Costa Rica Questions and Answers- Frequently Asked Questions by First-time Visitors

Is it necessary to know the Spanish Language before visiting Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, so you’ll find many locals working in the tourist sector, speaking fluent English. So, if you’re an English speaker, you most probably won’t have any problem conversing there.

However, you cannot expect all Costa Ricans to know English, especially the local bus drivers and small food stall owners. Hence, it’s better to know a few Spanish words if you have special requirements like dietary needs, disabilities, some medical conditions, etc.

Is Costa Rica a family-friendly travel destination?

A trip to Costa Rica is something everyone in your family will enjoy. The beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests attract families with kids, teens, young adults, and seniors. 

The culture of Costa Rica is very family-centered, so you’ll find many locals who adore kids and babies. So, don’t be stunned to see locals showering your babies with hugs and kisses! The local citizens are also quite respectful towards pregnant ladies and seniors. 

Note that kids below the age of 5-8 may not partake in many fun activities due to height and weight restrictions. Otherwise, you won’t face any problems with kids in the country.

When to visit Costa Rica?

If you want to know the best time to visit Costa Rica, then think about the type of vacation you want to have. If you are visiting to see the Costa Rican wildlife, July to November will be the best months for you! However, if you’re only planning to spend some peaceful time at the beaches, visit from January to April. 

You can also visit during May to mid-December if you’re on a tight budget. However, it’s the rainy season of Costa Rica, so you should be well-prepared for it.

What is the rainy season like in Costa Rica?

The rainy season in Costa Rica starts in May and ends by mid-December. It rains pretty heavily during September and October all across the country, except for the Caribbean Coast. The Caribbean Coast sees heavy rainfall during June and November.

A typical rainy day on the coasts of Costa Rica is usually sunny in the morning. However, it gets cloudy and rainy by afternoon. The mountainous regions can see a bit of rainfall even in the morning. Other than that, it gets a lot dark and rainier by late afternoon. Also, the rainforest areas usually see rain more often. It can even start raining during the dry season in such regions.

What are the must-visit places in Costa Rica?

When we say Costa Rica has something for every tourist, we mean it! Do you want to spend a peaceful vacation by the beaches? If yes, then visit Santa Teresa, Montezuma or Manuel Antonio, Guanacaste, Puerto Viejo. 

If hiking and adventurous activities are your forte, check out the La Fortuna and the Osa Peninsula!

You can even check out our La Leona Waterfall Guide to know more about such places!

What are the best beaches to check out in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has an abundance of alluring beaches to check out. So, if you’re looking for the best ones, let us tell you that there isn’t one as such. It all depends on how you want to spend your vacation and your preferences. Still, these are some of our favorites- Manuel Antonio, Punta Uva, Santa Teresa, Carrillo, Grande, Avellanas, Samara, Uvita, Conchal, Cocles, Flamingo, and Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste.

How many volcanoes are there in Costa Rica?

Located along the Ring of Fire, Costa Rica has more than 200 different volcanic formations. However, only five out of these are considered active, and sixty are extinct. The five active volcanoes are Arenal, Irazu, Rincon de la Vieja, Poas, and Turrialba. 

Tourists cannot drive or hike up to the Arenal Volcano’s crater. However, they can enjoy the view from the surrounding area. At the volcano’s base, you’ll find several walking trails that’ll lead you to the closest safe watching point. 

Visitors need to drive up to the crater to visit the Irazu Volcano. From there, they can walk for 2-3 minutes to reach the observation point.

Recently, visitors are not allowed to hike up to the Rincon de la Vieja’s crater. It’s due to the volcano’s unpredictable activity. However, they can still visit the Las Pailas section of the Rincon de la Volcano National Park to see volcanic activities like hot springs, boiling mud pits, etc.

Similarly, the Turrialba Volcano has also been closed due to its unpredictable activity.

The Paos Volcano is the most easily accessible one in Costa Rica. You can drive to the station and walk for 5 minutes to reach the observation point.

What essential things do I need to bring to Costa Rica?

We recommend you be extra thoughtful while packing your bag for the Costa Rica trip. Take clothes that dry faster, mosquito repellents, lots of sunscreens, sunglasses, hiking shoes, a microfiber towel, a swimsuit, and an insulated water bottle. 

And if you’re visiting in the rainy season, do carry a waterproof raincoat and waterproof shoes. Also, take a rain cover for your backpack. Adventure enthusiasts might also need to bring proper outside adventure gear to try ziplining, trekking, rafting, etc.

You can even check some travel tips for Costa Rica to get more information.

What kind of wildlife will I get to see in Costa Rica?

If you go to the mountain or beach areas, you’re bound to spot wildlife nearby. Costa Rica has more than 5% of Earth’s species and about 12 different life and climate zones. The country’s 25% area is well-protected as national parks, refuges, and reserves. 

Here, you’ll find 200 different mammal species, 200 reptile species, 150 amphibian species, 850 avian species, and 35,000 distinct insect species.

What are the must-do activities to try in Costa Rica?

Famous for ecotourism and adventure, Costa Rica has a plethora of the best outdoor adventurous activities.

Here, you can enjoy canyoning in La Fortuna and hiking at Corcovado National Park. Besides, you can always try famous white water rafting at the Pacuare River. Snorkeling at Cano Island and boating in Playas del Coco are also some of the most popular activities in Costa Rica.

What are the best ways of conveyance in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, the conveyance isn’t much of a problem. However, the best option depends on your budget and preferences. If budget isn’t an issue, you can rent a car to drive to your destination. It’s the best way if you want to have the complete freedom and flexibility of traveling around without worry.

Tourists who have a strict budget and aren’t comfortable driving in a foreign country can opt for shuttle services. It’s a cheaper alternative to rental options. However, if you’re comfortable using local buses, then nothing can beat the fun of that! Buses may take a long time to reach the destination, but the local experience you get is worth it!

Can I drink water directly from the tap in Costa Rica?

Generally, drinking from the tap is safe in primary tourist places of Costa Rica. These include Heredia, San Jose, Monteverde, etc. However, if you’re also visiting the rural areas like Tortuguero, Santa Teresa, Golfito, and the Osa Peninsula, tap water here isn’t safe to drink.

Moreover, if you tend to get an upset stomach or have a cold, we advise you to buy bottled water or look for filtered water to refill your bottle. You can easily find 20-ounce water bottles at small stores for approximately 500 colones ($1).

How much cash should I bring in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica can seem a bit expensive to Westerners. After all, it’s the most expensive country in Central America. So, we recommend you bring $150-$250 cash per person if you’re visiting for a week. You can always withdraw more from a nearby ATM if required.

What payment methods are accepted in Costa Rica?

Credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rican restaurants, marketplaces, tourist spots, and malls. However, we recommend carrying cash to remote areas like the Osa Peninsula and business places like Santa Teresa, Tamarindo, Samara, and Puerto Jimenez. These places still accept cash only. So to avoid any problem, it’s better to be prepared beforehand.

USD (US Dollar) is also readily accepted in Costa Rica when concerned with tourism. However, if you’re going to exchange currencies, make sure to be up-to-date with the exchange rates at the time of your trip.

What’s the right time to book a tour to Costa Rica?

Well, there isn’t a particular right time to book your Costa Rican tour, but the earlier you do, the better deals you get! Especially during the high season (end of June – August, and December – April), tourism gets really busy. Therefore, flight tickets and hotel rooms get booked months ahead. 

Even some tourist spots require prior reservations during the holiday season. These include Mistico Hanging Bridges, Tabacon hot springs, Sky Trek, etc. 

So, if you’re visiting during the busy season like Christmas, New Year, and Easter Week, we recommend you book your tour at least six weeks ahead. However, if you’re visiting in the low season, booking one week ahead is enough to get you the best deals!

What are the most enjoyed dishes in Costa Rica?

Costa Rican dishes are generally enjoyed by everyone. Here, you’ll find a variety of delicacies that will make your taste buds dance. Huevos rancheros is one such dish made with fried eggs and spicy tomato-based sauce. You’ll often find it served with steak, sausage, bacon, and Gallo Pinto. Now, if you’re wondering what Gallo Pinto is, it’s a mixture of black beans, rice, some spices, and cilantro. 

Arroz Con Pollo is another delicious dish usually enjoyed as lunch or dinner. Rice and Chicken combined with some veggies, spices, and cilantro- And that’s how you get a burst of flavors in your mouth! 

Besides, Tamales, Empanadas, Ceviche, Sopa Negra, and Casado are other famous delicacies served in Costa Rica.

Is food expensive in Costa Rica?

The answer to this question depends upon where you choose to eat. In most Costa Rican restaurants, you’ll be charged 23% more than the price written on the menu card. It’s because their servicing charge rounds up to 13%, and the tax is usually around 10%. 

So, if you’re on a tight budget, you might have to skip having a meal in a classy Costa Rican restaurant. Instead, you can have some of the best local dishes at the inexpensive local eateries known as Sodas.

How are the people of Costa Rica?

The Costa Ricans, also known as Ticos, are generally fun-loving and outgoing. They are very welcoming and loving, so you don’t feel lonely upon arrival.

Even the country’s slogan is Pura Vida, which means pure life. They’re also quite laid back and believe in enjoying every bit of their life. 

Don’t be surprised to find locals teaching you about the rich Costa Rica history. They take pride in their country and love to share their knowledge about Costa Rica’s wildlife, nature, etc. Their culture also promotes friendliness. Hence, they ensure their visitors have a great time in their country. It’s also one of the reasons why tourists prefer traveling to Costa Rica so much.

What kind of souvenirs can I bring back home from Costa Rica?

Once you visit Costa Rica, you’ll find it hard to come back home empty-handed! Various souvenirs shops are spread across the country, especially near tourist destinations. 

These shops usually sell wooden bowls, paintings, exotic wood carvings, colorful towels, indigenous ceramics, etc. You’ll also find genuine Costa Rican coffee, so don’t forget to buy some! 

The small town, Sarchi, is also known as Costa Rica’s souvenir capital. It’s famous for furniture, hand-painted oxcart wheels, and rocking chairs made from wood and leather. San Jose Airport is another popular destination for some souvenir shopping, but you might find the prices a bit high here.