Costa Rica hangs its jaunty Panama hat on two things: eco-tourism and adventure sports.

It helps when more than a quarter of your country is protected rainforest with more biodiversity than USA and Europe combined, and the rest is a jaw-dropping combo of bubbling volcanoes, Pacific surf beaches and laid-back towns like Quepos and Sarapiqui. Costa Rica tours are all about nature putting on a show –you’ll quickly become a pro at spotting keel-billed toucans in the cloud forests of Monteverde or listening out for the distant whoop of white-faced capuchins – but really it’s the pace of life here that gets you. ‘Hustle’ and ‘bustle’ aren’t really in Costa Rica’s vocab. Pretty much what you’d expect from a country whose unofficial motto is pura vida (the pure life).

Top Costa Rica travel deals

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

Costa Rica tour reviews

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Costa Rica holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Costa Rica

Local Culture

Food and Drink

Festivals and Events

Geography and Environment

Top 5 Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica

Shopping

Health and safety

Further reading

Costa Rica travel FAQs

Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required

Please consult your local embassy for the most up-to-date information regarding visas to Costa Rica. 

While tipping isn't mandatory in Costa Rica, rounding up the bill and leaving spare change at restaurants and cafes is generally standard practice. 500 colones should be sufficient.

Costa Rica's cities and tourist centres have internet access available in internet cafes and hotel lobbies. 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.

Costa Rica's toilets are a mixture of flushable toilets and squat toilets, so be prepared to encounter both. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap as these aren't always provided.

Cup of coffee = 500 CRC
Fresh fruit drink = 1500 CRC
Bottle of beer = 1200 CRC
Lunch at a soda = 3000 CRC
Dinner in a restaurant = 6000-10000 CRC

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 bottled water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found as some hotels provide this. Remember to peel fruit and vegetables before eating and avoid ice in drinks.

Major credit cards are accepted by most large shops, hotels and restaurants, although smaller vendors and market stalls often only accept cash.

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.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. 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

  • 1 Jan New Year's Day
  • 11 Apr Juan Santamaria Day / Battle of Rivas
  • 13 Apr Maundy Thursday
  • 14 Apr Good Friday
  • 1 May Labor Day
  • 25 Jul Annexation of Guanacaste Day
  • 2 Aug Patron Saint Day / Our Lady of Los Ángeles 
  • 15 Aug Mother's Day / Assumption Day
  • 15 Sep Independence Day
  • 16 Oct Cultures National Day
  • 25 Dec Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Costa Rica go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/costa-rica/public-holidays

Generally speaking, Costa Rica is a safe destination for LGBTQI travellers. Same-sex relationships and same-sex sexual acts are legal. In 2015, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to recognize 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 LGBTQI capital of Costa Rica, and the actual capital, San Jose has a good number of gay bars, clubs and saunas.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or Smartraveller before you travel. 

Responsible Travel

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 travelling.

turtle swimming underwater

How we're giving back

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. SEE Turtles protects endangered sea turtles by supporting community-based conservation organisations across Latin America. SEE Turtles’ Too Rare to Wear campaign is working with travel companies and conservation organisations to educate travellers and end demand for turtle-shell products.

Learn more about SEE Turtles