Long stretches of unspoiled beaches, stunning native wildlife, rainforests and waterfalls, delicious Caribbean food, and friendly locals. Costa Rica is a hidden gem in the Pacific Ocean, nestled between Nicaragua and Panama. Its lush coastline has plenty of surf spots, making it a great place to enjoy surfing or even learn for the first time.
If it’s your first time planning a trip to Costa Rica, you probably have a lot of questions about making your vacation a successful one. From booking a hotel in Costa Rica to staying safe and making the most of your time there. Here are our essential Costa Rica travel tips to make sure that your holiday is as memorable as possible.
Booking a hotel in Costa Rica
First things first, let’s nail your accommodation. Here are a few things to consider:
- Think about which season you’re booking — For many travelers, surfing in Costa Rica is the biggest drawcard. It’s not hard to see why with the gorgeous beaches, sweet swell, and amazing water temperature. Costa Rica has two distinct seasons, wet and dry, so make sure that if you’re booking during the quieter and more beautiful “wet” season (May — November), you choose a hotel with plenty of options to entertain yourself during occasional rain showers including surfing during the rain, which many say is a magical experience.
- Save hassle and stress with an all-inclusive resort — If you want to relax and unwind on your vacation, an all-inclusive resort is a great way to take the hard work out of booking a successful trip. With all the amenities included at one cost, all you need to worry about is how to fit it all in one day.
- Consider the activities you’ll want to do — Choosing a hotel that will help you book excursions can save on disappointment and ensure your safety on the trip. From figuring out how many days you need for the perfect trip to brand new experiences to discover, select a hotel that can make your travels as effortless as possible.
How safe is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica’s jungle paradise is similar to many countries in the region — it’s known for its friendly people and welcoming atmosphere. But issues of poverty, drug trade and the occasional tourist scams do exist. Keeping your wits about you and avoiding remote and isolated areas is always a good idea in a foreign country (especially if you don’t speak the language). At Kalon Surf, we offer guests an easy ride by SUV from the San José airport, so you’ll be safely escorted to your resort destination.Our resort is also gated and only house guests and staff are allowed on the property.
How far out should I book my trip to Costa Rica?
Especially if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica in the peak season around January, be aware that availability fills fast. Booking your trip out as early as possible will give you a chance to secure your dream dates and open up the possibility of early bird deals. To avoid disappointment, we recommend booking at least 6 months in advance.
Our top Costa Rica travel tips for first-time visitors
- Pack smart — Costa Rica is a tropical country and enjoys warm temperatures between 70ºF and 88ºF across the year. Pack plenty of lightweight beach appropriate gear, but consider versatile options, a few wet weather pieces and hiking gear if you plan on adventuring out. Choosing a resort that offers surf coaching allows you to use their gear and amenities and downsize your luggage — win.
- Double check entry requirements — Most visitors to Costa Rica won’t need to apply for a visa before arriving in the country; when you touch down, you’ll receive a tourist visa on arrival at the airport.
There aren’t many vaccination requirements to enter Costa Rica, but one exception is that guests who have been to Brazil or Africa in the last 90 days will need to provide proof of their Yellow Fever vaccination. Before you leave for the airport, make sure to check your government’s most recent travel advice to avoid any nasty surprises.
Don’t be afraid to outsource the local knowledge — Let’s face it; all the research in the world won’t be able to compete with local knowledge and expertise. There’s no shame in admitting you need a little extra help in navigating a foreign country — in fact, opting for a trusted local resort or tour guide will make sure you avoid tourist traps and enjoy an authentic experience.