Currency: Costa Rican colon
Time Zone: CST/GMT-7
Tipping: Generally a 10% service charge is added in restaurants
and bars and so an additional tip is not necessary. However, for excellent service they are always appreciated.
Costa Rica - an Introduction
Fancy sightseeing in one of the happiest places on Earth? If you find yourself saying 'yes' then Costa Rica tours are for you where you'll find a gorgeous chunk of paradise, located between Nicaragua and Panama, with scenery so stunning that you'll be forgiven for thinking you had just stepped into a TV advert for 'Bounty' chocolate bars. Here's your opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and transport yourself to a tiny oasis that lures millions of visitors to its shores year after year.
For many, Costa Rica, is the perfect honeymoon destination with its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and rainforest palms creating umbrellas of shade from the tropical heat. However, don't be fooled by its tranquillity as there are a multitude of activities you can take part in should you wish to add a bit of adventure to your break from Costa Rica surfing in the choppy Pacific Ocean to hiking through spectacular jungles, zipping across canopy lines over 100m long, snorkelling and spotting wildlife. You could find yourself one day exploring the magnificent, if not slightly muddy, Cloud Forest in Monteverde to checking out the awesomeness of an active volcano in Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal.
Aside from the tranquillity of this paradise region of South America, millions of visitors descend upon its shores in the hope of spotting some magnificent wildlife who happen to class Costa Rica as home. As you explore, whilst keeping your eye out for the infamous green tree frog, you will no doubt hear the distinctive call of the Scarlet Macaw which is your cue to look up as you will probably find one perching on a branch in the Parque Nacional Carara. Visit the Playa Grande where it is known that Leatherback Sea Turtles come to nest and this usually happens when there is a full moon. Jaguars can sometimes be spotted in rugged Parque Internacional la Amistad but for a truly memorable experience, visit Parque Nacional Marino Ballena on your Costa Rica tour where you may come across the Humpback Whales breaching the surf.
Tours to Costa Rica typically include; return flights, accommodation in good standard hotels, meals and a variety of included or optional excursions so you can really experience the very best of this beautiful resort.
Things to do
Costa Rica has a wealth of places to explore and a number of great attractions and things to do, here are some ideas of what is available when you visit:
Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal
This National Park, located in the centre of the country, is a great place to explore. With two volcanoes; the Arenal Volcano which was believed to be dormant until an eruption in 1973 and Chato Volcano which has been inactive for around 3,500 years. The Chato Volcano crater is now home to a picture-perfect lagoon. Visitors are allowed to explore, under the watchful eye of the park rangers who closely monitor Arenal's volcanic activity.
Carara National Park
One of Costa Rica's most visited parks, the Carara National Park is situated on the north of the Pacific Rainforest. A popular destination for bird watchers, Carara is a haven for birds, with the dense tree growth. There are also several other species found in the park from crocodiles, to snakes and lizards, the famous tree frogs and monkeys to name just a few!
The capital city of Costa Rica, San José, is a popular destination for tourists visiting the country. There are many things to see and do whilst exploring San José, from visiting the National Museum of Costa Rica and learning about the history of the city to exploring the San José Central Parque. Why not visit a restaurant and sample the local cuisine, the national dish gallo pinto, is a mixture of fried rice and black beans.
A beach town on the Pacific coast, Playa Grande, has become popular with tourists for a few reasons. The first being it is one of the best surfing spots in the country, with several surf breaks and secondly for being home to the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas. This is the nesting ground for the Ridley and Leatherback Turtle, which is the largest of all living turtles.
Tips & Advice
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands. To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Costa Rica take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Before leaving the UK, contact your GP to check whether you will need any vaccinations or preventative measures when visiting Costa Rica. All visitors are required to have had the Yellow Fever vaccination if they have come from a country which has the transmission or has risk of having it. Medical care in Costa Rica is of a high standard. Only emergency treatment is available free of charge for visitors. Therefore, you must ensure you have adequate travel insurance before you leave the UK and also access to funds which will cover the cost of medical treatment and in extreme cases repatriation should you need it. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
If you are in need of urgent medical help dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. If you are taken to a medical facility for treatment, you should always contact your insurance company promptly.
Levels of crime in Costa Rica have been increasing slowly. Theft of personal items, especially passports, has become a problem. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or carrying large amounts of cash, always lock valuables in hotel safes where possible or perhaps leave them at home before you travel to Costa Rica.
Be aware when using public transport, thieves often use distraction techniques to steal bags from overhead compartments. When travelling in taxi's, ensure they are genuine, they will have a red triangle sticker and a plastic box on the roof with a number and name of the taxi firm. Other things to look out for when checking to see if a taxi is genuine; make sure the drivers ID is visible on the front dashboard, that there is a meter inside and only use radio controlled taxi's.
When in Costa Rica, you should always maintain the same level of personal security and awareness that you would have in the UK. Avoid lifts from strangers, never leave your drink unattended and never accept drinks from strangers.
Local Laws and Customs
Never become involved with drugs, trafficking can result in a minimum sentence of 8 years in prison.
British Nationals don't need a visa when entering Costa Rica. Visitors can stay for up to 3 months. If you are planning to stay for longer or plan to work whilst in the country, you must contact the Costa Rican Embassy. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you enter Costa Rica. When entering the country, you must also be able to show evidence of onward travel or your return journey.
Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry and exit to Costa Rica, in addition to airside transit. However, they must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you enter the country.
When leaving Costa Rica by air, there is a departure tax of $29, this can be paid for by cash or card.
Any other nationality looking to visit Costa Rica, must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To get more information about Costa Rica, you can visit the official tourist board website at visitcostarica.com