Looking to buy an authentic Costa Rican souvenir to remind you of your amazing trip to Costa Rica? Here are our ideas for the best authentic and special Costa Rican souvenirs! Whenever I go back to visit my friends and family, I always do a little bit of shopping to bring back some cute trinkets and gifts. These are my favorite souvenirs to bring back.
*This post was updated October 23, 2019.*
Our Favorite Souvenirs from Costa Rica
Our personal favorite Costa Rican souvenirs are Costa Rica coffee, magnets, hand painted napkin holders or coasters and bamboo clothing.
Costa Rican Coffee
Costa Rica grows some of the highest quality coffee in the world so you HAVE to bring some home! Additionally, coffee is the easiest souvenir to buy from Costa Rica since you can find it everywhere. It’s always my go to present!
Here is our tip for buying coffee from Costa Rica: do not limit yourself to the Britt coffee which is the one you will see at the airports. They have the biggest marketing department and the shiniest presentations so it seems like they are the “best” brand. However, in reality, if you ask the average Costa Rican, maybe 1 out of 10 Costa Ricans buy Britt on a regular basis.
We’re not saying it’s not good coffee though, don’t get us wrong! It is good but there are plenty of other brands that are better quality. Plus, we like to buy from local farmers to help the community.
To get the best Costa Rican coffee, you must take a coffee tour. That way, you can purchase the coffee directly from the plantation because believe it or not, most of the coffee Costa Rica grows doesn’t stay in the country! Most coffee plantations export their highest grade quality coffee instead of selling it to local supermarkets, so you can only buy the best stuff at their estate.
We did a coffee tour at Doka Estate and bought a ton of their coffee since it’s one of our favorites! Other good ones we like are Sunburst (in the Do-It Center by Liberia), Golden Bean (Turrialba), Coopedota (in San Gerardo de Dota but you can also find the coffee in Walmart), Espíritu Santo Coffee Tour (Naranjo), El Cafetal Coffee (Monteverde) and San Luise Coffee (Monteverde).
If you are only able to buy coffee from the supermarket, 1820 and Cafe Rey are decent options and not super expensive.
And if you aren’t able to go at all, you can buy Britt at the airport (but it’s expensive soo definitely go to the supermarkets!).
Salsa Lizano is the hallmark sauce of Costa Rica that they use in many of the Costa Rican traditional dishes. It tastes kind of like English sauce but you can use it as a condiment for meat.
It’s a cheap Costa Rican souvenir and you can find it at any supermarket in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has really upped their hot sauce game and there are some awesome Costa Rican hot sauces! Our absolute favorite is Shade Time. We found it at Auto Mercado and also saw it at Cafe Milagro in Manuel Antonio. They also donate a little bit of their profit to orphanages in Costa Rica.
We also love the Iguana hot sauce, that one is really good too!
For those who enjoy alcohol, bring back some Cacique which is the Costa Rican hard alcohol. Cacique is made out of sugar cane and is like vodka with an alcohol volume of 30%. You can buy it at the supermarket or at the duty free stores.
Great to make chiliguaro shots at home! 😉
Cajetas de Leche
This is one of Yeison’s favorite treats as a kid. Sugar cane is an important product of Costa Rica and the locals make these sugar candies with milk.
These are super common in the small towns in the Central Valley such as Zarcero, Poas and Vara Blanca. You can find them at any pulperia (small convenience store) and the souvenire stores. Yum!
I personally love the printed towels in Costa Rica. I’ve bought a few of the currency towels as gifts and for myself actually! Since Costa Rican currency is very colorful, they make beautiful prints on towels.
You can also find towels with toucans, macaws, turtles and other exotic Costa Rican wildlife.
The chonete is an iconic symbol of the people that built Costa Rica. This is the “hat of the farmers” and one of the most representative items in Costa Rica history.
You can find the hat in pretty much all the souvenir stores but if you want the real one, go to a “Agropecuaria” where they sell products such as farming tools, machetes and seeds. They sell the real ones that farmers wear.
A Futbol Jersey
Costa Ricans sure love their futbol and if you’re also a fan, then a team jersey is a must on your list of souvenirs from Costa Rica to buy. Especially since their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas is very popular right now!
The one we are wearing are the la sele (team selection) jerseys but they also have the league jerseys like Saprissa, Heredia and Alajuela. You can find them in all the souvenir shops and on game day, you’ll see vendors hanging selling them on the street.
There is a store in Costa Rica that sells organic bamboo and banana clothing which I absolutely love. It’s a bit more expensive because of the material (~$40 a shirt) but it lasts SO long, is super comfortable and doesn’t stretch. Plus it’s all organic and have cute Costa Rican designs! They have super cute tshirts for women, men, kids and babies. Also has dresses and pants.
The store is called Bam Bam Boo and you can find them in Manuel Antonio, Marina Pez Vela marina, Tamarindo, La Fortuna and Jaco.
My mom absolutely loves their clothes so I try to bring a couple articles back each time I visit her.
I absolutely love buying soap when I travel and Costa Rica is no exception. There is a nice soap shop in Tamarindo called Alegria Soap Shop & Factory and some spas sell their own soaps and products.
There is also one organic Costa Rica beauty product line called Raw Botanicals that supplies shampoo, soap and conditioner to some hotels in Costa Rica. I love their products! They smell delicious and are all organic which is amazing. They have products like ylang ylang shampoo (the flower that supplies Chanel No 5), banana conditioner and citrus face and body soap. I haven’t seen their store but you can purchase them online on their website.
The hotels we’ve stayed at that uses Raw Botanicals are Hotel Bahia del Sol, Borinquen, Hotel Poco a Poco, Monteverde Country Lodge and Rio Perdido but they supply many more.
Chorreador de Café (Costa Rican Coffee Maker)
Costa Rica is well known for its coffee and you can enjoy a nice cup of steaming Costa Rican coffee made the traditional way with a chorreador, the Costa Rican coffee maker. Before coffee machines and Keurigs, Costa Ricans used these 3 simple items to make delicious coffee. They use what they call a “sock” for the filter, a wooden stand and the blue tin pitcher to make coffee.
This is a great Costa Rican souvenir for several reasons: it is 100% usable, they are very common and it’s as Costa Rican as you can get! You can find painted and plain ones at any souvenir store or supermarket. The painted ones are very beautiful since they have paintings of toucans, macaws and other iconic Costa Rican symbols.
Depending on which one you get, they are usually around $20. They are cheaper if you get the non-painted ones at the supermarket though.
If you’re planning on using it to make coffee, you should buy extra socks. You can also get some painted wooden coffee mugs to go with your new Costa Rican coffee maker to complete the package. Perfect Costa Rican souvenir for any coffee lover!
Ox Cart/Wheel Figurine
The ox cart, or carreta, is one of the most important tools in Costa Rican history. Back in the 1800’s, ox carts were used to carry coffee and other products and also a means of transportation. Painting the ox cart started in the 20th century as a way to signify the driver’s home.
Since ox carts aren’t needed as they once were, artisans make little figurines of the carts and wheels as decoration and souvenirs.
You can find carts of all sizes and they’re quite beautiful painted red with animals and scenes of nature. It’s a trinket of Costa Rica that you can put on a shelf to remind you of the good times you had!
The best souvenir from Costa Rica for little kids! You can find sloths, monkeys, toucans, turtles and other cute animal stuffed animals.
I always love buying one for my friend’s kids when I go back to the US.
Costa Rican Wood Souvenirs
You can find a handful of nice wood souvenirs, particularly in the small town of Sarchi. Here are some examples.
You can also find many unique handmade jewelry made in Costa Rica. I found some at a store in Sarchi I really liked that was made by a local lady. All the pieces were organic, made from coffee!
If you have space/weight in your luggage, books are a great souvenir. I’m a huge bookworm so I like to collect photo books. There are a couple very nice ones which you will see at the Britt souvenir stores at the airport. One is Costa Rica from Above which showcases breathtaking aerial photos of the country.
You can also find coloring books and cookbooks. If you like to cook, we highly recommend this cookbook: Recipes from Costa Rica.
Along with books, you can also find cute notebooks, journals and playing cards.
We love getting magnets from countries we’ve visited and you can find some cute magnets from Costa Rica.
It’s really funny when you look at Costa Rican magnets because if you visit places like Madrid, New York City or South Korea, they will have magnets with a building or some cultural landmark. And in Costa Rica, theirs are usually animals!
Other Costa Rican Souvenirs
Some other great souvenirs from Costa Rica are shot glasses, sarongs and painted mask and feathers. You’ll also find lots of animal figurines and statues, shopping bags, chocolate, lotions, bowls, pots, purses and other knick knacks.
Best Places to Buy Costa Rican Souvenirs
The best places to buy authentic souvenirs from Costa Rica are Sarchi, Poasito, Artesenal Market in San Jose, Souvenir Museum in Alajuela and Heredia Central Market. I also really like Cafe Milagro in Manuel Antonio, they have a nice selection of souvenirs in their cafe.
For more unique artisan crafts and handmade products, the small towns are excellent places. Sarchi is known for their woodwork, Poasito is known for their local candies and the new Artesenal market in San Jose has over 90 vendors selling handmade artisan products.
In Guanacaste, near Liberia Airport you can stop by La Gran Nicoya or Souvenir Ocarina. In Sarapiqui, the information center in Puerto Viejo has a very nice souvenir store with all local handmade artisan products.
If you’re in San Jose, our partner, Expediciones Tropicales runs day tours to Doka Coffee Estate and Grecia/Sarchi so it is an excellent day trip from San Jose to buy souvenirs. You can get Doka coffee and original wooden trinkets from Sarchi. Book the tour and get our San Jose discount here!
Tips for Buying Souvenirs at the Store or Local Market
Use Costa Rican colones
Although USD are readily accepted in Costa Rica, the rule of thumb is that when it’s listed in colones, pay in colones. When it’s listed in USD, pay in USD. Since supermarkets and souvenir stores list prices in colones, it is best to use colones.
This is due to the exchange rate which is not 500 to 1 anymore, it is closer to 600 to 1 now. If you do use USD, make sure to calculate the correct exchange rate as some vendors will try to use the 500 to 1 ratio and you will lose out quite a bit! Lear more about handling money in Costa Rica here.
Pay in cash
Many souvenir stores will give you a small discount if you pay in cash instead of credit card (so they don’t have to pay the credit card fee).
Read more travel tips below!