Travel Costa Rica | 10 Vacation Tips for Your Trip to Costa Rica

July 4, 2015

10 Tips for the Perfect Vacation in Costa Rica.

There isn’t really that much to stress about when you travel Costa Rica. If you use a little common sense, you will have a great time! Here are a few easy tips to help answer some of your questions and concerns while you are planning your trip.

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1.) Protect Yourself from the Sun- Costa Rica is located at 9 Degrees Latitude. That means we are a lot closer to the sun and the sun is a lot stronger than where most of our visitors come from.  Sunscreen is available in Costa Rica but it’s a lot more expensive and the selection is limited.  Pack plenty of it and use it liberally when you are in the sun.

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2.) Ask A local-Some of the best experiences by people traveling in Costa Rica is often advice from someone that lives here.  Printed guides like Lonely Planet and Fodor’s are frequently outdated and sometimes don’t provide accurate info.  Ask a local like a taxi driver, a cop, a waiter or bartender about the best restaurants are, where the best waves are, where the party is tonight or if there is something cool to do in the areas.  There are also usually some Ex-pats around as well as travel agencies like Costa Rica Gurus that will point you in the right direction.  The good stuff is usually off the beaten path and most of the locals are happy to help.

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3.) Stash Your Passport-You will need your passport to enter Costa Rica.  After entering, you are allowed to carry a copy of your passport instead of the original.  So once you get into Costa Rica, get a copy of the photo page and stamp page from your passport and keep that on your person.   Put your Passport in a Ziplock bag and leave it in the safe at your hotel or hide it in your luggage.

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4.) Pack the Right Clothes-Costa Rica has a number of different climates but the most important theme for what to pack is Comfort. Outside of San Jose, no one wears dress shoes or fancy clothes.   Along the beaches, sandals, short and T-shirts are accepted everywhere.  Think comfortable, breathable and lightweight to keep you cool.  With high Humidity and temperatures in the 85-90F year round at the beaches, moisture wicking material is the way to go.   If you are heading to any of the volcanoes or high altitude areas, jeans, a sweatshirt or light jacket are a good idea as it can get chilly at night.

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5.) Bring Some Cash-Bring enough cash for a couple of days worth of vacation but do not bring too much with you. A few hundred dollars is usually enough for day to day expenses for a short time.  Carrying large amounts of cash is not recommended for safety reasons.  US dollars are accepted at almost all restaurants and stores throughout the country.  When you run out, get more at an ATM.   ATMs are available in most parts of the country and most dispense both US dollars and Colones.  Do not exchange money anywhere but at a bank unless it’s an emergency .  Visa and Master Card are accepted at most stores, restaurants, hotels and by most tour operators.  American Express is not widely accepted in Costa Rica.  Most importantly dont worry, you will be able to get more cash off of your ATM card…leave the money roll at home.

 

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6.) Watch Your Gear-Although thefts from tourists is not a huge problem it does happen and usually when items are left in plain view and not watched. Do not leave your car unattended with a large amount of visible luggage or surfboards visible.  Instead park in a secure lot with a guard, have someone from your group stay with the car or keep the car within eyesight if your luggage is in your car.  Often there will be self appointed “security” wearing florescent vests on public streets in tourist areas that will watch your car.  These people will keep an eye on your car typically without a problem but its best to park your car in a safe area or removal all valuables from your car when possible.   Keep your camera gear, phones and laptops hidden from sight.  Keep your surfboards inside at your vacation rental or hotel and not on top of your car, on the beach or on your porch.

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7.) Respect the Ocean-The ocean on both the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica can and often does have very strong waves. There are also frequently riptides and strong undercurrents.  Most beach do not have life guards.  Unfortunately, we lose several tourists and locals to drowning every year  If you want to go into the ocean above your waist,  grab a boogie board or a surfboard and also learn how to save yourself if caught in a riptide.

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8.) Buy Some Booze-Liquor is 2-3x more expensive at the liquor stores and supermarkets in Costa Rica than it is in the US. If you drink a specific type of liquor and want some in your Vacation Rental or Hotel, buy it at the Duty Free store at the Airport.  The Duty-Free has a large selection of name brand liquor and it is typically less than prices in the US.  The Duty-Free is downstairs right after you pass through immigration at SJO.  Each person is allowed up to enter the country with up to 5 liters of liquor.

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9.) Keep Your Guard Up-Costa Rica is for the most part a peaceful country that welcomes foreigners. But Costa Rica is a developing country and there are many people that have far less than the tourists that visit.  For this reason, its important to remember that you are in a foreign country and keep your wits about you.  If you have a few drinks in you and its 3am, take a taxi instead of walking home.  Lock and deadbolt your doors at night.  Don’t wear expensive jewelry or flash large amounts of money.  If you act the same as if you were in a place like NYC or Miami, you shouldn’t have a problem.

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10.) Relax-Time moves a lot slower in Costa Rica than it does in North America.  The relaxed nature of the culture here is a large part of the charm.  The food you ordered may take a little longer than it would at a restaurant at home.   Your Tour Bus may be 10 minutes late.   And your dinner guest may show up 20 minutes later than expected.  Don’t get upset and don’t worry.  Relax, have another beer and understand that this is Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Gurus is a full service Travel Agency specializing in providing Costa Rica Vacation Rentals, Airport Transportation, Sport Fishing and Adventure Tours. Feel free to write us if you have any questions about vacations in Costa Rica at info@costaricagurus.com.


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