Costa Rica News – Check out the latest news and information that you need to know.
- Entry Requirements (for U.S. citizens): a valid passport that does not expire for at least 90 days after your departure date from Costa Rica
- Currency: Colon. U.S. dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
- Electric Current: 110 volts, standard U.S. two-prong plug
- Departure Tax: $28, can be paid in U.S. dollars, colones, or credit card
- Time zone: Central Time when the U.S. observes Standard Time and Mountain Time when the U.S. observes Daylight Saving Time (Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Saving Time; we are always on Central Standard Time)
When should we visit Costa Rica?
We have three seasons in Costa Rica: dry (December through April); mildly rainy (afternoon showers May through August) and heavy rains (September and October). Because of our mild weather, we have visitors all year long.
We have various micro-climates and you will notice a difference in each area. Some areas will be cool and rainy, others warm and dry, or at the beach, more humid and hot. Generally higher elevations are cooler and lower elevations are warmer and more humid.
You can expect 70 to 90 degrees during the day, all year around, depending on where you are. Being near the equator means the sun rises at 5:45 A.M. and sets at 6:00 P.M. every day, all year.
What if I don’t speak Spanish?
English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
What are the Costa Rica entry requirements?
All foreigners are required to carry a valid passport to enter the country and citizens of some countries may require a visa. For official entry requirements, visit: www.traveldocs.com/cr. We advise that once you arrive, you stow passports in a secure place, such as a safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
What is the closest airport?
For stays on the Central Pacific Coast, we recommend that you fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near the capital city of San José. From there, it is a scenic 75-minute drive to Los Suenos Drive, a bit more for Jaco Beach. Manuel Antonio is approximately 2.5 hours from SJO, and Dominical is about 3 hours from SJO. For stays in Guanaste (such as Nosara, Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, Peninsula Papagayo, Malpais, and Santa Teresa) on the Northern Pacific Coast, we recomment flying into Liberia (LIR). We are happy to assist you with car rental reservations and private airport transfers. One can fly from San Jose to Quepos on commercial flights that depart from the airfield next to the international airport. Charter flights are inexpensive and can be arranged to land in Jaco, Esterrilos, Quepos and at other airstrips in the Central Pacific Coast area. We are happy to arrange commercial flights within Costa Rica as well as helicopter transportation and charter aircraft on your behalf.
Is it necessary to rent a car?
Some people may find it intimidating to drive in a foreign country, and Costa Rican drivers are often more aggressive than North Americans. However, the roads in the Central Pacific Coast are generally less congested and in better condition than in other parts of the country. We are happy to make car rental reservations for our clients. You may drive on your foreign license provided that you carry your passport (or a photocopy of it) with you. If you choose not to rent a vehicle, we can arrange for airport transfers via a private, air-conditioned van. Taxi service is available in most parts of the Central Pacific Coast.
What do I need to know about car rentals?
You have to be very clear about two main issues: First, the price. You need to understand what it does and does not include. The LDW (damage liability waiver) is mandatory on all rentals, regardless of which credit card you use. This covers (with limits) damages to property--such as another car--that you hit. It does not cover damage to your rental car.
The LDW typically costs $12-28 per day. For rentals through Adobe Car Rental, the LDW is included in the rate quote. The LDW is not included in the rates quoted by other firms, such as Budget, Hertz, and National. Make sure when you are comparing rates that you are comparing manzanas to manzanas (apples to apples!).
Secondly, make certain that the rental company voucher you signed is closed satisfactorily when you return the car. This way you will be sure that no extra damage charges are added to your voucher. Not being clear on these issues may result in extra charges that may easily double your rate. When you book through Mead Brown, this will not happen.
What should I bring?
We recommend that you bring comfortable, sturdy shoes if you plan to hike or participate in any adventure activities or tours. Be sure to bring sunglasses, a hat, plenty of sunscreen and mosquito repellant (particularly if you will be visiting the rainforest), swimsuits, golf shoes and anything you’d need for a specific activity.
Where is your office located?
We are located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, five miles north of Jacó, one mile off the the Costanera (coastal highway), just beyond the entrance to Los Sueños Resort and Marina. Rather than making a right turn into the resort, continue going straight; we are in the building known as Alcaravan Plaza on the left, just beyond the resort's entrance. If you reach the beach, you've gone too far!
Where do I go for groceries?
Auto Mercado, an upscale grocer similar to Ralph’s or Harris Teeter, is located at Plaza Herradura. There are grocery stores in the nearby beach town of Jaco as well as pharmacies, video and DVD rental, liquor store, a hardware store and boutiques. Mead Brown is at your service; we are happy to provision the pantry, bar and refrigerator for you.
What if I have a medical emergency?
Emergency clinics are located throughout the area and there is a hospital in Quepos. For serious cases, a clinic will arrange transfer service via modern ambulance or airlift to the renowned CIMA Hospital in San José, which is affiliated with Baylor Medical University of Texas.
Can I purchase travel insurance?
To learn more about purchasing travel insurance and various coverage options and benefits, please check out our CSA Travel Protection information.
Which currency should I use?
While colones are the official unit of currency in Costa Rica, U.S. dollars are widely accepted. For the best exchange rate, we recommend that you take colones from an ATM after your arrival. Changing money is very expensive (the exchange rate is really unfavorable). There are ATMs at Plaza Herradura and several in Jacó, all of which accept Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus. Most dispense both colones and dollars. Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) are widely accepted throughout Costa Rica.
Is the water safe to drink?
The national water supply is generally considered potable and safe. Popular local brands of bottled water include Cristal and Alpina. Evian and Pellegrino are available at some restaurants and grocery stores. We recommend that you purchase bottled water.
What about my personal safety?
Costa Rica is widely considered to be the safest country in Latin America. The crime rate here is lower than for most U.S. cities. As a precaution, we recommend that you avoid bringing jewelry. We strongly recommend that you remove all valuables from your vehicle when it is left unattended.
Are properties for sale in the area?
There are a number of condominiums, villas and lots for sale. We are happy to make arrangements for you to tour these properties with a qualified real estate agent.
I hear that prostitution is legal in Costa Rica?
Can I bring such guests to my rental? Although prostitution is not illegal in Costa Rica, it is not well tolerated within our communities. If you choose to engage in this activity, you must do so within the confines of your vacation rental. Prostitutes may not use any of the community amenities, such as swimming pools, beach clubs, Jacuzzis or other shared space. Our guests must conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of other guests.
Is tipping customary in Costa Rica?
The cost of living in Costa Rica is generally really high relative to incomes. Automobiles and electronics, for example, are about twice as costly here as in the U.S. Gratuities are an important source of income for maids, massage therapists, chef’s assistants, and mates on boats. For some, tips may be the primary source of income. Restaurant bills include a charge of 10% for service. You may wish to add 5; although that is not expected, it is appreciated.
How much should I tip?
Here is a general guideline for tipping in Costa Rica:
Private (not shared) Airport Transfer
$20-40 per trip
$5-10 per day for a condo
$10-20 per day for a villa
Private Yacht Charter (includes fishing boats)
20% of the charter fee
Massage and Spa Treatments
15-20% of the charge
$10 for breakfast
$15 for lunch
$25-50 for dinner
Guides on Excursions
$20 per party for private guide at Manuel Antonio National Park
$5 per guest on zipline canopy, ATV, sailing, or rafting tour, and surfing lessons, etc.
Links to more travel information and resources:
- Time & Date – The World Clock – Time Zones
- The Weather Channel
- Currency Converter – The Universal Currency Converter
- Federal Aviation Administration – They develop air traffic rules, assign the use of airspace and control air traffic.
- Visas and Passport Information
- Passport rush service
- Worldtime – One of the easiest of the international time conversion sites around, ideal in case you need to know what time it is in Hong Kong, or anywhere else!
- Emily Post – Etiquette
- Amazon – Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette
- Kleinfeld Bridal – Wedding Dresses
- Crane & Co. – Stationery
World News & Travel Publications:
- World News:
- Travel Publications:
- Condé Nast Traveler
- DK Eyewitness
- Insight Guides
- Luxury Travel Advisor
- Michelin Guide
- New York Times T Magazine: Travel
- Travel + Leisure
- Travel Weekly
- Zagat Guide
- Travel Warnings
- Overseas Security Advisory Council
- U.S. Department of State – Whether you are an American citizen traveling abroad or a foreign citizen traveling to the U.S., get the all the information you need before you head overseas. This website contains tips for traveling abroad, passport and visa applications and document requirements.
- CDC Travel Information- This site gives the Center for Disease Control’s recommended health precautions and warnings for travelers.