- Driving time from the San Jose airport (SJO) is approximately 1:30 hours. From downtown San Jose it is 2:00 hours. Toll highway Route 27 towards Caldera is your best option, then exit at Route 34.
- Driving from the Liberia airport (LIR) is approximately 3:00 hours. From the entire north (Guanacaste and Arenal areas and Monteverde), use Route 1 south, then exit at Route 23 towards Puntarenas. Route 23 turns into Route 27 at Caldera. Then exit at Route 34.
- Try to travel during the day. Sun sets between 5:30 and 6:00 pm all year. Road signage, when available, is not lit and easy to miss.
- Drive defensively. Keep your headlights on so others can see you, even on broad daylight. Use your left-right indicators when changing lanes.
- Routes 27 and 34 are mostly one-lane each way but do widen to two lanes in several places. Although slower vehicles should move right when two lanes, most drivers will unfortunately not move from the left lane. This causes faster moving drivers to overtake on the right.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers or stop to help stranded vehicles.
Costa Rica’s climate is renowned as an atmospheric treat. Mild subtropical conditions prevail year-round, and discomforting temperature extremes and prolonged periods of gray are practically nonexistent. Temperature varies mainly according to elevation, the higher the cooler. The brunt of the rainy season lasts from May through November, while a brief dry spell pays a visit from February to April. Costa Rica’s rain falls mainly on the Caribbean coast, giving the Pacific a much more dry climate.
Costa Rica is the same as U.S. Central Standard Time, but does not observe daylight savings time.
The most widely spoken language in Costa Rica is Spanish (97% of the population); although there are other native languages used mostly within the indigenous reserves. Many businesses, in and around San Jose, and resorts throughout the country have employees who also speak English.
It is 110 volts, as in North America. Plugs are two pronged, usually without the grounding prong.
Currency & Exchange Rate
The Colon (¢1.00) is the national currency of Costa Rica. The exchange rate against the US dollar can vary day by day,
Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) can be easily found in most populated areas of Costa Rica, including Jaco and Herradura. Most international credit cards are accepted throughout the country: Visa, Master Card and American Express.
Most restaurants will include a 10% service charge in the bill. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip. If you are satisfied with the service you receive, hotel maids, tour guides and drivers would appreciate a tip of 10 to 15%.
When traveling within the country, carry a copy (color is best) of your passport. Leave the original in a safe place in the place you are staying.
Transit police are allowed to stop vehicles simply to check proper driver and car identifications.
Do not assume that cute little animals are friendly and tame. Do not feed any wild animals.
Most, if not all airlines, now include the exit tax in the ticket cost. If not, you will have to pay exit tax at the airport before leaving the country. You can pay in colones or US$, it’s approximately $26.00.
For the entire family:
- Sunscreen, Solarcaine/Aloe Vera gel, insect repellent and itch cream.
- Baby wipes come in handy for almost all occasions due to the hot, humid climate.
- Casual clothing and, if you are visiting the mountain or the city, one warm piece.
- Raincoat if traveling in the rainy season.
- Plenty of cotton T-shirts and shorts.
- Two pairs of sneakers.
- A copy of all important prescriptions from your doctor in case yours gets lost.
- Books, coloring books, blank paper, a notebook for keeping a journal.
- Cards or other small car games.
- Age-appropriate books about animals they may encounter.
- Crayons, magic markers, pens, pencils.
- Keep a pillow and blanket with you for naps.
- Non-tearing shampoo.
- Nail clippers, tweezers, cotton swabs, baby wipes.
- Small first-aid kit with things for cuts, bruises and bug bites.
- Eye drops and ear drops.
- When going to the beach, bring an extra large bottle of fresh water for rinsing off and some for drinking.
- Toilet paper-important as not all public bathrooms come complete with toilet paper.