An easy way to travel all around Costa Rica is flying, specially if you want to travel to some beautiful areas of the country such as Tortuguero, Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, Golfito, Tamarindo, Nicoya, Liberia, La Fortuna or Quepos from the capital.
Costa Rica has two main local airlines, Sansa and Nature Air. They offer flights from Juan Santamaria International Airport to the most popular destinations in the country and also they offer flights to neighbor countries (Panama- Bocas del Toro and Nicaragua - Managua), the prices vary according to the tourist season, sometimes they offer attractive promotions so it is worth checking their websites. The planes used by these local airlines are not the same as commercial airplanes, but it does not mean that they are not comfortable and offer good experiences, these airplanes can carry between 9 to 25 passengers and children up to 2 years usually travel for free. The advantage of traveling with local flights is saving time, as a 4 hours car trip can be done in 30 minutes by plane. For luggage it is better to travel light, they accept between 12 to 15 kg per piece, with hand luggage (handbag, laptop or camera).
The food in Costa Rica is usually seasoned with natural ingredients (pepper, onion, garlic, coriander and some salt). If you go to restaurants where offer Costa Rican food you always will have rice and beans, plaintain, picadillo and salad with fish or beef as an option, the ticos call that dish “casado”. The meals are "soft" for any foreign stomach, anyway keep in mind that the preparation of the meals depends on each person. In Costa Rica it is usually to accompany meals with natural fruit drinks, just the fruit, some sugar and water from the pipe, which is drinkable throughout the country, although for the same ticos the water of some regions has a bitter flavor or is not cold as usually so in those cases it is better to opt for water bottles.
The currency of Costa Rica is called colón and the symbol is ₡ - colones in the plural - named after the country's "discoverer", Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in spanish). When you decide come to Costa Rica is not necesary to change money. Dollars are commonly accepted in Costa Rica, normally when you use dollars you will receive your change in colones, just be sure to bring $20 bills or smaller in good conditions, it is easier to accept (fifties and hundreds are regarded very suspiciously), in a few days you will have enough colones to spend them and to avoid exchange costs. Near your last travel day, it is better to start to spend your colones, if not, you will have to wait in a line at the bank to exchange them and pay huge commision or you can save the coins and bills as souvenirs, the bills here are beatiful with animals and gorgeous colors. Exchange rate is around 550 colones to the dollar. The euros or canadian dollars are not accepted in Costa Rica except for exchange in banks, you will have to get colones or maybe you will pay less commision if you get US dollars in your country.
Costa Rica has not a rule about tips, anyways some hotels have small tip envelopes for maids in the rooms, some bartenders have tip jars on the bars, the same in some front desks. But even if you see an envelop or a tip jar it is not mandatory to give a tip. Anyone who work in the tourism industry for sure will apreciate a gratuity, so once you feel you receive over the top service, the right amount will come to you, anyway you can choose not to tip, it will be your decision. If the service you receive was excellent let your heart be the judge. The people who do not work in the tourism industry do not accustom to receive gratuities, but if you do it, they will have a great story to tell to their families.
The car and the bus are the most common means of transport in the country, but the plane remains the fastest way to get around.
The motor boat (lancha), is one of the most used means of transportation in the regions of Tortuguero and Bahia Drake (starting from Sierpe), to connect Puerto Jimenez to Golfito or to connect Monteverde with La Fortuna/Arenal which is the fastest way intead by car.
If you are in Puntarenas and your destination is Gulf of Nicoya or vice versa, the ferry is the option to save hours by car. It is better make line at the pier 2 hours in advance of the departure time to avoid incidentals.
Costa Rica has buses companies to take you almost to all the destinations in the country, sometimes it is necesary to take more than one bus. In San Jose there is no central bus station, but several terminals around the city, each of them is dedicated to a specific region. Not all the cities in Costa Rica have busses terminal, so once you take a bus tell to the driver where you are going and ask for help.
Also you will find companies which offer private transportation, shuttles or cars to rent, all this services are good options, just be sure you are taking the best according your itinerary saving money and making your trip a pleasurable one.
Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons, dry season from december to april and the rainy season from may to November, some regions have longer dry or rainy season than others. But even the locals say the weather in Costa Rica is kind of crazy, sometimes when it is rainy in a place in 3km the sun is smiling, for that reason some locals take with them umbrellas no matter it is a sunny day. Temperatures oscillates between 25-30 °C, throughtout the year, it is higher on the coasts and in the plains, and cooler or even cold at altitude. In Costa Rica there is no snow, but has had hailstorm in some altitudes, it is weird but has happened.
What to take on a trip to Costa Rica depends on your itinerary, how long you stay, where you stay and what you will do. Anyway here a list that you should consider
* Hiking shoes.
* Sandals/flip flops.
* Comfortable shorts.
* Long pants.
* Rain Jacket.
* Spanish/English Phrase book.
* Money-document belt.
* Drivers license.
* Insurance card and contact information.
* Water bottle or bag.
* Insect repellent.
* Moisturizing cream.