New: Costa Rica Blog
Cost of Living
|Basic Costa Rica FAQ's:
What is the climate like in Costa Rica?
Like many tropical countries, Costa Rica
experiences two seasons: The rainy season
and the dry season. The dry season (Summer)
is generally from about late December through
April. May and June represent a transition
period as we move from summer to winter.
July through October are the rainiest months
of the year. What does this mean? It means
that usually there are beautiful sun shiny
mornings followed by heavy rains in the afternoon.
This does not mean that we don't experience
periodic days where it rains from sunrise
to sunset, and/or several days of continuous
rain, on the other side of the coin, it is
not uncommon for us to experience days of
sun with no rain. Traditionally in July we
have the Costa Rican equivalent to an "Indian
summer" in Costa Rica we can it the
"veranillo de San Juan" means Saint
Johns little summer. This generally takes
place around the second or third week of
July. Guanacaste is the hottest area.
When is the best time of year
to visit Costa
The best time of year to come
to Costa Rica
depends a lot of what you want
to do while
you're here. Our busiest time
of year is
the dry season which is late
April. The advantage to travel
time of year is that the weather
at its best. The disadvantage
is that there
are a lot of people traveling
at that time,
therefore, it is necessary to
be sure to
have previous reservations at
you are interested in visiting.Travel
the rainy season, means that
you must bring
your rain gear and be prepared
to use it
with a smile. The advantage is
are normally lower, crowds are
reduced, professional naturalist
more readily available, and the
to take advantage of some very
occurrences that take place such
as the Atlantic
Green Sea Turtle nesting season
September in Tortuguero National
What should we bring for a general
history trip to Costa Rica?
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Casual clothing for traveling
Shirts-cotton, long and short
Trousers-cotton hiking pants
hiking boots, thongs or sandals,
or any kind of shoes that can
get wet and
straps onto your feet.
Shorts for hiking and relaxing
Socks-bring extra in case feet
Rain gear-poncho, raincoat, and/or
Hat(s)-with visor for rain and
Plastic water bottle-especially
Flashlight with spare batteries
Binoculars, field guides
Plastic bags for wet cloths
Sunglasses and croakies
TIPPING. When and how much?
Restaurants are required by law
to add 10%
tax and 10% tip to the bill.
As a general
rule, Costa Ricans do not tip.
Taxi cab drivers are not usually
extra service is provided.
Bellboys are often tipped a minimum
$1.00 up to US $1.00 per bag,
at check in
and check out. Remember that
the people that
carry luggage at out-of-town
places are bellboys
too, even if they are not sporting
Chamber maids are so often overlooked.
think they are among the most
to tip. You may want to consider
Are credit cards widely accepted
Visa and MasterCard are widely
AMEX and Diners Club are accepted
locations. When using your credit
are charged with the official
in Costa Rican colones.
Should we take our travel insurance?
However fit and healthy you are,
out medical insurance, preferably
provisions for flying you home
in an air
ambulance in the event of an
in Costa Rica we have excellent
and if you were to get sick or
kind of an accident while traveling.
while much more reasonable than
in the US,
medicine and treatment here can
therefore we highly recommend
Should I bring my own bottled water?
No it is not necessary to bring
your home.Water is usually safe
in San Jose
and the highlands. Where you
have to be the
most careful is on the coasts.
is also readily available at
as well as corner stores, and
Is it safe to rent a car? Is
it safe to drive
In the past there have been repeated
of rented cars being broken into
and a few
cases of bandits flagging down
cars and assaulting
the occupants. Rented vehicles
by special license plates and
a sticker therefore
becoming an easy target. So to
question, no it is not safe,
measures can insure your safety
and the vehicles.
When in San Jose always park
the car in a
parking lot and never leave suitcases,
equipment, jackets or anything
in the car. When out of town
be sure to ask
at the hotels if their parking
lot has a
guard and if not where the safest
leave it is. As far as driving
at night goes,
the Caribbean side is the place
have been the most problems.
These have taken
place on the road which goes
Carillo National Park and on
the road that
goes from Limon to Cahuita. To
date we have
not heard of this happening anywhere
If you apply the same rules as
in an area of questionable security
United State you shouldn't have
Get off the road and to your
station as early as possible.
Don't stop for anyone flagging
you down on
If a traffic cop wants to give
you a ticket,take
the ticket, don't offer a bribe
or hand out
any cash as "payment"
for the ticket.
What are road conditions like?
San José is notorious for its
complicated one way grid system,
and crater like pot holes. Familiarity
a San Jose road map ahead of
time can be
quite helpful. Be sure to talk
to your hotel
receptionist or car rental agent
go so that you are as oriented
before you venture out. Also
be aware that
here in San Jose we give directions
land marks such as "From
Fig (we all know which strangler
talking about)100 meters north
and 200 meters
east" When this happens
ask the person
if they can give you the address
"calles" and avenues
Most of the time they will be
able to tell
you, but sometimes people just
what the street address is. We
start to learn how to give addresses
way until we started giving addresses
foreigners who had no way of
the Strangler Fig is, where Matute
house is, what Pulperia La Luz
is and which
one of the 100 churches in San
are talking about. Also sometimes
say 100 meters or 100 varas they
block, 200 meters or varas is
and so forth.
Outside of San Jose
While on the panamerican highway,
is in generally good condition
by Costa Rican
standards. For the most part
are two lane highways. There
are the inevitable
pot holes, and the lanes are
the most part roads have many
prepared for big buses and trucks
on blind curves. Fog is also
on some of the mountain passes.
rainy season landslides are often
on the highway and off. The roads
off of the highway to go to Monteverde
the beaches for instance vary
There is everything from gravel
roads that are passable to really
to negotiate back country roads.
It is best
to ask your car rental agent,
the hotel you
are going to, or your travel
the conditions of the road before
out. Always be prepared for cyclists,
a broken-down vehicle or even
around the next bend. Many foreign
complain that the roads are inadequately
signposted. This is often true,
so try to
get hold of a decent road map
and ask locals
if you are not sure. Costa Ricans
always able and willing to help.
What documents are required to
Citizens of all nations require
a passport to enter Costa Rica.
nationals of the following countries
allowed 90 day stay with no visa:
European countries, Argentina,
Israel, Japan/ Panama, Romania,
UK, USA, Uruguay.
What are the good night life
Cosmopolitan San José has a wide
of restaurants- something to
tastes and budgets.
Costa Rican Food.
-The best-known one is the La
Cocina de Leña
(tel. 223-3704,255-1360) in the
Shopping Center. The restaurant's
means "the wood stove"
atmosphere is that of a cozy
-Another up market place with
Rican food in a rustic setting
(tel. 289-5839). Located in a
up in the hills of Escazu, this
gives diners great views and
live local music. Call first
-Bihaua is owned by a famous
This restaurant is said to serve
Costa Rican cuisine"
-La Fiesta del Maiz is only open
but serves every variation of
corn you can
imagine, this is a favorite of
-Chelles is an all night bar,
which is quite famous among the
the "last stop" before
-El Banco de Los Mariscos
Bars & Discotheques Try and
of the weekly leaflet "Info-Espectaculos"
which comes out on Tuesdays and
on live music and nightclub acts
next week. The leaflet is available
of the places listed below and
in the ICT
Local bands and musicians which
popular and are often found playing
at the bars are: (or as current
as we can
be in the fast-moving music business)
Liver pool(Rock), Baby Rasta
Merengue), La Pandylla(Latin),
La Maffia, Jacque Mate (Latin
Negra, Luis Angel Castro (nueva
trova - Latin
folk music, often with a political,
human rights, etc). There are
- Bar Rockolas, is for people over 25, with
a passion for oldies. You can even check
your mail and surf the web for a while.
-Akelare (Where the Costa Rican
crowd hangs out on Thursday nights)
-El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte
Avenida 1, Calle 21 & 23,
is a restaurant
by day but at night is transformed
of the capital's busiest and
nightspots for young people.
-The Akelare (223-0345), Calle
2 & 6, is in a huge mansion
and has a
variety of live bands playing
two or three
nights a week.
-La Esmeralda (221-0530), San
of the Mexican Plaza Garibaldi.
when they offer to play a song!
to be paid. Avenida 2, Calle
5 & 7. It's
open all day and all night (except
and is the center of the city's
-Casinos most major hotels have
the Aurola, Cariari, Corobici,
Costa Rica, Herradura, and Hotel
is the most popular game, but
there are others,
as well as slot machines.
Do we need to make reservations
If you intend on traveling during
season(December through April),
and you want
to stay at very specific hotels
plan do your best to make reservations
much as six months in advance.
This is not
to say that if you wait until
prior to your traveling time
you won't be
able to make reservations, you
will be able
to find space, it just may not
at the hotels you originally
if a guide is important to you
it may difficult
to get one.
Are the charter planes safe?
Statistically, you are safer
flying in a
single engine charter plane than
riding in a vehicle on the highway.
Check out the listings