Things to Know Before Traveling to Costa Rica

Check out our Expert travel advice to make your vacation the best it can be!

  • Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but not all are safe for swimming. Ask a local if it is safe before swimming.
  • Prepare for a slower paced lifestyle and be flexible to changing plans as weather alters itineraries. Enjoy the ride.
  • Realize Costa Rica offers authentic wildlife: paths may be muddy, animals can be elusive and insects are guaranteed.
  • Statistically San Jose is very safe, but travel wisely. Avoid flashy jewelry and take only the money you will need for the day. Keep track of your purse, wallet, backpack or waist pack.
  • Less is more! Assume a low profile bringing loose, casual clothing and leaving valuables at home. Only carry money for daily needs and a photocopy of your passport. Here is our suggested packing list.
  • Pack light! Domestic flights limit baggage to 25 pounds per person. Excess baggage is subject to excess baggage charges based on space availability.
  • Use sunscreen! The equatorial sun is strong, even when overcast. It is very easy to get a sunburn at 9am.
  • Before leaving home, photocopy your passport. Carry the copy with you leaving the original in a safe place. Also emailing yourself a copy of these can help if you do indeed lose them.
  • Cars do not yield to pedestrians or other cars.
  • Remember you are on vacation as a visitor in a foreign land with different customs and values. Try to use Spanish greetings. It’s the effort that shows respect and earns goodwill. Smile, you’re on vacation.

Guidelines for Responsible Tourism:

Although Costa Rica is blessed with a stunning variety of wildlife, the environment is extremely delicate, intensely complex and significantly unknown. Please follow these simple guidelines for a more enjoyable excursion today and for future explorers.

  • Do not needlessly disturb or feed wildlife.
  • Wildlife viewing is best in early morning or late afternoon, especially after or during rain. Do not dress colorfully or talk loudly, it scares the animals and they really don’t want to see you.
  • Do not remove anything from its natural environment.
  • Stay on marked trails – they are designed to lessen erosion.
  • Properly dispose of waste; bring out what you bring in.
  • Do not smoke on nature trails.
  • Conserve water and electricity.
  • Be a positive influence on local people; patronize local businesses, guides and environmentally sensitive organizations.
  • Do not buy protected wildlife and/or products manufactured from it or antiquities.
  • Be informed and respectful of local culture, customs and environmental issues.

Related Articles: Ecotourism in Costa Rica