Welcome to Costa Rica, a beautiful country in Central America known for its stunning natural beauty, biodiversity, and warm, welcoming people. As a tourist, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests to towering volcanoes. The country is home to a staggering array of plant and animal species, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, and jaguars, as well as colorful orchids, towering trees, and exotic fruits. Costa Rica is also a great place to experience the local culture and cuisine, with bustling markets offering exotic fruits and vegetables, and traditional dishes like gallo pinto (rice and beans) or ceviche.
You’ll find that Spanish is the official language, spoken by the majority of the population. While some locals may also speak English, especially in tourist areas, it’s always a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases before your trip. This can help you communicate with locals and enhance your overall experience in the country. Don’t be afraid to practice your Spanish, as many Costa Ricans are friendly and patient with language learners. Additionally, you may also hear some indigenous languages spoken in certain areas of the country, such as Bribri or Cabecar.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and high humidity year-round. The country experiences two distinct seasons – the dry season from December to April, and the wet season from May to November. During the dry season, you can expect clear skies and plenty of sunshine, making it a popular time for tourists to visit. The wet season brings more rain, especially in the afternoons and evenings, but the lush green landscapes and fewer crowds can also make it an appealing time to visit. Regardless of the season, it’s always a good idea to pack light, breathable clothing and be prepared for sudden changes in weather.
The official currency is the Costa Rican colón (CRC), although US dollars are also widely accepted in many tourist areas. It’s recommended to carry some local currency for smaller purchases, as not all businesses accept foreign currency. Major credit cards are also accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller transactions. ATMs are widely available in cities and towns, but may be limited in more rural areas. When paying with cash, be sure to inspect bills carefully, as counterfeit currency can sometimes be a problem.
The country uses 110-volt electrical outlets, which are the same as in the United States and Canada. However, some outlets may only accept two-pronged plugs, so it’s recommended to bring a universal adapter if you plan to use electronic devices with three-pronged plugs. Additionally, power outages can occur from time to time, especially during the rainy season, so it’s always a good idea to carry a portable charger or extra batteries if you rely on electronic devices. If you’re staying in a hotel or rental property, be sure to check if they provide adapters or have different electrical requirements.
Phone and internet services are generally reliable, especially in urban areas. Most hotels, restaurants, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi for their customers, and there are also many internet cafes throughout the country. However, in more rural areas, internet speeds may be slower and less reliable. If you plan to use your phone while in Costa Rica, it’s recommended to check with your provider about international roaming charges, as they can be expensive. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card or rent a phone from one of the many providers at the airport or in town.
As a tourist in Costa Rica, it’s important to be aware of the country’s vaccination requirements. Currently, there are no mandatory vaccinations for entry into Costa Rica, but the government recommends that visitors be up to date on routine vaccinations, such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), tetanus, and influenza. Additionally, the country recommends that visitors receive vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, and typhoid, especially if you plan to travel to more rural areas or eat street food.
Visit the Travel Medicine Centre for more info.