RICA
Another learning opportunity in Costa Rica is to learn Spanish. There are a lot of Spanish classes in Costa Rica offering packages with different services. Most of the touristic areas Costa Rican people speak English but it doesn’t mean all the locals speak English. Just make sure from our Costa Rica travel tips you learn some basics in Spanish language.
3. COSTA RICA VISA FRIENDLY
We can say facts about Costa Rica is visa friendly. All European Union Citizens, American and most Asian countries are not required of a Visa when traveling to Costa Rica. The visa exemption is maxed at 90 days. You could know more about Costa Rica’s Visa Policy here.
However, you must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica proving they will leave the country within the tourist visa period, usually granted for 90 days upon arrival in Costa Rica. (Either to return to your country or to go to another country).
4. CURRENCY AND USD ARE ACCEPTED
The currency of Costa Rica is called Colòn and as of now, $1 USD is worth 615 Colon. It is wiser to exchange your currency after arriving at your hotel, avoiding to exchange so much money in the airport. But if you have larger amount of cash to exchange, you should go to a local bank if possible.
You can use USD since they are accepted in hotels and most of the touristic areas. You can also pay with cards in hotels and touristic destinations in Costa Rica. But we recommend always to bring some local currency with you.
You will find ATMs in Costa Rica in most of the touristic destinations. Most of them can charge up to $5 USD fee for withdrawing cash. The maximum amount of cash to withdraw is up to $500 USD at one time.
5. WEATHER/ BEST TIME TO VISIT COSTA RICA
In Costa Rica, it almost always rains. For some, it ruins their trip and for some it makes their trip more exciting. So, base your visit to the season which you think will suit your travelling style. In their summer (December to April) is the dry season and there are fewer rains than normal. In their winter (May to November) is the rainy season.
If you are coming during the rainy season will not usually rain the whole day. And you will see les tourists and prices are going down. So you should consider visiting Costa Rica in dry and rainy season not a problem.
6. TICOS ARE VERY FRIENDLY
Are the Ticos very friendly? Costa Rican people are called Ticos and yeah Ticos are very friendly people. Most of them will be able to communicate in English but don’t forget their language is Spanish. It will be nice when interacting with Ticos trying to practice a few Spanish words, they will love to hear them.
7. COSTA RICA ISN’T SO CHEAP
If you are thinking Central America and South America is cheap for traveling you are right. But Costa Rica is the most expensive country in the area. You will have to pay entrance fee for Natural Parks, around $5 USD for a dish in a local restaurant. We will tell you below accommodation, food budget and general entrance fees and tour prices in Costa Rica.
MORE COSTA RICA TRAVEL TIPS AND THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING COSTA RICA
8. ACCOMMODATION BUDGET TRAVEL IN COSTA RICA
Quick facts about Costa Rica there are dormitory rooms where you can rent the bed for as low as $10-15 USD a night if you want the cheapest option. AirBnb are also available, mostly for about $20-$25 USD a night.
Double-room hostels can cost up to $20 USD a night while mid-range hotels cost more or less $50 USD a night. Click here if you want to find the best deals with Booking in Costa Rica.
9. FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN COSTA RICA
Breakfast will be the cheapest meal of the day and you can load up on Gallo Pinto, tortillas, eggs, fried plantains and some fresh fruit too for around $4-5 USD per person.
At lunch you might want a chicken sandwich for $9 USD, salad for $8 USD, burger for $8 USD or pizza for $11 USD and a fresh fruit drink for $3 USD. Cheaper if you go for a local dish around $5 USD.
You can have a budget of $15-25 USD a day and it can already get you more than enough decent meals. Costa Rica is a little bit pricey compared to other countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America.
10. TOURS/ ENTRANCE FEES IN COSTA RICA
When traveling in Costa Rica you will find entrance fees everywhere. The entrance fee for Agua Juan Castro Blanco National Park in the northern part of Costa Rica costs $10 USD per person. While the entrance fee for the Arenal Volcano National Park costs $15 USD per person.
The most expensive entrance fee for a national park in Costa Rica would be Manuel Antonio National Park with an entrance fee of $16 USD per person. For wildlife refuge and biological reserve sites, the entrance fees plays around $5-10 USD per person.
Click here to book online Costa Rica activities and Day Trips
11. WIFI AND INTERNET IN COSTA RICA
Wi-Fi is everywhere in Costa Rica and it works great in hotels. Restaurants and convenience stores often have free Wi-Fi in their places. We advise that you get a sim card in Costa Rica if you need to catch up with some work online.
You can get two different sim card companies in Costa Rica if you travel as a couple since the coverage can change depending on the company that you choose. It will be challenging to find Wi-Fi while traveling by bus to a different destination in Costa Rica and the trips can be so many hours.
SIM CARD AT SAN JOSE COSTA RICA AIRPORT
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at San Jose Costa Rica airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in San Jose Costa Rica. Read here Costa Rica eSim and best Costa Rica Sim card for tourist
You can find the cheapest Costa Rica eSim with Airalo Costa Rica eSim prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%). for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $20 USD with 3 GB data and for $30 USD with 5 GB data. (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%)
You can get an eSim for Costa Rica for €24 with 4 GB data valid for 14 days with MTX Connect eSim. Holafly Costa Rica eSim for $42 USD with 6 GB data in Costa Rica valid for 15 days and use our discount code GAMINTRAVELER.
12. ADAPTER IN COSTA RICA
In our Costa Rica travel tips you should know they use the American adapter. A few places make it possible to fit your European adapter in the plug. If you are coming from European countries, we recommend you to bring an American adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
13. TRANSPORTATION IS CHEAP BUT IT CAN TAKE SO LONG
Things to know before visiting Costa Rica local transportation is cheap and you can get a bus from the capital to the local beaches 3-4 hours driving distance for $8 USD. Most of the tourist destinations around Costa Rica can be reached by public bus. It would be easier for you to get a ticket in advance. The public buses are very decent in Costa Rica!
For example if you are planning to go from Manuel Antonio to Tamarindo by bus. It can take up to 12-14 hours for bus journey, transfers and waiting time included. You can also get shared shuttles and private transportation from hotels to the main touristic areas. So be ready for long trips in Costa Rica despite of looks a small country.
14. Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Ecotourism in Costa Rica is one of the best in the world. Costa Rica was recognized as one of the first countries with ecotourism. The National Parks Manuel Antonio National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are one of the best samples of ecotourism and sustainable development.
15. Pura Vida
Pura Vida is an expression that Ticos use anytime of the day. Pura Vida means literally pure life. But the truth Pura Vida is for saying hello, goodbye, everything is so cool in Costa Rica like saying is the way of life in Costa Rica. Ticos are friendly, relaxed and one of the happiest people in the world.
16. HEALTH INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Costa Rica we recommend always bringing travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems.
You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease. Just make sure you are ready since it can be really expensive if you get a big surgery or problem in Costa Rica.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review
You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included
17. DENGUE IN COSTA RICA
There are only a few cases of Dengue in Costa Rica but almost no cases of Malaria. Just make sure you put some mosquito repellent DEET or a similar one. Just in a few areas no worries so much but make sure you follow the guidelines in a few areas to avoid mosquito bites. Packing your bug spray is a must!
18. TAP WATER IS SAFE IN COSTA RICA
Tap water is safe in Costa Rica. It’s a concern always for tourists when traveling to South America or Central America about the tap water. In this case you can feel safe with tap water in Costa Rica in most of areas. You can always buy water everywhere you will find supermarkets or small shops in Costa Rica.
19. SECURITY GUARDS ARE EVERYWHERE IN COSTA RICA
Security guards are everywhere in Costa Rica and Central America in general. You will find them in the entrance of the malls. And even in your accommodation place 24 hours don’t worry is safe but you will see them any time of the day. If you are a foreigner coming from another country, don’t feel weird and shocked if the guard asks you to open your bag.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT COSTA RICA FOOD
20. TRY GALLO PINTO
Quick facts about Costa Rica Gallo Pinto is the favorite breakfast of Costa Ricans. They add black beans or red beans to their rice and pair it with other dishes. There are many variations of Gallo Pinto in Costa Rica but each variation proves that Gallo Pinto is better than old plain boring rice in the morning.
21. TRY FRESH TROPICAL FRUITS
Costa Rica has a lot of tropical fruits like bananas, watermelon, guavas, mangoes, papayas and coconuts. You will find a fresh coconut while staying in the beach anytime in Costa Rica with the street sellers for $3 USD. Also you can get a fruit shake or smoothie anytime for $3-5 USD in Costa Rica at the beach.
22. EATING IN LOCAL RESTAURANTS CALLED SODA
The name of local restaurant is Soda. You will find Sodas in small towns where you can try traditional food in Costa Rica. From Gallo Pinto and Casado typical dishes to soups, rice and popular desserts too. Prices are affordable and you can order dishes for around $5 USD each. Fruit juices are a must to try in Sodas too!
23. NIGHTLIFE IN COSTA RICA
Nightlife in Costa Rica is awesome and it’s one of my favorite in the world like Colombia, Spain and Argentina. Costa Ricans love to party. That’s why you’ll see lots of bars, clubs and restaurants. The best places for nightlife in Costa Rica can be Jaco, San Jose, Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo. You can always go for a drink at night in any beach destination or town in Costa Rica.
Apart from the nightlife in Costa Rica during the day you will always listen to music. Costa Rican people love dancing and listening to music all day long.
24. COFFEE IN COSTA RICA
The only production of coffee in Costa Rica is 100% Arabica. In Costa Rica is illegal to produce other kind of coffee. Arabica beans are more difficult to grow than others. Costa Rican beans are picked by farmers with their own hands.
25. Locals Always Eating Rice And Beans
When ordering local food you will have rice and beans. You can also have plantains (fried green banana). Apart from dishes you can find local juice. Gallo Pinto for breakfast and at lunch the name is Casado. These are the most popular meals in Costa Rica.
26. Renting A Car And Driving in Costa Rica
Renting a car and driving in Costa Rica is easy and a great way to see the country. You have to be patient sometimes the distance takes time but you will be able to stop anytime you wish to visit a small town and to take a picture of a landscape. The price for renting a car in Costa Rica is around $20-30 USD per day. The price of gas is also really cheap!
27. Sloths Aren’t Everywhere in Costa Rica
Sloths are the symbol of Costa Rica. But don’t you think you will find them everywhere. The best areas to find sloths is around the National Parks: Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio. You can find sloths in nature. Especially if you are going with a local guide will be easy to see them.
28. Uber Vs Taxi in Costa Rica
Uber vs Taxis in Costa Rica. In my opinion, Uber is a better option to use in Costa Rica since you will have a fixed price and you will be avoiding getting that price. There is no overcharge until your final destination.
You will find Uber in San Jose the capital and in the main cities like Liberia. Sometimes taxi drivers in Costa Rica overcharge and can be so challenging to close the exact price.
29. Travel Off Season in Costa Rica
Travel Off-season in Costa Rica is the best idea. Since you will avoid the crowds and the prices will go down in the most touristic areas. I would recommend you the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season as great options. You can get occasional rain but it will be easier and more comfortable to travel around Costa Rica.
30. Easy Border Crossings in Costa Rica
Easy border crossing in Costa Rica if you are planning to visit the neighboring countries: Nicaragua on the North and Panama on the South. It will be easy and you can do by public transportation.
There are also organized shared vans going from hostels to the main touristic places in the country. It’s helpful if you can speak a few Spanish words for crossing the borders to Nicaragua and Panama from Costa Rica.
31. Pacific Or Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica
The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is more developed than the Caribbean Coast. You will find more luxury hotels and beautiful beach towns like so dozens of fantastic beach towns like Tamarindo, Montezuma and Jaco. You will find shops everywhere, bars and restaurants. The Pacific Coast is a great place for surfing in Costa Rica.
The Caribbean Coast is more for backpackers where you will find plenty of options for hostels, you can sleep in tent and hammocks. My favorite beach town in the Caribbean Coast is Puerto Viejo where you can move around beautiful beaches for 20-30 kilometers just by bicycle. You will find less luxury options, bars and restaurants in the Caribbean Coast than Pacific Coast.
32. Digital Nomads in Costa Rica
There are many Digital Nomads in Costa Rica. You will find plenty of areas like Puerto Viejo, Jaco, San Jose and Guanacaste. Prices for renting an apartment can go from $300-500 USD if you are looking for budget options in places like Puerto Viejo. Guanacaste area and San Jose the capital prices are more expensive and cheap apartments can start at $500-600 USD.
Costa Rica has great internet and easy visa for foreigners. But prices can be little bit higher than other places like Mexico, Bali and Thailand. If you like relaxing in beaches or surfing for sure Costa Rica is a place for you to live for a few months.
33. DON’T SKIP SAN JOSE CITY (COSTA RICA’S CAPITAL)
The capital of Costa Rica San Jose is great to visit and we recommend you spend at least 1-2 days if you have time. Because of the combination of old and modern hints in the city, blending traditions and innovation. San Jose has museums and galleries like the most visited Museo de Jade, house of beautiful jade collections.
San Jose is also a great place for trying local food in Costa Rica and you will find also foreign cuisine. The Paseo Gastronomico La Luz in Barrio Escalante gets you hungry and craving even after you’re full! San Jose is the best place to start before engaging in more exciting experiences around Costa Rica
Places To Visit in Costa Rica
34. TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK
Tortuguero National Park is one of the most culturally diverse places in Costa Rica, Tortuguero National Park also is biodiverse. Aside from the observable richness of its flora and fauna. You could also enjoy boat trips into its canals. All of its nature trails like Gavilan Trail, La Ceiba, La Bomba, Harold, Mora, and Chiquero are worth visiting. Choose your trail based on your interests.
From San Jose, you could go here by plane, bus, shuttle, or boat. The boat costs about $3-8 USD. The bus costs around $8 USD. The plane ride costs about $60 USD but it is the fastest route available. If you prefer a fancy shuttle then you’ll have to pay $50 USD per person.
35. PUERTO VIEJO TALAMANCA
Puerto Viejo Talamanca is a surfer’s haven. Puerto Viejo Talamanca shows you how to relax and enjoy doing nothing as time passes by. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything here but the laidback vibes really take over. Get a hammock, lie down, and relax. It is absolutely refreshing.
Puerto Viejo Talamanca is also a lively party place that leans to Reggaeton music a lot. Backpackers also often visit Puerto Viejo Talamanca because of the vibes. It will take 5 hours by bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo Talamanca prices are around $10 USD.
Tamarindo is also a great place for surfing in Costa Rica. You will find many surf shops around Tamarindo and it’s also a good place if you want to learn. You could also relax on a cruise sunset sailing, great for couples and families to relax in Costa Rica too.
If you are coming from San Jose by bus will take 6 hours and the bus fare is around $10 USD per person. If you prefer taking the shuttle is around 4 hours and the price is $45-55 USD per person and you’ll share the trip with other people.
37. ARENAL VOLCANO (LA FORTUNA)
La Fortuna is the home of the country’s largest lake and beautiful volcano. In Arenal Lake you can kayak and enjoy the views of Arenal Volcano. You could also enjoy hiking to La Fortuna Waterfall, a place to swim and enjoy the coldness of the water falling from the top while enjoying beautiful surrounding views.
If you’re going to Arenal Volcano by car the shortest route is through the Panamerican Highway towards Puntarenas. The price by shuttle is $50 USD and it will take 4 hours. If you go by bus it will take 6 hours and the bus fare is $10 USD.
38. CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
Corcovado National Park is the largest in Costa Rica and the most beautiful. The ecosystem will surely mesmerize its visitors. There are plenty of visitors in the area because. You will find a lot of animals and for sure the wildlife of this place will not disappoint you.
The travel time from San Jose to Corcovado is around 6-8 hours depending on the traffic and the stops. From San Jose if you go by bus the prices are around $20 USD.
39. MANUEL ANTONIO PARK
Manuel Antonio Park is the most visited in Costa Rica densely populated with mammals and birds. Apart from the animals, you will find beaches around the park like Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach.
If you are going from San Jose to Manuel Antonio Park by bus. The bus fare is around $6-8 USD and it will take around 3-4 hours. If you by private shuttle prices are around $40-50 USD and it will take around 3 hours travel time.
Manzanillo is a white sand beach that offers snorkeling and swimming. Manzanillo is the perfect place in the Caribbean Coast. You will find delicious food especially good sea food on the market. Beautiful sunsets and great beaches to visit around this area.
Manzanillo is close to Puerto Viejo Talamanca. From Puerto Viejo Talamanca you can take a taxi to Manzanillo or waiting for the local bus. Prices for the taxi 20 minutes ride is around $10 USD great option if you are sharing with a few people.
41. MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST
Monteverde Cloud Forest is highly biodiverse. Monteverde Cloud Forest with 2500 flora and 620 fauna is really amazing to experience being up close to some of them. There are tours inside for Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Coffee, Chocolate and Sugarcane. You could also hike the Monteverde reserve or take exhilarating photos at their zip-lines and suspension bridges.
To get to Monteverde Cloud Forest you can go from San Jose to Santa Elena. The buses have services in 6 30 am and 2 30 pm. If you’re taking a bus will take 4 hours but if you’re taking the shuttle will take less than 3 hours.
Montezuma is the perfect place to find a good beach for sunbathing and swimming. The waves are not strong so it’s perfect for casual swimming. There is a stunning waterfall in Montezuma that is easy to hike from the village. The Montezuma waterfall has three cascades that are perfect place for visiting.
The easiest way to go to from San Jose to Montezuma is by bus and ferry. From San Jose you need to go to Jaco by bus for only $4 USD and the ride will take 2 hours. After the bus you need to take a ferry to Jaco going to Montezuma for $42 USD for a 1-hour ride.
43. LIMÓN CARNAVAL
Limon Carnaval is a one-week celebration of Costa Rica’s cultural diversity. They celebrate the members of the community from all races. Limon Carnaval is a festival is full of energy and colors. As a tourist, you’ll love the cultural immersion in this Carnaval.
Limon Carnival happens on the port city of Limon. This carnival has a lot of vibrant feel to it. You will meet different cultures residing in Costa Rica with music and dancing. This is the best time to immerse in Costa Rican culture because they show off their food and people.
44. Wildlife in Costa Rica
Wildlife in Costa Rica is one of the facts in Costa Rica that you can’t miss. The most popular places for wildlife in Costa Rica are Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio National Park, Palo Verde National Park, Corcovado National Park, Uvita, Puerto Viejo, Monteverde and La Fortuna.
Make sure you respect and follow the guidelines of the guides. You will have to wake up early sometimes to watch the animals or wait until sunset time. You have to be patient if you want to see sloths and pay so much attention.
Surfing in Costa Rica is a paradise as we mentioned before. There are a lot of places to surf in Costa Rica. You can spend a few weeks surfing or even trying to learn if you don’t know. Costa Rica is one of the places in the world with surf schools available and you’ll definitely learn at the end of the courses.
46. SCUBA DIVING
After sunbathing and swimming you might want to dive into the colorful life underwater. There are lots of places to dive in Costa Rica but if you’re a beginner you might want to go to the Caribbean coast because you’ll enjoy the peaceful dive. If you’re intermediate to advance you might want to go to the pacific coastline because there you’ll see manta rays and sharks.
If you are bringing your snorkeling mask as I always do you will find many spots on Caribbean beaches where the water is so clear. You can also join a boat trip to explore a few beaches or rent a bicycle around Puerto Viejo Talamanca.
47. Hiking in Costa Rica
Hiking in Costa Rica is one of the best things to do. There are plenty of Natural Parks like Manuel Antonio and Corcovado. You can also hike to Arenal Volcano and also a few hikes around the beach area. Most of them are easy and a few of them you will need a guide to go around.
48. Adventure in Costa Rica
If you like an adventure in Costa Rica. You will find many options from zip line to rafting. For most of the adventure activities in Costa Rica you will have to join to a group but no worries in the backpacking area and hostels you will find tours to join.
49. SUNSETS IN COSTA RICA
Sunsets in Costa Rica are so incredible. You will find beautiful colors, with music and people dancing and drinking around. It’s the perfect time of the day to enjoy a drink and relax while watching the sunset.
50. BEACHES IN COSTA RICA
If you are looking for beaches in Costa Rica. You should know the two most popular areas are Guanacaste in Northwest area. And my favorite ones South Caribbean areas of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. Both of them have spots for relaxing, swimming and surfing.
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