Travel Advisory for Costa Rica

What you must know when traveling to Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica

When you travel to a Central American country, the first thing you need is to have the most relevant information of the country on hand, so you can fully enjoy your Costa Rica Travel.  Read below the best practical travel information and the top activities in Costa Rica.

Amazing tropical beach in Central America
Amazing tropical beach in Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica

ℹ️ Practical Travel Information

🏕 Top Rated Activities in Costa Rica

🧳 Packing list for your Trip to Costa Rica

☑️ Useful tips to traveling Costa Rica

🔔 Tips for Personal Safety for Costa Rica Travelers

⏹ Things you should not do in Costa Rica

Practical Travel Information Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica
🏢 Capital City
💬 Language
🕐 Time zone
⚐ Flag
📄 Documents and Visa
✈️ Airports and Taxes
💶 Currency
🏦 Bank Facilities
🍴Local Cuisine
💉 Vaccinations
☤ Health
🔌 Voltage
☁︎ Weather

Capital City

The capital city of San José is the most populated in the country and is situated in the broad, western province in the Central Valley. It covers a land area of 44.2 square km and has a population of 1,379,000 (2019).

Handing Bridge in green jungle. Hikes in Monteverde. Central America.
Hanging Bridge in green jungle, Costa Rica, Central America.

Language

The official language is Spanish, however English is widely spoken.

Time zone

GMT – 6

Flag

🇨🇷

The flag of Costa Rica is composed of five horizontal stripes with blue at the top and bottom edges, white stripes to follow, and a red stripe across the middle. On the left side of the red stripe is the national coat of arms.

 

Travel Documents

When you travel to Costa Rica, your passport should be valid for at least one month upon arrival in Costa Rica. However, we advise you that your passport is valid for at least six months after departure from Costa Rica.
Please note that passport requirements can change in a short notice. Therefore we advise you to check the passport requirements with the embassy or consulate of your country.

Visa

A visa is not required if your stay is shorter than 90 days in Costa Rica.
Please note that visa requirements can change in a short notice. Therefore we advise you to check the visa requirements with the embassy or consulate of your country.

Airport Tax

Upon departure from Costa Rica you are required to pay a departure tax of around 20 dollars per person. The amount is subject to local changes.

International airports of Costa Rica

Airport – Location

  1. Tobías Bolaños International Airport (SYQ) – San José 
  2. Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) – Alajuela 
  3. Limon International Airport (LIO) –  Limon 
  4. Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) – Guanacaste 

Domestic airports of Costa Rica

Airport – Location 

  1. Drake Bay Airport, (DRK) – Puntarenas 
  2. Nicoya Guanacaste Airport, (NCT) – Guanacaste 
  3. Tamarindo Airport, (TNO) – Guanacaste 
  4. Quepos La Managua Airport, (XQP) – Ruta 34 Quepos
  5. Palmar Sur Airport, (PMZ) – Puntarenas 
  6. Perez Zeledon Airport, (IPZ) – San José 
  7. Punta Islita Airport, (PBP) – Guanacaste 
  8. Tambor Airport, (TMU) – Puntarenas 
  9. Laurel Airport, (MRLE) – Puntarenas 
  10. Nosara Airport, (NOB) – Guanacaste 
  11. Tortuguero Airport, (TTQ) – Limón Province, Pocori
  12. Golfito Airport, (GLF) – Puntarenas Province, Golfito
  13. Barra del Colorado Airport, (BCL) – Pocoqui
  14. Buenos Aires Airport, (BAI) – Buenos Aires 
  15. Canas Airport, (CSC) – Cañas 
  16. Carrillo Airport, (RIK) – Carrillo 
  17. Coto 47 Airport, (OTR) – Coto 47
  18. Flamingo Airport, (FMG) – Flamingo
  19. Fortuna Airport, (FON) – Fortuna
  20. Guapiles Airport, (GPL) – Guapiles
  21. Los Chiles Airport, (LSL) – Los Chiles
  22. Playa Samara Airport, (PLD) – Playa Samara
  23. Puerto Jimenez Airport, (PJM) – Puerto Jiménez
  24. Punta Renes Airport, (JAP) – Punta Renes
  25. Rio Frio Airport, (RFR) – Rio Frio
  26. San Vito de Java Airport, (TOO) – Puntarenas
  27. Upala Airport, (UPL) – Upala

Currency

Costa Rica Colon (CRC)

Bank Facilities

Bank cards are accepted at ATMs. Usually if you use your bankcard, it is less expensive than using your credit-card at an ATM. Credit-cards are accepted in the larger hotels and restaurants. American dollars are widely accepted.

Local Cuisine

In addition to the wide variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and fresh seafood, Costa Rica has a rich variety of rice and bean dishes. Casado is a dish which you can order almost everywhere in Costa Rica. This is a nutritious dish with rice, beans, meat or fish and a salad of carrots and cabbage with fried banana. Other typical dishes are beef stew, chicken with rice, fried shrimp, tortillas and soup.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccinations required to enter Costa Rica. However, you are advised to take precautions against Hepatitis A, Typhus, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. Malaria occurs in some parts of the country, therefore precautions against malaria are also advised. Furthermore, you are advised to discuss your travel plans with a health- care provider to determine which vaccinations you might need.

Health

The water from tap in the area of San José is of good quality. The water from tap at the coastal areas are of lesser quality and you are advised to only drink bottled or boiled water there. While traveling in Costa Rica, you are advised to avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes. Also try to avoid street-food and always wash your hands before eating.

 

Voltage

The electricity current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Costa Rica generally accepts the following plugs:

➢ Flat blade plug

➢ Two parallel flat pins with ground pin

Weather

The best general time to travel to Costa Rica overall is the season between December and April. This is taking into account the information of the climate, the location of the country and the number of tourists. 

However, for specific regions like the southern coast, where the Puerto Viejo beaches are located, one the most popular in the country, the best time to travel is September and October

On the other hand, in the Guanacaste beaches, the recommended time to travel is February, and for surfing on the Pacific side, it is from April to August. Finally, the best time on the Atlantic side is from December to March.

Top Rated Activities in Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica
For Nature Lovers
Explore Jungles
Visit Wildlife Rescue Centers
Hike Cloud Forests
Night Walks
Eco Parks

For Nature Lovers

There is a lot to see in Costa Rica for nature lovers. This country has a biodiversity that is certainly overwhelming. You will find a wide variety of wildlife that can only be found in this part of the world. Visit its amazing natural parks, like Manuel Antonio in Puntarenas province. It is the most wonderful combination of rain forest, coral reefs and one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches. 

Beautiful stream water flowing down in rain forest. Costa Rica, Central America. Rafting Tours Costa Rica
Beautiful stream water flowing down in rain forest. Costa Rica, Central America

This national reserve has everything for nature lovers and avid surfers.  With an area of 683 hectares, the biodiversity here is astonishing, From howler, white-faced, and monkeys, toucans, two and three fingered sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable squirrel monkeys, Agoutis, the beautiful Poison Dart Frog, millions of colorful little crabs and much more, this natural reserve will surely amaze you.

Explore Jungles

If exploring in the jungle is for you, Costa Rica has amazing adventures where you can let yourself go into, like the Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful treehouse in the middle of the jungle at the Caribbean coast. You will hoist yourself up through a rope climbing system, under supervision, until you reach the observatory, suspended 25 meters up on a tree.  

Beautiful jungle of Costa Rica, Central America. Costa Rica Hikes.
Beautiful jungle of Costa Rica, Central America.

In addition if you feel adventurous, you can spend a night up on the tree in the middle of the jungle and feel like Tarzan and Jane with spectacular views of trees, animals and birds from the canopy. This will certainly be one of the most memorable nights of your life.

Visit Wildlife Rescue Centers

Travel Costa Rica and get yourself closer to its particular wildlife. If that is what you’re looking for, visiting a rescue center is the activity for you. Most of these centers have many tours and activities to give you the opportunity to have a close encounter with the animals they rescue and protect. 

Find here the information of a couple of choices of wildlife rescue centers that  you can take in account for your next trip.

Toucan Rescue Ranch ‘TRR’:

This rescue center is located in San Isidro, Heredia Province in Costa Rica and has the mission of rescue, rehabilitate and release Costa Rica wildlife.  Due to its important and delicate job, you require a reservation to be able to visit the ‘TRR’.  

Its variety of wildlife is overwhelming; therefore you can find here species like, kinkajous, wildcats, porcupines, opossums, two-fingered sloths, owls and unique insects such as moths, spiders, beetles, and fireflies, not to mention the frogs, leopard frogs, glass frogs, giant toads and the endemic golden-eyed tree frog; all of these call ‘TRR’ a home.  

Choose from a variety of tours depending on your time and interests. Firstly, a classic Ranch Walk will take you to walk the property and learn about the ‘TRR’ history, mission and programs. Similarly, the Slothies and Coffee walk will take you closer to these adorable creatures, or you can choose to learn more about what lurks at night in a Nocturnal Walk, which is certainly a wildly unique and fun adventure.

Royal Butterflies Farm: 

If you want to see some of the Earth’s most amazing insects, the butterflies, you must come to Royal Butterflies, located in Puntarenas Province, Jaco, 10 minutes south of Playa Hermosa. This amazing farm conserves, reproduces and protects local species of tropical butterflies. They are focused on the conservation of native plants that provide habitat for dozens of amazing species of these majestic beings.  

Stroll along the river path and learn about over 70 different varieties of fruit trees planted on the property whilst being surrounded by exotic butterflies with a lush backdrop of tropical plants. 

Hike Cloud Forests

Adventure to one of the rarest habitats on Earth. Visit natural reserves, such as Monteverde that is provided with a high humidity that creates the mist and the cloud cover.  This cloud forest natural reserve has 26,000 acres, and it is home to an astounding variety of flora and fauna.  That is to say pumas, monkeys and endangered jaguars live in these eight different biological zones. 

Hiking in hanging bridges of the green tropical jungle. Costa Rica. Adventure Tours Costa Rica.
Hiking in hanging bridges of the green tropical jungle. Costa Rica.

You can even spot the red-eyed tree frog that serves as a Costa Rican icon, and it is an endangered species.  With over 2,500 plant species, 100 species of mammals, 500 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects, the hike in this cloud forest in Monteverde is not to be missed.

Night walks

One of the most thrilling adventures for nature lovers is a night walk. Much of its wildlife wake up and thrive at night; therefore this exciting world is not to be missed. See below options where you can live this exciting adventure.

Tarantula Way:  

This is one of the most interesting night tours you can find in Limon province. Here you are able to explore the rainforest of Cahuita at night and get a closer encounter to many species of plants, invertebrates and reptiles, such as bird-eating spiders, frogs, bats and many insects.  

The perfect opportunity to immerse yourself into the nocturnal wilife with the guidance of an expert to fully enjoy the surroundings while listening to the night sounds of nature.

Project Asis Wildlife Rescue Center:  

This is a wildlife shelter and environmental education center located in the tropical rain forests of the Arenal Volcano area of Costa Rica, very close to La Fortuna.  The wild animals, which have been found wounded, are brought here by the local forest rangers. Also the animals rescued from the black market are brought here for their health care and, ultimately, for their return and release to their natural habitats.  The animals that for any reason cannot be released back into nature become residents within their educational programs.

Eco Parks

In Costa Rica, you will find many eco parks to choose from for your next adventure.  Most of them offer a wide range of fun activities and information to travel and enjoy the natural surroundings. Read below one of the options:

Black Stallion park:  

This is a private eco-park community, located in Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo, with more than 1500 acres of pure eco adventure.  Moreover you can choose between a number of activities such as a fun ride on well groomed, trained & friendly horses; as well as trail rides in pastures, mountains & creeks. In addition, the Zip-line here offers you ten amazing platforms to practice this exciting activity, or you can even enjoy the private sunset dinner BBQ feast, where a BBQ Master Chef grills up a feast of farm raised chicken, local meats, fish and fresh garden veggies to taste.  

Misty Jungle during a hike in Central America
Misty Jungle of Costa Rica, Central America.

As a result, this eco-park is the perfect spot to enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean and valley and spot monkeys, iguanas, and birds in flight.  A truly up-close view of nature and wildlife to enjoy the pure Costa Rica fun style.

Packing List for your trip to Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica

Traveling light is always more comfortable, but make sure to pack all the items you might need during your trip.   The weather of this country is fairly constant, with tropical temperatures throughout the year.  With only two seasons, dry and rainy and the same average temperatures, doing your packing list will be relatively easy.

Check the weather before packing here: Accurate Weather.  

We list below the suggested basic items when packing for a trip to Costa Rica.

Majestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica. Jungle Hike
Majestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica.

Travel Information Costa Rica – Packing List

Must Have:

  • Passport, Visas (if necessary), and your Return Flight. You must have a return flight when entering Costa Rica. 
  • Your usual medications
  • Credit and/or debit Card
  • Confirmations of your reservations
  • Some cash

Important:

  • Phone and camera
  • Cords, Batteries and Chargers (Phone, Ipad, etc)
  • Waterproof cases for electronic devices
  • Universal Power Adapter
  • Toiletries
  • Comfortable clothing for tropical climate
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable closed toed shoes
  • Water shoes
  • Flip Flops for shower
  • Sturdy walking and/or hiking shoes
  • Cap or a hat
  • Quick-Dry Towel
  • Lightweight Rain Jacket
  • Small backpack for day trips
  • One sturdy water bottle
  • Insect Repellent
  • Travel-Size Sunscreen
  • Travel Insurance
  • Spanish phrasebook and or dictionary

Dress according to your location:

Costa Rica has a religious culture, thus in places such as churches they can be conservative in dress.  Hence, save your shorts or summer dresses to wear on the beach.  In general it is best not to draw unwanted attention to yourself, so it is a good idea to be respectful of the local culture.

A good idea to bring:

  • Portable Charger
  • A couple of copies of  your passport
  • Personal sport equipment
  • A flashlight
  • Extra SD Cards

What you should not bring to your Costa Rica trip

  • Expensive Jewelry or watches
  • Fancy and bulky electronics

“Never let your memories be greater than your dreams”

Useful Tips to traveling to Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica will surely give you unforgettable experiences and will leave you wanting to return.The more information you have about your destination, the more confident and safe you will feel during your trip.

Here are some basic tips for your next trip to Costa Rica

Amazing tropical beach in Costa Rica
Amazing tropical beach in Costa Rica
  • Basic phrases in Spanish

Although this is a Spanish-speaking country, you will meet many people who speak some English.  However, knowing some basic phrases in Spanish such as “good morning”, “thank you” or “where is the bathroom?”, can give you many advantages.

Choose places where you can learn Spanish phrases online like:  DuolingoOr if it is more convenient for you, Lonely Planet sells a phrasebook of Latin American Spanish.

  • Travel insurance

In order to avoid future unpleasant surprises during your trip, it is best to make sure you have Travel and Cancellation Insurance.  Please take into account that this kind of insurance is not included in any of our tours prices.  Therefore when you purchase your travel insurance, check if it covers unforeseen events such as flight cancellations, etc.

Visit World Nomads or Travelex Insurance Services to get a quote. 

  • Vaccination

We recommend that you consult your doctor with enough time in advance about the vaccines necessary to travel to Costa Rica.  Make sure to be up to date with your vaccination regimen and have essential vaccines such as Tetanus and Hepatitis A.

You can find this information in the following link: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Credit and debit card companies

Don’t forget to call your credit and/or debit card provider to inform them that you will be using your cards internationally.  This will certainly prevent you from uncomfortable future events during or after your trip.  Ask about possible charges for international use of your cards and possible ways to reduce the foreign fee.

Look more information visiting the following link:  Credit Cards

  • International health coverage

The famous phrase: “Prevention is better than regret” comes alive here.  

Before your trip, check with your insurance company about its international coverage.  If in case you didn’t have it, it is best that you acquire a clause for a limited time that can cover your trip.

To expand this information you can visit the following link:  International Health Insurance

“It is better to travel well than to arrive”

Tips for personal safety for Costa Rica Travelers

Travel Information Costa Rica

This Central American country will surely surprise you with its beauty and the friendliness of its people.  Being very well informed about its culture and its people is the best way to feel safe during your trip to Costa Rica.  Otherwise it is very common to make mistakes due to omission or ignorance of the local culture.

Hence having experts like Mayan Gateway will make your trip to Costa Rica an unforgettable experience.  We know each area, its customs and traditions, so we know which places are best to avoid for your safety.

Beautiful tropical beach in the Pacific Ocean of Costa Rica
Beautiful tropical beach in the Pacific Ocean of Costa Rica

Follow the next list of safety tips for your next trip to Costa Rica:

  • Avoid public displays of your values such as: jewelry, money, expensive electronic devices, etc.
  • Be sure your guides are certified by the national or local tourist authority.
  • When possible keep your passport safe and carry only a copy for identification purposes.
  • Use an under clothes money belt to carry all your important documents and money
  • Keep yourself informed by following the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Receive alerts by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that also makes it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Drink only in moderation, especially if you are traveling alone.
  • Carry with you only what you will need during the day.
  • It’s safer to withdraw money from ATMs in malls or change money in hotels or banks.
  • Always be aware of the people around you, and strange behaviors that may indicate a pickpocket plan
  • For your safety not to share your travel itinerary or hotel details.
  • Do not use random taxis, use only authorized and look for the driver’s ID

Travel Tip:

Like in many other Central American Countries, it is advisable to carry a wallet with a couple of expired cards and some little cash.  In the unfortunate event that you were the target of a robbery, you must immediately hand over the wallet.  Common thieves will usually settle for this and won’t bother you anymore.  However, if you are the object of a robbery, you must quickly deliver your belongings, nothing is worth more than your safety. Even though Costa Rica is quite safe, you should always use common sense. 

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”

Things you should not do in Costa Rica

Travel Information Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a quite safe country, however you should keep some things in mind as you would in any other country in the world.  This doesn’t mean that you have to miss the pleasure of enjoying its natural wonders and the recognized friendliness of its people.  By informing yourself about the particularities of their culture and customs you can feel safe enough.

Find below a list of things you should avoid during your stay in Costa Rica:

  • Drinking water from the tap, it is not drinkable and can make you sick and it’s easy to find bottled water all over.
  • Taking pictures of locals, especially children or even religious ceremonies without explicit permission.
  • Harm, bother or feed wildlife or marine life.
  • Wander the urban streets alone at night.
  • Stepping off the trail when hiking in Costa Rica jungles.
  • Resisting if stopped by Costa Rica military or police officers. 
  • Large gatherings, especially political demonstrations must be avoided.
  • Drive on rural roads at night, in fact, don’t drive at night at all.
  • Resisting a robbery, usually those who cooperate remain unharmed.

“Travel makes me modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”