• Anywhere Costa Rica ( Excellent overviews of local destinations; run by a tour agency that gets good reviews.
  • Essential Costa Rica ( The Costa Rica Tourism Board website has planning tips and destination details.
  • Yo Viajo ( Enter two destinations anywhere in the country and view the bus schedule and fare.
  • Guanacaste Costa Rica ( bilingual magazine of the region's tourism board has cultural articles, recipes, helpful maps.
  • The Tico Times ( Costa Rica’s English-language newspaper’s website; its searchable archives can be helpful for trip planning.
  • Lonely Planet ( Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Top Tips

  • In Costa Rica, things have a way of taking longer than expected – Tico time is in effect. Make space for leisurely meals, don't overschedule, learn to relax into delays and take these opportunities to get to know the locals.
  • Avoid driving at night – pedestrians, animals and huge potholes are difficult to see on Costa Rica’s largely unlit roads. Also keep an eye out for impatient drivers passing on two-lane roads – tailgating is a national custom.
  • Take public transit. There's no better way to get to know the country or its people.
  • If you need directions, ask a few different people before setting out.
  • It’s often cash-only in remote areas. Keep a stash of colones or dollars, because ATMs do run out.
  • Ticos use quite a lot of local slang, so even experienced Spanish speakers might need to adjust.

What to Take

  • Bathing suit
  • Camera
  • Flip-flops, hat, and hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen – it’s expensive in Costa Rica
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Bug repellent with DEET
  • MP3 player
  • Phone charger
  • Waterproof case for passport
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Poncho
  • Binoculars
  • First-aid kit
  • Small day pack

What to Wear

Although the coastal areas are sunny, hot and humid, calling for a hat, shorts and short sleeves, you’ll want to pack a sweater and lightweight jacket for popular high-elevation destinations such as Volcán Irazú and Monteverde. If you plan to hike up Chirripó, bring lots of layers and a hat and gloves. Additionally, while hiking through the rainforest is often a hot and sweaty exercise, long sleeves and lightweight, quick-drying pants help keep the bugs away. A lightweight rain poncho comes in handy in quite a few places.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Check the validity of your passport
  • Check the visa situation and government travel advisories
  • Organize travel insurance
  • Check flight restrictions on luggage and camping or outdoors equipment
  • Check your immunization history
  • Contact car-insurance provider about foreign coverage
  • If you plan to rent a car, bring your driver’s license and a copy of your insurance policy