With close to two decades of receiving tourists in Costa Rica, we have seen the things visitors wish they knew. We are always happy to share our travel tips for traveling to Costa Rica.
Too many times When traveling to any country, you always want to educate yourself enough on the basics, which are safety, health, and comfort. There are always some little things that seem simple and feel ordinary, but you don’t know what they are until you experience them. This blog post is hopefully to prevent you from making that mistake. Here are five simple tips for traveling to Costa Rica, and if you think you already thought of everything, it’s better to be safe than sorry:
Wet Clothes Fix
Walking out of the airport in San Jose or Liberia, the first thing you will notice is the humidity. Your breathing feels like you are getting served a drink of water without the glass. Don’t worry; your skin and lungs will get used to it and thank you for it after a day or so. Combine this with a country that if you came for adventure and fun, you would most likely be doing activities that you will find yourself getting soaked from canyoneering, whitewater rafting, SUPSurfing, and the list goes on.
The result will be wet shoes, wet-clothes, and like 90% of the itineraries in Costa Rica, you will be switching locations every three nights, so your wet clothes will have to find a spot in your back and on the bus.
The truth is that your clothes will not dry until they meet your drier back home. Some hotels might have driers, but it’s often just for the sheets and more of a chore to get access than using this simple travel tip. The tip is to always have Ziploc bags with you. We suggest bringing a Ziploc back for every day. Getting some of the larger ones that slide shut is best. Any leakage of air could be catastrophic to your bag, the bus, and anyone in a 5-mile radius. The idea is to just stick the clothes in the Ziploc bag. At no time for any reason to open the bag until you are at home, in a hazmat suit, ready for deployment directly into your drier.
Know the Physical Address of where you are staying the first night when traveling to Costa Rica
I wrote an entire blog post on this because it’s why you have to wait in the immigration line. This is one of my favorite tips for traveling to Costa Rica. It feels like Costa Rica immigration care much less if you are a member of ISIS than if you can give the exact address of the place you are staying your first night.
While this is not a big deal, it seems that 90% of tourists don’t have the address handy. The best thing to do is to write the address down and have it on your passport picture page. As a result, it will fall right out on their lap when they open your passport. This will also help the line move a little quicker. It’s amazing how many times you open your passport and look at it while waiting in line. A faster-moving line keeps those anxious odd-balls moving. I’m one of them; it’s always the same picture every time.
Do Not Buy Sunscreen in Costa Rica
We all know that wearing sunscreen is essential. I’m sure you can find enough information online. Or I guess there is the vitamin D craze and some people might not use sunscreen, so whatever floats your boat. This post is not telling you what to do with regards to sunscreen; I am merely telling you not to buy it in Costa Rica because it is very expensinve.
The reason is not that some tropical virus contaminates it. It is because it is very expensive. I honestly do not know why. I am guessing that it falls into the medicine category so that it might have some crazy tax applied to it, but if you forget your sunscreen expect to pay anywhere from $20 – $ ’30s for a regular size bottle.
Don’t Drink Tap Water, but DO Stay Hydrated.
Nothing feels better than going to a country and blending in with the locals. Drinking tap water is certainly something the local Costa Rican’s do. But having Montezuma’s revenge because your tummy is not used to the bacterias in the local water is less of a local pass time because they have been immune to the water since the Spanish arrived. If you trust famously want to be a local, you should go through immunity, drink tap water, hug the toilet for 48 hours of your vacation, and just like that, you are now immune to the water just like the locals.
While chances are the tap water would find, we always say why to risk it. If it’s the last resort, then go for it before getting dehydrated, which brings us to our next topic.
We are so busy, and on the move, we see tourists all the time getting dehydrated. It is the tropics, and you are losing more water than you think you are even if you are not sweating bullets. It’s the easiest thing to prevent, just sip water all day. Try to avoid getting thirsty then downing a bottle in one sitting.
This is one of the most important travel tips when traveling to Costa Rica as water is pretty important.
Yes, TIP! No Don’t Tip
I always feel bad for tourists that don’t know the tipping procedure. If you have ever been in a situation where you want to tip if it is appropriate but you don’t want to offend if it is not then keep rep reading. First of all, no Costa Rican will be offended if you give them money as a tip. They will smile and say PURA VIDA! It can be your waiter, guide, driver, or just random guy on the street; all of them will be happy that you tipped.
So what is the confusion about tipping in Costa Rica?
It all has to do with the restaurants that make it difficult for everything else. Once you show up in Costa Rica and leave the airport, most people want to get something to eat to visit a restaurant. Here they have their first experience with Costa Rican customs on tipping. At all restaurants by law, they include a 10% tip, and you almost never see a Costa Rica leave more than what is already included. So if you are with a guide or driver and tell you that you do not need to ti,n you think tipping is not a part of the culture because it would undoubtedly be part of the most basic and standard tipping service, which is the restaurant industry.
Well, the truth is that only the restaurants have tips included. All other services you can treat as if you were in the US and this holds very much so for the tourism industry. All your guides, drivers, and cleaning staff should be tipped. It is that simple; if you want more information on how much to tip, look at our tipping guide.
Those are the tips after 20 years of working in the tourism industry here in Costa Rica; we can say we have found visitors fumble the most with. We think these tips can help anyone visiting Costa Rica make their visit run smoother.