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. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, contact the Costa Rican consulate for your particular 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. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Destinations on tour are all easily walkable, although some local buses may be available.
Your itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor use. Loose-fitting, layered clothing that can accommodate varying temperatures will be most comfortable. A sun hat, sunglasses and a bathing suit are recommended, as well as sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots. Occasional rain showers are common in the areas you’ll be visiting, so pack light rainwear. 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.
Travelers should be reasonably fit. Take proper care for sun exposure. There is also some risk of mosquito-born diseases, especially in the rainforests and national parks. Consult your doctor at least eight weeks prior to departure about possible preventive measures and personal travel requirements.
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..
The Costa Rican colón is the currency you will be using on your tour, but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Better rates of exchange are usually available at your destination, although it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take a combination of debit/bank cards and credit cards, which may be exchanged at local banks for cash 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. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent 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.
Costa Rica uses 110 volts, the U.S. standard.