Traveling is so much easier with today’s technology. With internet on our smartphone, we can look up anything from the forecast to the next season’s basketball schedule as well as make hotel reservations and order delivery.
For 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.
This post has been updated October 2018 to add more of our favorite Costa Rica travel apps.
If you’re driving, this is one of the best apps for traveling in Costa Rica. It works better than Google Maps in Costa Rica! This is because Waze is a user generated content app. So it is amazing for navigating San Jose, especially in rush hour.
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. If you’re renting a car, you can definitely use just Waze and not rent a GPS.
You can also find gas stations, restaurants, hotels and everything on Waze. To use Waze in Costa Rica, type in the name of where you are going, you don’t need the address (since there aren’t really addresses here).
To get internet on your smart phone when you’re in Costa Rica, get a pre-paid sim card if you don’t have an international plan. That way you have a phone that can call Costa Rica numbers in case of emergency. Read our tips for getting a pre-paid sim card 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.
This is my favorite Costa Rica app for maps, CRMaps. Although you can find the 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.
Costa Rica Guide to Parks
This is a pretty good Costa Rica app for national parks. It doesn’t have all the national parks and wildlife refuges though but it does have around 20 of the most popular ones, including waterfalls. Unfortunately it makes you watch an ad before opening the article but it has information about the park, trails, entrance fees and hours, how to get there and more. Pretty useful.
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.
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.
Read our tips for taking Uber in Costa Rica and use the code yeisonkue when you first sign up to get $10 off your first ride.
Instagram is much more than for posting your selfies. Whenever I want to find out exactly how the weather has been in Costa Rica, I’ll check the location tags on Instagram because you can see the photos people post in real time. And 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.
Windy and Wunderground
These are the two best 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. And Accuweather or Weather.com tends to always say “Thunder, rain and lightning storms 99%” everyday in rainy season which isn’t true!
So these two apps are great Costa Rica apps for weather, particularly September and October which are the rainiest months for most of Costa Rica. Even the Costa Rican news uses these two for their weather reports.
Excellent app for basic travel Spanish. Even though many Costa Ricans speak good English in the touristic areas, it’s still helpful to practice your Spanish and know how to say basic words. It’s always fun learning new languages too. This is available on Android.
If you want to take your Spanish further, I learned Spanish with Duolingo. Available for Apple and Android.
You can also download our Costa Rican Spanish travel guide and bring that with you too!
Costa Rica Travel Guide
Costa Rica travel guide is another good Costa Rica map app for Android. They have offline maps, recommendations for hotels, things to do and more.
Costa Rica Traveler
Taking the bus in Costa Rica? This handy free Costa Rica bus app shows you the schedules and location of the bus station. It’s in English and available for Apple and Android. However, it doesn’t have prices but it’s easy to use.
Moovit and La Terminal are two other 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.
Coming to Costa Rica to surf? You have to download the app Magic Seaweed. 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.
This is the go to communication app in Costa Rica and is one of the best free apps for Costa Rica. Everyone uses WhatsApp. Many businesses even have their own dedicated Whatsapp customer service line and you can message them to ask questions, book tours/shuttles/hotels, etc. Usually they respond faster to Whatsapp or Facebook than email as well.
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.
If you need a translator, Google Translate comes to the rescue. It’s not perfect, but it gets you by. They even have the photo thing where you hold your phone camera up to the words and it’ll translate it for you! Download Spanish offline so you can use it even when not connected to the Internet.
Costa Rica Birds Field Guide (iphone & ipad)
Love birds? Download the Costa Rica birds field guide app! They include sounds and calls for 600 species and have information for the 800+ species in Costa Rica. For Android, download Aves de Costa Rica. These are what I found to be the best birding apps for Costa Rica.
If you plan to camp around Costa Rica, 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!
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Best apps for traveling in Costa Rica