Costa Rica

“Life is what you make of it ” – Pura Vida

Exploring COSTA RICA: Travel Tips

If you’re looking for an amazing travel destination that has it all, Costa Rica should be at the top of your list. This Central American country is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and laid-back vibe. Costa Rica is also a great place to surf, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine, and explore sustainable tourism practices.

Costa rica is a land of beaches, rainforests and volcanoes. The country is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including jaguars, monkeys and sloths.

When travelling to Costa Rica, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent, as the country’s tropical climate can be quite humid. Also, be prepared for some bumps in the road – literally! The country’s infrastructure is still developing in some areas, so expect potholes and uneven roads in certain parts of the country.

Despite these minor challenges, Costa Rica is an incredible place to visit and is sure to offer something for everyone. So get packing and start planning your Costa Rican adventure today!

Costa Rica Travel Basics

Currency

Costa Rica’s official currency is the colón (pronounced “koh-lone”), which has an exchange rate of about 566 colones to 1 US dollar. While it’s possible to use US dollars in Costa Rica, you’ll get a better deal on purchases if you use the local currency.

ATMs are widely available throughout Costa Rica, and most will accept foreign cards. However, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand in case of an emergency. When traveling around Costa Rica, it’s also important to be aware of pickpockets, as theft can be a problem in busy tourist areas.

Power

The electrical system in Costa Rica is 110 volts, 60 Hz. This is the same as in the United States, so North American travelers will not need to bring a converter or adapter. However, European travelers will need a converter or adapter for their electronics.

The voltage in Costa Rica can fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to bring a surge protector for your electronics. Power outages are not uncommon, but they usually only last for a few minutes and rarely occur in major cities.

Drinking water

The quality of drinking water in Costa Rica is generally good, but it can vary depending on the location. In rural areas, it’s best to stick to bottled water, as the water supply may not be treated. In urban areas and tourist areas, the water is usually safe to drink.

If you’re unsure about the quality of the water, look for a sign that says “Agua Potable” (drinking water). This means that the water has been tested and is safe to drink.

What is Pura Vida?

Pura vida is Costa Rica’s unofficial motto, which means “pure life” or “simple living”. It’s often used as a friendly greeting.

Tipping in Costa Rica

Tipping is not required in Costa Rica, but it is appreciated. A 10% tip is typically given for good service, and 15-20% is given for exceptional service.

Tipping is not common in taxis or restaurants with a service charge, but it’s always appreciated. When in doubt, ask your hotel or tour guide about the best way to show your appreciation for good service.

Getting around in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a relatively small country, so it’s easy to get around. The main airport is located in the capital city of San Jose, and there are many domestic flights to other parts of the country.

The best way to see Costa Rica is by car. You can rent a car at the airport or through your hotel. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws before driving, as they can be different from what you’re used to.

Public transportation in Costa Rica is also an option, but it can be less reliable than other methods of travel. Bus service is available between major cities, but schedules can be unpredictable. Most buses leave from San José.

For a hassle-free trip, consider hiring a private driver or taking a guided tour. This will allow you to sit back and enjoy the scenery while someone else takes care of the driving.

When to visit Costa Rica

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April when the weather is dry and sunny. This is also the busiest time of year for tourism, so be sure to book your travel arrangements in advance.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back vacation, consider visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season (May-November). The weather is still nice during this time of year, and there are fewer tourists.

Keep in mind that prices for accommodation and activities tend to be higher during the dry season. So if you’re on a budget, you may want to travel during the rainy season when prices are lower.

Accomodations in Costa Rica

There are many different types of accommodation in Costa Rica, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. You can also find vacation rentals, such as apartments and villas if you’re looking for a more private and homey experience.

For those on a tight budget, there are plenty of hostels and budget hotels available. These accommodations are typically basic but clean and comfortable.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more, there are many mid-range hotels that offer more amenities, such as pools and restaurants.

For a truly luxurious experience, there are several 5-star resorts located in Costa Rica. These resorts offer top-notch service and facilities, such as spas and golf courses.

We wrote an article about the most unique hotels in Costa Rica. We dedicated an article about Glamping hotel in Costa Rica on Isla Chiquita.

What to pack for Costa Rica

When packing for Costa Rica, be sure to bring comfortable, lightweight clothing. The weather is typically warm and humid, so you’ll want to dress accordingly.

Sunscreen and insect repellent are also a must, as the sun can be intense and mosquitoes are plentiful. If you’re planning on spending time in the water, be sure to pack a swimsuit and towel.

Other essential items include a camera (to capture all those amazing memories!), a reusable water bottle (to stay hydrated), and a travel adapter (to charge your devices).

Helpfull apps for Costa Rica

There are many useful apps for travelers in Costa Rica. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

XE Currency: This app is a must-have for anyone traveling abroad. It allows you to conversion rates for over 180 currencies, so you’ll always know how much your money is worth.

Google Maps: This app is essential for getting around Costa Rica, as it offers turn-by-turn navigation and offline maps (in case you lose service).

Uber: Uber is a great option for getting around Costa Rica, as it’s usually cheaper than taking a taxi. Just be sure to request an UberX, as the standard Uber cars are not allowed to pick up passengers in Costa Rica.

How to eat & drink in Costa Rica

Eating

There are many delicious things to eat in Costa Rica. The national dish is gallo pinto, which is a rice and bean dish typically served with eggs. Other popular dishes include casado (rice, beans, and meat), ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice), and tamales (corn-based dumplings).

What to drink in Costa Rica

When it comes to drinks, coffee is the most popular choice. Costa Rican coffee is some of the best in the world, so be sure to try a cup while you’re here.

If you’re looking for something refreshing, try a glass of fresco de frutas – a fruit drink made with water or milk and blended with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Language

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, but English is also widely spoken. This makes Costa Rica an ideal destination for travelers who want to learn or practice their Spanish skills.

In addition to Spanish and English, you may also hear Costa Ricans speaking Creole, a dialect of English that’s mixed with African and Caribbean influences. Costa Ricans also have their own unique slang, which can be heard in everyday conversation.

  • Pura vida! (This is Costa Rica’s unofficial motto, which means “pure life” or “simple living”. It’s often used as a friendly greeting.)
  • ¿Qué pasa? (What’s up?)
  • ¡Hasta luego! (See you later!)
  • ¿Me ayuda? (Can you help me?)
  • Gracias. (Thank you.)
  • Lo siento. (I’m sorry.)
  • Por favor. (Please.)

Top experiences in Costa Rica

There are so many incredible experiences to be had in Costa Rica! Here are just a few of the top things to see and do on your next trip:

There are countless amazing experiences to be had in Costa Rica. Here are just 10 of the top things to do in Costa Rica:

Take a dip in hot springs: Costa Rica is home to several active volcanoes, which means there are plenty of hot springs to enjoy. Soak up the mineral-rich waters and relax your muscles after a long day of exploring.

Go ziplining through the rainforest: Adrenaline junkies will love zipping through the jungle canopy on one of Costa Rica’s many ziplines. This is a great way to get an up-close look at the rainforest and spot some wildlife.

Visit a coffee plantation: Costa Rican coffee is some of the best in the world. Visit a local plantation to learn about the coffee-making process and taste some of the delicious brews for yourself.

Spot some wildlife: Costa Rica is home to an incredible variety of animals, including sloths, monkeys, toucans, and butterflies. You can go on a safari tour to see these creatures in their natural habitat, or even visit a rescue center to learn more about their conservation.

Go surfing: Costa Rica is a mecca for surfers from all over the world. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find great waves to ride here.

Take a cooking class: Learn how to cook traditional Costa Rican dishes like gallo pinto and ceviche in a cooking class. This is a great way to experience the local cuisine and bring some new recipes home with you.

Explore a rainforest: Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests. Take a hike through the jungle and spot exotic plants and animals that you’ve never seen before.

Visit a national park: Costa Rica is home to many beautiful national parks, such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Tortuguero National Park. Spend a day hiking, bird watching, or just enjoying the stunning scenery.

Go tubing down a river: One of the best ways to cool off in Costa Rica is by floating down a river on an inner tube. There are many different rivers to choose from, so you can find one that suits your comfort level.

Zipline through the jungle: Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to go ziplining. There are many different courses to choose from, so you can find one that suits your comfort level.

Costa Rica is an incredible country with something to offer everyone. From its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife to its delicious food and coffee, there's no shortage of things to see and do here. So whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, you'll find it in Costa Rica.

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