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What you should know before traveling to Costa Rica

Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? Then this will help you with what you should know before you go.

Best Costa Rica vacations

Playa Matapalo, Guanacaste

Costa Rica seems to be on everyone’s bucket list, and it should be. What a beautiful country with amazing people, culture and experiences available.  I recently talked with an owner from The Club at Coco Bay, who has been living in Costa Rica for 15 years, hosting hundreds of guests, friends, and family. Here’s the inside scoop on what they share as “Things to Know Before You Go”.

When people think of visiting Costa Rica, we often get asked, “What’s the best time of the year for visiting Costa Rica?” And our answer is always the same, “Any time is a great time!”

Costa Rica has two defined seasons: The dry season, which runs from December to April, and the green season from May to November.

Don’t be fooled by the forecast; the weather in Costa Rica depends on what part of Costa Rica you are visiting.

Costa Rica’s pacific northwest area is called Guanacaste. It’s a popular spot for tourists looking to enjoy beach activities, zip-lining, and explore the outdoors. Guanacaste is the country’s driest region. If you are spending time in the Guanacaste region during the dry season, prepare for hot days, sunny blue skies and relatively low humidity.

During the rainy season, you can expect less rain in the Guanacaste area than the rest of the country. Afternoons and evenings are usually rainy with amazing thunderstorms, while the mornings are bright and sunny. September and October are Costa Rica’s low season. You’ll find there are not many tourists and may even have an entire beach to yourself!

People often say, “I’ve heard I must go to Costa Rica, but where in the country should I visit?” Costa Rica is physically the size of Maine. It’s not an island and is located just below Nicaragua. Where to go in Costa Rica will depend on what you’d like to see. It is its own country, having declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821.”Costa Rica” means rich coast in Spanish. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Guanacaste, Costa Rica is very special offering a range of accommodations from Four Seasons, Hyatt Andaz, RIU and JW Marriott. There are also over 1,000 options for vacation rentals you can find on-line.

“What makes Costa Rica so eco-friendly?” Over 25% of the country is protected land, and there are 26 national parks in Costa Rica, ten biological reserves, 61 wildlife refuges, 31 protected zones. Costa Rica has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

“What is your favorite way to spend a day?” Costa Rica is famous for zip lining, also called canopy, with the number one zip line located at Diamante Eco Adventure Park, home of Costa Rica’s longest ocean view zip line and Costa Rica’s must do adventure experiences including a world class animal sanctuary where you can see wild cats like Jaguars and Pumas, Sloths, Monkeys and more.

Is it possible to see Costa Rica in a week?” Our answer is “it isn’t”. To appreciate Costa Rica, you have to give yourself time to take it all in. You can base yourself on the beach in Guanacaste and take day trips to check out the Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and other main sights in Costa Rica.

What is the official currency in Costa Rica?” The official currency of Costa Rica is the colon. The colon was named after Cristobal Colon, as the one who discovered the country. While the colon is the official currency, American dollars are also accepted.

“What time is it in Costa Rica?” Costa Rica does not participate in Daylight Savings Time. The sun rises and sets about 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM every day. It changes by only about 15 minutes throughout the year.

“Is Costa Rica safe?” Costa Rica has little to no violent crime. It is considered a very safe country, but you do need to be aware of petty theft and keep your valuables in a safe place and don’t flaunt your expensive possessions.

“Is it safe to drink the water?” Yes, Costa Rica’s tap water in most parts of the country is perfectly safe to drink. So, save the environment and don’t buy bottled water. Bring an insulated reusable water bottle with you and refill it straight out of a tap.

“Is it easy to get around Costa Rica?” Yes, and we recommend using the app Waze. It is the nation’s best navigation app. It has become superior to other navigation apps because of the unique challenges that driving in Costa Rica presents. There are no road/street names or house numbers in Costa Rica. Except for San Jose, street names and house numbers do not exist in other parts of the country. Instead, directions are given using landmarks and sights as references. For example, “300 meters north of the blue church, 80 meters west, house before the barking dog with one eye.”

“What do I pack?” Costa Rica isn’t a place for fancy dresses and nice clothes. Simplicity and comfort rule the local dress code across the country. In Costa Rica, less is more. Tank tops, sun dresses, shorts and flip flops will do the trick.

“What is Pura Vida?” Pura Vida’s literal translation means “pure life”. But you’ll find the expression used in just about every conversation. It means “relax”, easy does it, thank you, welcome, and in some cases even goodbye. It’s more of a way of life than a saying.

We highly recommend you experience the Pura Vida of Costa Rica. You won’t regret it!