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our local expert in Costa Rica
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Visit Costa Rica: paradise for nature lovers
Nature in Costa Rica is overwhelmingly beautiful, you can do all kinds of special activities and the animal life is unique. If you are a true nature lover, then nothing goes above Costa Rica for your holiday. Visit Costa Rica for a beautiful green country full of jungle, cloud forests, volcanoes and white beaches. You can see sea turtles lay eggs, fly a zipline over the rainforest and with a bit of luck even spot sloths. You sleep in small-scale ecolodges. This way you can completely immerse yourself in nature.
Why visit Costa Rica?
Spot animals in Costa Rica
When you visit Costa Rica you will find numerous beautiful nature parks that you definitely want to visit. One of the highlights is Tortuguero National Park. The park can only be reached by boat with an hour-and-a-half boat trip deep into the jungle. With a guide you then make your way through dense canals, looking for special flowers and plant species, monkeys, birds, caimans and sloths. Thousands of turtles live in Tortuguero and in July and August you can witness the green sea turtle lay her eggs. Do you want to experience an even more unspoilt part of Costa Rica? Then go to Corcovado National Park. In Corcovado you can spot four different monkey species, macaws, toucans, raccoons, snakes, crocodiles and more.
Places of Interest
The famous Arenal volcano is one of the most beautiful sights of Costa Rica. Not only is the view of the volcano stunning, you can also bathe in hot springs at the foot of the volcano. If you want to visit Costa Rica at its greenest, then definitely travel to the cloud forest of Monteverde. You can go on wonderful hikes here and enjoy the beautiful forest. If you like a bit of adventure, then embark on the Sky Walk. You walk over suspension bridges between the trees at forty meters high. You can also swing in a harness between the treetops, and do your best Tarzan impression. It’ll give you the most spectacular view of your Costa Rica holiday!
Most beautiful beaches
If you visit Costa Rica and wish to relax at the end of your tailor-made trip, there is plenty of choice. You can go to Manuel Antonio National Park, with beautiful beaches, bays and green jungles full of monkeys. On the Caribbean coast is the colourful coastal town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca from where you can visit the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, such as Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva. If you prefer to stay on the Pacific coast, choose for example the beautiful beaches of Samara and its surroundings. A perfect way to end your special Costa Rica trip!
Costa Rica with Children
Looking to visit Costa Rica with children? Liesbet, our local travel specialist, is happy to help you create a beautiful family trip to Costa Rica. If you want to visit Costa Rica during the Christmas holidays, there are plenty of possibilities as well. Have a look at our family travel suggestion for Costa Rica.
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Know Before you Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa for travel to Costa Rica of up to 90 days. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Costa Rica. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
Insider Tip: There is a $29 USD departure tax that you must pay when leaving Costa Rica by air. SOME airlines include it in your flight ticket price, but not all, so double-check. If it is not included, there is a special line for the departure tax and you can pay with US dollars, colónes or credit card.
There are no particular requirements for Costa Rica, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and Zika is currently a risk in Costa Rica. Check the latest information about Zika warnings. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
If traveling from a country that has yellow fever, you will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Tap water in Costa Rica is safe to drink, except for the most rural areas. Use a Steripen with our refillable Dopper bottle when in uncertain areas.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Costa Rica. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Sockets use the US-style two-pronged (Type A) or three-pronged (Type B) plugs. Electricity in remote eco-lodges may not be reliable, so bring a flashlight/torch. You may also want to consider a portable USB charger for your electronics.
At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.
When to go
Costa Rica’s temperate tropical climate is defined by a wet season (May-November) and a dry season (December-April). While hot and humid most of the year, trade winds cool things off. Note the Caribbean east coast is slightly different from the rest of the country with their dry season hitting February-March and September-October. Peak season is during Christmas and around Easter. Read more about the best time to travel here.
Insider Tip: The rainy season is sometimes referred to as the green season, for not-very-cryptic reasons.
The national language is Spanish. Here are some useful words to learn:
Hello = Hola
Goodbye = Adios (formal) Chao/Ciao (informal)
Please = Por favor
Thank you = Gracias
Excuse Me = Perdón
Insider Tip: Pura vida (literally “pure life,” also meaning “simple life” or “good life”) is something you will see and hear all over Costa Rica. Pura vida is more than a phrase, it’s a way of life.
Costa Rica has been heavily influenced by the Spanish, plus a distinct Caribbean culture exists on the east coast. They have a high Catholic population and strong family values with many homes being multi-generational. Confrontation is considered impolite, so you will rarely see locals (also called Ticos) yell or create a scene in public. They also refrain from overusing the word “no,” replacing it with “maybe” in an effort to be polite.
Insider Tip: As with many Latin cultures, time isn’t an absolute. La hora Tica is the term for Costa Rican time… which is at least 30 minutes later than actual time.
The local currency is Costa Rican Colón (CRC).
The Colón is divided into céntimos. Both US dollars and colónes are accepted throughout much of Costa Rica. ATMs (cajeros automáticos) even give the option of dispensing money in USD or CRC, and they are found in all but the most remote areas of the country. Credit cards are also widely accepted in major towns and cities, particularly Visa and MasterCard, with American Express accepted in some places. All banks in Costa Rica will exchange money.
Insider Tip: Some ATM machines stop dispensing money at night to prevent theft, so best to withdraw money during the day—preferably during bank hours in case there is a problem.
- Restaurants – A 10% service charge may be added to your bill. If one isn’t included, leaving 10% is appreciated.
- Cabs – No tipping, but you can round up the change if you want.
- Hotels – Tip bellmen 1USD per bag, and housekeeping 1-2USD per day
Insider Tip: So as not to rush you, your server won’t bring the bill (propina in Spanish) until you ask for it.
There are a variety of activities in Costa Rica—from jungle treks to wildlife spotting to zip lining to river rafting to diving and more. What you pack will depend on what you’ll be doing. The country is casual overall, so no need to bring overly-conservative or dressy attire. Long pants and sleeves can help protect against sun and mosquitoes, but shorts, t-shirts and flip flops are culturally acceptable.
- Trail shoes or running shoes for trekking in the jungle
- Water shoes or sturdy sandals for walking and water sports
- Lightweight sweater or jacket for cool evenings
- Heavier jacket or fleece for higher elevations
- Light rain jacket or umbrella—even in the dry season it can rain
- Mosquito repellant
- Sunglasses and hat
- Daypack for trekking
- Binoculars for wildlife spotting
- Microfiber towel or sarong for beach-going
- Dry bags if taking electronics into the jungle/river raft
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- All prescriptions
- Flashlight/torch for possible power outages
Insider Tip: A lightweight mesh bag is great for storing wet clothes and swimsuits until they dry.