25 Travel Tips for Costa Rica: Things to know before you go

Have you been dreaming of a tropical vacation, but don’t want to spend a fortune? Then Costa Rica should be at the top of your list! This Central American country is known for its lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and friendly locals. Plus, it’s relatively easy (and affordable) to get to from the United States.

This is why you should visit Costa Rica:

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There’s something for everyone

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventurous trek through the jungle, Costa Rica has something to offer everyone. There are plenty of tour operators offering all kinds of different excursions, so it’s easy to find an activity that suits your interests.

The beaches are stunning

Costa Rica is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can find secluded black sand beaches, surf spots popular with tourists and locals alike, and even beaches where you can go turtle watching. No matter what kind of beach experience you’re looking for, Costa Rica will have something to offer you.

The food is delicious

If you love fresh seafood, then Costa Rica is the place for you! In addition to seafood dishes, you’ll also find plenty of traditional Costa Rican foods like Gallo pinto (rice and beans) and tamales. And of course, no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without trying a delicious cup of coffee.

The people are friendly

Costa Ricans, or “Ticos” as they’re called, are some of the friendliest people in the world. You’ll quickly feel at home in Costa Rica thanks to the hospitable locals.

It’s an affordable destination

While Costa Rica is not the cheapest country to visit, it’s still relatively affordable compared to other popular tourist destinations. You can find reasonably priced hotels and restaurants, and there are plenty of free or cheap activities to enjoy as well.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Costa Rica today!

We listed 25 Travel tips for Costa Rica to help you plan and enjoy this beautiful country. If you’re looking for a 10-day road trip in Costa Rica you should check this article.

Costa Rica Travel tips safety

Don’t be afraid of the wildlife in Costa Rica.

There are plenty of animals in Costa Rica, but don’t worry – most of them are harmless! You’ll probably see plenty of iguanas, monkeys, and birds during your stay. You might even spot a sloth or a turtle if you’re lucky. Just remember to respect the wildlife and never approach an animal if it looks scared or aggressive.

Take bug spray with you.

You will need bug spray in Costa Rica, depending on where you’re staying and what time of year it is. The country does have its fair share of mosquitoes, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re planning on spending time in the rainforest or jungle, then bug spray is a must.

Watch out for the sun.

The sun can be very strong in Costa Rica, so be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Also, try to stay in the shade as much as possible, especially during the midday hours when the sun is at its strongest.

Is it safe to swim in the water?

Yes, it is safe to swim in Costa Rica! The beaches here are beautiful and the water is clean. Just be sure to obey any posted signs and warnings, and never swim alone. Use common sense and you’ll have no problem staying safe in the water.

The beaches in Costa Rica are some of the cleanest and safest on earth, thanks to a rigorous program that measures them against international standards. The Ecological Blue Flag sets precise guidelines for ensuring high-quality tourism experiences abroad.

Don’t be afraid of earthquakes.

Yes, earthquakes do happen in Costa Rica. However, they are usually minor and don’t cause any damage. If you’re worried about earthquakes, just keep an eye on the news and follow any safety instructions from the authorities. On this website, you can find more info about earthquakes in Costa Rica.

Watch out if you rent a car.

Renting a car in Costa Rica is a great way to explore the country at your own pace. Just be sure to drive carefully and obey all traffic laws. Remember, Costa Ricans drive on the right side of the road!

Tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica.

Yes, tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica. However, some people prefer to drink bottled water just to be on the safe side. If you’re staying in a remote area or traveling off the beaten path, then it’s best to bring your own water.

Get insurance.

Travel insurance is always a good idea, no matter where you’re traveling. Costa Rica is a safe country, but accidents can happen anywhere. travel insurance will help you if you get sick or injured while on your trip. It will also cover your belongings in case they are lost or stolen.

Costa Rica travel tips for saving money

Use the public transportation

The public transport in Costa Rica is good, but it can be confusing for first-time visitors. The best way to get around is by bus. You can also take a taxi, but be sure to agree on a price with the driver before getting in. We used public transportation in Costa Rica and found the Facebook group, Costa Rica, by bus very informative.

Travel in the off or rainy season

The shoulder season is the best time to travel to Costa Rica because the prices are lower and the crowds are smaller. This is also a great time to visit if you want to avoid the rainy season. Keep in mind that the shoulder season can vary depending on where you’re going in the country. We made a list of our top 10 unique hotels in Costa Rica in case you need more inspiration.

Eat where locals eat

If you want to eat like a local in Costa Rica, then head to a soda. These are small, family-run restaurants that serve traditional Costa Rican food. You can find sodas all over the country, and they’re usually very cheap. Just be sure to try the national dish, gallo pinto! Or try some Caldosas!

Book accommodations in advance

Yes, it’s always a good idea to book your accommodations in advance to get the best price. This is especially true during the high season when prices go up and availability decreases. You can often find great deals on accommodation if you book ahead of time.

Stay in a place with a kitchen

If you’re traveling on a budget, then renting a place with a kitchen can help you save money. You can cook your own meals instead of eating out all the time. This is also a great option if you have dietary restrictions or preferences.


Buy souvenirs in the grocery store

Yes, it’s usually cheaper to buy souvenirs in a grocery store than in a tourist shop. This is because the shops that cater to tourists often charge higher prices. However, you can also find good deals on souvenirs if you know where to look. Just be sure to bargain!

Get a prepaid SIM card

There are a few different prepaid SIM cards available in Costa Rica. We bought a Claro SIM card It offers good coverage and reasonable prices. You can purchase a Claro SIM card at any major provider or at most convenience stores. You do need to register with your identity card.

Costa Rica Travel tips Culture

Try a cascado

Cascado is a hearty dish made with beef, potatoes, and vegetables. The beef is slow-cooked until it is fall-apart tender, and the potatoes and vegetables are cooked in the same pot. Cascado is typically served with white rice and beans, and a side of avocado.

Use a local guide

One of the best ways to travel on a budget in Costa Rica is to use a local guide. Local guides can help you navigate the country, and they will often offer discounts on activities and attractions. They can also help you find cheaper accommodation and transportation options.

Pura Vida is everywhere

Pura Vida is a Costa Rican phrase that means “pure life.” It is often used as a greeting, and it encapsulates the laid-back lifestyle of the country.

Tico’s are nice people

Yes, Tico’s are generally considered to be very friendly and helpful. They are known for their hospitality, and they will often go out of their way to help tourists. And they love soccer!

Costa Rica has no army

Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, and it has been a peaceful country ever since. This decision was made in order to save money, and it has helped Costa Rica to become one of the most stable and democratic countries in Latin America.

Practical Costa Rica Travel tips

Learn some key Spanish phrases

Here are some key Spanish phrases that you might find useful while traveling in Costa Rica:

  • Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon: Hola
  • How are you?: ¿Cómo estás?
  • Please: Por favor
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • Yes: Sí
  • No: No
  • Excuse me: Perdóneme
  • I’m sorry: Lo siento mucho
  • Do you speak English?: ¿Habla usted inglés?

Take some USD with you

While it’s always good to have cash on hand while traveling, this is especially true in Costa Rica. Many businesses in the country only accept cash, so it’s important to have some American dollars or Colones on hand.

Use Waze to get around

Waze is a GPS navigation app that provides turn-by-turn directions. It also offers real-time traffic information, which can be useful when you’re trying to avoid traffic jams. You can also use Waze to find gas prices and discounts on activities and attractions.

Bring a rain jacket

Costa Rica is a tropical country, and it experiences a lot of rainfall. So, if you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, be sure to pack a rain jacket. A rain jacket will help you stay dry during your travels, and can also be useful for keeping your belongings dry if you get caught in a rainstorm.

Throw your toilet paper in the garbage

In Costa Rica, it is customary to throw your used toilet paper in the garbage, not the toilet. This is because the sewer system in Costa Rica is not designed to handle toilet paper. So, if you flush your toilet paper down the drain, it will likely cause a clog.

Use Waze to get around

Waze is a GPS navigation app that provides turn-by-turn directions. It also offers real-time traffic information, which can be useful when you’re trying to avoid traffic jams. You can also use Waze to find gas prices and discounts on activities and attractions.

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