Costa Rica is the #1 most visited country in Central America. It’s known for its beaches, lush rainforest, and biodiversity. The locals enjoy life to the fullest. You’ll hear the phrase “Pura Vida” (pure life) a lot in the country. “Pura Vida” summarizes the essence of the Costa Rican culture; which is that life is beautiful. Costa Rica attracts the adventurous type. You can do things such as go ziplining, surfing, and walking through the jungle at night here. This guide contains all of the the Costa Rica Travel tips that you need to plan your trip.
Basic Costa Rica Travel Tips to Know When Planning Your Trip
Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. Some English is spoken in tourist areas.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during its dry season, which is from December to April. If you visit during the rainy season —from May to November—costs will likely be cheaper but you might experience rain for at least an hour a day.
The currency in Costa Rica is the colón. Credit cards are accepted in most established restaurants, stores, and hotels. Have cash on hand for local vendors. ATM’s are available in the cities. ATM availability may vary in the remote towns so research the specific area you’re going to ahead of time.
Local buses are available in the big cities and to transfer from city to city. Motorboat can also be used to transfer to an island. Domestic flights are often preferred over buses to fly from city to city within the country by tourists. Renting a car or an ATV is a good option if you plan to stay in a remote town that’s spread out.
What to Pack for a Trip to Costa Rica
Here’s a list of what to bring to Costa Rica beyond what you’d automatically think to bring:
Power adaptor: If you’re traveling from the US, you won’t need an adaptor as Costa Rica uses the same one. If traveling from elsewhere, bring: type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
Mosquito Repellant: There are tons of mosquitos in Costa Rica. Plan to bring this with you or purchase it when you arrive.
Rain gear: Be prepared for it to rain unpredictably. I personally like to travel with a poncho (it allows for more ease of exploring) but come prepared with any rain item that suits you best (umbrella, raincoat, etc.)
Things To Do in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is an adventurers paradise. Check out this 10-day Costa Rica Itinerary on thesmoothescape.com for a list of things to do in several cities throughout Costa Rica.
Below, check out a sampling of things to do during your visit.
- Spend the day at the beach
- Go surfing (or take a surf lesson!)
- Zipline through the rainforest
- Go on a walk through the jungle (during the day or at night if you’re feeling extra adventurous)
- Learn how to make coffee
- Go white water rafting
- Take a day trip to a waterfall
- Go diving or snorkeling
- Hike to an active volcano
- Visit one of Costa Rica’s many national park reserves
Fast Facts About Costa Rica
Here are some fun facts about Costa Rica that you may not have already known:
- Every denomination of Costa Rican currency is a different color. It also includes varying pictures of its vast biodiversity.
- The countries slogan is Pura Vida, meaning pure life. Costa Rican’s live and breathe this; which might be why it’s deemed the happiest country in the world.
- You can actually watch the sunrise and set over the sea in one day. The sun rises on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. There’s enough time in one day to travel to the Pacific coast to watch the sunset.
- Over 10% of the butterflies in the world live in Costa Rica.
- Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
- 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable energy.
- There are 5 active volcanoes in Costa Rica.
- Costa Rica is home to 52 different species of hummingbirds!
- The national animal is a deer
- Most Radio stations play the national anthem at 7 am, every morning.
How To Budget for a Trip to Costa Rica
Costs in Costa Rica will vary from city to city. The cost will also vary based on the time of year that you go, for example, it’s likely to be cheaper during the off-season (wet season). Here’s a rough breakdown to give you an estimate of what things could cost.
$7 - $20/Night (Hostel Dorm)
$25 - $65/Night
(Private Room in Hostel, Budget Hotel, or AirBNB)
$65 - $200/Night
There are more high-end hotel price points than what's listed here, if you're looking for a more lavish stay.
$7 - $15/pp/meal
$15 - $35/pp/meal
$35 - $100+/pp/meal
$2 - $4
$7 - $12
(Imported Drinks & Cocktails)
Transportation costs vary greatly in Costa Rica, so I am not going to include them in this guide. Local city buses usually cost $0.65/way. Other transportation options would be: walking (many of the cities in Costa Rica are walkable), renting an ATV or Car, and domestic travel to/from cities if you plan on city hopping.