An adventure hotspot for some, a cultural haven for others, Costa Rica definitely lives up to its translation: the ‘rich coast’. And as you journey under lush jungle canopies, along golden coastline, through colonial cities and laidback surf towns, you’ll soon be rich with memorable experiences. You could become a pro at spotting toucans in Monteverde’s steamy cloud forests, or listen out for the distant whoop of white-faced capuchins in Corcovado, but really, it’s the pace of life here that gets you. The phrase ‘hustle and bustle’ isn’t in Costa Rica’s vocabulary; as you’d expect from a country whose unofficial motto is ‘pura vida’ – the pure life.
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Year-round tropical warmth means there really isn’t a bad time to visit Costa Rica. December to April are normally the driest months; however, Costa Rica’s diverse topography and blanket of rainforests suggest that you should be prepared for at least some rain any time of the year – a very small price to pay for such lush surrounds.
The good news is that even during the rainiest of seasons, the rainfall tends to be limited to a couple of hours a day – just enough time for you to enjoy a cup of Costa Rica's acclaimed coffee in one of its many cafes.
The most popular time to visit Costa Rica is between December and March – the driest and hottest months along the Pacific Coast. May to October brings the most rainfall across the country, but this is dependent on region, as the wetter seasons are extended on the Osa Peninsula and northern sections of the Caribbean Coast.
Generally, Costa Rica grants visas to most countries’ passport holders for a period of 90 days, providing travellers have a valid passport, a return or onward ticket and their trip is for leisure. Some countries’ citizens must apply for a visa before leaving their home country, but most do not.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
While tipping isn't mandatory in Costa Rica, rounding up the bill and leaving spare change at restaurants and cafes is standard practice. Many restaurants do add a service charge to the final bill which is usually a 10% gratuity; however, 500 colones (or around USD 1) of local currency is an appropriate extra amount.
Costa Rica's cities and tourist centres have wi-fi and internet access available in hotel lobbies and internet cafes. Internet access is less available in rural and remote areas.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in Costa Rica's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone while in Costa Rica, but, be sure to check with your service provider first to find out about any fees you may incur, as sometimes this can be expensive.
Costa Rica has one state-owned phone provider – Kolbi – as well as a selection of private companies, should you wish to purchase a SIM while abroad. Depending on what connection and coverage you need during your stay in Costa Rica, a prepaid option with one of these providers may be the cheapest way to go.
Costa Rica's toilets are a mixture of flushable and squat toilets, so be prepared to encounter both. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap or hand sanitiser, as these aren't always provided.
Costa Rica's unit of currency is the colón. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Although tap water is considered safe to drink in Costa Rica's cities, it's probably a good idea to avoid drinking tap water in Costa Rica. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying small bottles of water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found as some hotels provide this, so you’re able to use a reusable bottle. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and to peel fruit and vegetables rather than eating washed or unwashed produce.
Major credit cards are accepted by most large shops, hotels and restaurants, although smaller vendors and market stalls often only accept cash, so be sure to have a combination of both when travelling.
ATMs are easily found in the large cities and airports, although are less common in rural and remote areas. When travelling out of the city, come prepared by having enough cash, as ATMs aren't always an option.
Being in the deep centre of Central America, Costa Rica gets hot and oh so humid. However, there’s a whole number of microclimates inside its borders – that’s a fancy way of saying that the terrain is pretty hilly – so depending where you are in the country, the temperature may fluctuate. Generally speaking, Costa Rica enjoys a tropical climate year-round with temperatures averaging at 18°C minimum and 27°C maximum.
Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast has tropical heat almost all year round. March is the driest and hottest month, and May to October brings the wet season to the region. The Western Central Valley, including cities like San Jose, indirectly follow the Pacific Coast’s weather trends.
The Caribbean Coast has pretty steady rainfall all year round with no distinct dry season. September to October and February to March are considered the best months to travel to this side of the country as they are drier than most, but still experience rainfall. The Eastern Central Valley usually follows a similar weather pattern.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
For a current list of public holidays in Costa Rica, including the movable dates noted above, go to worldtravelguide.net
Generally speaking, Costa Rica is a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers. Same-sex relationships are legal and, in 2015 Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to recognise gay relationships; however, recognition of same-sex marriage is currently pending government approval. In many places in Costa Rica, public displays of affection might attract unwanted attention, but there are a few places in Costa Rica with a thriving LBGTQI scene. Quepos has long been known as the LGBTQIA+ capital of Costa Rica, and the actual capital, San Jose, has a good number of gay bars and clubs.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Much of Costa Rica’s travel highlights are based around the coast and in nature, so depending on travellers’ level of mobility, this may present obstacles. Many national parks are difficult to visit for travellers using a wheelchair, as jungle paths are mostly remote and not stable. Manuel Antonio does have wider paths and more accessible routes to venture into the rainforest, and the wide boardwalks and beaches are wheelchair friendly. The capital, San Jose, is a bit tricky to get around, with rough sidewalks and a lack of ramps. There are, however, taxi companies in the capital that offer wheelchair-accessible vans.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while traveling.
In Costa Rica, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.
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