Travel Essentials

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the top eco and adventure destination in Central America and we at Fleewinter can see why! There is so much adventure for everyone here with the choice of zip lining, white-water rafting, canopy walking and surfing to name just a few. It is also blessed with some of the most pristine beaches in the world for those who just want to flop and soak up the sun!

Whilst it may not feel as ‘off the’beaten’track’ here as other less travelled destinations as a visitor you should enjoy the true dedication to sustainable tourist that this country has developed. The world-class infrastructure of the hotels and eco- initiatives are a true testament to the country and a leading example in the travel industry.

Whilst the country still has its political quibbles the government keeps high taxes and there is still no army since 1948 when the country redirected its defence funds towards education, health care and environment. Due to this, prices can seem quite high, but people’s wages and livelihoods here benefit from the tourism in the country and they have the highest quality of life in Central America.

As they should be, Costa Ricans or Ticos as they like to be known as, are proud of their country and welcome all guests with open arms and a smile on their face. They will all encourage you to join in with the easy-going rhythms of the pura vida (pure life). This greeting becomes catchy and it won’t take long until you slow down and enjoy life and relax into the Costa Rican pace of life

Pura Vida!

What should I wear in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a very relaxed destination and you are unlikely to cause any offence whatever you choose to wear. As it is such an active country a lot of people tend to be in trekking/sport wear for their daily adventures. Shorts/skirts are acceptable, and bikinis are widely worn on beaches and at swimming pools.

Due to the country being so small and having the Pacific and Caribbean coast you find numerous micro-climates within the country, so it is worth packing for varying temperatures. Most places are warm all year around but San Jose, the central highlands and cloud forests do get cooler so bring some long trousers and a jumper or two for here.

Additionally, if you are travelling in the shoulder season or rainy seasons be prepared for rain at all times. Showers are normally heavy and quick and if you get caught in it you are likely to be drying yourself off in the sun shortly after however it is worth bringing a rain jacket with you.

As you are likely to be doing a lot of exploring, we highly recommend either trainers or walking shoes! Binoculars are also something worth bringing for the abundance of wildlife!

Do I need a visa?

British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You may stay as a visitor for up to 90 days under a tourist visa waiver, although the exact period is at the discretion of the immigration officer on arrival. Your passport should have at least one day’s validity from the date you are leaving Costa Rica. If you hold a passport other than a British Citizen passport, different regulations may apply.

What is the local currency and how easy is it to withdraw money?

The Costa Rican currency is the colón (plural colones). Bills come in 1000, 2000, 5000, 10.000, 20.000 & 50,000 notes. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 and 500.

Paying for things in US dollars is common and at times encouraged as it is seen as a more stable currency. You will most likely receive your change however in colones. You can get both out of most cash machines. Use dollars in mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels, admission fees. Local meals, drinks, taxis and small items should be in colones.

Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants apart from the small local eateries where you will want to have cash and more remote accommodation. A transaction fee of around 3% – 5% on all international credit-card purchases is oftern added.

All banks will exchange US dollars, and some will exchange euros and British pounds; other currencies less so. Make sure the bills you want to exchange are in good condition.

And how much money will we need?

Naturally this depends on what sort of meals and drinks you like to enjoy; your shopping habits and how many excursions are included in your itinerary. Eating local food which is often beans and rice is normally around $5 for a large plate in a local eatery. Most restaurants will serve meals that are around $10 but if you go to high end places or want international cuisine you may be looking at around $15 – $20 per plate. Please note however the meal portions are very large and you may find after a few experiences you can share.

If you are drinking a beer in a bar you are looking at around $2.50 for a local brand which are all tasty and we would highly recommend. Wine is around $10 a bottle but like anywhere can continue to increase dependant on what it is. A lot of places do a happy hour in Costa Rica so it is worth keeping your eye out for these!

It is likely a lot of excursions will be included in your trip but you can also book trips from most places you are staying in. These range from $25 – $130 per person. We can always send lists on what is on offer and more pricing guidelines dependant on your trip.

What vaccinations do I need and will I need malaria tablets?

We are not doctors and always advise you to make a travel appointment with your local medical team for the most up-to-date and accurate information. We recommend consulting the NHS Fit for Travel pageas it has much more detail about immunizations and provides a malaria map of the country. Proof of a yellow-fever vaccination is only needed if you are coming from a country that carries a risk of yellow fever.

Should I tip in Costa Rica?

In restaurants a 10% service tip is often included so do check this. If it is not you may want to leave a small gesture, but it is not required. If you are staying in a high-end hotel a $1 tip to the bell boy and to the housekeeping per day is customary. For guided tours it is common practice to tip between $5 – $15 per person per day but this is at your discretion of course. Taxis do not expect tips.

Is there good WiFi or Mobile Phone Coverage?

You will find WiFi in nearly all hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafés. In remote eco- lodges, WiFi may only be available in your hotel’s reception and common areas. It is normally of good quality however.

Local SIM cards from Globe and Smart are available at all international airports and purchasing a data package for a one or two week trip is quite affordable. Please let us know if you need any more information on this.

The country code in the Philippines is +51. If you are dialing with the Philippines from a local number, you may need to add a 0 at the start of the sequence. To dial the UK, dial +44 or 0044.

What language do people speak in Costa Rica?

Spanish is the national language of Costa Rica and is spoken throughout the country. English is also widely spoken as well as French and German in a lot of the tourist areas. You shouldn’t have difficulty in communicating easily if you can speak any of the above. A lot of the guides are astounding and can speak up to 6 – 7 different languages

What’s the time difference?

Costa Rica is 6 hours behind GMT. There is no daylight-saving time in Costa Rica so it remains this all year round.

Will British or European charging cords need adapters?

Most electrical outlets use a power system that is compatible with North American devices. They are therefore the two flat prong, or the two flat prong with the round prong above.