Costa Rica Travel
Here you will find information about Costa Rica. If you have any questions, please do not hesistate to contact us.
As a tropical country, Costa Rica experiences two seasons. The wet season, generally from May to November, is called invierno (winter) by Costa Ricans. The rest of the year is considered the dry season and is called verano (summer).
As the name denotes, rainforest areas are rainy! However, prolonged periods of gloomy days are practically nonexistent. Here is what you can expect on average:
|Costa Rica Region||Wet Season||Dry Season|
|Northern Carribean Lowlands
(Selva Verde Lodge)
|Rainy year-round; July to December rainiest||Fewer days of rain, but expect rain most days|
|Caribbean Coast||Rainy year-round; July thru December rainiest||Fewer days of rain, but expect rain most days|
|Highlands||As much as 20 days of rain per month April through November||One or two rainy days a month December to March|
|Northern Pacific Coast||As much as 20 days of rain per month; June, Sept, Oct wettest||One or two rainy days a month December to March|
|Central Pacific Coast||As much as 20 days of rain per month April to December||One or two rainy days a month January to March|
|Southern Pacific Coast||Rainy year-round; May to November rainiest||Fewer days of rain, but expect rain most days; December to April driest|
Subtropical conditions prevail year-round in Costa Rica. Temperatures vary more with altitude than by season. Here are some approximate averages to help you plan your trip.
|Costa Rica Region||Day Time High approx average||Day Time Low approx average|
|Northern Caribbean Lowlands
(Selva Verde Lodge)
|31ºC (88°F)||19ºC (66°F)|
|Caribbean Coast||31ºC (88°F)||25ºC (77°F)|
|Highlands||15ºC (59°F)||12ºC (53°F)|
|Northern Pacific Coast||36ºC (96°F)||17ºC (63°F)|
|Southern Pacific Coast||35ºC (95°F)||30ºC (86°F)|
|Central Pacific Coast||27ºC (81°F)||25ºC (77°F)|
Costa Rican food is tasty. Rice, beans, bread, tortillas, and fruit make up a large part of the Costa Rican diet. A typical breakfast dish is "gallo pinto", a mixture of black beans and rice. Green or ripe plantains, either boiled or fried, are a staple food. Empanadas, chicken with rice, and gallos -- tortillas filled with meat and vegetables -- are all common dishes. In many areas the traveler can find restaurants which specialize in brick-oven pizzas made to order -- a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The national Costa Rican beer is Imperial and there are many types of rum manufactured locally. Of course, Costa Ricans drink a lot of coffee, which is one of the country's major crops.
Common greetings include buenos días, buenas tardes, or buenas noches depending on whether it is morning, afternoon, or night. Among younger people, the more informal greeting hola is popular, but some may consider it to be disrespectful. To address someone formally, use titles such as señor and señorita. Use Don and Doña to address an older person with familiarity and respect.
Unlike some Latin American countries, Costa Ricans do not generally drop by someone's home to visit unannounced unless they are good friends. Costa Ricans are reasonably punctual. If you are an invited guest it is proper to bring a small gift and show up on time.
To be polite, Costa Ricans sometimes invite a visitor to come and stay but do not expect them to accept the invitation or to show up.
To counter this, many locals will decline an invitation initially in order to determine if it is sincere.
January 1st: New Year's Day
March/April: Holy Thursday and Good Friday
April 11th: Juan Santamaría Day
May 1st: Labor Day
July 25th: Dia de Guanacaste
August 2nd: Virgen de Los Angeles
August 15th: Mother's Day
September 15th: Independence Day
October 12th: Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day)
December 25th: Christmas Day
Most shops and businesses are closed in San José during Easter week and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
The monetary unit is the colón. although US dollars can be used as widely as the colon. (Taxis, shops, etc) At Selva Verde we gladly accept the colon, US dollars, credit cards, or travelers checks.
(Subject to change at any time.)
US dollars are widely accepted, however you will probably get colones as change. Bring small denominations.
The majority of hotels and businesses will accept US dollars and major credit cards, such as VISA, Master Card, and American Express. VISA is the most widely accepted card.
Travelers' checks are safer, but generally not accepted in the villages. Buy fairly large denominations since overseas banks charge a commission on each check you cash regardless of the denomination. Try to cash your checks at banks or change windows - hotels and airports tend to charge higher commissions.
Changing Back Into Dollars
The exchange rate back to dollars is not as favorable, so avoid having to exchange a large amount of money.
Guides and Drivers
It is customary to tip your guide and tour bus driver for good service. We expect it will be since Selva Verde only uses the best! For daylong tours, we recommend a minimum of $5 per person for your guide and $3 for your driver. For shorter tours, we recommend a $1 per person tip.
It is appropriate to tip 50¢ - $1 per day for maid-service. It is customary to leave a tip on the desk in your room at Selva Verde Lodge. At other lodges, you may find an envelope in your room on your last nights stay.
Prices are generally bargained beforehand. Tips are not expected but small change left from the fare is appreciated.
If your meals are pre-paid, you may consider $1 for breakfast or $2-$3 for lunch and dinner. A 10-15% tip is already included in Costa Rican restaurant invoices.
Porters at the airport appreciate $1 per bag. At hotels, it is reasonable to offer your porter $1.50 for each trip to the room.
We have telephones in each room and a phone system which allows for credit card or calling card calls at specified rates. Additionally, pre-paid international calling cards, which may be purchased at established businesses throughout Costa Rica can be used at reception.
Hotels often provide stamps for letters and postcards, otherwise purchase them at the town's main post office. Stamps are available at the Selva Verde Giftshop.
Internet service is spotty in Costa Rica. Selva Verde Lodge offers internet access on an availability basis.
(A few of our favorites.)
Aviarios del Caribe Rehabilitation Center
Dedicated rainforest conservation as well as sloth and wildlife rehabilitation.
Limon, Costa Rica
Caribbean Conservation Corporation
Dedicated to sea turtle conservation, marine and coastal wildlife education.
Gainesville, FL 32609
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycle AC power
Time Zone: Equivalent to Central Time (however, no daylight saving)
Official Language: Spanish