Costa Rica has everything from full-on urban mall experiences to cute craft stores and stands in tourist towns featuring well-made artisanal wares.
Avoid purchasing animal products, including turtle shells, animal skulls and anything made with feathers, coral or shells (in addition to the bad karma, it's illegal to export them). Wood products are also highly suspicious: make sure you know where the wood came from.
Coffee & Alcohol
Coffee is the most popular souvenir, available pretty much everywhere. Find specialty beans at places like Café Milagro in Quepos, throughout the Central Valley and Valle de los Santos (Santa Maria de Dota, for example), and around San Vito.
The most popular alcohol purchases are Ron Centenario, Café Rica (a coffee liqueur) and guaro (the local firewater). All are available at duty-free shops inside the airport, or in supermarkets and liquor stores in every town and city.
Handicrafts & Ceramics
- Tropical-hardwood items include salad bowls, plates, carving boards, jewelry boxes and a variety of carvings and ornaments. The most exquisite woodwork is available at Biesanz Woodworks in Escazú. All of the wood here is grown on farms expressly for this purpose.
- Uniquely Costa Rican souvenirs are the colorfully painted replicas of carretas (traditional oxcarts) produced in Sarchí.
- Intricately carved and strikingly painted masks made by the Boruca people are found at Galería Namu in San José and in the village of Boruca.
- Very cool and comfortable hammocks can be bought a number of places, including Neptune's lovely stand on the road to La Fortuna's waterfall.