As a popular nature travel destination, Costa Rica is a wild paradise for outdoors lovers. Stuck between the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean sea, the country offers a wide array of experiences and adventure activities to enjoy in thick green jungles, volcanoes, crystal-clear waters and at breathtaking sandy beaches.
Costa Rica, whose nickname is the Switzerland of South America, is often considered safe. Travelling on a tight budget (dorms, cheap meals and local bus), expect to pay about USD40 per day per person. Sleeping in mid-range hotels, eating at tourist restaurants and travelling in 1st class will cost you between USD40-100 per day per person.
Money and ATM
The colon is Costa Rica’s currency. Most banks will exchange foreign currencies and Travelers Checks. In addition, you will be able to pay with most credit cards throughout the country.
US Dollars, considered more stable than the local currency, is readily accepted. It is not the case for the Euro yet. Make sure your US Dollar bills are in good condition.
Please note that tipping has become common in tourist places (between USD1-5 for waiters, USD15 for tour guides). Moreover, 15% tax and 10% service are usually added to the bill in most restaurants and hotels.
Visa and Embassies
European nationals, Swiss and Canadian may enter Costa Rica for 90 days as tourists without any visa. They will need to provide a round-trip air ticket and a passport valid at least 6 months after their departure date.
Please note that if you are traveling from Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia or Ecuador, you will have to show a proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Health in Costa Rica
There are no necessary vaccines to get to Costa Rica. The main health hazard comes from mosquito bites. Break-out of dengue fevers are not unheard of. Mosquito repellent containing DEET as well as long-sleeves are recommended, in particular during the Green season.
Tap water is drinkable in most parts of the country.
Best time of year in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has two main seasons : the dry season and the Green season. The dry season attracts most tourists from December to April. The Green season with best diving conditions lasts from May to November and the rain month is October. Moreover, its strong winds turn the Pacific ocean into the perfect surf spot.
Temperatures are quite constant throughout the year, starting 17°C (63°F) up to 35°C (95°F), but variations can be observed from one part of the country to another.
How to get there?
The main airport is Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO), near the capital San Jose. Be aware that you will have to pay both an exit fee when you arrive in Costa Rica and a departure tax when you fly out. You may pay in US dollars or by Visa card.
If you are heading for the Pacific northwest coast, fly to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) near Liberia in the Guanacaste province.
Finally, for domestic flights in Costa Rica, you will fly in/out of the Tobías Bolaños International Airport in San Jose.
Diving in Costa Rica
Enjoy some great dives in Costa Rica, with a diverse marine life ranging from the smallest shrimps to whale sharks !
Costa Rica is bordered by the Pacific ocean to the west and the Caribbean sea to the east. The Coco Islands rank among the world’s best dive sites for they are home to a great number of shark species including hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and whitetip reef sharks.
Water temperature varies from 30°C in the Green season to 20°C in the dry season. Underwater visibility averages 15m, but can vary greatly depending on the weather and the dive site.