Costa Rica Travel Dos & Don’ts
Costa Rica Travel Dos:
- Do learn some Spanish, including a few specific Costa Rica words and phrases. Though English is widely spoken in Costa Rica, you’ll enjoy your trip even more if you can converse with all the locals you meet, and they really appreciate the effort.
- Do tip your server at restaurants, if a service charge isn’t included in the bill (usually 10%).
- Do support the local economy by patronizing Costa Rica-owned hotels, restaurants, and shops. Hire Costa Rican guides whenever possible, and tip them after your tour. Do wear sunscreen daily.
- Costa Rica is very close to the equator, and UV levels are serious business.
- Do consider using public transportation instead of renting a car. It’s inexpensive and runs all over the country, even to remote destinations.
- Do be extremely careful driving in Costa Rica if you rent a car. Costa Rica drivers can be pretty lax about following traffic laws, and the traffic laws are different than those you’re used to. Read up on Costa Rica traffic laws before arriving. Pay to rent a GPS unit. If you get in an accident, don’t move your car until law enforcement arrives.
- Do wear insect repellant with DEET. Malaria isn’t much of a problem in Costa Rica, but dengue fever and Zika can be in certain regions.
- Do save $26 US for the Costa Rica exit visa, payable upon leaving the country on land or by air.
- Do pack for various types of weather, no matter what season you’re traveling in. That means a rain poncho and waterproof shoes, just in case.
- Do photocopy your passport and keep the copy in a separate place than your actual passport. It’s also smart to keep some extra cash and a space credit card in a separate location.
Costa Rica Travel Don’ts:
- Don’t discount Costa Rica travel in the raining season (we call it the “green season”). Yes, there will be rainstorms, but they often only occur late in the day or overnight. Costa Rica rainy season prices are much cheaper, and the scenery is a much more vibrant green. Also, there are fewer tourists crowding the country’s attractions.
- Don’t be in a hurry. Costa Rica runs on Costa Rica time, which might be more leisurely than what you’re used to. For example, buses are often late, and food at restaurants sometimes takes a little longer.
- Don’t do anything to harm the environment or wildlife. Don’t feed animals. Always stay on marked trails, and don’t pick flowers or collect seashells.
- Don’t take unlicensed or unmarked taxi cabs. In San Jose always make sure the meter is turned on. Outside of San Jose, many taxis don’t have meters; always settle upon a price before climbing inside.
- Don’t overdo public displays of affection. While a quick kiss or hand-holding isn’t any big deal, over-the-top displays (like making out) are frowned upon by Costa Rican locals.
- Don’t stay holed up in your all-inclusive resort – get out and see the real Costa Rica! Take walks in the cities and villages. Go on hikes. Meet locals.
- Don’t step off the path when hiking in the forest. First, because you don’t want to harm any plants or animals. Second, because you don’t want any plants and animals to harm you – Costa Rica is home to quite a few varieties of stinging and biting insects. And snakes.