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Frequently Asked Questions
About Costa Rica
The highland ranges from 3,000 to 6,000 feet, above sea level. Costa Rica has several mountain ranges.: Cordillera de Guanacaste, Cordillera Central, and Cordillera de Talamanca. The active volcanoes here are the Poas Volcano, Arenal, Irazu, Rincon de la Vieja and Turrialba. The country‘s highest mountain is Cerro Chirripo, reaching a height of 3,819m (12,530 ft.). The country has large coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides and also has various rivers and gorgeous waterfalls. Costa Rica’s landmass is 51,100 square kilometers. The geography of Costa Rica makes it an ideal tourist destination. Between mystic mountain ranges, beautiful beaches and a multitude of National Parks, you are sure to have a fantastic adventure!
What is the weather like when traveling to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica’s weather is temperate all year, so the only variants in temperature depend upon elevation. The beaches are warmest, but cool breezes often provide a tranquil temperature with beaches in the southern zone being the coolest. Temperatures in the mountains are warm during the day and at night get much cooler so it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket while visiting the mountains! The average temperatures range from 89 degrees Fahrenheit at the highest on the coasts, down to 62 degrees Fahrenheit at the lowest at the highest elevations. The country has two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy (green season) is from May to December. But even during the rainy season, it is sunny and warm most of the day. The rain tends to come quickly and rain for a short amount of time, usually in the afternoon. Because Costa Rica has various eco-zones, the dry and rainy seasons vary. For example, in the Pacific side of the country, the dry season is from December to April. In the Caribbean side of the country, the dry season is September-October.
Is the government stable is it safe for tourists?
Costa Rica is extremely peaceful, and they disbanded their army in December 1948. In contrast to other Central American countries, Costa Rica doesn’t have any civil unrest and is VERY tourist-friendly. When visiting tourist areas, be sure to not leave any valuables in your rental car, be aware of your surroundings, and be keen on individuals that want to go out of their way to befriend you.
Where can I exchange money?
Exchanging money is possible at any bank and at exchange kiosks at the airport when you arrive. Banks are likely to offer you a better deal, and you can also exchange for colones from the many ATMs you can find around the country. US dollars are accepted in the most areas and you will receive your change in colones. You’ll tend to get better pricing on your purchases when paying with colones.
How much money do I need?
This depends on if you want to purchase souvenirs, travel about the country in a rental car, the type of hotels you choose to stay at, and where you eat. An example of eating out is for a Typical Costa Rican restaurant (Soda), a lunch or dinner can cost anywhere from $6 - $10, and breakfast as low as $4. While going to a formal restaurant or an international restaurant can cost between $20 - $40 for lunch or dinner. The luxury hotels and restaurants tend to be roughly the same price as places in the U.S. or Europe.
Taxi rates are very affordable in San Jose or other large towns. A trip ride of 3-4 KM can cost around $6. Be sure when choosing a taxi, that you use the official red taxi with the yellow triangle. Uber is also available and is typically a little less expensive.
Is tipping (gratuity) in Costa Rica Customary?
Tipping in Costa Rica isn’t necessary as most restaurants, services, taxis, etc., include a 10% service fee. However, waiters, bartenders, and hotel staff appreciate a tip, and that is entirely at your discretion.
Are there dangerous currents for swimmers?
In Costa Rica, there are many beaches with sand bottoms as opposed to reef bottoms. At san bottom beaches, there can be rip currents that can be dangerous. If you’re unsure of the ocean safety where you’re visiting, it’s best to inquire with a lifeguard if the beach has one or a local surfer/swimmer. Don’t underestimate the shore break as it can be much stronger than you think.
Can I drink the water?
Most all of the tap water in Costa Rica is clean and you can drink it without any issues. However, if you have a sensitive system, we recommend that you drink purified or bottled water. We HIGHLY encourage that you bring your own reusable water bottle and refill it so that you leave less of an impact on the environment here.
What about mosquitoes?
Mosquitos are most relevant near rivers and standing water like most places in the world. Beaches at dusk tend to have sand fleas that can be annoying and many people think they’re mosquitos. We recommend bringing a Natural bug lotion/spray that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that will negatively affect the environment and are healthier for your body.
Do I need any Vaccinations before I Visit Costa Rica?
If traveling from South America or sub-Saharan Africa, you must get a Yellow Fever vaccination at a minimum of 10 days before you travel. No other vaccinations are required or suggested.
What to do in case of emergencies?
Dial (911) in case of an emergency. In some instances, it’s faster to call the Costa Rican Red Cross (128). Leaving your itinerary with family or friends in your home country is a good idea and for a nominal fee, travel insurance will also bring you peace of mind.
Is it safe to drive in Costa Rica?
Yes, driving in Costa Rica is very safe and we highly encourage it! Driving allows you to get out and explore the area in which you’re staying as well as gives you the freedom to go somewhere whenever you’d like. San Jose is fairly congested during the workweek so if you’re wanting to sightsee in San Jose, it’s best to get around on foot or hire a taxi or Uber. Once out of San Jose, having a rental car allows you all of the freedom on your own time. Be sure when renting a car that you clearly understand the different levels of insurance, and we suggest Alamo Rental Car as they have fantastic rates and many rental locations though out the country. In some areas of Costa Rica, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, so make sure you consider this when you’re making a car reservation.
Can I use GPS systmes in Costa Rica?
We recommend downloading the Waze app for directions as it works much better here in Costa Rica than other maps applications.
Can I use my cell phone?
Yes! Be sure to check with your service provider’s international plan prior to arriving in Costa Rica. If you have an old phone that is unlocked, it’s also a good idea to bring it along and purchase a SIM card from any supermarket or convenience store to use for data. The data plans here are inexpensive and serve well in remote areas. Also, most people here and businesses use Whatsapp, so we recommend using it for communications as it works on wifi so you won’t need to use any data.
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