There are many sites or articles on the internet that present some really good does and dont’s related to visiting the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Some of those, we feel, are a bit outdated. Costa Rica is a changing country. It is modernizing in many ways and Costa Ricans are facing many new and challenging realities. A lot of it brought with the increasing popularity of tourism in the country. Based on our experience and perspective, we are pleased to present 12 new tips that we feel you should consider when visiting the land of Pura Vida.
1 – LEARN THE MEANING OF PURA VIDA
The commonly used phrase literally means “Pure Life.” Costa Ricans use the phrase Pura Vida to say hello and goodbye and very often to express their happiness. It may also mean “no worries.” The expression is more than a slogan for them. It is a reflexion of their national pride.
2 – TRY SOME SPANISH, NO MATTER HOW LIMITED YOU ARE
Costa Ricans respect the effort, and they will be friendlier with you if you at least try to speak their language. They have an open mind to the world and will never laugh at anyone trying to speak Spanish or wanting to learn local expressions. Try learning a few and have fun with them while doing so.
3 – GREET IN A POLITE FASHION
When greeting someone for the first time in Costa Rica, a hand shake is acceptable, or more commonly a light “air kiss” to the person’s right cheek (not kissing the cheek!). Costa Ricans generally don’t hug anyone who is not family or a very close friend.
4 – AKNOWLEDGE THE ECOLOGICAL WONDERLANDS OF COSTA RICA
Complimenting the splendor of the country and asking questions about its natural resources are great conversation pieces with locals. Costa Ricans are very proud of their country and they will appreciate your interest in the beauty and also the culture of their unique country.
5 – REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY
Do not expect things or people to be like they are at home; the magic of traveling is discovering the world’s differences. Be positive and patient with the unexpected; remember that language and cultural barriers do exist.
6 – PLAN YOUR EXCURSIONS REALISTICALY
Costa Rica has a lot to offer in terms of adventures. Especially for first time visitors. Make a realistic plan and budget accordingly. Costa Rica is a very small country – but yet – you need to take into account that adventures do take time to go and return. Road conditions are not always what they are in North America.
7- BE SAFE AND PATIENT IF DRIVING
Costa Rica has been investing considerably in infrastructures in touristy regions like Guanacaste. But in other areas, the road infrastructure (street conditions, bridges and road signage) is not very developed, so be patient when traveling within the country. Again, give yourself some time in order to react to any unplanned misadventures if driving a vehicle.
8 – KNOW THE MICRO CLIMATES
Costa Rica has about 12 climatic zones varying from hot and humid to much cooler and rainy in some cases. Know your destinations and pack your bags accordingly. The temperatures are mostly determined by the elevation and other geographical factors. There are two major seasons that exist in this tropical paradise, these being the dry season (lasting from December to April) and the rainy season (from May to November). Yet again, know where you are exactly going because on the Caribbean side of the country, the weather patterns are very different.
9 – ALWAYS USE COMMON SENSE
Costa Rica is beautiful, laid back, and generally extremely safe. Don’t let your common sense go on vacation. It is easy to get caught up in the moment, but make sure you check yourself. Remember that what is generally wrong in your country is wrong in this country. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight or unattended. You wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it Costa Rica. If you care about it, take care of it.
10 – MAKE A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT
Make a passport copy and the stamp page showing the entry into Costa Rica just in case something happens and the passport is lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep your original passport in your room and always travel with the copy version.
11 – HAVE PATIENCE – EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT
Costa Ricans tend to be in less of a hurry than most Europeans or North Americans. Be patient if things take longer to be done than in your home country. Costa Ricans are friendly but do not like to be pressured. Maintaining your calm and smile will lead your further and more quickly if you want a service or advise.
12 – RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR VACATION!
Relax. Costa Ricans are very fun-loving, friendly people. They love to joke, tease and have a good time. Be friendly back. Remember, smiles are free and you’re on vacation!