Costa Rica Frequently Asked Questions.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
Because of its proximity to the Equator, Costa Rica receives an average 12-hours of daylight per day, year-round. And virtually everyone who’s ever visited, or who calls the country home, will argue that Costa Rica has the best climate in the world. Even the rainy season is pleasant, with clear and sunny mornings easing into cool afternoon showers and often clear nights. September and October tend to be the rainiest months.
The Caribbean Coast is an exception when it comes to weather. The region has only two “official’ dry season months, September and October. The remaining ten months receive different degrees of daily rainfall. January through March, for example, are less rainy and considered good months to visit because the mornings and early afternoons are usually bright and sunny, and big swells off of the Atlantic that favor excellent surfing conditions.
Despite its tiny size, Costa Rica has a dramatically diverse topography. There’s are considerable variations in elevation ranging from sea level to mountains as high as 9,800 feet (3,000 m). The result is a surprisingly rich variety of microclimates and life zones that include lowland rainforests, highland cloud forests, dry tropical forests, coastal habitats, grasslands, wetlands, and numerous others. Combine these with seasonal weather patterns sweeping in from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and you might say that the country is as climatically diverse as it is geographically.
Temperatures in San José and the Central Valley average 72°F, with highs around 84°F degrees and lows around 64°F.
As a rule of thumb, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast tends to be drier the farther north you travel and wetter as you move south. On the Central and Northern Pacific Coast temperatures average 82°F, with highs in the upper 80s° to low 100s°F during the dry season.
In the lush jungles and rainforests of the Southwestern Pacific and Atlantic coasts, daily averages fluctuate between 77°F and 90°F with high humidity, especially during the rainy season.
The northern lowland areas such as La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano experience a higher rainfall year-round than in the Central Valley or Pacific Coast, and have an average daily temperature of 74°F with highs in the mid-80s°F.
And lastly, temperatures in the mountain highlands such as Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota average 55°F year-round. In fact, many mountain homes and lodges have wood-burning fireplaces for the cooler nights.
It is recommended to carry a photocopy of your passport and other important documents on your person while traveling in Costa Rica.
The countries considered at risk in South America are Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana, and Venezuela.
From Sub-Saharan Africa the countries are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Visitors will be most comfortable having a basic understanding of Spanish, although it is not 100% necessary. A high percentage of Costa Rican’s speak some English, especially within the tourism sector and areas frequented by tourists.
In order to be accepted to rent a car all driver’s licenses should be current, valid, and issued by an authorized state or national entity. Remember that the legal age to drive a car is 21. In order to rent a car, drivers must also be at least 21 years old and have a valid internationally recognized credit card.
Dollars are widely accepted across the country and are often the preferred method of payment at many tourist establishments. This is due to the periodic inflation of the dollar’s value. As a rule of thumb, It’s always best to carry a small amount of both currencies in denominations no larger than $20 if possible. Make sure that the bills are in good condition, Costa Rican banks and businesses won’t accept damaged or torn paper money.
European Euro and Canadian Dollars are not accepted as payment in Costa Rica. Virtually all banks will exchange them for the local currency, however. It’s best to exchange your money to Costa Rica colones at a bank.
• Are Credit Cards accepted?
It’s a good idea to come prepared and travel with a small amount of colones, dollars, and a major credit card or debit card.
• Are ATMS available?
Make sure to withdraw enough money to make it through to your next ATM stop if this is your sole source of funding, especially during the high season. Small town ATMs often run out of cash in peak tourist areas during holidays or weekends. And remember you can always visit a bank to make a withdraw.
• Should I exchange money?
Money exchange houses, hotels, and restaurants are likely to give a devalued exchange rate. Banks, on the other hand, are required by law to give the official rate established by the Central Bank of Costa Rica. Most larger grocery stores and gas stations will also honor the official rate.
What is the Electricity in Costa Rica and do I need an adapter?
If your cell is unlocked, you can purchase a prepaid local/international phone card from most grocery stores or at the airport. If you need around the clock access or you’re staying for an extended period check with a local provider to receive better rates. The two largest national providers are Kolbi and Claro.
Don’t forget that virtually every hotel and restaurant have Wi-Fi so you can keep in contact using apps like WhatsApp, Skype, or FB Messenger.
Most of the larger rental car agencies rent vehicle internet hotspots that provide service for up to four devices at a time. This is especially useful if you plan on driving from destination to destination as you can connect to helpful GPS navigational apps like WAZE or Google Maps. Some agencies even rent local cell phones at a low daily rate.
Keep in mind that a 10% service charge is already added to most food and beverage bills (restaurants and bars); however, leaving a little extra is always welcome. So, remember, if you feel that your driver, tour guide, housekeeper or bell boy has done a great job you should tip him/her.
Professional Drivers and Taxis: US $1 to $5 (500 to 2,500 CRC) per person depending on the distance traveled. Full day service is $20 (10,000 CRC) per person.
Petty theft is the most common crime against tourists. Visitors should always store their valuables in the hotel safe or with the concierge. Locking your hotel and car doors at all times is also a must do. Look for a guard or private parking lot when leaving your car unattended. And don’t leave belongings in plain sight when you go exploring. Don’t forget to carry a copy of your passport and other important documents on your person just in case.
Strong currents, riptides, and submerged rocks or tree trunks are all common when swimming in the ocean or in waterfall pools. Ask a local if it is safe before diving in.