Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise! A small country that will have a big impact on you, Costa Rica is the eco and adventure-tourism capital of Central America. Situated between North and South America, its proximity to the equator provides visitors with a tropical climate year-round along with breath-taking scenery and unique wildlife. With a vast array of flora and fauna, you can travel through national parks, rain forests, cacao plantations, lakes and fantastic beaches. See sloths, lizards, macaws and the beautiful resplendent quetzal. Joining our escorted group tour will ensure you make the most of this tropical land of adventure.
**Requirements due to COVID-19 are constantly changing. Please check your own country's international travel advice as well as the airline requirements before travel.**
UK guests please see the UK Government Foreign Office Travel website for latest entry and exit advice; https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/costa-rica/entry-requirements
US guests please see Travel State website; https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/CostaRica.html
U.S., Canadian, Australian and most European citizens may enter Costa Rica for up to 180 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You may stay as a visitor for up to 180 days under a tourist visa waiver, although the exact period is at the discretion of the immigration officer on arrival.
All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a proof of an onward or return airline ticket in order to be allowed into the country.
Your passport should be issued within the last 10 years and be valid for at least one day beyond the period of stay. It is advised to have one blank page in your passport. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport. The law requires that you carry your passport at all times.
• Consular Information
There are only a small number of international embassies located in San Jose, including those for the US, Canada and UK. However, embassies for other countries, including Australia and New Zealand are located in Mexico and other North or Central American countries, offering coverage to Costa Rica. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
Authorities have classified Costa Rica as having a risk of Zika virus transmission as well as cases of dengue and Chikungunya virus. You should take care should be taken to avoid mosquito bites whilst on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company Tour Director.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Costa Rica Tour is an Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations. However, if travelling from an area or having recently visited an area where Yellow Fever is present, a certificate proving vaccination will be required on entry.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine.
Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Rabies, and Typhoid may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking. For further information, please see: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica and https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/central-america/costa-rica
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, please inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There may be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
We would recommend comfortable clothes and shoes for this tour. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code. (blouse/shirt for dinner - something a little smarter but not formal wear.)The atmosphere in Costa Rica is hot and humid, so please consider this when packing. We would suggest including the following items:
- Light breathable layers - t-shirts, long sleeve, shorts, trousers; Swimming costume/shorts; Rain jacket/windbreaker; Sun hat; Sunglasses
- Footwear: waterproof, light-weight hiking boots, river sandals (Teva-type sandals), tennis shoes/running shoes. If you do not bring hiking boots, make sure you bring TWO pairs of tennis shoes.
- Extra prescription glasses and medication (if applicable).
- Small day pack or fanny pack for walks and Zip-lock plastic bags to protect personal belongings in case of rain.
- Insect repellent and sun cream – it is expensive in Costa Rica! - are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards, as well as travel adaptor.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Luggage handling is not included in our Costa Rica tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may be available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of Costa Rica is Spanish. A number of indigenous languages are also spoken by the locals. English is spoken widely across the country in the hospitality sector.
The time zone in Costa Rica is GMT-6, 6 hours behind of London GMT.
Though it generally has a tropical climate – hot and humid, the weather can change. The dry season runs from December to April. During these months, the western and central regions of Costa Rica have nearly no rain and mostly sunny weather. What little rain falls usually comes as afternoon or evening showers and most people are surprised to find that Nicoya and Guanacaste are more reminiscent of the Arizona desert than a jungle.
March and April are the hottest time of year, especially in the western half of Costa Rica, with day temperatures around 86-96°F (30-37°C) dropping overnight to 78-86°F (26-30°C). The rainy season lasts August to October. September is one of the rainiest months on the west side and in the mountains of Costa Rica, but one of the driest months on the east side.
The Pacific beaches and central region get significant rain most days; sunny mornings are often followed by afternoon or evening showers. Daytime temperatures are usually around 75-85°F (24-29°C), cooling off at night.
In Costa Rica, the standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. You will need an American style plug adapter, used in North and Central America, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Costa Rica has a good communications infrastructure in the cities. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may disappear. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Costa Rica with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Costa Rica is the colón. (CRC). However, whilst Colones are the official currency of Costa Rica, US dollars are virtually legal tender. Most ATMs in large towns and cities will dispense both currencies. However, it pays to know where and when you should be paying with each currency. In Costa Rica you can use US dollars to pay for midrange to top-end meals, admission fees for sights etc. However, local meals and drinks, domestic bus fares, taxis and small purchases should be paid for in Colones. We suggest you carry a small amount of Colones for little towns and rural shops.
Credit cards generally accepted. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip. Traveller’s cheques are increasingly uncommon in Costa Rica and difficult to exchange outside big cities
Costa Rica can be more expensive than some of the other central American countries, especially in tourist hot spots. However, bargains are still to be found and will be a relatively good value destination for many travellers from outside the area.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Costa Rica have varying hours but are usually open 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Costa Rican cuisine is not the best well known. It is a simple and plain diet, relying highly on fresh fruits and vegetables, but well-rounded nutritionally, based around seasonal ingredients and generally cooked from scratch. Rice and black beans are a staple of most traditional Costa Rican meals. The locals will often eat them three times a day.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in Costa Rica is generally of good quality in urban areas, but it is wise to stick to bottled water in rural areas. In addition, for those with sensitive stomachs, bottled water is better when at the coast. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Costa Rica offers lots for visitors to buy – but it is of course mainly known for its coffee! You will find many local handicrafts, but please avoid purchasing products involving animal, for example turtle shells, animal skulls or items made with feathers, coral or shells as exporting them is illegal. Additionally, the provenance of wooden products is often hard to distinguish.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 9am – 6pm Monday–Saturday, though may vary locally. Most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of certain grocery shops and souvenir shops.
• VAT/Tax Refund
Numerous shops in Costa Rica offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Though major crime levels in Costa Rica are low, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Travellers should also take care when undertaking water sports and ensure they have the correct insurance cover for these. When travelling to volcanic regions, please pay attention to local notices. Care should be taken when ordering drinks in bars as often the alcohol is of inferior quality and can damage health.
Smoking is banned in all indoor public places, and a number of outdoor public areas. But there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport.
Costa Rica is mostly Christian, with Catholicism forming the majority of this.
Costa Rica offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN COSTA RICA
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in the United States or other countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated Jan 2024