Costa Rica Travel Tips

Tapir

Tapir in Corcovado National Park

Why Costa Rica?

Costa Rica draws by far the biggest crowds of any Central American country. Tourism is the name of the game here and every corner of the country has something to please the tourist. Costa Rica has an impressive record of protecting its environment, much of the country is covered in stunning forests and there is a truly amazing diversity of animals that call the county home. Some of the forests you will visit are just teeming with wildlife.

Virtually all tourist attractions in Costa Rica are of the nature/outdoorsy variety, often with some adventure or adrenaline pumping action thrown in. Adventure tours are very popular in Costa Rica and can be found all over the country.

Costa Rica is also the most expensive country to visit and your money won’t go as far as in other countries in Central America. This might not be a problem for tourists that only have a short opportunity to take a vacation, as the amount of activities on offer is unbeatable. The country is one of the safest in the region, the locals are friendly and many speak excellent English.

Places To Visit

Here is a map to show where some of the more common travel destinations in Costa Rica are located. Most of the popular tourist destinations are located in the east and north-east of the country. But there are some excellent destinations in other parts of the country, they just take a little longer to get to.

If you are interested in the Top Things To Do In Costa Rica, check out our post.

Map Of Costa Rica Travel Destinations

Map Of Costa Rica Travel Destinations

Travel Tips

  • Many tourists visit Costa Rica during North American vacation periods, so there are definite high and low seasons. Christmas, New Years and Easter are the busiest tourist periods in Costa Rica. Prices are lower and destinations much less crowded during the low season.
  • You might also wish to take into account the dry vs wet season. The dry season runs from December through April. The rainy season lasts from May to November. 
  • The coasts on either side of Costa Rica are quite different. The Caribbean has nicer beaches, the sand is whiter, this is the side where most of the SCUBA diving takes places and some of the remotest parts of Costa Rica are located on this side.  The opposite side has less attractive beaches but far better surfing opportunities.
  • It is okay to drink the tap water in Costa Rica.
  • The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Although quite a number of locals speak English, especially those associated with the tourist industry. It is not difficult to get around Costa Rica with only limited Spanish, even to the more remote parts of the country (in our experience).
  • The official currency of Costa Rica is the Colon, which converts at about 1 U.S Dollar to 550 Colon. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas (which is most parts of the country).
  • Don’t flush your toilet paper after use, put it in the bin provided. Otherwise some poor person may have to unblock the toilet after you have left. The exception being high-end hotels which may have the plumbing to cope with toilet paper.
  • It is always handy to have small change and notes on you, as many shops and transport options may not have change for large denominations.

 

Money Saving Tips

  • Costa Rica is not cheap and not the place to visit if you are looking for a cheap holiday. Prices for activities, tours, food and accommodation can be particularly pricey. If you are looking for a cheap destination, head somewhere like Nicaragua.
  • Prices (particularly for accommodation) are cheaper during the tourist low season and during the rainy season (late April through November).
  • Not exactly a money saving tips, but you should expect prices to be similar to the United States for many expenses (such as Accommodation and Tours).
  • Do what the locals do, avoid touristy buses and catch transport which the locals use, avoid the touristy restaurants and eat at places filled with locals.
  • Order ‘Menú del día‘ (menu of the day) for good value and good sized meal (generally US$5 or less).
  • Buy your fruit and vegetables at the markets instead of ‘supermercados’ (supermarkets).

 

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  1. December 1, 2014

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