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Practical information about Costa Rica

Practical information about Costa Rica
Practical information about Costa Rica

Practical information about Costa Rica

Best time to travel

Costa Rica can be visited all year round.

The country sits between two oceans, with the Pacific Ocean off the west coast and the Caribbean Sea off the east.

The country’s location between the two oceans means that Costa Rica has a highly varied climate. This means that there are big differences in the weather depending on whether you are in northern Costa Rica, in the mountainous areas, closer to the coast, or further inland.

Costa Rica has two seasons: a dry season and a rainy season.

  • The rainy season lasts from May to November.
  • The dry season lasts from December to April.

However, you can expect hot temperatures with a chance of rain all year round, but with minor variations depending on the altitude and the season.

Costa Rica is a popular tour destination all year, but the dry season and July, & August are peak periods for visitors, and it would be wise to book your tour well ahead of time if you are travelling in this period.

Read more about the best time to visit Costa Rica here

San José & the central highlands:
San José and the area around it are located at 600 to 2,450 metres above sea level and are one of Costa Rica’s cooler provinces. The temperature is lower here as there are many mountains in the area, and the higher you are, the colder it gets.

Weather statistics for San José: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 27 28 28 28 27 27 27 27 27 26 26
Average minimum temperature 18 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 18 18 19 18
Rainfall mm 6 10 14 80 268 280 182 277 355 331 136 34

The Caribbean coast (Limón):
In the Limón Province on the Caribbean coast, where Tortuguero National Park is situated, the weather is typically humid, with rain most of the year and high temperatures.

Weather statistics for Tortuguero: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 30 31 32 31 30 30 29 29 29 29 29
Average minimum temperature 23 23 24 24 24 23 24 23 23 23 22 22
Rainfall mm 412 257 177 251 338 431 624 463 303 400 600 619
Weather statistics for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 27 27 28 28 28 28 28 28 29 28 27 27
Average minimum temperature 22 22 22 23 24 24 23 23 24 24 23 22
Rainfall mm 319 201 193 287 281 276 408 289 163 198 367 402

The northern region (Alajuela):
In the northern Alajuela Province, where the Arenal volcano is located, the temperatures are generally high with a fair bit of rain. However, there is still a difference in the amount of rainfall during the dry season and the rainy season.

Weather statistics for Arenal: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 30 32 32 30 29 29 29 29 29 28 29
Average minimum temperature 21 22 23 24 23 22 22 22 22 21 21 21
Rainfall mm 193 124 81 106 260 406 462 426 413 446 320 271

The central and southern Pacific coast (Puntarenas):
Puntarenas Province extends along most of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, including the Osa Peninsula and the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula.
In the northern part of the province, which is the central highland, you will find Monteverde cloud forest, among other places. The weather is typically humid with fog almost every day all year round. However, the fog tends to lift sometimes during the day.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are located in the southern part of the province. The weather in the national parks is hot and very humid all year round. During the rainy season, there are heavy rains.

Weather statistics for Monteverde: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 27 28 29 27 26 26 26 26 26 26 26
Average minimum temperature 18 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 19 18 18 18
Rainfall mm 130 67 46 53 255 342 302 340 383 423 262 184
Weather statistics for Manuel Antonio: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 30 31 32 31 30 30 29 29 29 29 29
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 24 23 23 23 22 22 22 22
Rainfall mm 57 28 54 158 398 418 411 481 579 601 353 128
Weather statistics for Corcovado: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 32 33 33 32 31 30 30 30 30 29 29 30
Average minimum temperature 23 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 23
Rainfall mm 0 10 40 170 560 460 360 370 480 350 190 70

The north-west Pacific coast (Guanacaste):
Guanacaste Province is located on the north-west Pacific coast and also covers the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. The weather is typically hot and mostly dry. The dry season is longer here than in the rest of the country, and the rainy season has sunny days and wet afternoons and evenings.

Weather statistics for Sámara: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 32 33 33 33 32 31 31 31 30 30 31 31
Average minimum temperature 23 24 24 24 24 23 23 23 23 23 23 22
Rainfall mm 0 3 9 50 265 305 243 288 391 398 129 9
Passport & visa

As a British citizen, you must be in possession of a valid British passport and a return ticket in order to enter Costa Rica.

As a British citizen, you do not require a visa to visit Costa Rica for stays that do not exceed 90 days.

Please note: It is your own responsibility to check whether you need a visa for transit airports en route.


If you are travelling via the US, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via the United States, you must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Without ESTA, you will not be allowed to travel through the United States. Apply for the travel authorisation in good time at least 72 hours before your departure to the US. All travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply and find the price via the following link: You should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 2 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your ESTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new ESTA.

Note that you must contact the United States Embassy to apply for a visa if you have visited any of the following countries:

  • Cuba as of 12 January 2021
  • North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen as of 1 March 2011

Stricter requirements will also apply if you hold dual citizenship with any of these countries.

For further information on filling out your ESTA application, please see the overview of frequently asked questions and their answers here:

You can also get in touch by telephone at: +1-202-325-8000


If you are travelling via Canada, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via Canada, you must apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Without eTA, you will not be allowed to travel through Canada. Apply for the travel authorization in good time. eTA costs 7 CAD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your eTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new eTA.

The rules on visas can be checked here

Travel documents

Prior to your departure, you will receive a tour itinerary containing your flight information and the telephone numbers of our local partners at the destination, allowing you to get in touch with them if you have any questions during your tour.

On arrival in San José, you will be given a welcome folder that contains your tour itinerary showing, among other things, important start times of your pre-booked excursions and transfers. There will also be a QR code that you can scan that contains interesting information about the cities and areas you will be visiting in Costa Rica, as well as general practical information about the country.

Our tours to Costa Rica include a welcome meeting in San José, when you will meet our local business partner to run through your tour together. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the tour or other practical questions about travelling around Costa Rica.

We recommend that you download the WhatsApp app to your smartphone and add the phone numbers of our business partners. You can send messages and call them for free using the app when you have a Wi-Fi connection.


We recommend that you contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic for information about vaccinations. You can also read more about the rules regarding travel vaccinations here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another country where yellow fever is present. Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. Your vaccination certificate should therefore always be carried with you in your hand luggage when you travel.



There is currently no Covid-19 vaccination requirement for entry into Costa Rica. However, these rules may change at short notice. It is your responsibility to check these rules before departure.

Please note that certain Covid-19 rules may apply at the stopover airports on your way to/from Costa Rica. It is also your responsibility to check this before departure.

Some locations may have mask requirements, e.g., medical clinics and hospitals.
Remain up to date on the rules through your guide or ask the hotel’s staff.

Terms and conditions of travel

Please read our general travel terms and conditions carefully, as these are part of the agreement terms for tours purchased at TourCompass. Tours purchased from us are covered under the “Package Travel Act”.

Click here to read our travel terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it.
Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate click here.

Travel insurance

We always advise you to obtain comprehensive travel insurance when heading off on your dream holiday. It is also highly recommended to acquire cancellation insurance for extra protection. 

Click here to proceed to our page on insurance, where you can read more about our recommendations.

Currency, price level & tipping

The currency of Costa Rica is called colón (CRC). The current exchange rate of the CRC can be found here. US dollars (USD) can be used throughout the country, so if you bring dollars, you will not need to exchange to CRC. However, if you pay in US dollars, your change will be in the form of colónes.

Visa and Mastercard can be used in nearly all shops, hotels, and restaurants in Costa Rica. There may sometimes be a surcharge when using a credit card. We recommend that you always bring some cash in either CRC or USD.

You can withdraw money at banks and ATMs all across the country (with the exception of Drake Bay at Corcovado National Park).

Click here to get a general idea of the price level in the country.

In Costa Rica, it is customary to tip service staff such as guides, drivers, maids, and bellboys. Tipping is, of course, voluntary, and how much you want to give is completely at your own discretion.

The guide below is indicative only:

  • Guide: 5-10 USD PP per excursion
  • Driver: 2-3 USD PP per excursion
  • Maids: 1-2 USD PRPN
  • Porters: 1-2 USD per suitcase

At restaurants, tips are generally included in the bill. If the service you received was particularly good, you can choose to throw in a little extra.

If your tour includes a stay in Tortuguero, we recommend that each guest gives about 20 USD per person to the guide for the entire stay on the final day. We also recommend that each guests tips the boat driver approx. 2 USD per excursion.

Our tipping guideline above is in USD, but tips can also be paid in the local currency at the destination.

Food & allergies

At the vast majority of our destinations, we are able to take allergies, as well as allergens or preferences into account when it comes to food, however it is important that you inform us of this when you book the tour.

Telephones, Wi-Fi & electricity

Telephones & Wi-Fi:

It’s expensive to use data and roaming abroad if it’s not already included in your mobile subscription. Contact your mobile phone service provider to find out what services are included in your subscription and what prices apply to you at different destinations.

If data and roaming are not included in your mobile subscription when travelling abroad, we recommend that you make use of the free Wi-Fi at your hotel or in restaurants. That way, you can call and write home free of charge via various services such as Facetime, Messenger and WhatsApp.

If you would like to be online all the time, the cheapest option will be to purchase a local SIM card with data on arrival in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica’s voltage is 110 volts. Power outlets are of the American type with two “flat” pins, so make sure to bring an adapter.

What to pack

Make sure you pack all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, vaccination cards, travel documents, insurance documents, credit cards, money, computers, mobile phones and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

Bringing plant products into the UK

Visitors are not permitted to bring plants, seeds, fruit and other plant products into the UK from their travels outside the UK, unless they are accompanied by a plant health (phytosanitary) certificate. These rules also apply to smaller quantities of plants and plant products.

Read more about the rules here.

Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

Airline tickets

Most airlines have electronic tickets (e-tickets).
It is important that you check your name for spelling errors, as the name on the reservation must be exactly as it appears on your passport. If your name needs to be corrected, please contact us as soon as possible. Please note that this may incur a fee from the airline.

Seat reservation

The airline will assign you a seat on the plane at check-in. If you have specific wishes regarding where you sit on the plane, you can make a seat reservation yourself on the airline’s website or in their app. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation.

It varies when airlines open for seat reservations, but as a general rule, you can book seats from the time of booking and up to 48 hours before departure.

We also point out that the airline has complete control over all seats on the plane and that they are therefore entitled to make changes to the reservation at any time.
If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will assign you a seat at check-in.


Your passport and your booking reference, which appears on your itinerary, are required to check in.

We recommend that you download the airline’s app on your phone. In the app, there is an option for online check-in, which typically opens 24 to 48 hours before departure. The app also allows you to stay informed of any flight changes and other important information about your flight.

Please note that the flight times may have changed in relation to those listed on the travel itinerary you received when you booked your holiday. It is always the flight times in the airline’s app or on the airline’s website that apply.

At the airport

We recommend that you arrive at the airport to check in at least two hours before departure. It is a good idea to check the airport’s website for the latest updates.


We use many different airlines for our destinations. You can check the exact rules for hand luggage and checked baggage on the airline’s website or in their app.

If domestic flights are used in your itinerary, please be aware that baggage permissions may be different from how they are for your international flights. In general, you can always purchase more baggage allowance locally.

Delayed baggage

If your baggage is delayed, please contact the staff in the baggage reclaim area to report your missing baggage.

It is important that you have your baggage receipt when completing your PIR (Property Irregularity Report).

Please note that you must not leave the baggage area at the airport until you have completed the report.

In the event of delayed baggage, we ask you to contact our partner, who will ensure that your guide/driver waits for you.

Flight delays or cancellations

Should any changes occur in connection with your flight reservation before departure, we will of course contact you to let you know.

Should your flight be delayed after check-in, the airline is responsible for rebooking your flight. They will typically book the next possible flight and arrange any meals and accommodation if necessary.

Our partner checks for any changes in arrival times and will naturally still wait for you, even if your flight is delayed.

If, due to a delay or cancellation, the airline books you on another flight number after you have arrived at the airport, please contact us on TourCompass’ emergency number.

Immigration & Customs


When you arrive at your final destination, you will go through immigration, where your passport and any entry documents and visas are checked. In many places, you will be required to provide fingerprints, and a photo of your face will also be taken for biometric recognition. You may also be asked questions about your travel plans in the country and possibly where you are staying.


Once you’ve cleared immigration and picked up your luggage, you will head through customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can go through “nothing to declare”. If, on the other hand, you have something to declare, it is important that you go through “declare”. It’s your own responsibility to check the customs regulations that apply in the country you are travelling to.


On your arrival, you will be met by a guide/driver who will be ready to welcome you with a TourCompass sign.

In the unexpected event that you are unable to find your guide/driver, please contact our local partner at the emergency number provided in your travel documents.

Hotel check-in and check-out

Normal check-in is typically from 2 pm, and you cannot therefore count on getting your room earlier. If you’d like to check in early, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.

When you check in, the receptionist will generally register your credit card and may reserve an amount. This is not an additional fee, but customary at hotels to ensure payment of any consumption from the minibar and the like. When you check out, the amount will be automatically released if you have not made use of this.

It is very normal for hotels to take a copy of your passport. In some places, this is a requirement of the local authorities.

Check-out is normally by 10 am. If you’re not travelling until the afternoon or evening, you can have your luggage stored until it’s time to leave. If you would like a late check-out instead, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.


Type of tour and transport

Excursions and transfers take place in small international groups. Excursions are with an English-speaking guide.

Please note: Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee small groups in Costa Rica’s peak season on excursions in Tortuguero National Park.

On our tours in Costa Rica, we use private transport, minibuses, and car rental for our self-drive tours.

Minibuses (shuttle service from hotel to hotel):

Costa Rica has a large network of minibuses (seating around 15 people) which runs between the popular tourist destinations in the country. It’s a good, cheap way of getting about. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and driven all the way to the door of your next hotel. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica.

There may be stretches where the minibuses do not run. In that case, we will use private transport instead, which you may be sharing with other TourCompass guests.

NB: During the peak season from December–March, as well as over Easter or during other major events, the minibuses may be replaced by larger buses to make room for everyone.

Read more in our blog on shuttle services vs. self-drive tours in Costa Rica here.

Self-drive in Costa Rica:

We also offer several of our tours as self-drive tours. Costa Rica is a relatively easy self-drive country, and it gives you tremendous freedom to have your own car and to be able to decide where and when you want to make a stop.

When picking up your rental car, you are required to present your passport and driving licence.

The car rental includes free mileage, one-way rental, GPS and mandatory insurance. You will also be issued with a map of Costa Rica. The minimum age for car rental is 21.

Please note that drivers aged 21–25 are required to pay an extra premium of USD 5 per person per day. This amount is settled locally.

A deposit of approx. 100 USD is payable at the start of the car rental. This is paid by credit card and will be refunded to your credit card approx. 7 days after the car has been returned.

Please remember to bring your credit card for payment of this security deposit.

Most roads in Costa Rica are in good condition, but you should be extra careful when driving along the winding mountain roads, as well as around the national parks, where the animal life is particularly rich.
We do not recommend driving after dark.

You can read more about driving in Costa Rica on your own in our blog.

Need for help during the tour?

We have a 24-hour emergency hotline so that you can always get in touch with us should anything unforeseen occur during your tour. You will also be sent the telephone numbers and emergency telephone numbers of our partners at the destination. In some cases, it may be easiest and fastest to contact our partners due to time differences, if, for example, you find yourself in a situation where your pick-up for an excursion or transfer is more than 15 minutes delayed.


We rely on happy travellers, and we would therefore very much like to hear from you after your return home. Send us an email at or call us on tel.: 01279 704 135


Latin America
Emily Roper

Emily loves to travel and is extremely passionate about helping others achieve their travel dreams.

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