1. When is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
Travelers can visit Costa Rica any time of the year. Temperatures are relatively consistent year round, comfortably warm in the highlands and hot along the coasts. There are two distinct seasons based on typical rainfall, the wet and dry season.
Dry Season: December - April (The Caribbean side experiences a dry season during Sept/Oct as well)
The best time to visit is usually considered to be the dry season, December to April, with only one or two rainy days per month in most regions. This is also the busiest time of year, especially during Christmas and Spring break. Travelers planning during those school holidays should try to plan at least six months in advance if possible.
Travelers visiting during the green season can participate in most of the same activities and will generally experience much smaller crowds during this time. Because temperatures are warm and rain often comes in brief, heavy showers, many travelers enjoy the green season as well.
The coastal regions experience rainfall year round, especially on the Caribbean side, so seasonality is not as much of an issue there. In fact, travelers interested in seeing the sea turtles may want to travel during the wetter times. The sea turtle season begins in mid-March and usually continues through mid-August, with most of the young hatchlings appearing June through August.
- San Jose: 60-80, dry (average 72)
- Caribbean Coast: 70-86, tends to be wetter, humid & warm, (average 82)
- Pacific: 70-90, wetter in the South & warm (average 89)
- Arenal/Monteverde: dry, similar to the highlands of San Jose
- Corcovado: off of Carate, hiking is drier, rain
2. What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
Dry Season: December - April
San Jose: 60-80, dry (average 72)
Caribbean Coast: 70-86, tends to be wetter, humid & warm, (average 82)
Pacific: 70-90, wetter in the South & warm (average 89)
Arenal/Monteverde: dry, similar to the highlands of San Jose
Corcovado: off of Carate, hiking is drier, rain
Wet Season: May - October/November
San Jose: rainy (8-12 inches of rain per month)
Caribbean Coast: can be rainy, warm & humid (less rainfall in Sept/Oct for Caribbean)
Pacific: heavier rain in the South, warm
Arenal/Monteverde: off and on showers
Corcovado: trails can be muddy, hot/humid/bugs, more rain
3. What are the accommodations like?
In Costa Rica, we have selected a variety of charming accommodations ranging from ecologically friendly remote jungle lodges to comfortable city hotels with all of the modern conveniences. In general, we use small, family-run lodges that are locally owned and characteristic of each area instead of luxury chain resorts. For more information, check out our Costa Rica Lodging
page to view pictures of our standard hotels/ lodges.
4. Do I need a converter/ adapter for the electricity?
Costa Rica uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter.
5. Are meals included?
We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. For example, meals are usually included on all of the rainforest segments of our Costa Rica tours. In the major towns, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your tour leader or hotel staff can recommend some great restaurant options. Your hotel will often provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
6. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Spanish. They are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
7. What type of transportation is used?
Our Costa Rica tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/ cars, public minibuses, charter flights, river boats, jeeps, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the most efficient, safe, and cost effective transportation in each area. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
8. What type of planes are used on internal flights?
In general, small commuter planes are used on internal flights. The 14-passenger Cessna Gran Caravan propeller plane is particularly common.
9. What type of food is typical of Costa Rica?
Rice, beans, tortillas, chicken, beef, fish, tropical fruit, and fresh vegetables are some of the standard foods that travelers can expect in Costa Rica. International specialties are also widely available.
10. What is the difference between an escorted and a non-escorted tour?
In Costa Rica, we offer both escorted tours and non-escorted tours. On the escorted tours, one of our local tour leaders travels with you on most stages of your trip. You will have the same group and guide throughout and your tour leader will usually accompany you from place to place. These are a great option for solo travelers as you can get to know the other members of your group better and continue on with them for your entire journey.
On our non-escorted tours, local guides from your lodge will assist you at each location. Planned activities are generally guided, but tour leaders do not usually accompany you from place to place and may not be available on free days. You'll either have private guide service with your personal group or join a small group of travelers at your lodge or yacht, but you won't necessarily have the same group throughout. Though solo travelers are welcome on these trips as well, these tours often depart weekly and generally have much smaller groups.
11. Are these trips suitable for kids?
Of all places to experience the rainforest, Costa Rica comes to mind as one of the best choices for families of any age. Small rainforest lodges with excellent guides dot the country and travel times are rarely longer than three hours. Some of these lodges have developed special programs for families traveling with children. For tours including whitewater rafting, the minimum age for rafting the Revantazon River (class II - III) is 9 and the minimum age for the Pacuare River (class III-IV) is 12. A great alternative for families with younger children is an upgrade to the the Rainforest Aerial Tram.
Keep in mind that many of the remote jungle lodges that we use do not have electricity so television and video games are not readily available. Some tours have longer travel times than others, so please talk with your trip coordinator if this is a concern.
Our Family Travel Page
has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation and also has some minimum age recommendations for each tour. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential!
To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families- please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
12. What is the typical age range for these tours?
We have had travelers of nearly every age on our Costa Rica tours
. These trips commonly attract multi-generational families as well as young honeymooners or adventurous single travelers. Travelers of any age (except very young children), can likely find a Costa Rica option where they will fit right in.
13. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Yes and no. Although solo travelers are welcome on any of our tours, we recommend joining one of our escorted departures. These tours tend to leave a bit less frequently (monthly instead of weekly) so they have slightly larger groups that allow solo travelers the opportunity to meet a wider variety of people. Some of our tours may be offered for just one traveler at a higher rate. Please ask your Travel Coordinator about this possibility. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
14. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You are welcome to book these on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in Central America flights.
15. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. Taxis are usually less expensive, though some travelers prefer the convenience of having someone waiting for them at the airport when they arrive, especially after an exhausting flight. Please let us know your preference!
16. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10pp/day for your guide and ~$1-$3pp/day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
17. Are there any discounts available?
We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
18. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Costa Rica tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. For departures during the dry season, you will usually find better availability if you book at least 4 months in advance (9 months is recommended for travelers visiting during the busy Christmas/ New Year's holiday). Travelers visiting outside of the busy dry season months can often book last minute, though 2-3 months notice is still recommended.
We usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces.
19. Are tour dates flexible?
YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
20. Can I extend or change my stay?
Check out our Costa Rica Extensions
for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in most areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
21. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Bring long sleeves and a fleece/ sweater for cool highland evenings and plenty of comfortable, breathable clothes for hot jungle days. Good walking shoes and sun protection are also a must. Many trips include whitewater rafting so be sure to bring an extra pair of shoes that you don't mind getting wet!
22. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Costa Rica. However -- The Costa Rican government recently instituted a requirement that persons traveling to Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and Sub-Sahara Africa must have a valid yellow fever vaccination. Those affected South American countries are: Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana and Venezuela.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Incidence of malaria, while historically low, has been increasing, particularly on the coast. Anti-malarial preventatives are up to your personal preference. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control
23. Do I need a visa/passport?
Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Visas are not currently required for citizens of the following countries staying up to 90 days: United States, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Argentina, and Panama. Travelers from Australia, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, South Africa, and Venezuela do not need a visa for stays under 30 days. Visitors from other nationalities should check with the Costa Rican Embassy for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check for the most recent visa information.
24. How safe is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has a democratic tradition and extensive tourist facilities. Like any destination, however, Costa Rica has its share of crime, especially in the larger cities.
Pickpocketing is a particular concern for travelers, especially in crowded airports and visitor sites. Be aware of your valuables and avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry or other expensive items. Check out the US State Department travel advisories
for the latest information.
25. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally safe to drink in San Jose and other major towns. To be sure, ask your tour leader or the hotel/ restaurant staff. Bottled water is readily available as well and should be used in remote rural areas.
26. What time zone is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is six hours behind GMT (same as CST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Costa Rica is on MST.
27. What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
The local currency is the colon. Check out a Currency Converter like, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
for the latest exchange rates. Most restaurants, markets, and other service providers readily accept US dollars as long as they don't have any rips. They will generally give you change in local currency.
28. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a poorer rate or be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
29. Can I use my cell phone?
Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.
29. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.