Costa Rica is a country located in Caribbean with name that begins with letter C. Costa Rica means “rich coast” in Spanish, and when it comes to biodiversity, this name is correct: The Central American country between the Caribbean and the Pacific is one of the most biodiverse in the world – over 500,000 species occur here. With an area of 51,400 km², Costa Rica is somewhat larger than Switzerland. Thanks to its progressiveness, the stable political situation and its neutrality, Costa Rica is sometimes referred to as “the Switzerland of Central America”. Costa Rica borders Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south.
Travelers are allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to 3 months without a visa. The passport must be valid for another 6 months upon entry.
The climate in Costa Rica is tropical, humid and hot with a dry season from December to May; in the Cordilleras there is a subtropical mountain climate. There are very large temperature differences between the coast and the mountains.
Food and drink
Rice and red or black beans are the main ingredients in many typical dishes such as the Gallo Pinto stew, which is eaten for breakfast or as a side dish for meat, chicken or fish at lunch. Plantains are also used in many dishes. Fruit juices or milkshakes made from mangos, papayas, passion fruit etc. are popular. Another national drink is coffee, which thrives in the country.
Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos. This nickname is derived from the ending “-tico”, which is often added to all sorts of words. The Ticos are very western oriented and attach great importance to a well-groomed appearance. The informal national motto is the phrase “pura vida” (“The pure life”), which is used on all possible occasions and in which the joy of life of the residents is expressed.
Costa Rica has a pretty good health system compared to other Latin American countries. No special vaccinations are required for entry, but it is advisable to refresh the vaccinations, which are also common in Europe. Please seek medical advice here. Malaria and dengue fever, among other things, occur in some regions – it is therefore important to protect yourself from mosquito bites. A personal first-aid kit with your own medication is advisable. The heat shouldn’t be underestimated either. Frequent hand washing and the avoidance of unpeeled, raw fruits and vegetables – also in salads – can prevent diarrhea.
Costa Rica is considered a safe travel destination. Increased vigilance in San José and other tourist centers against pickpockets is recommended. You can find more information on the trip under the point Info.
Another danger in Costa Rica comes from ocean currents: the dangerous places are not always marked. Before bathing in the sea, ask locals for advice on whether the beach is safe.
Climate and travel time
There are no seasons in the strict sense of the word, just an alternation between rainy and dry seasons. There is a tropical-humid climate, from about 700m subtropical climate. Basically, Costa Rica can be visited all year round, as the temperatures are mild and warm.
- Rainy season: from June to December (approx. 18-30 °C)
- Dry season: from January to May (approx. 25-40 °C)
All about money
The legal tender is the Colón. 1 colon (CRC) is 100 centavos.
The most convenient way to get money is to withdraw it from an ATM. With the usual credit cards (don’t forget your PIN!) It is possible to get cash anywhere. With ATMs of the Banco Nacional and those marked “ATH / Maestro” it is also possible to withdraw with a debit card (EC card). Fees must be expected for each removal, which is why it is advisable to choose the maximum amount (usually 150,000 colones – approx. 260 €). During the stay in Monte Alto and Boca Tapada you should bring enough cash with you as there is no way to withdraw money.
The second currency is the US dollar. Hotels, taxis, souvenir shops, and restaurants also mostly accept dollars.
Other essential information
Time difference to CET: -7h
110 volts / 60 Hertz, American flat plugs (adapter plug required).