15 Essential Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica

15 Essential Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica

Tropical seashores, rugged rainforests, and limitless journey. Whether you wish to party the night time away or immerse your self in a few of Central America’s richest historical past—that’s what awaits you in Costa Rica.

Before you begin planning your Costa Rica travel, there are some key belongings you’ll wish to know. Known as one of the happiest countries on Earth and essentially the most sustainable, Costa Rica is an impressive place you’re positive to fall in love with.

Costa Rica journey ideas – issues you should know

Anytime you’re visiting a spot for the primary time, you’re certain to be taught a factor or two about your vacation spot. No matter the place within the nation you’re headed from San José to Puntarenas, Jacó, or Liberia, the best things to do in Costa Rica vary from wild zipline excursions to breathtaking rainforest hikes, and nearly every part in between. Be ready to your journey with our ideas!

1. You can use USD in most locations

Stack of United States Dollars

RomanR / Shutterstock

One of the most important challenges that include touring internationally is determining the native forex. However, if you go to Costa Rica, you should utilize the United States Dollar all through a lot of the nation.

For essentially the most half, USD is accepted all through the nation. Not solely does this make touring simpler (for Americans a minimum of), but it surely’s additionally a good way to save cash by avoiding trade charges.

For essentially the most half, taxi drivers, accommodations, and eating places all through a lot of the tourism sizzling spots are more than pleased to just accept cost in American {dollars}. If you intend on tipping although, which is very inspired, attempt to take action within the official forex, the Costa Rican Colón. It makes it simpler for whoever you’re tipping to spend it.

Most if not all of the metropolitan and touristy components of Costa Rica have fashionable monetary applied sciences that you’ve at dwelling. This means you could additionally use your credit score and debit playing cards in addition to applied sciences like Apple Pay in additional populated areas. That mentioned, make sure you all the time select to pay in Colón if utilizing playing cards as a result of the trade price charged by your financial institution ought to be much less.

See Related: Proven Ways to Save Money for Travel

2. Paying in money will get you a less expensive value

Person opening cash-filled wallet
Travel man / Shutterstock

One of the most important insider Costa Rica journey ideas is understanding that money is king. That’s truly true in numerous components of the world, particularly as card transaction charges develop and value companies cash. In Costa Rica, charges are sometimes 1% to three% of the sale value however could be in extra of 5%.

You is perhaps used to placing every part in your bank card at dwelling, however you positively wish to convey money if you come to Costa Rica. It’s frequent to get a greater value on nearly every part there in the event you’re paying in money reasonably than utilizing a credit card or an app like Apple Pay.

So paying in money enables you to pay the sticker value for items and companies in Costa Rica with out getting hit with that additional markup. Some firms will even offer you an extra low cost when paying in money simply because it makes their paperwork that a lot simpler.

3. Choose your seasons rigorously earlier than reserving your journey

Cloudy Arenal Volcano from The Springs Resort
Kyle Kroeger / By way ofTravelers

Costa Rica is really a lovely nation, and there’s actually no dangerous time of 12 months to make a journey down there. However, Costa Rica has some wild climate, and understanding your seasons goes that can assist you have a good time.

Broadly talking, Costa Rica has two seasons; the dry one working from January to the top of April, and the moist one, working from May by means of December.

Knowing these seasons in Costa Rica goes that can assist you choose your vacation destination. September and October are mentioned to be the worst occasions to go to the Pacific coast because it’s so wet, and numerous companies shut down for the season.

Conversely, September and October are regarded by some as one of the best months to go to the Caribbean coast the place heat climate and clear skies make for a soothing seaside journey.

If you’re seeking to save some huge cash in your Costa Rican trip, April and May characterize the shoulder season the place you’ll be capable of discover one of the best reductions on every part from accommodations to transit. And visiting within the dry season means getting extra good days to discover the numerous beautiful beaches, see the beautiful waterfalls, or have clear sufficient climate to see the Arenal Volcano. Just be cautious of freak showers!

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit

4. Learn some Spanish phrases

Sign in Spanish
Juan Roballo / Shutterstock

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. This implies that avenue indicators, authorities data, and most main media retailers are going to offer all of their data in Spanish. With that in thoughts, understanding some Spanish goes to turn out to be useful, however getting that official data isn’t the one cause to know a bit of Spanish when going to Costa Rica.

It’s generally held tourism knowledge that understanding your manner round a neighborhood language will do wonders to your expertise. You’ll really feel much less like a vacationer and the locals shall be extra inclined to chop you a greater deal or do you a favor in the event you’re talking their native language. Trust me, studying some fundamental Spanish goes to get you a large number if you go to Costa Rica.

Although English is extensively spoken all through the nation (significantly in tourism hotspots) and lots of Costa Ricans, significantly within the capital metropolis of San José, communicate English, it’s all the time courteous to have the ability to communicate within the native language. Even just a bit effort goes a good distance.

So don’t be an ignoramus, choose up a Spanish phrase e book, use your favourite language studying app, chat with a Spanish-speaking buddy, or take a couple of Spanish programs at a area people group to arrange to your journey to Costa Rica. The Ticos (a enjoyable time period for Costa Ricans), will respect that you simply tried. You don’t should be fluent, however anytime you go to a spot that speaks a special language than you it’s all the time deeply appreciated if you give the native language a attempt.

You’ll get a lot extra out of your journey to this tropical nation in the event you be taught some fundamental Spanish. My previously fluent, at present rusty Spanish abilities helped me make associates that I nonetheless communicate to as we speak. Plus your language abilities will enhance as you’re surrounded by it which provides you a beneficial likelihood to apply, which suggests you’re opening so many doorways for future travels to Spanish-speaking nations!

5. Renting a automotive unlocks Costa Rica’s potential

Driving towards Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
Sara Valenti / Shutterstock

There is perhaps no Costa Rica ideas extra essential than those who allow you to get round. And one of the simplest ways to get round Costa Rica is by automotive.

Costa Rica provides rather more affordable rental car prices than different locations in Central America or the United States. For only a few {dollars} a day, you possibly can lease a brand new automotive to take pleasure in in your drive by means of the Costa Rican countryside.

You’re positively going to need to perform a little research in your driving routes forward of time, significantly if you’re going to go to through the wet season when roads can get washed out. Costa Rica additionally has much less highway signage than you is perhaps used to.

Costa Rican drivers even have a repute for being very assertive on the highway. So, take it simple if you’re driving down streets till you get used to this new circulation of site visitors. Generally, the nation is protected for drivers and paved roads can take you thru the entire main cities.

See Related: Best Car Rental Sites to Find Great Deals

6. Get prepared for rain

Rain in Costa Rica
riekephotos / Shutterstock

No matter the season, Costa Rica has a tropical local weather so you possibly can anticipate some critical downpours. If you wish to be prepared for rain like a neighborhood, you’ll go away the umbrella at dwelling. Even although umbrellas are frequent in Costa Rica, locals are likely to choose ponchos and rain jackets for his or her flexibility.

You ought to convey a minimum of a light-weight poncho on you even in the event you’re visiting through the dry months. Sudden downpours are frequent and a bit of additional preparation can spare you from getting drenched.

We additionally advocate having a dry bag with you. This enables you to stash your smartphone and every other electronics in a water-resistant bag to maintain them protected.

7. Yes, you possibly can drink faucet water in Costa Rica

A woman drinking water
fizkes / Shutterstock

It’s previous information that faucet water in some Latin American nations just isn’t protected for vacationers to drink. This is as a result of the faucet water in nations like Mexico comprises microscopic organisms that don’t seem in different climates, and the water provides don’t undergo the identical remedy processes as they do in say Europe or North America.

These organisms can simply get you actually sick and spoil your trip – or worse. It can take a very long time for the physique to get used to those new organisms, which is why the locals can drink the water however vacationers can’t. This has led to a fantasy you could’t drink faucet water in any Latin American nation in anyway.

But don’t have any worry, faucet water is protected all through all of Costa Rica. You gained’t have to fret about any disagreeable abdomen bugs ruining your journey because of the faucet water. The nation has a recent plumbing infrastructure and fashionable water remedy processes, that means your faucet water in your hotel room in addition to in main cities and tourism zones is completely protected to drink.

You may wish to convey some bottled water together with you in the event you’re heading into the extra rural areas of Costa Rica. Rural areas all through the nation are likely to have much less fashionable infrastructure and typically depend on extra rudimentary water sources.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Liberia, Costa Rica

8. Costa Rica is (regionally) costly

View of Tamarindo Beach from El Capitan Suizo Resort
Kyle Kroeger / By way ofTravelers

Certain facets of Costa Rica could be surprisingly costly. This is very true when evaluating Costa Rica to its neighboring nations like Nicaragua.

Why is Costa Rica a lot costlier than its neighbors? Simply put, you’re getting extra bang for that buck. Let’s check out how far a greenback will get you in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has gotten a bit of costlier over the past a number of years as taxes on Imports have elevated. This implies that there are a couple of items which can be going to price about the identical as they do at dwelling – and typically extra.

Another cause is that the tourism trade in Costa Rica has been extremely profitable and continues to be on the rise. That success has introduced further monetary alternatives which suggests larger prices for vacationers and well-liked areas. So, as a vacationer, it’s kinda your fault too.

Some main prices nevertheless, like transportation and lodging, are going to be manner decrease in Latin America than they might be elsewhere on the earth. Even although Costa Rican accommodations price greater than neighboring nations, they’re nonetheless extremely inexpensive by American requirements.

All in all, in comparison with trip locations in possession of comparable climates, climate, landscapes, actions, and lodging, Costa Rica is an extremely affordable vacation destination, even in the event you do plan on sticking to well-liked tourism sizzling spots.

9. Stay one step forward of mosquitos

A mosquito In a net
GrooveZ / Shutterstock

Being a tropical nation, mosquitoes take up residence all 12 months lengthy in Costa Rica, they usually’re not going anyplace any time quickly. That mentioned, there are methods of mitigating these mini-menaces.

Mosquitoes can carry harmful diseases like dengue fever and malaria. You wish to just be sure you have an efficient mosquito repellent on you always, and in the event you’re tenting ensure you’ve acquired some mosquito nets to your tent or hammock.

Mosquitos are at their worst through the wet season in Costa Rica. The moist season creates loads of stagnant swimming pools of water that are ideally suited breeding grounds for clouds of mosquitoes. The dryer months have fewer mosquitoes, however they’re nonetheless fairly frequent all through the nation.

The solely place you possibly can actually keep away from mosquitoes in Costa Rica is at larger elevations, akin to the realm across the Arenal Volcano. If you intend on visiting extra mountainous areas, you’ll be capable of dodge the worst of those pesky bugs.

See Related: Most Stunning, Unique Costa Rica Animals

10. Be prepared for restaurant service prices and taxes

Person paying a restaurant bill
Totsapon Phattaratharnwan / Shutterstock

One of the neglected ideas for Costa Rica is understanding to be prepared for added restaurant service prices and taxes. Restaurants will possible add a ten% service cost to your invoice, which is frequent apply all through the nation, so don’t be shocked in the event you see a service cost in your receipt.

There are additionally further taxes that it’s important to pay each time visiting a restaurant or a bar in Costa Rica. A 13% added tax is frequent throughout most eating places and bars throughout the nation.

Tipping can be frequent apply all through the nation. A great tipper will go away a minimal tip of 20% at a restaurant or when using every other historically tipped service.

Unlike within the United States, the service cost and ideas are thought-about separate in Costa Rica. Service prices are taxable revenue whereas a tip can go straight into the employee’s pocket.

11. Visit nationwide parks and trails

Rope bridge in a Costa Rican rainforest
Simon Dannhauer / Shutterstock

Apart from its balmy local weather, pleasant locals, wonderful meals, and large biodiversity, Costa Rica is thought the world over for its seashores, however do you know that a lot of these seashores are additionally nationwide parks?

The greatest attracts of Costa Rica are the nationwide parks, seashores, and trails. Costa Rica has 28 nationwide parks and three of these are additionally UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The nationwide parks in Costa Rica embody secluded seashores, volcanoes, and rugged rainforest jungles. No matter what you’re into, there’s a nationwide park in Costa Rica that may make a great trip vacation spot only for you.

This is the right nation to go to in the event you love the outside and also you wish to expertise one thing actually untamed on stroll. Costa Rica is dwelling to stunning mountaineering alternatives and numerous trails for all ability ranges.

All of the nationwide parks in Costa Rica have some trails. There are simple trails which can be excellent for rookies in addition to more difficult trails designed for skilled outside fanatics.

Costa Rica additionally has a powerful National Trail referred to as the Costa Rica El Camino. This path is over 170 miles lengthy and connects the Pacific coast to the Caribbean coast.

Whether you wish to spend your whole journey in Costa Rica backpacking by means of the rainforest otherwise you’re on the lookout for a day journey to a volcano, the nationwide parks and this nation are an absolute should for any journey.

See Related: Things to Do in Las Catalinas

12. Get suggestions from individuals at locations you keep

Sloth Sleeping in a Tree, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / By way ofTravelers

If you’re utilizing a neighborhood information, like my pal José from Passport Adventure, it’s simple to get suggestions. But for solo vacationers, it may be even higher to get recommendation from locals on the place to remain just like the unbelievable Arenal Springs Resort & Spa or Crocs Resort & Casino.

Costa Rica is a pretty safe country, so there’s much less to fret about on that entrance. However, locals can level you within the route of hidden gems you may not in any other case discover akin to hanging out on the Sloth-Watching Trail or the unbelievable Superman Zipline over the rainforest. These could make journeys much more particular since you’ve uncovered one thing different vacationers are much less more likely to discover.

Getting recommendation from locals is way simpler if you realize some fundamental phrases in Spanish, which solidifies how essential it’s to know a bit of of the language earlier than you go to.

A great Costa Rica journey information or concierge service like José may help personalize your itinerary to what’s going to greatest serve you. Plus their journey ideas as locals are manner higher than something a fellow traveler might give.

13. Eat on the small native “sodas” to save cash

A roadside soda in Costa Rica
phortun / Shutterstock

Doesn’t one drink a soda? Relax, it’s not that type of soda. Sodas are roadside diners the place locals eat and vacationers don’t all the time make use of them.

But these spots can have a number of the greatest native meals, particularly Costa Rica’s nationwide dish – Casado. If you’re something like me, you’ll fall deeply in love with this dish.

Casado interprets in English to “married” which is the right identify for this meal. The simplicity of beans, rice, greens, salad, plantains, and a protein alternative (or no matter else the kitchen throws in) is so comforting, like a hug from a beloved one.

Not solely is a meal at a soda going to be cheaper, however you’ll additionally get a extra genuine expertise. They aren’t catering to vacationers, they’re catering to the locals. And you’ll be hard-pressed to discover a higher plate of casado elsewhere.

14. Get insured

Safetywing Homepage
SafetyWing / SafetyWing

No matter what time of 12 months you go to Costa Rica, travel insurance is all the time a good suggestion. With an insurer like SafetyWing you possibly can relaxation simple understanding that your travels, self, and baggage are coated.

Travel insurance coverage protects you from the sudden so you possibly can spend extra time having fun with your journey and fewer time worrying about what might go unsuitable. If your flights get canceled, you get damage, you lose your baggage, or want emergency care? You’re coated.

SafetyWing is made for nomads, in order that they know what vacationers want. They are there if you want them and even little kiddos are coated regardless of the place on the earth you’re.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

15. Embrace Pura Vida

A pura vida sign in Costa Rica
Marcus Grip / Shutterstock

All the locals will rapidly introduce you to the Pura Vida life-style of Costa Rica. Pura Vida interprets to “pure life”, “easy life”, “the straightforward life”, no matter you need man, it’s Pura Vida. This easy time period exemplifies the expertise of being in Costa Rica. You’ll hear it in all places you go.

It can imply “hiya,” “goodbye,” “thanks,” or “how are you” amongst so many different meanings. Mostly it’s only a factor that folks say. More than all of that, it’s only a feeling of familiarity that you simply’ll undoubtedly get by being in a small nation like Costa Rica.

My greatest Costa Rica journey tip? Embrace the approach to life. Allow the experiences on this unbelievable place to pour over you want a waterfall. You and your journey will each be higher for it. Pura Vida, child.

Costa Rica Packing List

Packing Travel Essentials
Kittiphan / Adobe Stock

No matter the place your adventures could take you, from surf classes on the coast, exploring Manuel Antonio, or horseback driving on the seashore, there’s some gear you’ll want. Costa Rica is an incredible nation with tons of nature to expertise.

Generally, the costume codes are very laid again. Both women and men lounge round in athleisure or put on sporty clothes for lengthy outside hikes. It’s not unusual to see locals and vacationers alike kicking again in eating places carrying their beach clothes.

Insect repellents

Trail Guard Essential Oil Roll On Blend- Keeps Mosquitoes, Bugs & Insects Away
Trail Guard Essential Oil Roll On Blend / Amazon

You completely must convey mosquito repellent as these buzzing bugs are an issue all 12 months lengthy, and sunscreen is an absolute should too, however needless to say throughout the nation’s protected parks you might be forbidden from utilizing spray lotions or repellents.

Costa Rica is without doubt one of the world’s most closely centered conservation areas to guard its distinctive biodiversity. Consider packing or buying a special form, or attempting a pure different like coconut oil, which ought to assist with each bugs and solar.

Hiking footwear

Merrell Men's Hiking Shoe
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe / Amazon

If you’re an adventurous type of traveler, put money into some good hiking shoes or boots in addition to water shoes for these day journeys to pure locations. Good mountaineering footwear or boots will hold your toes dry and your ankles supported on your entire adventures in Costa Rica.

There are numerous mountaineering trails across the nation, many with rainforest environments. Keep that in thoughts when buying your footwear for the journey. Waterproof goes to be your greatest buddy.

See Related: Essential Solo Travel Luggage & Accessories

Reusable water bottle

Consider packing sensible daily-use gadgets like a reusable water bottle (once more, you possibly can drink faucet water in Costa Rica). Costa Rica is a really environmentally pleasant nation and having a reusable water bottle is a wonderful manner to assist protect nature. Plus there are many locations to fill your bottle as an alternative of getting to purchase single-use bottles as an alternative.

Personally, I just like the Brita water bottles as a result of the filter helps enhance the style of water wherever you go. They’re additionally light-weight and straightforward to clip onto a bag with a carabiner.

Period merchandise

Those who use interval merchandise also needs to contemplate bringing them alongside if wanted as these are sometimes in excessive demand in Costa Rica. Tampons particularly are exhausting, or almost not possible, to seek out – and value their weight in myrrh.

If you wish to save house in your baggage, menstrual cups are one other nice possibility. Some kits include cleaners and sterilizers that fold up and are simple to take alongside.

The foldable sterilizers simply must be full of sizzling water, from an in-room kettle for instance, and the cup must be soaked within the water. (Don’t fear, boiling them takes care of any scent, so your baggage gained’t scent).

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