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Costa Rica Travel Information

General Travel Info & Tips
What to Bring
US Embassy
Medical Notes
Visa/Passport Info
Costa Rica Today/Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica Travel Information Toll Free: 1-866-551-2003.

General Travel Information and Tips

Costa Rica, located in Central America, is an isthmus where life seems to have created its roots. Covering only 0.03% of the surface of our planet, Costa Rica has approximately 6% of the world's biodiversity. Costa Rica is characterized by impressive scenic beauty, a consolidated system of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services. All of this offered in a territory of only 51 thousand square kilometers, surrounded by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, at a distance from each other of only three to four hours by land or 45 minutes by air.

Costa Rica's territory extends 31,620 square miles and is bordered by Nicaragua on the north and by Panama in the south. It has a Caribbean and Pacific Coastline and the capital city of San Jose lies in the center of the country at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,5000 feet. The country is divided into seven provinces: San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon.

In the Central Valley around San Jose, the average temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. During the rainy season from June to October, temperatures oscillate between 59 degrees Fahrenheit in the higher regions and 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the lower ones. During November to May when there is hardly any rainfall, temperatures increase slightly.

During a visit to Costa Rica, you will most likely arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport located about 20 minutes by taxi from downtown San Jose. You should take advantage of your stay in San Jose by visiting some handicraft stores the National Theatre, the National Museum or the Gold Museum. Many tourists choose to stay at little hotels around San Jose and visit the nearby volcanoes Irazu, Barva and Poas, enjoy coffee plantation tours, a visit to the oxcart factory in Sarchi or excursions to the aerial tram and butterfly farms nearby.

For many foreigners, San Jose is a somewhat chaotic city with no street names and terrible rush hour traffic, but on the other hand it is worth the time to explore and to observe the Ticos in San Jose and trying to feel the energy that this Central American Capital radiates. The trendy Escazu district is a popular spot for nightlife featuring international restaurants such as TGIF Fridays and Outback Steakhouse as well as local and ethnic cuisine, bars and theatres.

What to Bring:

  • Passport and driver license.
  • Currently the US CDC does not have any vacination notices.
  • US cell phones don't work in Costa Rica even though guests said they have international calling , but yours just might?
  • Lap top if you must be connected. Parrot Bay Village has wireless service as do some hotels in San Jose.
  • When traveling to Costa Rica or any other destination, make sure to always have on hand a list of emergency telephone numbers such as person or transportation company, hotel or friends you will be visiting.
  • Camera, charger and cable to download pictures.
  • Hat and sunglasses for shore.
  • A light, long sleeved shirt.
  • Sneakers, hikers or what you like best for soft, wet terrain.
  • Deck shoes if fishing
  • Sandals
  • Sunscreen and bug replellent
  • Personal gear: International airline carriers weight limit on luggage is now two 50 pound suit cases and $20 more for 20 more pounds.
  • National airline company Nature Air, allows one 30 pound bag and a small carry-on and charges $1 per pound over.
  • US money is accepted everywhere and current exchange rate, Sept 2006, is $1= 550 colon.
  • Fishermen: Fly fishing gear if you Fly, a favorite rod is nice to have but if you do not care to bother carring a rod just bring the reel and we will fit to one of our rods.

Emergency Lines - 911 from any telephone in the central valley (San José, Cartago, Heredia, Alajuela). While this service is not fully operative in the provinces of Guanacaste, Limón and Puntarenas, dialing it will redirect your call to the nearest hospital or police station. The service offers a bilingual operator 24 hours a day.

Clinica Biblica (257-5252, 257-0466) also in downtown San José

US. Embassy San Jose, Costa Rica
Telephone Number: (506) 519-2000
Embassy Business Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00am- 4:30pm
Emergency After Hours Assistance for U.S. Citizens:
(506) 519-2280, (506) 519-2279 or (506)220-3127

Medical Notes

Costa Rica's socialized medical system has been extremely successful at keeping the diseases that plague most tropical countries. Through a system of education and preventive medicine, Costa Ricans enjoy a life expectancy comparable to that of North Americans. Such health standards is one of the reasons that visitors feel so comfortable in Costa Rica.

If you do happen to need medical attention, first rate care is available at any of Costa Rica's public hospitals and private clinics. You can even pay with your credit card at private clinics in San José.

Entering Costa Rica
Citizens holding valid passports from the following countries are permitted to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days without a visa:
There is no entrance tax but there is a $27 pp exit tax that is paid at Santa Maria International Airport in San Jose.

Argentina Austria Belgium Brazil
Canada Denmark Finland France and dependencies
Germany Greece Hungary
Holland and dependencies
Israel Italy Japan Liechtenstein
Luxembourg Norway Panama Paraguay
Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Romania
South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland
Trinidad & Tobago United Kingdom United States of America Uruguay

History Clip

For more than 12,000 years, different indigenous groups such as the Chorotega inhabited the lush territory, which now makes up Costa Rica. In 1502, during his fourth voyage, Christopher Columbus arrived in the village of Cariari (now Puerto Limon) and encountered natives swathed in Gold Jewelry. It is said that he named the land Costa Rica (translated in English: Rich Coast) because of the promise of gold. However, it was not until 1560 that the first Spanish settlement, consisting mainly of adventurous pioneers, was established.

Then in 1821, along with the rest of the Central American countries, Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain. Coffee and banana cultivation became the countries most important economic activities and main source of income. In 1948 the country abolished its military, investing its scarce resources in education and public health instead. This contributed to the country's remarkable social indicators, especially literacy rates and life expectancy. Today, more than 25 percent of the country territory is protected as National Parks and a main attraction for visitors from all over the world. Eco tourists, adventure tourists, nature lovers, birdwatchers and researchers come to Costa Rica to enjoy its great biodiversity and natural beauty. Furthermore, the country has beautiful beaches and active volcanoes and hot springs that attract tourist looking for relaxation.

Costa Rica Today on the Osa Peninsula

The Osa Peninsula is home to the famous Corcovado National Park and the Golfo Dulce that have been described as some of the world's most biologically intense places in the world. On the Osa Peninsula, you will most likely see more wildlife and rainforest than in any other place in Costa Rica. And besides rainforest adventures, you can engage in dolphin and whale watching excursions and experience some of the world's best Sport fishing.

Use Puerto Jimenez as your base to explore this exciting Costa Rican destination. Puerto Jimenez can be reached by rental car, public bus, and ferry and daily domestic flights. The reservations department at Parrot Bay Village will be happy to assist you with your travel arrangements. Just send us an e-mail to:

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