What should I do before I travel to Costa Rica?

Make sure your passport will be valid for at least six months after you return from your trip. If necessary, reconfirm your flight reservations 3 days prior to your departure. Inform your Adventure Consultant of any airline schedule changes. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family and/or friends, including phone numbers of our office and hotels they will visit. You should have medical insurance that covers you during your trip. Also consider purchasing trip insurance to cover your expenses if your travel is unexpectedly interrupted (see Insurance Considerations below).

What documentation do I need to enter Costa Rica?

Citizens of the United States and Canada are required to provide the following documentation for entry into Costa Rica: (please note that citizens of other countries should consult the Costa Rican Consulate for entry requirements)
A valid United States or Canadian passport for each passenger including children. Expiration date on the passport must be at least six (6) months after the date of entry into Costa Rica.
An airline ticket to leave Costa Rica
If traveling with minors, under age 18, please note the following:
If accompanied by both parents with the same name, no further documentation is required.
If accompanied by only one parent, a notarized letter of permission for the minor to travel outside the USA from the absent parent is require
If the minor is not accompanied by either parent, a notarized letter of permission for the minor to travel outside the USA from each of the parents is required.

What is the weather like in Costa Rica and what should I pack?

Pack light! Often you will have to carry your own bags …. or at least lift them off the carousel! Domestic flights within Costa Rica have a baggage limit of 30 lbs checked in + 10 lbs for carry per person. If you exceed this limitation the pilot may require you to remove items from your suitcase to reduce the excess weight (you can store extra luggage at your hotel or with your land operator, however a fee may charged for transporting the bags) Most of Costa Rica has “shirt sleeves & shorts” weather. However, in the highlands, especially in Dec/Jan, temperatures can be cold (near freezing) at night, so plan on dressing in layers. Casual and informal loose-fitting clothing is appropriate throughout Costa Rica. Bring comfortable clothes that wash and dry easily. Most hotels offer laundry services for a fee to their guests.

Most importantly if you plan to hike in Costa Rica’s magnificent outdoors– bring comfortable lightweight walking shoes or hiking boots. Be sure your shoes are well broken in. Sore feet can ruin your trip. Rain gear may be necessary at any time of the year! If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Bring them and any medicines you need and a copy of your prescriptions in your carry-on luggage.

What is the food like Costa Rica?

Lots of beans and rice, with a heavy influence of seafood near the coastlines. One of the most delectable breakfast dishes in the world comes from Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto. It is a mix of beans, rice, beef, eggs, and plantains, popularly covered with salsa. Caribbean cuisine is the main influence along the southeast coast of the Limon province.

Food in better hotels and the restaurants we will take you on your trip will be safe to eat andthe water safe to drink but in remote areas please only drink bottled water. 

What electrical outlets are used in Costa Rica? Will I need an adapter?

Costa Rica uses the same electrical system as the USA. Anyone traveling from North America should not need an adapter. 

What is the currency in Costa Rica? Can I use the US dollar?

The "colon" is the typical currency. Businesses do accept the US dollar, and give change in a fair exchange rate in colones. Customs does not do a good exchange rate, so have all of your colones spent by the time you leave. You can obtain US Dollars or colones at ATMs which are common in San Jose and all major towns (not rural areas). Most commonly accepted is a VISA card on the Star or Plus network. Less commonly a MasterCard on the Cirrus network.

Are credit cards/debit cards accepted in Costa Rica?

Most tourist businesses will accept credit cards as long as the traveler has a valid passport as identification. This is not always the case in smaller souvenir shops etc where cash will be required.
Travelers Checks are to be avoided.

Will I have Internet access in Costa Rica? Will my cell phone work?

International calls can be made easily at your hotel. Signals for cell phones are now much improved over those of a few years ago, but still limited in rural areas or in mountainous or densely forested topography. Check with your service provider if your system will work in Costa Rica if you are uncertain, also be sure to check the cost of calls as historically, these have been very expensive. Wi-Fi service is now available in many of the better hotels. You can check their websites or email them to find out more about the services they offer. Internet cafes are common in the large urban centers and are also now found in many smaller communities They offer internet service at very economical rates . Most hotels also offer internet service.

How can I be a responsible traveler?

Everyone can be a responsible traveler, no matter what travel style you choose:
To start, use socially and environmentally responsible tour operators, hotels and outfitters.
Do not litter, pick wild flowers or plants.
Use refillable water bottles and recycle when you can.
If your hotel has a policy to reduce using water and soap by minimizing laundering of towels and sheets, try to support it.
Remember to turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave your room. Better still, we have a wonderful climate-open your windows and enjoy fresh air without using an air conditioner whenever possible.
Try not to waste water when you are not using it.
Try to use biodegradable soaps and organic insect repellent and sun block.
Respect the local culture and traditions.
Ask permission or ask your guide before taking someone else’s picture.
Help ensure your money stays in the local community.
Try local brands for food and drink.
Buy hand crafted goods produced by local artisans.
Never buy authentic archaeological artifacts or souvenirs made from endangered trees or animals.
Hire a local naturalist guide.
Avoid feeding, touching or harassing wild animals.
Stay on the trail at all times-this helps lessen your impact on the forest and will prevent you from getting lost.

Gratuities for Guides and Drivers?

Guides and Drivers: Gratuities are not included in the price paid for these services. Drivers and guides do not work for tips, however if you are happy with the services you have received, a good way to say thanks would be to tip these individuals. Guides are often tipped anywhere from US $8.00 – $15.00 per day per person depending on the group size. Drivers, transfer guides, local guides, river guides – US $3.00 – $5.00 per day per person.

Medical Emergencies - What care is available?

Costa Rica has excellent health care services available. The major urban areas have hospitals, and large towns in rural areas have clinics. A well-organized Red Cross assists in emergency rescues , first-aid treatment and ambulance service throughout most of the country. Well-trained medical personnel can be found in both the public medical system and in the growing private medical service industry here. Testimony to the quality of health care is the long life expectancy enjoyed by the Costa Rica population which compares favorably to or exceeds that of most other nations worldwide.

What insurance coverage do I need?

You should have medical insurance that covers you during your travels outside your home country. Review your policy if you are unsure. In addition, consider purchasing Trip Insurance. Unfortunately unforeseen events, such as illness of yourself or a family member or friend , accidents, flight(s) cancellation(s) due to severe weather, etc. can delay or cause your vacation to be completely cancelled at the last minute. As a consequence you could lose your payments for hotels, tours and subsequent flights. Trip insurance can cover most of the expenses. We can assist you in purchasing this insurance if you need it.

What do I need to do on leaving Costa Rica?

Tourists are required to pay an airport departure tax of $29.00 USD when leaving Costa Rica. Most airlines now include the $29.00 departure tax. Though some, still do not…in this case, you need to pay at the airport. You can pay in dollars or the equivalent in colones or by a VISA credit card. You will also need to answer a few questions on a simple form which you need to present at the airline counter.