Destination: Costa Rica
Small group escorted tours to Costa Rica. Places of interest for like minded travellers who are curious.
Articles about Costa Rica
Spanish Exploration and Conquest of the Americas
Touring Costa Rica
The need to know
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Efficient express bus services go to most towns from Costa Rica city. Most of these regular services have air-conditioning but are otherwise often in poor condition.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Costa Rica is a 51,000 square kilometre, mountainous country bordering Panama in the south and Nicaragua in the North, located between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
The climate in Costa Rica is tropical with high temperatures and humidity and not much seasonal variations. There is a rainy season between May and September.
World heritage sites
There are 4 sites in Costa Rica listed on the World Heritage List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/cr). Costa Rica’s listed properties include:
Area de Conservación Guanacaste, which contains important natural habitats for the conservation of biological diversity, including the best dry forest habitats from Central America to northern Mexico and key habitats for endangered or rare plant and animal species.
Cocos Island National Park, located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest and a thriving surrounding marine ecosystem.
Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís, which includes four archaeological sites located in the Diquís Delta in southern Costa Rica, which are considered unique examples of the complex social, economic and political systems of the period AD 500–1500.
Festivals & Events
The various annual events and festivals of Costa Rica serve as a major tourist attraction. Though it is a Catholic country, its people love to enjoy parties and even use religious holidays as an excuse to celebrate.
Envision Festival in February featuring live concerts, yoga, trapeze and lots of communing on the beach.
Fiestas Palmares is the a cowboy party that lasts for two weeks in January. This festival has assumed national importance.
Eating & Drinking
Costa Ricans main food is rice, beans and plantain. A solid breakfast contains of rice and beans (called Gallo Pinto). Lunch is usually very solid too, howver, Dinner is typically light. As a tourist you will experience that the portions on your dish are large and some times even exaggerated. Traditional food may be not delicate, but is normally very tasteful. Fish is freshly caught and beef is of excellent quality. Recipes of traditional dishes are on sale in the country. The fruit juices popular in Costa Rica, make sure you ask for ‘naturales’. Cas, soursoap, lemon, blackberry, passion fruit, pineapple, banana, tamarindo en lots of other types of fruit are worth trying.
The national drink is ‘Cacique’, also distilled form sugar cane. It tastes like gin (a very cheap one).
Beer (national brands are Imperial and Pilsen) is excellent.
Health & Safety
As of writing, smartraveller.gov.au advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling through Costa Rica. Crime is a significant problem in some of Costa Rica’s major cities, so keep your valaubles close and pay attention to your personal security.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Costa Rica runs at 110V and 60Hz. Costa Rica uses the Type A and Type B electric plug types, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
The best of Costa Rica
Arenal Vulcano, the famous active vulcano, appoximately 90 kms from San Jose. At 1,633 metres high and a diameter of 140metres.
La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall, the stunning 75 meter waterfall near the town of La Fortuna.
San Jose, the cultural capital and largest city of Costa Rica, with a number of museums to visit and architectural sights to view.
Costa Rica Tours
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What is the time zone?
Costa Rica has a single time zone, Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5). Daylight savings are not observed in Costa Rica.
Is tipping customary in Costa Rica?
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is appreciated in Costa Rica, with small tips for hotel staff, tour guides, and servers in upscale restaurants. In restaurants, a tip of around 10% is customary.
What is the internet access like in Costa Rica?
Wifi should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants in urban areas, though connection speeds can vary, particularly in more isolated areas.
Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Costa Rica?
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Costa Rica. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Costa Rica
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of colones in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.