Costa Rica is a brazen, Central American country covered in rainforest with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Whilst its capital, San Jose, is the location of cultural institutions like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Costa Rica is reknowned for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. Almost a quarter of its area is covered with protected jungle, which is brimming with wildlife such as spider monkeys and quetzal birds.
It is a small country of just under 5 million people, situated in Central America. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Caribbean Sea in the east, around 5% of the planet’s biodiversity can be found here. Lush, steaming jungles, majestic green-clad mountains hosting misty cloud forests, fertile coffee-growing valleys, arid grasslands, and tropical beaches create what the Costa Ricans call the "pura vida".
On September 18th, 1502 Columbus arrived on his final voyage to the New World. He was greeted by friendly indigenous people, who wore a lot of gold. Subsequent exploration found gold in the country, and it earned itself the name of Costa Rica, or "Rich Coast". Despite early gold discovery (in the Osa Peninsula and the initial stories of fabulous wealth), Costa Rica turned out to be less fruitful than its neighbours.
The Spanish crown diverted their attention to Mexico and Peru, and Costa Rica fell into obscurity. Costa Rica was caught in poverty-stricken obscurity for centuries. In the present, modern Costa Rica – due to the export of coffee – is now one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in Central America.
UK: Not required for a stay of up to 90 days in duration.
USA: You must obtain a visa prior to arrival and have a passport with at least six months' validity remaining. The lack of either will result in a fine and immediate deportation.
Costa Rican Colon.
The most important thing to know where packing is concerned is that the weather changes significantly depending on when and where you are going to be visiting. There around 27 different micro-climates here. Costa Rica doesn’t have a strict dress code and casual-wear is fine, overall. A raincoat is an essential item if you’re visiting during the rainy season (end of April to beginning of December). The humid climate lends itself to light layers, so select fabrics designed for the outdoors that keep sweat away from the skin and dry quickly. Wear long sleeves and full-length trouser legs for jungle adventures. Adequate clothing will prevent bites by mosquitoes, which can carry malaria or dengue fever. Cover your skin when heading into jungle or forested areas to avoid contact with plants that can irritate your skin.
Costa Ricans are overwhelmingly Europeans, mostly from Spain. Costa Ricans used to be conservative with their clothing and, for the older generation, that still applies, but the under 40s are now generally more casual. Shorts and t-shirts are the norm, although most Costa Rican men will be in long trousers and button-up shirts. Costa Ricans don’t like confrontation and will rarely tell anyone “no” for fear of offending them. Costa Ricans tend to live by "Tico Time", which means they adhere to their own schedule and take their time, which can mean adjusting to a slower pace of life when travelling here. However, the people of Costa Rica are wonderfully welcoming.
Tipping in Costa Rica is not mandatory, though restaurants do add a service charge on the final bill that includes 10% gratuity. This is considered enough for a tip when dining out, but you can always leave a few extra percent if the service exceeds expectations. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.