How Far In Advance Do I Need To Book My Vacation?
As Costa Rica is such a popular destination we always advise to book at least 3 months in advance during low season (May – Dec). 4-5 months in high season (Jan – April) and as early as you possibly can for peak season (Xmas / New Year & Semana Santa – Easter week). I normally recommend booking 9 months in advance to have a good selection of hotels as these weeks always end up 100% sold out! We do offer an interest free payment plan so you can reserve a vacation with as little as 10% up to a year in advance – securing the best hotels for no extra charge!
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation and investment. There are 1001 things that can arise before and during a vacation and we want you to be in the best situation to deal with them. Ask us to get you a free quote 😊
ID and entry requirements for Costa Rica?
To enter Costa Rica you will need a valid passport and a booked ticket out of the country within the 90 day visa that they will grant you. Additional specifics are sometimes required and this can depend on where you are coming from. Travellers with passports from Europe, USA and Canada don’t have a problem and tend be granted a visa on arrival. Immigration will stamp your passport with your approved length of stay (usually 90 days). For other countries, a visa may be required. It is always best to contact the Costa Rica Embassy nearest you for up to date entry and visa requirements.
Passports requirements change often. Each traveller must verify they have 6 months on their passport and to leave at least one blank page for the entry stamp and check their passport expiration date. It is also a good idea to have a few copies of the picture page of your passport with you when you travel.
Link to Costa Rica Consulate in UK
Link to the Costa Rica Consulate in the USA
Link to the Costa Rica Consulate in Canada
Best Times to Visit Costa Rica
The best time to visit Costa Rica is from mid-December to April (high & dry season). This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches. That said, the dry season is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit. Luckily the U.S. dollar goes a long way in Costa Rica no matter the season. You’ll have to book your room and tour reservations three months in advance to secure a spot. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, visit between May and November when prices are at their lowest. During June and July, rain showers pause briefly, and Costa Rica’s forests burst with green foliage.
While planning your trip, keep in mind that the weather varies by region. In the thick rain forests of the Caribbean coast and the tropical central Pacific coast, expect high humidity and temperatures ranging between the 70s and high 80s year-round. Conversely, in the North Pacific, prepare for lower humidity levels, but temperatures that often soar into the 90s during Costa Rica’s dry months.
USD cash – Credit and/or debit card (see spending money)- Passport (with photocopies) – Travel insurance (with photocopies) – Airline tickets (with photocopies) – Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required – Camera – Chargers and adapters (US style plug) – Reading/writing material – Binoculars – Fleece top – Windproof/waterproof jacket – Small towel and swim wear – hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes – Sun hat – 2 pairs of shorts – 2 pairs of long trousers – 1 pair hiking pants/track pants – Hiking boots/ sturdy walking shoes – Sport sandals (suitable for water if you are planning on rafting and/or waterfall rappelling/abseiling) – Sunblock – Sunglasses – shirts/t-shirts – Water bottle – Pocketknife – First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, antihistamine, Imodium or similar tablets, extra prescription drugs you may be taking).
Here is a visual packing list 😊
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. While ATMs are widely available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will work in Latin America. Check with your bank. You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies. Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollar cash, travellers cheques and cards is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE TIP: Please be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded may be difficult to exchange. It is best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than 50USD.
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
Costa Rica airport exit tax: $29USD (this is more than often included in your ticket by your airline)
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Please note that in Costa Rica, a 23% charge is added on to almost every meal (13% tax, 10% tip). Further tipping for wait staff is appropriate in the case of excellent service. Tipping is expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $5-10 USD per day depending on the quality and length of the service.
Please note inoculations may be required. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
As of November 1st, 2007, the Costa Rica government, requires those entering Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and Sub-Sahara Africa, to have an International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever. Those affected countries are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana and Venezuela.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements.
Safety and Security
Petty theft, bag snatching and muggings have been on the rise in San Jose. Though not common, there are certain precautions you should take when visiting the city. Although the cities visited on our tours are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions, as they are the safest and easiest way to avoid any issues one might encounter on the streets after dark. In addition, always leave your passport (It’s better to carry a photocopy of it instead), credit cards and money that you won’t be using in the hotel. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes in the room, or a general one at reception and always the safest method of storing your valuables. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Remember that like in any other city, you should never leave your bags unattended, nor flaunt jewellery, cameras etc.
Driving times between destinations?
Travel times can really depend on the day. The speed limit, in general, is 50 km/hour but this can be a lot slower on certain beach roads and a lot faster on open roads.
Here is a list of some of the more popular routes with driving times:
Alajuela (SJO Airport) to Manuel Antonio – 3.5 hrs.
Alajuela (SJO Airport) to Arenal – 3 hrs.
Alajuela (SJO Airport) to Monteverde – 4 hrs.
Arenal to Tamarindo – 4 hrs.
Liberia to Tamarindo – 1 hr.
Liberia to Arenal – 3 hrs.
Costa Rican Embassies
In the event of an emergency, consular officials can provide support, guidance and other assistance to help you. Here are some of the main embassies in Costa Rica:
US Embassy: The US Embassy in Costa Rica is located in the capital of San Jose at Calle 120 Avenida 0 in Pavas, and the contact telephone number is (506) 2519-2000. Visit the official website for more info such from safety and security announcements to data on regional travel programs.
Canadian Embassy: The official embassy of Canada can be found in La Sabana Executive Business Center behind the Contraloria General de la Republica in San Jose. Consular officials can be reached by phone at (506) 2242 4400. The official website has detailed information.
British Embassy: British citizens who find themselves in need of consular assistance should contact the British Embassy in San Jose. The U.K. has maintained strong diplomatic ties with Costa Rica for many years. The British Embassy is located at Apartado 815-1007 in Edificio Centro Colon, and the phone number is (506) 2258-2025. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. See the official website of the British Embassy.