Costa Rica is a wonderful country located in Central America nestled between Nicaragua and Panama. You will need a passport to travel here; Americans don’t need to obtain a visa in advance of arriving. The East coast of the country is the Carribean Ocean, while the western coast is the Atlantic. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish but we did come across many people that spoke English. Costa Rica has many American residents and visitors. Costa Rica is an environmentally friendly (green) country that has a great appears to have a stable economy. We found the prices for everyday things comparable to the U.S (Austin, TX in particular.) If you visit Costa Rica, it wont take you long before hearing the phrase “Pura Vida.” It seems to be an unofficial catch phrase of the country. The phrase Pura Vida means “the good life” and we heard it almost everywhere we visited. There are two international airports in Costa Rica, San Jose and Liberia. San Jose is more centrally located, where Liberia is in the north west corner of the country. When we visited, San Jose was the cheaper of the two airports to fly into.
If you want to explore the country on your own terms, renting a car is highly recommended. There are many rental car companies throughout Costa Rica, but note that there is a mandatory Costa Rican car insurance called S.LI (Supplemental Liability Insurance.) S.L.I means that the customer will reimburse 100% of the costs due to damages on the rental car and 20% of damages to any 3rd parties. This is in addition to paying a fully refundable $1000 deposit. S.L.I ranges from $13-$30 per day depending on the company. Some U.S. credit cards will cover rental car insurance, but Costa Rica still requires their additional coverage. If you have a credit card that covers you, you can probably get away with the minimal coverage.
Most roads to and from any major city are safe and well constructed and a compact car will do just fine on them. When driving, youll come across many toll booths. These tolls ranging from 10cents to $2 USD. You wont have any trouble paying for the tolls with USD however, its best to pay with Costa Rican Colones to ensure you do not pay a voluntary tourist tax. 😉 The driving is relaxed and scenic. One thing to pay attention to is one lane bridges. Many bridges are one lane and require one direction of traffic to yield to the other. This doesn’t seem to be much of an issue but do travel with caution.
Costa Rica, like many countries, has a tourist exit tax. This is $29 USD or the equivalent amount of Colones. There is a chance that you already paid for the exit tax with your airline ticket, so it is a good idea to look at the fees on your receipt to see if it was already paid. If you haven’t paid it with your airfare, follow the posted signs for the exit tax, and pay it before you move to the airline counter. If you go to check your bags first, they will likely send you back to pay the tax before taking your bags.