Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most popular destinations—and for good reason. With so much to see and do in this spectacular country, it’s important to make the most of your trip. To help guide you to make the best decisions, we give you a baker’s dozen suggestions of things not to do in Costa Rica to ensure a great vacation. And if you are looking for places to stay, we’ve got you covered with hotels.
The waves can be a little rough out there and if you often get seasick, I’d stay away from this Costa Rica activity (or at least take some sea sickness pills before). A lot of beaches will have a place where you can rent sea kayaks. Our favorite spot is definitely at Playa Biesanz near Manuel Antonio. We rented a nice two-person sea kayak for only $12 an hour. Also, Thomas is dying to do some sea kayaking and fishing in Guanacaste. We’ll report back on that!
How shall we put this? Those wonderful “con mucho gusto” Costa Ricans have a reputation for being some of the world’s most impatient and least compliant drivers. But don’t take that as license for you to do the same. Traffic fines are steep—a speeding ticket could set you back hundreds of dollars—and some evidence exists that the transit police target foreign drivers. Buckle up. Obey speed limits religiously. Don’t phone or text while driving. Don’t drink and drive. Place the kids in the back seat. And just because you don’t see the traffic cops doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Mounted cameras patrol the highways too.
Diplomatic representation in the US: This entry includes the chief of mission, chancery address, telephone, FAX, consulate general locations, and consulate locations. The use of the annotated title Appointed Ambassador refers to a new ambassador who has presented his/her credentials to the secretary of state but not the US president. Such ambassadors fulfill all diplomatic functions except meeting with or appearing at functions attended by the president until such time as they formally present their credentials at a White Hou . . . more
On the Pacific side, heavy surf is a year-round phenomenon. In fact, it’s advisable to check weather and surf conditions before venturing out, since offshore storms can create dangerous rip currents even when beach-side conditions appear fair. Boca Barranca is renowned for its half-mile wave breaks, while Playa Escondida is popular with novice and intermediate surfers. Board rentals generally start around $10 and range up to $20 or more for high-end options.
Most major tourist destinations in Costa Rica are serviced by at least two daily buses from and to San José. The advantages of public transportation in Costa Rica are that tickets are cheap (rarely more than USD7 per person) and they cover most towns around the country. However, nearly the entire bus system is based on routes in and out of San José and this can add significant travel time. The buses are also not booked with a reservation system so it is possible to not have a seat on popular routes. However, many do have assigned seats once you buy a ticket at the station and so get there early to be sure you get your bus.

So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.
Sanitation facility access: This entry provides information about access to improved or unimproved sanitation facilities available to segments of the population of a country. Improved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush to a piped sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine; pit latrine with slab; or a composting toilet. Unimproved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush not piped to a sewer system, septic tank . . . more
Pro Tip: Spanish is a pretty diverse language with dozens of regional dialects. Most U.S. students learn either Mexican or Castilian Spanish, both among the most commonly spoken variations. Though comprehensible to other Spanish speakers, the Costa Rican variation has some interesting idiosyncrasies, such as voseo – the use of the second person singular pronoun, vos, and its plural, vosotros, in place of the more common tú.
The beautiful National Theatre of Costa Rica is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura in San Jose and is one of the city’s most notable buildings – a must-see for all lovers of art and architecture. The theatre was built in 1897 in the neo-classical style and features an elaborate marble lobby and auditorium decorated with paintings depicting 19th-century life in Costa Rica. Your entrance fee entitles you to a free guided tour (every hour, on the hour), which will greatly enhance your visit. If you can spare the time, you can attend one of the many scheduled performances at the theater, which has excellent acoustics.
It will depend on where you’re going in Costa Rica, you can check in this post the road conditions for popular routes and destinations: Costa Rica road conditions. If you’re going to places like San Jose, Arenal, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Samara, Coco, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo, then you don’t need to rent a 4wd or 4×4. A sedan will do for those destinations. But if you’re going to places like Monteverde, Osa Peninsula, Uvita or up in the mountains, then a high car like an SUV will be necessary.
Nowhere else in the world can you find a concentration of wildlife like that of Central America – in particular Costa Rica and Panama. Costa Rica alone has over 840 identified species of birds and with over a quarter of the country identified as national parks. Famous for its manmade canal, Panama is also home to 940 avian species, as well as 125 mammal species endemic to this country.
For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided. 
I wasn’t there at the right time unfortunately, but I highly recommend arranging a trip to Costa Rica to coincide with the migration seasons for humpback and pilot whales, so that there is a chance to see these creatures passing through (after all admiring wildlife is one of the things to do in Costa Rica). The good news is that the humpback whale watching season in Costa Rica is really long, so if you plan your trip carefully you’ll have great chances to see them – it’s one of the things to do in Costa Rica. Other than Drake Bay, the other places to see whales in Costa Rica are Uvita and the Gulf of Papagayo.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared independence in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive[peacock term] nations in Latin America. Following the brief Costa Rican Civil War, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.[16][17][18]
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