Discover pura vida, or pure life, as they say in Costa Rica. Trek through lush rainforests, explore empty beaches and have an epic adventure filled vacation. Our Mytanfeet Costa Rica travel guide will help you plan your dream vacation.
First, Where is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, 8 – 12 degrees above the equator. Nicaragua borders the north and Panama borders the south. Costa Rica is not an island.
Important Costa Rica Travel Information
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Many locals in touristic destinations and San Jose, the capital city, speak intermediate to fluent English. Many indigenous languages are also spoken throughout the country.
Costa Rica uses 110 V (same as United States and Canada) and uses the metric system. Driving is on the right side of the road (like US and Canada).
Being 8-12 degrees above the equator, Costa Rica experiences tropical climate meaning it has two seasons: dry and rainy. Dry season is typically end of December – end of April. Rainy season is typically May – November. Average day time and night time temperatures don’t change much throughout the year but there are over 25 micro climates.
It is important to note that the Caribbean coast doesn’t strictly follow the tropical seasons. October is the “summer” month on the Caribbean coast while it is the rainiest month for the rest of the country.
The two main international airports are SJO (Juan Santamaria International Airport or San Jose International Airport) and LIR (Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport or Guanacaste Airport). There are direct flights from USA, Canada, Mexico and European countries like Germany, Spain, UK and Netherlands. A direct flight from Newark and LAX to San Jose is 5.5 hours.
Costa Rica’s network of shared shuttles, domestic airports and public transportation offers travelers many options to get around the country. However, due to limited schedules, ever developing infrastructure and pricey routes, renting a car is the best way to explore with freedom and flexibility. Public buses are very affordable but with limited routes. Costa Rica drives on the right hand side of the road, same as United States and Canada.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during dry season for the best weather. These are generally the months of December through April for the whole country except the Caribbean coast which has its summer in October.
However, rainy season has much to offer, particularly to budget and off the beaten path travelers as prices drop and crowds thin out. Our personal favorite months are May, June, Sptember and November for those exact reasons. The trade off is that there is tropical rain and may be storms.
Read more about the best time to visit Costa Rica.
Where are the Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica?
The main tourist destinations in Costa Rica are La Fortuna, Monteverde, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Papagayo Peninsula, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Tortuguero, Osa Peninsula and San Jose. All these destinations are excellent places to experience the numerous natural attractions such as waterfalls, rivers, volcanoes and beaches in Costa Rica.
Read more about the best places to visit in Costa Rica here.
The official currency of Costa Rica is called the Colón. The exchange rate is around 540 CRC to USD but the exchange rate fluctuates often (it can change day by day, even hour by hour). USD and credit/debit cards are readily accepted in touristic destinations.
Read more about handle money in Costa Rica here.
Ready to start booking your trip? Check out our sample Costa Rica itineraries! We have written itineraries ranging from 5 days to 1 month that you can follow exactly or base your trip off of. There are itineraries for families, couples, solo travelers, backpackers, chock full of information.
Best of Costa Rica
Costa Rica has placed itself as a world leader in sustainable tourism and with nearly 25% of its land protected, it’s a dream destination for wildlife, nature and adventure lovers.
Costa Rica’s abundant nature and open spaces create the perfect playground for kids and adults alike. Experience the tropical jungle on exciting outdoor adventures such as rafting and ziplining. Find out our favorite 50 things to do in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coastlines offer thousands of miles of beautiful beaches of all types, from white sand, volcanic black sand and more. Surf, swim, snorkel, sunbathe and walk on these beaches for the ultimate beach vacation. Find out what our favorite beaches in Costa Rica are!
Thanks to the many national parks, private reserves and wildlife refuges, it’s one of the best places in the world to see exotic tropical animals such as monkeys, sloths, snakes, frogs, turtles and whales. Find out where are the best places and times of year to see wildlife in Costa Rica in this post!
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Common Questions About Costa Rica
Is Costa Rica safe? Yes, it is a safe country to visit, even for solo travelers and solo female travelers. Costa Rica doesn’t have an army but they do have a police force and a tourism police. Petty theft is the most common crime.
Can you get around Costa Rica without knowing Spanish? Yes, although it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit. However, as tourism is one of the major economic backbones of the country, many locals speak fluent English, particularly those who work in tourism or live in San Jose.
Do I need a 4×4 in Costa Rica? That depends. First, if you’re going to popular destinations such as San Jose, La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo and Jaco, no. But if you plan to stay in more remote places or if your hotel is up in the mountains, then probably yes, or at least a high clearance car with a strong engine during dry season. These are places like Monteverde, San Vito, Osa Peninsula, Uvita, Dominical, Nicoya Peninsula, Bajos del Toro and Golfito. Always check with your host if a 4×4 is required to get to your lodging.
Which international airport in Costa Rica should I fly into? Depends. It’s always been a bit cheaper to fly into San Jose International Airport (SJO) than Guanacaste Airport (LIR) so compare prices of both first. Then, it will depend on your itinerary. Fly into SJO if you plan to visit the Caribbean coast, South Pacific Coast or Osa Peninsula. Fly into Liberia if you plan to go to Guanacaste or Nicoya Peninsula. You can fly into either to go to La Fortuna and Monteverde.
Is Costa Rica expensive? Yes. Just because it’s in Central America, don’t expect dirt cheap prices like Southeast Asia or Nicaragua. Average prices for standard hotels are around $80-100 USD a night and tours can range from $40-$280 USD per person. Nearly every attraction has an entrance fee. However, it is totally possible to travel on a budget but it does require more planning.
Do I need travel insurance? YES! You should purchase travel insurance whenever you go abroad, not just to Costa Rica. As we all now know, anything from a car accident to a world wide pandemic can happen so be prepared. Travel delays, lost luggage and cancellations are not uncommon nowadays. Click here to purchase travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Travel Videos
Watch below our videos of some of our favorite places and things to do in Costa Rica! You can watch all our videos on our Youtube channel
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: The main town and tourism hub of the South Caribbean. See what the town and the surrounding beaches are like.
Rio Celeste Waterfall: The waterfall of the sky blue river, Rio Celeste, inside Tenorio Volcano National Park.
Tortuga Island: A day trip cruising through the Gulf of Nicoya to the white sand beach of Tortuga Island
Pacuare white water rafting Class 3 & 4: An exciting white water rafting day excursion down the Pacuare River
If you’re interested in booking tours such as the Tortuga Island day cruise and Pacuare white water rafting, please check out our Costa Rica deals and discounts page. We have additional deals for tours in La Fortuna, Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio! There are affiliate links in this post.