Additional Information About Travel to Costa Rica
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
In order to enter Costa Rica, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home.We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you’ll have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Flights arrive in and depart from San José. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. While most destinations on your tour are accessible on foot, some cities may require some use of public transportation. Buses serve most cities and surroundings. Taxis are also available. Make sure the meter is running and always ask for a cab number and receipt.
Your itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor use. We advise that you pack in layers. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended for shore excursions and exploring the cities. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and/or rainwear are advised. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen are recommended for outdoor activities. A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Binoculars are very useful for bird- and animal-watching, along with a field guide if you’re interested in the different species you’ll spot. Insect repellent is also highly recommended for visits to the rainforests.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
Costa Rica is always six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and it does not observe daylight saving time. Therefore, it’s one hour ahead of California from April to October, and is two hours ahead of California from October to April.
Travelers should be reasonably fit.There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Costa Rica. At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. There are inherent risks associated with snorking and other water sports, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Discuss your planned activities with your healthcare provider for the best advice for participation. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure.
In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:
- Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing your teeth.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
- Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication and any prescription medications
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
- If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us at least 30 days prior to your departure.
Costa Rican cuisine is often based on rice, black beans, corn, and beef, chicken or fish. Fresh, locally grown fruit is abundant and includes such varieties as bananas, mangoes, pineapples and avocados. Traditional desserts include custards, puddings and simple cakes. Locally grown coffee is served very strong and black, though it may be served with hot milk upon request..
You will be using the Costa Rican colón on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
Costa Rica uses 120 volts, and uses Type A or B plugs with two flat pins, or two flat pins and one round pin, respectively. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The strength of the air conditioning is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.