Frequently asked questions about Costa Rica

What is the best time to travel?

You can visit Costa Rica throughout the year. The Caribbean region enjoys a more humid climate and showers occur throughout the year. However, this won’t spoil your holiday.
Climate and temperatures depend on the differences in height, varying between twenty degrees Celcius in the highlands and up to thirty degrees in the coastal areas.
Basically there are two seasons: the rainy season (winter), from April through November, and the dry season (summer), from the end of December through April.
During the rainy season everything blossoms beautifully and the scenery is much greener. That is why the Costa Ricans call it the ‘green season’. The mornings usually are very sunny, and are followed by cooling afternoon showers.

What is the best time to see wildlife?

A special feature in Costa Rica is the Tortuguero National Park, where between July and October, green turtles come ashore in great numbers (arribadas) to lay their eggs.

What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

As we will be travelling in a Christian country, Christmas, Three Kings Day (January 6) and Easter are celebrated as well as the following
During Holy Week (Semana Santa), almost everything is closed in Costa Rica. The days between Christmas and New Year are considered an unofficial holiday, especially in San José. Then there are the festivals that honour the patron saints. San José’s festival (Saint Joseph) is on March 19 and the name day of the Virgen de Los Angeles (Costa Rica’s patron saint) is on August 2. Día de Juan Santamaria on April 11 commemorates the national hero and Día de la Raza (Columbus Day) on October 12, is a public holiday all over Central-America.

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book transfers (on arrival) and extra nights with Shoestring. You can add this to your booking form.

What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months at the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

Do I need a visa?

You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. At present, a visa is not required for UK citizens and many other European nationals. Please check here for up to date information and contact your nearest embassy should you require a visa. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.

Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and contact after your local practitioner or a specialized health centre and make an appointment to get your shots and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program. People who already have had a few shots might do with two weeks. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

What is the recommended currency for Costa Rica?

The US dollar has long been the second currency of Costa Rica. However, outside the tourist areas nobody really refers to dollars. The vast majority of Costa Ricans gets paid in colones, and buy and sell in colones, and you would do well to get the hang of the currency soon after you arrive.

Most banks impose a service charge for cashing travelers checks.
Banks are generally open Monday to Friday. It’s desirable to carry at least some cash with you. Be sure to carry small bills and coins when visiting villages where change may not be readily available for larger denominations.
Unlimited exchange of colones is permitted. Major credit cards are accepted by banks, most shops, and restaurants, but always ask or check for signs of on the windows of doors
The colon comes in bills denominated in the following amounts: 10,000, 5,000 (called toucans), 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, and 50 colones. The coins are donominated in 100, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 colones.

What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

In the high mountainous areas you should find cold nights. Therefore, bring along thin, cotton clothes. For the evening, a closed neck long-sleeved T-shirt or a thin cotton roll neck sweater is recommended. Also, bring along a jersey or sweater and a rain jacket. Do not forget an umbrella. Bring along a pair of good-quality, worn-in walking shoes and flip-flops or sandals. You should consider bringing along the following: sunglasses, sunscreen, toiletries, a traveller’s health kit, a hat/scarf, a photo/film camera, spare batteries, a pocket knife, a lighter, a small stock of non-perishable snacks and sweets, an alarm clock, writing materials, books, passport, sufficient money, photocopies of your passport and travel insurance, your flight ticket(s), travel insurance-pass including alarm number, important addresses and a good travel guide, toilet paper, towel and a reading lamp. If you bring along electrical equipment, you will need an adaptor.Valuable papers are best kept in a th

What kind of luggage should I take?

We prefer that you pack everything into a weekend bag or backpack, rather than a solid suitcase, which would take up too much space and can be hard to carry in some circumstances.
A small backpack or shoulder bag comes in handy for hand luggage.

What is the situation with electricity?

What voltage and plugs are in use in Costa Rica? Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.

Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

In what kind of accommodation do we sleep?

Accommodation will be provided in twin rooms with private facilities.
We sleep overnight in middle class hotels, also in the cities we stay in simple medium-priced hotels, but you have to remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home.

How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveler ( from the same sex when possible )  unless you have booked a single room.

Do they cater for vegetarians in Costa Rica?

Food in Costa Rica is quite unpretentious. There are plenty of restaurants, but you might want to visit a small 'soda' (restaurant with local dishes).
They eat lots of meat, but delicious salads feature on the menu as well, so vegetarians will not have a problem.
City restaurants offer pastas, pizzas and Chinese food as well.
Availability of fruits depends on the season: oranges, bananas and pineapples are most popular, but also more exotic fruits like Chirimoy, carambola, granadilla (a sort of pomegranate), guave, guayaba, cas (a passion fruit) and papaya. The jugos naturales or fruit juices from these are delicious.

What kind of transportation is used?

Transportation will be in private (AC) minibuses or public buses

Is Costa Rica dangerous?

Pickpockets are active mainly in the cities. Simply keep them at a distance by storing your money and valuable possessions close to your body and out of sight. Keep some ready money apart. Carry your backpack on your stomach if it contains valuables. Wear your camera on your stomach as well and tie it to a solid belt. You should take these precautions especially when visiting Nicaraguan markets. Theft occurs and when this is the case, it will be on locations you normally avoid, such as dark, quiet alleys. Your luggage will be reasonably safe in your hotel room, but donor leave money or valuables lying about. Store it in a locked bag or preferably, keep it with you or hand it over to the reception of the hotel. Some hotels will have a safe in which valuables can be stored.


What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

The cultural differences between Europe and Middle America are huge.
Bargaining in Costa Rica is only customary when buying souvenirs or objects of art. In markets and shops food is bought at fixed prices.
Politeness plays an important role in communication all over Central America. When addressing somebody, in a shop or bus, say hello first. Likewise, a greeting will gain a return greeting, then, the actual interaction begins.

Make sure you look well dressed and clean. This is an important issue to the people of Central America. Even poor people do their utmost to look well kept. Best leave jewels and valuables at home. Do not put on revealing clothes, as it is not always appreciated. Shorts are allowed, for men and women, but only on beaches and in some coastal resorts. Bathing clothes are only allowed in swimming pools and on beaches. Many local women wear a T-shirt on top of their bathing suit (in order to avoid male attention). Dress properly when visiting

Can I snorkel or dive in Costa Rica?

There are many opportunities to snorkel and dive in Costa Rica, here are a few of the top spots:

In Tamarindo, located on the Northwestern shoreline of Costa Rica, surfing and snorkeling both come highly recommended. Diving tours out to the reef can also be arranged.

Isla del Caño, is a nature reserve and the island is scarcely visited and those who do are mainly interested in snorkelling and diving over the coral reefs around the island.

In the protected rainforests of the Talamanca region you can visit the Gandocca Manzanillo park with local guides and embark upon a snorkel or diving trip by boat and enjoy the beautiful coral, home to large quantities of brightly coloured fish.

Are there opportunities to swim?

There will be many opportunities to swim throughout Costa Rica so be sure to bring your swimming costume

What are other activities and sports I could do?

There are many activities that can be done in Costa Rica, you can go surfing in Dominical one of the worlds most popular surf sites.

In Rincón de la Vieja National Park,you can take wonderful (optional) hikes in the nature reserve. You can cross the jungle on foot or by horse, along waterfalls while looking for sulphur springs and bubbling mud pools.

In the west to Sarapiquí there is one of the richest areas for bird watching. You can also join a safari tour and other activities: visiting the frog garden or walking the suspension bridges built high above the cloud forest.

How are communications in Costa Rica?

The international access code for Costa Rica is +506. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. City codes are not required. Costa Rica has one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in Latin America. The cheapest way to phone internationally is a direct call using a phone card. Mobile phone operators use GSM networks. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.

What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference

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