Costa Rica Just4U
Costa Rica is one of the best countries for family travel. Travelling in Costa Rica with kids is safe and friendly with plenty of attractions to wow kids of all ages. There are activities for young adrenaline junkies, beach babies or aspiring zoologists.
In a land of such dizzying adventure and close encounters with wildlife, waves, jungle zip lines and enticing mud puddles, it can be challenging to choose where to go. Fortunately, there are a lot of activities nationwide where kids and parents will find epic fun in this paradise. The only protests you’ll hear are when it’s time to leave!
Costa Rica can also be a great place to travel with a baby or toddler. We have had several customers travelling with with babies and older siblings and all of them enjoyed their trip Just make sure that you talk to someone who knows the different areas and gets the right place for the right age kids. It makes the difference between having a good time – and having a really good time!
We recommend a minimum of 7 days (including the days you fly in/out of the country) for a roundtrip around the country including rainforest or volcano and the beach. You could get by with as few as 5 days if you just want to visit just one location and enjoy One day tour activities. For detailed information and activities please click here
How do I travel in a group to Costa Rica
If you decide to travel with a tour group you will almost certainly find that your time and money will be most organized and efficient as you will have well balanced activities into your travelling days. If you want to see and do the most possible things in the least possible time, then an organized tour may be your best bet.
You will always have knowledgeable guide with you who knows about the local environment, customs and infrastructure and his trained eye will spot wildlife and describe ecological phenomenon that most novices would simply pass by.
Generally the larger the group the more the costs are spread around and better the price per person.
We focus on tailor made custom itineraries which reflect the needs of individual groups. Our team takes meticulous attention to detail and a friendly, yet professional approach. We have been in business for over 14 years and we are sure we can help you organize your best group trip to Costa Rica, even if you are a large family, a school looking for educational travel to Costa Rica or an international travel agency looking for a new travel partner for your guests travelling to Costa Rica.
For detailed information and quote please click here
Visitors to Costa Rica must have a valid passport as well as proof that they will be exiting the country before their visa or entry stamp expires, usually within 90 days.
All travelers must have either a return ticket or a ticket showing they will be exiting the country, commonly referred to as an “outbound, exit or onward ticket.
Costa Rican authorities require your passport not just to be valid for the length of your stay, but to be valid for up to 6 months from your arrival date, depending of your nationality. This is something that surprisingly very few people who are traveling to Costa Rica know about. Most just think it needs to be valid for the length of the stay. Since usually Passports are valid for 10 years this is something that most people can forget to check before a trip.
In our years of experience, we also had guests with U.S.A residency but passports from a different nationality traveling to Costa Rica thinking that they will enter as U.S.A. citizens, this is not allowed and you need to check the entry requirements for your nationality passport.
Visa is not required for stay up to 90 days for citizens from the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France and dependences, Germany, Greece, Holland and dependencies, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uruguay.
Visa is not required for stay up to 30 days for citizens from the following countries. During the stay it is possible to solicit an extension which allows a stay up to 90 days: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, San Cristobal/Nevis, San Marino, St. Lucia, St Vincent, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vatican, Venezuela.
Visa is required for citizens of all countries not listed above, and must be obtained from a Costa Rican embassy or consulate before traveling there.
No customs duties are charged on personal luggage, which includes an array of items for personal and professional use, as long as they do not appear in quantities that suggest commercial intent. Costa Rican law requires that baggage be examined and that travelers submit customs declarations listing all articles acquired abroad, including fruit, vegetables, meat, meat products, biological products such as vaccinations, serums, etc. In the case of families, one declaration can be filled out by the family head.
You never know what can happen! Of course you’re doing the best to have a fun and save trip but accidents occurs that is why investing those extra few dollars will give you the benefit of feeling more secure in case something happens (lost baggage, trip delay or cancelation, medical emergency, etc
Basic insurance tends to cover most common needs but it’s worth spending extra to make sure you’re covered in the event of natural disasters. If you intend to take part in adventure sports, make sure that those particular sports are covered by your policy; for divers, some policies only cover you up to a certain depth.
|Air Costa Rica|
|South West Airlines||https://www.southwest.com/|
|Alaska Airlines||https://www.alaskaair.com||Air Canada||https://www.aircanada.com|
|Mexicana de Aviación||http://www.mexicana.com.mx/|
GMT / UTC minus 6 hours. Is the same as U.S. central standard time but does not observe daylight savings time
The official spoken language in Costa Rica is Spanish (97% of the population); although there are other native languages used mostly within the indigenous reserves. Many businesses, in and around San Jose, and resorts throughout the country have employees who also speak English.
110 volt (60 Hz) AC is found Nationwide. A few outlying areas use their own power source so check ahead before traveling.
The climate is tropical average temperature around 27º C / 80º F,. Costa Rica experiences only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is generally between late December and April, and the wet season from May to November, normally with beautiful mornings and rain after 2pm. No guarantees, though! With climate change, the reliable patterns of the past are gone
Costa Rica’s microclimates vary from the barren cold volcanic tundra to the exotic cloud forest, from the deep dense jungle of Talamanca to the tropical dry forests of Guanacaste, from quiet gold-hued beaches where the Baulas Turtles build their nests to the spectacular Tortuguero Canals. Even so, Costa Rica’s overall climate can be best described as mild. Being located within the tropics, seasonal changes in Costa Rica are not as drastic as they are in countries on other latitudes. On areas near the coasts temperatures may be as much as ten degrees higher, where as in the Chirripo Peak, the highest mountain of Costa Rica (3800 meters) temperature may drop down to freezing point although snow is unheard of, even at the Chirripo. Tourists should bring light clothes, a jacket and a raincoat is all the protection you’ll need unless you go hiking.
The Caribbean Coast tends to be wet all the year. Temperatures may vary little between seasons; the main influence on temperature is altitude. The coasts are hot and humid, with the Caribbean averaging 21º C at night and over 30º C during the day, the Pacific is a few degrees warmer still.
It will all depend of the places you are going to visit. Most adventures in Costa Rica require comfortable clothes and shoes.
If you require medication it is recommended to bring the medication and prescription along with your medical records. Vaccinations are not required. The use of Insect Lotion or Repellent is very important. Antibiotics and other light drugs can be bought here but they may have different names that in your country.
If you are visiting Costa Rica beaches we recommend: shorts, tees or tanks, lightweight long sleeved shirts for the occasional cool evening, rubber sandals, closed shoes if are going to a Zip line tour during your trip, bathing suits, sun protection, sun glasses, lotion, repellents, a hat and a towel. Cameras, video cameras and binoculars are also recommended.
If you are visiting the Rain forest in Costa Rica: shorts, tees or tanks, lightweight long sleeved shirts for the occasional cool evening, sneakers or hiking shoes, socks, sun protection,, insect repellents, a plastic bag for your wet clothes ( yes you will get wet!). Cameras, video cameras and binoculars are also recommended.
If you are visiting the volcanoes or Cloud Forests Due to the low temperatures and fresh breezes in the high parts of Costa Rica (volcanoes, biological reserves) it is essential to bring comfortable walking shoes, socks, short-sleeved T-shirt, a sweater, one pair of light cotton pants and insect repellent. You may also bring photographic or video camera and binoculars.
Suggested items to bring
Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas. Since long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludismo, and yellow fever were eradicated in Costa Rica. There are no plagues like in other countries, and no special vaccine recommendations for travelers more than the influenza and the tetanus vaccines.Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment in case of emergency
The main religion, as in the rest of Latin America is the Roman Catholic, but there is a very wide margin of tolerance, and the constitutional freedom of creed is always respected.
Costa Rica is different from the rest of Central America, indeed from the rest of Latin America, because its people distribute their wealth, land, and power far more equitably. Its social welfare system and parliamentary democracy have no equal. This is not a new development, rather it is the result of an enduring consolidation and depending social patterns that originate from the earliest colonial days, and the result of unique geographical and cultural factors.
Costa Rica, to its everlasting good fortune, was the most neglected of colonial Central America, in large part because it was farthest from the colonial governors based in Guatemala. As large-scale colonization began elsewhere, only 330 Spanish colonists claimed lands in Costa Rica by 1611, because it had neither of the two things the Spanish conquistadors wanted: mineral wealth (gold and silver), or an abundant Indian population to work their haciendas.
The absence of minerals and indigenous workers meant that settlers work their own land and there was plenty of it to go around for centuries to form a huge middle class of yeoman farmers.
Like Guatemala and El Salvador, Costa Rica was transformed by coffee in the nineteenth century. The brown bean attracted foreign capital and immigrant merchants, and promoted road and railroad development. But Costa Rica’s more equitable land tenure patterns and the absence of Indian-Ladino racial tension averted the class warfare and growing militarism that accompanied the coffee booms in some of its neighbors.
The greatest of the modernizers, President Tomas Guardia Gutierrez, approached American engineers in 1871 to propose the building of a railroad from the settled central plateau over the rugged mountains to Puerto Limon on the Atlantic. Minor Cooper Keith won the railroad concession. He first recruited Chinese and Italian workers, and when they died by the thousands of malaria and yellow fever and walked out on strike, he imported Jamaican workmen. In one of the major engineering feats of the age, Keith completed the San Jose Puerto Limon railroad in 1890 and built himself a Costa Rican banana empire in the process. Keith connected the US fruit centers of New Orleans and Boston with San Jose, and from Costa Rica expanded his United Fruit Company to Guatemala and Honduras.
United Fruit developed an imposing influence in Costa Rica. The company ran the railroad and banana lands and funded much of the national debt.
The national labor movement built a muscle on the United Fruit company during a series of strikes that began on 1913 and continued through the 30s. The Communist Popular Vanguard led several strikes but failed in its attempt to ignite a revolution.
During a sharp downturn in coffee prices during the World War I, President Alfredo Gonzales Flores handled the economy poorly creating an income tax and using the army as a heavy-handed regime that shred the principle of due process and free expression. (Regarding this last statement one of our readers, Fyodor Aadrianov, made the following comments: Don Alfredo was a civilian heading a transition government after an election in which no party won a clear majority. He was toppled by the Tinoco brothers, one of whom was his own Secretary of Defense, and the other was an officer in the now extinct C.R. Army. The Tinoco brothers ruled the country in typical Militaristic authoritarian fashion. The US government did not recognize the Tinoco regime. On the contrary, Washington backed the Gonzalez Flores administration. Woodrow Wilson’s motivation was not entirely selfless: Gonzalez Flores defended the USAmerican oil interests in the small Central American nation, while the Tinoco Brothers sided with the interests of England. The charge that he mishandled the economy by creating an income tax is also biased. He did impose tariffs on coffee exports (also heavily dominated by London economic interests) and established an incremental income tax system, but actually his tributary reforms solidified the equitable society Costa Ricans brag about, sometimes excessively. Don Alfredo moved to the US after the coup. In the US he amassed a small fortune. Upon his return to Costa Rica decades later, he privately created a successful program to care for the elderly.)
Several Latin American governments flirted with Fascist Germany and Italy during World War II. Again, Costa Rica was different. President Calderón Guardia declared war on Germany even before the US, and confiscated major German properties in coffee and banking. In his government, he also pushed mayor initiatives to expand health care and labor rights, creating the Social Security system with benefits unheard in Central America.
Figueres was thoroughly anti-communist. He was a pragmatist who made an alliance with more conservative coffee growers and detested the sweeping social programs and high taxes made by Calderon. In the elections of 1948 Otilio Ulate was elected but Calderon’s forces nullified the elections and arrested Ulate.
Figueres assembled a small army and rebelled and began a civil war in which the defeated Calderon where exiled with Picado, his defense minister to Mexico were Calderon’s wife gave birth to a next president of Costa Rica.
Later on the conflict between Sandinistas and Contras came over and then the President Carazo aided the Sandinistas and tried to convince them to install a democratic government but they were very radical so the government felt betrayed themselves and turned on Carazo blaming him for helping the Sandinistas.
This was the beginning of a period that would test the foundations of Costa Rica democracy.
US Dollars are the most easily to change in Costa Rica so we recommend you to take your money in this currency. Most international credit cards are accepted throughout the country: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) can be easily found in most populated areas of Costa Rica.
Banking: Banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. and do not close for lunch. Private banks are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 p.m.
The Colón (¢1,00) is the national currency of Costa Rica. The exchange rate against the US dollar can vary day by day, but as of July 2017, it is 565 colones per dollar. You can check the actual rate of the dollar in http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?From=USD&To=CRC
Please remember to save for the Departure tax ( US$29 per person ) that have to be paid directly at the airport at your departure unless you have it included on your international flight ticket ( please be sure to check it)
Sales tax is 13%
Service tax By law all Restaurants must apply a 10% service charge for the waiters.
Government offices are open from 8:00 am to 4:00 p.m.,. Stores and Comercial offices are usually open from 8:00 am to 6:00 p.m.
The Water is safe to drink in all areas of the country. However bottled water is always more recommended.
The typical gastronomy is a reflex of the cultural and racial mix that the country has had. You will find a lot of corn-based dishes, exquisite meats, fish and sea fruits. You will enjoy the mouthwatering wide variety of fruit and their juices.
The typical cuisine (típico) of Costa Rica is strongly influenced by the agricultural tradition and hearty meals like olla de carne (a sort of vegetable beef soup), sopa de verduras (vegetable soup with plantains and yucca), tamales (pork, black bean or potato stuffing in corn meal, then steamed in a banana leaf wrapper) sopa negra (black bean soup with a chicken broth base and hard boiled eggs), gallo pinto (beans and rice), arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), chicken baked with ginger, and ensalada de palmito (hearts of palm with tomato or cucumber) are just a few of our favorites. At home the meals are accompanied by fresh corn tortillas, black beans, refrescos (fresh fruit juice), rice, homemade bread, cabbage and carrot salad, tropical fruit, pejibayes (steamed palm fruits with mayonnaise) and of course the best coffee in the world.
While many of these dishes can be found in sodas or restaurants that cater to tourists, they often disappoint when compared to the homemade versions. A couple of notable exceptions are gallo pinto, sopa negra, and palmito salad which are often quite good in the small sodas. If you are ever invited into someone’s home for a meal, graciously accept.
Grocery stores: When traveling in the United States or Europe it is possible to save considerable amounts of money by buying groceries and building sandwiches etc. While an occasional picnic is nice in Costa Rica, you will save some, but not a lot of money buying groceries. If you are on a tight budget and want to eat cheap, the “sodas” are your best bet. The operators often grow their own produce, and buy chicken and other staples direct from the producers. Often their markup for a finished meal is less than the supermarkets markup for the ingredients.
Sodas: Ubiquitous in Costa Rica, sodas are usually a combination of a family run restaurant, and a convenience store that sometimes doubles as a bar or disco after the sun goes down. Prices for a full meal including a beverage generally range from US$3 to about US$6 and the quality can be quite variable.
Bars and Bocas: Bocas or boquitas are a Costa Rican tradition. They are small to medium sized snacks that used to be complimentary when you purchased a drink. There are still free bocas at a few out of the way bars frequented by regulars, but for the most part you have to pay a little for a boca. Some bars have two prices listed for drinks one with, and one without (sin) a boca. Usually you are limited to one boca per drink. This is because the US$1 1 to US$2 that you pay for a typical boca is still quite a good deal. Some of the best food we had outside of Tico homes was bocas. Much of the standard Soda fare can be had as bocas, but there are usually other spicier, more exotic choices on a good menu that we have never seen anywhere else. Bocas are more reminiscent of north central Mexican cuisine than tipico food. If you are lucky and the bocas are large (or drink a lot), you can make an excellent meal out of them. Please don’t eat the huevos de tortuga (turtle eggs, eaten raw, sometimes with a little red pepper).
Restaurante Tipico: These restaurants are sort of upscale sodas that usually print their menu in Spanish and English and advertise “Typical Costa Rican Dishes Served.” Their fare is similar to sodas, but usually with larger, less oily portions, and sometimes a special or two.
Imported/ethnic: There are a lot of expatriates in Costa Rica, especially from Europe, Canada and the United States. Don’t be surprised to find excellent French bread, pastries and crepes, Texas style BBQ or Italian pizza and pasta in the most unlikely locations. We’ve found these imports to be excellent, although generally considerably more expensive than Tico restaurants. One exception to the rule that ethnic food is usually authentic is found in the Chinese restaurants. Although we did find a few good Chinese restaurants, we found many more that were disappointing. Much of the Asian population in Costa Rica has been there for many generations and their culinary roots have withered.
Resort/hotel: These restaurants have menus and prices are what you would find in Hawaii, Mexico, the Spanish Costa del Sol, the French Riviera, Fiji, Tahiti, Barbados etc. The dishes offered express a strong influence from the ready availability of excellent fresh seafood, an amazing array of fruits, and some of the traditions of Costa Rican Cuisine.
Fast food: Besides the Sodas which can be considered sort of freelance fast food, there is the usual assortment of mega franchise fast food including but certainly not limited to, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky fried chicken. The prices and fare are approximately the same as they are anywhere else in the world
Direct-dial service is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other country in Latin America. Many international long distance services are available. Check with your hotel front desk for more information.
You can bring an unlocked mobile phone and buy local SIM cards at Kolbi ( ICE: Costa Rica’s public Phone Company), Movistar or Claro. There are Cell phone offices at the Airport so you can buy there your SIM Card or buy it at the several providers offices around the country. The phones work well everywhere from remote beaches to the mountainous areas to the jungles. And for a 1 week stay a US$5 SIM Card should be enough.
There are postal and telegraph offices in cities and villages throughout the country. The Central Post Office is located in San José on Second Street between Avenues 1 and 3, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon.
Souvenirs: You will find pre-Columbian replicas, the famous hand painted oxcart. Beautiful souvenirs in wood, jewelry, etc.
How is Tipping in Costa Rica
Whether or not and how much you tip is personal. It’s up to you. You should value the level of service, whether or not you feel comfortable giving tips, and your budget.
Restaurants are required by law to add 13% Sales tax and 10% tip to the bill. As a general rule, Costa Ricans do not tip. If you feel you have had an extraordinary level of service you might add 5-10% to the mandatory tip.
Taxi drivers are not usually tipped unless extra service is provided.
Bellboys are often tipped an average of US $1.00 per bag, at check-in and check-out.
Chamber maids: are so often overlooked and they are among the most important people to tip. You may want to consider US$0.50 – $1.00 per night per room.
Transfer Guides, Service Guides, average tip: US $3.00 per person per day. This tends to go up if the group size is less than 4 persons.
Naturalist Guides: average tip: US $10.00 per person per day. This tends to go up if the group size is less than 10 persons.
River Guides: average tip: US $5.00 per person per day. This tends to go up if there are less than 4 persons in the raft.
Drivers: Average tip: US $5.00 per person per day. This tends to go up if the group size is less than 4 persons.
Many people love driving and visiting the country at their own pace. Car Rentals are available from the major rental companies as well as local companies
Gasoline is available at stations throughout Costa Rica, most are open 24 hours
To rent one you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and a major credit card.
A foreigner may drive with a current license from his country of origin and his passport, during the three months that his tourist visa is in force. The warning triangles should be carried at all times by all drivers, and seat belts are also required for drivers and front-seat passengers. The use of helmets for motorcycle conductors is required.
For car & GPS rental a valid credit card as a deposit is a must.
Car insurance is a MUST( CDW Insurance), which is included in your contract with the car rental because most insurance companies explicitly exclude foreign countries from their coverage. When the rented car is given to you, the contract will explain both parts responsibilities. If you are involved in a traffic accident: Do not loose your temper, do not leave the place of the accident, do not move the car, cooperate with the legal authorities, do not sign any agreements nor accept any liability, and contact your rental car company immediately.
This option provides you with first class transportation service at reasonable rates. Provides you Shuttle Transportation between the major tourist destinations. It offers a comfortable, friendly, accessible and efficient Transportation option within the country. Transportation from hotel to hotel, in small units and excellent customer service strengthen the aim of offering a high quality service at low prices, providing an efficient, easy, safe and comfortable way of transportation for all customers.
Costa Rica has a bus system that offers inexpensive, timely and convenient transportation in the Central Valley. It is the primary means of transportation for the natives. In the countryside, buses may run less frequently. In some areas of the country, the buses only run once a day.
Flying is a great and easy way to travel throughout Costa Rica, especially to the regions that are more remote. These off the beaten path areas, such as the Osa Peninsula or Tortuguero which might be accesed only by water or air. If you are looking for a convenient way to travel while you are in Costa Rica, consider using one of the two main airlines in the country that provide not only reasonably priced domestic air travel, but also offer scheduled daily flights.
You’ll find that the two regularly operating airlines in Costa Rica are Sansa and Nature Air. Between these two airlines, you’ll be able to travel to at least 12 different destinations across the country, and to Nicaragua and Bocas del Toro in Panama
Nature Air Policies
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