Index for a trip in Costa Rica
Find answers to your questions by clicking on the initial corresponding to your keyword, or browse this page to discover more and more about Costa Rica
— A —
Costa Rica is a mountainous country, the capital San José is 1,100 m away. Costa Rica’s highest point, Mount Chirripó, rises to 3,820 m. Excursions to the Irazú volcano (3,400 m) require good physical condition, but the site is accessible by car, and by wheelchair users
— B —
On the beaches strong currents can occur, there are often relatively high waves, due to the movement of the tides or weather conditions. It is important that you follow local instructions (flag or information signs on some beaches). Find out about bathing conditions from the local population or from lifeguards (present on some sites).
If you get caught in a current, stay calm and swim parallel to the beach. If you need help, wave your hands (arms crossed over head) and get attention.
Swimming “topless”, or even naked, is not allowed
They make the change. The hours are often continuous day, generally from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For stays in remote areas, it is better to withdraw cash in town
— C —
- CREDIT CARD
Major credit cards are accepted in most stores, with the exception of very small grocery stores. ATMs are found in larger cities. Make sure you always have some cash with you and ask where is the “cajero automático”
The currency is the colon (currently 1 dollar = 550 colones). For the last lesson use our converter
IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CHANGE EUROS IN COSTA RICA. It is therefore advisable to bring dollars before departure, in denominations of 50 USD and less. US currency can be changed easily in banks and hotels, as are travelers checks. In supermarkets it is also possible to pay in US dollars. International credit cards are commonly accepted
Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons: a dry season (from November to early May) and a rainy season (from May to October). During the rainy season, mornings are generally sunny, with showers beginning in the mid-afternoon. The thermal differences are low all year round. The altitude is the determining factor for the temperature: San José, at 1,100 meters above sea level, experiences an eternal spring with temperatures of 16 to 28 degrees. The coastal regions are the hottest (21 to 32 °). The water temperature varies between 27 and 31 ° all year round. The country, due to its geographical position, escapes the hurricanes that regularly hit the Caribbean
Telephone, fax, radio, cable television and Internet lines are operational in almost the entire territory.
To call Costa Rica from a foreign country: + 506 + 8 digits
Mail sent from Costa Rica takes about eight days to reach foreign countries
Costa Rican Customs are present on arrival and departure of tourists and there may be routine checks. People undergoing medical treatment must have their prescription with them. Visitors are allowed to bring with them 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars, two liters of alcoholic beverages and four small bottles of perfume. Drugs are illegal in Costa Rica
— D —
Despite the measures taken for the conservation of biodiversity, Costa Rica records 20,000 hectares of deforested land each year, half of which is carried out on private land. In Costa Rica, the deforestation of the 1960s and 1970s was the result of the development of cattle breeding, under the impetus of the United States, which encouraged cattle farming. Land degradation is also the result of the deployment of banana plantations, such as mangoes, citrus fruits and pineapples. The financial lure has cleared a total of 60% of the national territory in a decade. Fortunately, nowadays, deforestation has been divided by 10. Conscious for many years that the natural resources are not inexhaustible, Costa Rica has adopted a strong policy of sustainable development and environmental protection. . To compensate for these misdeeds, MINAET (Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications) now subsidizes farmers making efforts to preserve primary and secondary forests. Also reforestation measures are in place and protected areas cover 25% of Costa Rica (creation of the first park in 1963). And we do not forget the actions of NGOs
Progress comes with its share of good and bad changes in the life of a people. In recent years it has become clear that Costa Rica must adhere to the same standards of caution as in the capitals of the Western world. Never, anywhere should personal items, luggage and the like remain unattended in a rental car, avoid exposing your valuables (gold earrings and watches). In hotels, valuables, official papers etc. must be in the safe, the bedroom must be properly closed by all access routes. Unload your rental car before leaving it parked. Park your vehicle where the manager of your hotel recommends it. Use your hotel safe to deposit your official papers and properly lock your room
The water is safe to drink in most of the country. Avoid buying bottled water, instead fill your gourds with water from dispensers in hotels. Fresh fruit juices, called “naturales” or “batidos” are excellent. They are served with or without the addition of sugar, water or milk. You will have the opportunity to taste different rums and Guaro. In the villages of Guanacaste you will enjoy drinks made from corn, peanuts and other seeds ground and mixed with milk, sugar, vanilla. Some wines are local: vino de coyol, vino de nance. You will also find beers brewed in Costa Rica. These include, for example, Imperial, Bavaria, Rock and other brands of the national leader “Cerveceria de Costa Rica”. In recent years, there have been craft beers produced locally by microbreweries.
The most accessible wines come from Chile, Argentina and California, whether in restaurants or supermarkets
The main roads, regularly dotted with gas stations, are in fairly good condition. Efforts are being made on signage (+1200 signs in 2009). The Ticos will be happy to show you the route to follow. It is possible to rent GPS. It must be remembered that Costa Rica is a mountainous country: the bends are not absent and very often hairpin. The state of the secondary network is more random. A French driving license is sufficient to rent a vehicle. Radar checks are frequent: you must respect the limitations (80 to 90 km on the expressway). Seat belts for the driver and passengers as well as child seats and booster seats are mandatory
— E —
Because of its geographical location, Costa Rica is a seismic country which is located at the meeting of several tectonic plates. Its volcanic activity makes it a territory where earthquakes exist. They are more or less intense but if you have the opportunity to live this experience, or rather to realize it, you will see that the Ticos show serenity. It should be noted that in comparison with its neighbors, Costa Rica is the country least affected by natural disasters.
The POWER is 110 Volt / 60 Hz. The sockets are American, ie with two flat plugs. If you are traveling with European devices (charger, hair dryer, shaver) an adapter is necessary
— F —
A quarter of the territory has been declared a protected area. All types of rainforest are represented. You will find primary, secondary, rain, cloud, dry tropical and humid tropical forests.
The following tips are valid in all places:
1) Do not use trees or lianas when walking. Many plants are covered with more or less dangerous thorns; they can also harbor a snake or a poisonous insect.
2) Cover your body or use a natural repellent to prevent insect bites
3) Walk slowly and in silence to discover the country while respecting its fauna
4) Stay on the trails to protect the forest and not get lost
— G —
The territory lies between the 8 ° and 11 ° meridian of north latitude, and the 83 ° and 86 ° west longitude. Costa Rica is located between Panama (to the south) and Nicaragua (to the north). Its area of 51,100 km2 ( 19730sqmiles)
The country, mountainous and volcanic in the center, has 1000 km of coastline on the Pacific Ocean and 200 km on its Atlantic coast.
There are so many good products in Costa Rica: you can taste all the vegetables from France, which are much larger, and all the exotic products. The “gallo pinto” is the traditional breakfast, consisting of a mixture of rice, black beans and egg. The “casado” is one of the main dishes for lunch. This one is based on meat or fish, accompanied by rice, beans, mixed vegetables and plantain. Bread is not eaten with meals, however it is possible to buy some. The afternoon is often interspersed with coffee accompanied by sweet or savory bread.
Learn more about gastronomy
— H —
Wood crafting – traditional hand painted carts, precious wood jewelry… is Costa Rica’s main craft. Most of the workshops are in Sárchi, a village in the central valley. Guaitil, in Guanacaste, is renowned for its native ceramics and reproductions of pre-Columbian figurines. Everywhere, you can find posters and T-shirts with a design inspired by biodiversity
Vaccination is Not compulsory for people residing in Europe nor North America, the health situation in the country is satisfactory. Water is safe to drink everywhere, except in some very remote areas.
The yellow fever vaccine is compulsory for people coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and French Guyana.
The network of Social Security hospitals and clinics covers the whole country. The care given is of excellent quality, the techniques used are modern and the doctors are well trained.
San José also has private hospitals of high medical standard.
Travelers undergoing special treatment must bring their own medication and it is always recommended to travel with a small first aid kit to be dealt with with your general practitioner (paracetamol, anti diarrhea, etc.) and his prescriptions.
Magnificent tropical plant that you will see throughout your stay at any time of the year: birds of paradise, parrot’s beak … explosive yellow or red
— J —
- JET LAG
We are with the CENTRALAMERICAN TIME : -06.00
— L —
Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in most hotels and restaurants. An introduction to French is taught in public colleges but the language is not widely used. Our guides are French-speaking, on request we can find a guide speaking your mother tongue
Refer to your airline’s information regarding international flight.
On site, we will inform you of the capacity of the lockers of the different rental car models.
For domestic flights, depending on the company, 1 piece of checked baggage between 14 and 18 kg and 1 hand baggage of 4.5 kg are allowed at no extra charge.
Surpluses are loaded on site between 2 and 6 USD / kg extra. Special rates are applied for non-standard luggage such as surfboards or golf equipment
— M —
A typical musical instrument from Latin America, the marimba looks like a xylophone with wooden blades. The city of Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, is the capital of the Marimba, whose sounds will make you spend wonderful evenings on the Pacific coast and in the Central Valley, among others! The one who plays is the “marimbista” and the maker is called “marimbero”
It is recommended that you travel with your own medication if you are undergoing special treatment, and that you remember your prescription. Also, think about your small first aid kit, composed on the recommendations of your general practitioner. It usually includes dressings, disinfectant, paracetamol, drugs against intestinal disturbances and fever, product against mosquitoes
— N —
- NATIVE AMERICANS
The Native Americans of Costa Rica are divided into 8 ethnic groups. We distinguish those originating from northern Central America (Malekus, Huetares and Chorotegas) and those originating from northern South America (Cabecares, Bribris, Terrabas, Borucas and Guaymies). There are currently around 60,000 Native Americans, half of whom live on native lands. These lands represent nearly 7% of the national territory but the rights of the natives are little respected and their political and social representation is almost non-existent. It is possible to discover the culture of these ethnic groups by visiting a few villages and participating in their daily life.
In San Jose, a group of local artisans allows you to get to know a bit of their culture with a shop, Chieton Moren
— O —
Failure to respect and destroy the archaeological and cultural heritage can be punished with several years in prison.
The consumption of drugs and illegal substances are offenses severely punished by Costa Rican law
The commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a crime that is punished by prison with sentences of up to 18 years or even 50 years of imprisonment.
More than 1500 recorded species. For orchid lovers, the key flowering period is March. The Lankester Garden near Cartago is a must-see. The national flower is a Guaria Morada orchid, purple in color with a white courtyard
— P —
- PARKS AND RESERVES
For the sake of preservation, Costa Rican law prohibits collecting plant or animal species (flowers, plants, shells, wood, sand, etc.), feeding animals, consuming alcohol or drugs, smoking, entering with pets, use a tape recorder or any device that can disturb animal life; solid waste should be placed in the garbage.
Each protected area is accessible to a limited number of visitors; the park warden is the only person authorized or not to authorize entry into a protected area.
Likewise, parks and reserves do not feed animals, they promote the most natural environment possible. Animals are wild and appear according to their biological rhythm
- PURA VIDA
The expression “Pura Vida” is used a lot in Costa Rica. It represents a vast set of states of mind. It can be the concept of a simple but happy life, as well as the yes answer to a multitude of questions. This famous and typical expression of Costa Rica, was transformed into a slogan by the government about ten years ago. Today the national slogan is: “a country without artificial ingredients”. Some examples of use:
– To say hello: Pura Vida!
– To ask how are you: Pura Vida?
– To answer, I’m fine: Pura Vida…
– To say that your vacation is the best vacation of your life: Pura vida !!!!!
The ingredients and values of Pura Vida: an educated and professional country, an excellent level of public health and well-being, welcoming, respectful, supportive, endearing, positive and smiling people with whom it is easy to share a moment ,, a safe and connected country, the charm of villages at the end of the world, small family structures, a real awareness of environmental protection, tourism oriented towards sustainable development, exceptional nature where life is good and take advantage of the present moment, savor a good coffee and freshly prepared local products, build memories in front of a sunset, live unforgettable experiences and discoveries…
This is the PURA VIDA Attitude
The total population is 5 million inhabitants in 2018
With a life expectancy of 77 years, an average age of 27 years and 26% of the population under 15 years old: the “Ticos” are a young people.
The fertility rate is 2.24 children per woman, the right to vote has been given to women since 1949, the parliament has 37% women and the current President is a woman
Religion also has its place, without being extreme. Costa Rica has 76% Catholic believers, 13% Protestant evangelists and various minority religions, to which are added 11% atheists
The population is concentrated around the cities, 60% live in the central valley and the density is 79.8 inhabitants per square kilometer
This land of agricultural tradition, sees its population moving towards the cities to find another lifestyle or a job. It should be noted, however, that the unemployment rate is around 5.6% and the index of the undernourished population is +/- 5%.
The education system is of a good standard and enjoys strong government support. The literacy rate is 96% and the average schooling is until the age of 11/12 years.
These are local “grocery stores” where you can find snacks, drinks, tobacco and all the basic necessities.
— Q —
The mythical bird of the Maya that lives in tropical cloud forests. Unable to survive in captivity, it is an endangered species that is well protected. Her dance during the mating season between April and July allows you to admire all her beauty
— R —
The main religion is the Catholic religion. it is, moreover, the state religion and the church is not separate from the state. There is a Minister of Worship and Censorship in Costa Rica. However, everyone is free to practice the religion that suits them and in recent years the Protestant and Evangelical churches have made clear progress. The great majority of Costa Ricans are believers and regularly attend their churches
In San José it is possible to find a wide variety of restaurants of all origins. One distinguishes the restaurant, often of a certain standard with the more typical and popular soda. The 10% service is not always included. This is normally written on the menu if the prices shown include taxes and / or service
— S —
Costa Rica is a stable and secure country. However, unfortunately, as in many countries, delinquency is on the increase and certain rules of caution must be observed. Avoid walking alone at night in the capital and on the beaches, never show your money, nor leave your luggage unattended and avoid exposing your valuables (leave gold earrings and watches in your suitcase ). Unload your rental car before leaving it parked. Park your vehicle where the manager of your hotel recommends it. Leave your official papers in the safe and properly close your room
Costa Ricans are not particularly smokers; Since the entry into force of the anti-smoking law, it is forbidden to smoke in national parks, reserves, hotels, restaurants, public places and in vehicles.
We recommend that smokers bring a pocket ashtray and ask hoteliers for the smoking area, however it is not mandatory.
The word “soda” means two things in Costa Rica. It is either a small “restaurant on the go”, generally family-run, where quick and typical dishes are served: casados, empanada, gallo pinto. A “soda” is also sparkling water. For a lemonade or drink with a red label, prefer the word “gaseosa”
In souvenir shops you will find a good selection of popular items, we recommend that you prefer locally produced handcrafted souvenirs.
The export of the following items is prohibited: wild plants, animals, insects, corals, tortoiseshell objects, as well as original pre-Columbian and Native American objects. Checks can be carried out at the airport.
Exception: seeds, plants, decorative objects with insects and reproductions of Native American artifacts accompanied by an export certificate
Sustainability aims to ensure the equality and respect of human society and the environment. It is based on an interactive triangle: economy, society and environment. What makes it possible to achieve sustainability is sustainable development. And one of its axes is sustainable tourism
Sustainable travel means discovering a country that respects the Earth and people: participating in the development of the area visited, limiting its tourist impact, respecting its guests.
— T —
- TICO ou TICA
Tico au masculin ou Tica au féminin, est le surnom des costariciens. Ce surnom vient de l´habitude locale d´ajouter « itico, itica » à la fin des mots pour former des diminutifs chaleureux. Le petit, « chiquito » devient ainsi « chiquitico » … La population est de 5 millions d´habitants, majoritairement descendants de colons européens, et avec une minorité d´afro-caribéens, indigènes et chinois
Official taxis are red, display a yellow triangle on the doors. In town, there are many of them and they are equipped with a taximeter, called “la maria”. Their rates are moderate, the first mile, posted on the meter as soon as you board, is currently billed at 510 colones
In the restaurant, service (La Propina) is included in the bill but not always displayed on the menu, so remember to add 10%. If you are satisfied with the service, you can leave an extra tip. For porters and others, it is customary to leave at least two dollars per person.
On all services and goods, VAT is 13%, it is sometimes included in the prices mentioned, remember to check (the acronym IVI = VAT included)!
— U —
L’armée du Costa Rica est constituée de ses écoliers. A l’heure de la sortie des classes, une déferlante d’enfants en uniforme envahis les rues. L’uniforme des écoles publiques est pantalon ou jupe bleu et chemise blanche. Chaque école privée a ses couleurs. Tous défilent ensemble le 15 septembre pour célébrer la fête nationale au son des tambours et majorettes
— V —
Passport-carrying nationals of most western European countries are allowed 90 days’ stay with no visa.
Citizens of most nations are required to have a passport that is valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of your arrival in Costa Rica. (See the Costa Rica Embassy website for specifics.) When you arrive, your passport will be stamped. The law requires that you carry your passport or a copy at all times during your stay in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, with a driving license from most Western countries, it is quite possible to rent a vehicle, whatever it is (mini bus, 4 × 4, tourist…). Certain rules of conduct must be followed. The main roads, regularly dotted with gas stations, are in fairly good condition. It should be remembered that Costa Rica is a mountainous country: the bends are not absent and very often hairpin. The state of the secondary network is more random. Radar checks are frequent; the limitations must be respected (80 to 90 km on the expressway)
— Y —
Brownbird with a young beak, it is the national bird of Costa Rica. It is said to have been chosen as a national symbol for the beauty of its song. It is also said to sing so much to bring in the rain in May after the long dry season.
Contact us for any other informations. SEE YOU SOON !