Frequently Questions About Costa Rica

Costa Rica equals adrenaline. It is a peaceful yet exciting adventure destination, with astonishing biodiversity. One fourth of the territory is protected areas, which makes the country a sanctuary surrounded by well-preserved forests.

Additionally, Costa Rica is ranked among the happiest countries in the world, a fact supported by the population’s life expectancy rate of 80 years old, according to the World Bank. If you are planning to visit this Central American country to experience the “pura vida” lifestyle, here we share tips for safe traveling:

What is the currency used in Costa Rica?

While the colon is Costa Rica’s official currency, most businesses accept dollars. Be mindful that low denomination notes are commonly accepted, but notes exceeding 100 dollars are usually rejected.

In Costa Rica, do local businesses accept credit and debit cards?

The majority of hotels, restaurants, service stations, and stores accept credit and debit cards, the most common being Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

What are the business hours of ATMs in Costa Rica?

ATM business hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. However, if you prefer cash, dollars and colones are the most widely used currencies. We recommend that you carry colones for bus fares and to pay at bakeries, supermarkets and some stores. ATMs are located in malls and downtown in both urban and rural areas.

What are roads like in Costa Rica?

Country authorities have improved communication by land by connecting nationwide roads with regional roads. Priority has also been given to connection with country borders, ports, and the capital city, San José. Dirt roads are found towards the interior of the country.

Therefore, moving from province to proving is no hassle. Costa Rica is such a small country that it takes 16 hours to cross it from border to border.

Is tap water in Costa Rica safe to drink?

Since Costa Rica prioritizes protecting water sources, drinking water straight from the tap poses absolutely no risk. Also, over 90% of the population has access to drinking water.

Are wi-fi spots easy to find in Costa Rica?

Most hotels, restaurants, malls, and stores provide free internet access. During the last decade, the country has worked towards improving connectivity, which has reaped great results and placed the country as a pioneer in the region.

Where can I get a data plan and buy a SIM card in Costa Rica?

At border posts and international airports you will find service centers offering roaming, mobile internet, and prepaid international calling plans from different telecommunications companies. Mobile data connection is 4G. SIM cards are sold across the country in supermarkets, malls, drugstores, and stores. To use a SIM card you need to make sure your phone isn’t blocked. After inserting the SIM card, purchase a prepaid card to make calls and navigate the internet.

What is the average price of a SIM card in Costa Rica?

Purchase a SIM card for better connectivity fees. Most telecommunications companies sell them at 4-5 dollars (2,200-2,700 colones).

What are Costa Rica’s main tourist destinations?

Costa Rica is a geographically diverse country with many fascinating spots, where visitors feel both adrenaline and peace when in contact with nature.

Costa Rica has several volcanic landforms; some stand out for their panoramic views and flora and fauna, such as:

  • Poás Volcano
  • Turrialba Volcano
  • Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Irazú Volcano
  • Orosí Volcano

On another note, Costa Rica has coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Its beaches are known for their warm waters, majestic landscapes, and incredible sunrises and sunsets.

Costa Rica's most iconic beaches allow interacting with the flora and fauna. They are:

  • Conchal Beach
  • Papagayo Gulf
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Puerto Viejo
  • Tamarindo
  • Santa Teresa

One of the most loved and widely visited tourist destinations is certainly La Fortuna, San Carlos–home to the formidable Arenal Volcano and other natural beauties such as La Fortuna Waterfall and Chato Volcano (inactive). This destination offers various adventure and relaxing activities for all ages, always in close contact with nature. That is what we offer here at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.

What is the weather like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s changing weather is due to its geographic location and tropical environment. It rains across the country from May to November. In mountain areas and the Atlantic region, however, rains are likely all year round. The average temperature stays between 21°C and 27 °C. The sun rises at 5 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m., approximately.

What are the seasons like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica doesn’t have clearly defined seasons. The rainy season across the country is from May to November, and the dry season is from December to April, when rains generally decrease and days are predominantly sunny. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the climate varies depending on the regional geographic location.

What type of visa is required to travel to Costa Rica?

Entering the country with a tourist status is simple. Nationals of Europe, the United States and Canada do not require a visa. By presenting a passport, you will be granted a 90-day visitor permit. If you plan to stay longer, carry out the relevant proceedings in your country of birth. Remember to check your passport expiry date before traveling!

Are any vaccinations required to travel to Costa Rica?

Visitors are not required to get any vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica. However, nationals of South America and Africa will be requested to submit a yellow fever vaccination certificate to be admitted in the country.

What are Costa Rica’s health services like?

Private and public hospitals and clinics are available across the country. In case of emergency, call the Red Cross for prompt first-aid assistance.

What power plugs are used in Costa Rica?

Nationals of Europe, Asia and Africa should bring a power converter to connect devices. Power sockets in Costa Rica are 110 V, compatible with power plugs type A and B.

  • Power plug type A
  • Power plug type B
  • Adapter

Do I need a special permit to drive in Costa Rica?

Any person over the age of 18 is allowed to drive in Costa Rica using their driver’s license issued in their country of birth. However, you must be older than 21 to rent a car.

What means of transportation should I use to travel around Costa Rica?

Public transport in Costa Rica is efficient. However, we recommend using door-to-door transport between tourist sites and hotels. It is more convenient and time-saving, and you won't worry about asking for directions or getting lost. If you prefer public transport, take into account that stations and stops are not clearly signaled, and most routes to other regions depart from San José, one of the cities with the worst traffic congestions in the country. BUSMAPS is an app that can help you find bus stations and stops, schedules, fares, among others. It is available for Android and iOS. Official taxis–red with a yellow triangle–and Uber are also available.

What is renting a car like in Costa Rica?

Different car rental agencies are located at airports and nearby towns as well as in major tourist areas. Renting a car allows you to have more freedom with your travel schedule, being able to make several tourist stops. However, be mindful that many roads located in mountain areas are curvy and steep. Also, drive cautiously in rainy and foggy weather.

What apps can I use to help me move around in Costa Rica?

Google Maps is one of the most accurate options in Costa Rica. It shows tourist destinations as well as roads and streets. Waze is the most widely used option by locals. It prepares different routes to reach the destination you select. It also shows the best route, traffic congestion spots, and notifies about road accidents.

What should I lookout for when moving around in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Latin America. Since 1949, with the abolition of the army, Costa Rica has been recognized as a peaceful country worldwide. The public police force–a growing law enforcement body–is the safety authority. Police officers monitoring public areas is a common sight. They ensure public order and citizen and visitor safety.

Despite this, always remain aware of your belongings and never leave them with others.

Can I travel with pets to Costa Rica?

SENASA is the government body regulating the entries and exits of pets. Its animal transport requirements and proceedings, as well as additional information, are available on their web site http://www.senasa.go.cr. Bear in mind that your airline of choice oversees the general requirements and fees for aircraft transport.

What are Costa Rica’s most traditional foods?

“Gallo Pinto” consists of rice and beans seasoned with natural spices and traditional sauces. It is a typical breakfast dish often accompanied with eggs, “natilla” (form of sour cream), bread, and cheese. “Casado” is a meal consisting of white rice, beans, meat (beef, pork, chicken or fish), fried plantains, salad, and “picadillo” (form of hash usually consisting of vegetables and meat). This dish is eaten for lunch or dinner. “Olla de Carne” is a beef broth served with several regional vegetables such as potato, chayote, ear of corn, sweet potato, green plantain, and cassava.

The food scene in Costa Rica is quite diverse. You can easily find fast food restaurants and international cuisine.

What type of clothes and shoes should I wear to visit tourist sites in Costa Rica?

Wear comfortable clothes when visiting rural areas. Ideally, wear breathable fabrics and always carry a jacket or coat for the rain. Don’t forget to wear fully closed shoes. They will protect you from insects, venomous reptiles, and humidity and are also a requirement for most adventure activities. Try to wear quick-dry clothes. Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect you from the sun.

What are the most common discomforts and illnesses experienced by tourists in Costa Rica?

Weather variations in Costa Rica due to microclimates can result in colds. Exposure to native tropical bacteria or food poisoning can cause upset stomach. So be careful when choosing where to eat and follow basic hygiene habits. Other common illnesses are those transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue fever, zika virus disease, and chikungunya disease. They can be prevented by applying repellent and wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

What is the emergency phone number in Costa Rica?

Call 911 for immediate assistance. You may also call 800-TURISMO to request assistance.