When it comes to traveling in Costa Rica, there are a few apps that will come in handy. Gone are the days where one wanders aimlessly through town with a map in their hands to find their destination, now all you need are a few clicks on your smart phone and you’ll be on your way! Download these apps for traveling in Costa Rica to make your trip stress and hassle free.
If you’re driving, this is one of the best GPS apps for traveling in Costa Rica. This is because Waze is the most widely used navigation app for Costa Ricans, utilizing the user’s generated content like traffic and accident updates, construction, obstacles and more.
You need internet on your phone to use Waze and I recommend downloading it at home, opening up the program and letting it download all the programs and languages before you open it in Costa Rica.
You can also find gas stations, restaurants, hotels and everything on Waze so you can use it as your GPS if you’re renting a car. To use Waze in Costa Rica, type in the name of where you are going as your final destination. You don’t need to type in an address (since there aren’t really addresses here anyways).
Google Maps also works in Costa Rica. If you use Google Maps, you can download the Costa Rica maps offline so that you can use the GPS without data. It won’t populate the information/data without Internet but you can still use it to navigate. I recommend saving the places you’re going to in a “saved your places list” to easily find.
Map.Me also works offline.
Pro Travel Tip: Get an prepaid SIM card, rent a WiFi hot spot or contact your home provider for an international data plan to have Internet on your phone. SIM Card allows you to have a Costa Rican phone number. Car rental agencies normally rent WiFi hot spots.
This is my favorite Costa Rica app for maps. Although you can find their physical map in the supermarkets, hotels, and tourism businesses, you can also download their app beforehand. They have cartoon maps with businesses and places of interests, a directory, and tide charts. They update it often and is super useful (and their cartoon maps are super cute). Available for Apple and Android.
If you’re in San Jose, Uber is the best way get around. It’s cheaper than a taxi, generally very efficient and less stressful as you don’t have a dozen taxi drivers pestering you and you have more choices for pricing.
We love using Uber in San Jose and is now our preferred method of transportation. It’s not that much more expensive than a bus and you can get from Point A to Point B, instead of trying to figure out which bus stop is closest to your destination.
Uber is in a few more destinations in Costa Rica like La Fortuna and Quepos. However, we do not recommend relying solely on Uber for anywhere outside San Jose.
Read our tips for taking Uber in Costa Rica.
Instagram is much more than for posting your selfies. Whenever I want to find out exactly how the weather has been in Costa Rica or what one place is like, I’ll check the location tags on Instagram because you can see the photos people post in real time.
Furthermore, many times, they’ll write something in the caption along the lines of “Such a beautiful day today!” or “It poured in the morning but finally got some sun!” That way you can get a better idea of how the weather is like where you are going.
This is the go to communication app in Costa Rica and is one of the best free apps for Costa Rica. Everyone in Costa Rica uses WhatsApp including businesses. Many businesses have a dedicated Whatsapp business account and customer service line. You can message them to ask questions, book tours/shuttles/hotels, etc. Usually they respond faster to Whatsapp or Facebook than email!
Windy and Wunderground
These are the two great apps for Costa Rica for weather forecasts. Costa Rica weather seems like it’d be straightforward since there are only two seasons (rainy and dry), but the weather can change frequently throughout the day, especially in rainy season.
The common weather app like Accuweather or Weather.com is getting better but make sure you aren’t just looking at the forecast as a whole. Check it hour by hour or else you will think it’s thundering, storming, and lighting very day in Costa Rica. Also check humidity levels and % chance of rain. Another very helpful website is the IMN Costa Rica for the latest weather forecasts.
Google Translate is improving a whole lot as a translation. It does a fairly decent job and it can be used offline (must download the languages first). Whether you need to translate a few words, phrases or sentences, it is super useful.
I love the camera function which allows you to hold up your phone camera to something you want translated. It’s a bit wonky but I found it very useful for labels.
In case you want to learn some basic Spanish, I learned Spanish with Duolingo. Available for Apple and Android. There are many Spanish learning apps though.
Mytanfeet tip: Download our Costa Rican Spanish travel guide so you can always have it with you!
Moovit (works from San Jose) and La Terminal are two good bus apps in Costa Rica. These apps are some of the best apps for traveling in Costa Rica for budget travelers as most are taking the bus. Yo Viajo is another good app and is now in English!
This app is for the Tracopa bus line (routes mostly for the Central and South Pacific coast) which allows you to look for and make bus ticket reservations for their routes. It’ll remind you of your journey and let you check/edit it. A must if you’re taking any bus routes with Tracopa. Available in Apple and Android – look for the Passer app with a purple icon.
Magic Seaweed or Surfline
Coming to Costa Rica to surf? The two main surf forecast apps are Magic Seaweed and Surfline. They give long range surf forecasts and it works not only in Costa Rica, but over 300 beaches in 180 countries.
So if you’re traveling through Latin America to surf, this is the best app to have. You can figure out when high and low tide is, when a swell is coming in and what beaches are best during certain times of the year.
Want to keep track of the exchange rate? Download the Currency Convertor app to stay on top of your expenses. Since the Costa Rican colon exchange rate changes every day and US dollars are readily accepted, it’s helpful to know what the exchange rate is that day so you can get the correct change. You can also learn more about handling money in Costa Rica here.
When we went canyoning in Jaco, our tour guide took pictures of us on his phone and sent it to us via WhatsApp. We’ve booked Interbus shuttles via Whatsapp. So make sure you download WhatsApp, especially if you don’t plan on getting a pre-paid sim card.
Costa Rica Birds Field Guide (iphone & ipad)
Love birds? Download the Costa Rica birds field guide basic app! They include sounds and calls for 600 species and have information for the 800+ species in Costa Rica. You can purchase the full version for more birds.
If you plan to camp around Costa Rica or find , you need to download the iOverlander app. It is difficult to find good information about campsites in Costa Rica but this app does a decent job. Not even the National Geographic physical map has the campsites!
This app is a great one if you want to look for random hikes and biking routes. It allows users to save their own trails and hikes, mostly people who bike, hike or overland use this so it’s a fantastic app for finding trails and saving your own.