There are always a few surprises when you travel to a new country. Whether it’s related to cost, weather or accommodations, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected. We have prepared a few tips to help you with this if you’re planning to visit Costa Rica!
Though this isn't an extensive list, it will give you a few pointers to help you save money and enjoy a wonderful vacation. Don't forget to comment if you have additional tips that could help your fellow travelers, we love hearing from you!
You might also like 8 Reasons Why You Must Visit Costa Rica!
You can drink tap water: Costa Rica has a great infrastructure and that makes it so that the majority of the country has potable water. Except for the cities of Limón and Puntarenas, you can safely wash your vegetables and fruits and even drink the tap water. Knowing that you don't have to worry about water concerns is appeasing. The best part is that it actually taste great, so bring your refillable water bottles and save money! We do recommend verifying with your hotel or hosts if unsure if the water is safe in certain locations though.
Food can be expensive: We were surprised at how expensive food was in Tamarindo. In hindsight, we should have tried to find restaurants that served more local foods. But unfortunately it was just too tempting to eat on the oh so awesome terraces lining the beach. Feet in the sand, rooftop views, how can you say no? If you’re trying to keep your costs down though, avoid the western style restaurants and go for smaller, more authentic places. The food is tasty and generally healthier, plus it will be easier to stay on budget! They also sell these super tasty pork or chicken skewers on the street – must try!
Money: Before we left, the majority of people recommended that we bring U.S. dollars as they are widely accepted and the locals actually prefer it due to the advantageous exchange rate. However, we found that it was not completely true, at least in Tamarindo where we spent most of our time. Tour companies and hotels did prefer the U.S. currency, but we found it better to pay with Costa Rican Colones in restaurants. We even came across a small restaurant that did not accept U.S. money at all.
We also got the impression that when we paid in U.S. dollars we wouldn’t always get the correct change back as they gave change in Colones. The conversion was hard to make from Canadian to U.S. to Colones. Overall it was just much simpler to pay in Colones.
Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi is available in most restaurants, shuttles and buses so it’s not really necessary to pay for an international data plan. Download an app such as Whatsapp before you leave and you can stay in contact with your friends and family by connecting to Wi-Fi everywhere. Every time we went to a restaurant, we would get their password and within a few days, we could walk around town and connect almost everywhere.
Tours & activities: We booked two tours online before leaving for Costa Rica, but if we had to do it again, we would have waited until we got there. We found that a lot of the prices were actually lower once we were there.
You should also check out 13 Things to do in Tamarindo!
Car Rentals: Renting a car from the places close to the airport are quite expensive. Look into shuttle prices to get to your destination, or take a taxi to use a company away from the airport that will likely have lower prices. Make sure to include the insurance price with your rental; the insurance is mandatory in Costa Rica. We recommend contacting the company by email or phone to get the most accurate quote and avoid unpleasant surprises at pick up!
Also, unless you're only going to be driving in the bigger cities, you should try to get a vehicle with four wheel drive. The main roads in Costa Rica are good, but as soon as you get to the side roads, it's dirt, rocks and steep hills! And let's be honest, that's where all the best attractions are!
Airport tax: You must pay an airport fee of 29 USD when you leave the country. Normally this fee is included in your plane ticket price, but in Costa Rica, you must pay the fee yourself before going through security. Make sure to keep some cash for this as they charge extra for credit card payments.
The most important things to remember though is your swimsuits and some sunscreen! Take advantage of the beautiful weather, gorgeous sunsets and make some new friends. Pura Vida!!
7 Things you Should Know Before Traveling to Costa Rica
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