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How Expensive Is A Trip To Costa Rica


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lyndsie Freund



Welcome to Costa Rica, a tropical paradise known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Costa Rica has something to offer every traveler. In this article, we will explore the cost of a trip to Costa Rica, from currency exchange rates to accommodation options, transportation, dining, activities, and more. By understanding the various expenses associated with a trip to Costa Rica, you can better plan and budget for your dream vacation.


Costa Rica uses the Costa Rican colón (CRC) as its official currency, although U.S. dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas. The exchange rate fluctuates but is generally favorable for visitors from countries with stronger currencies. It is recommended to carry a mix of cash and credit cards for convenience, as some smaller establishments may only accept cash.


When it comes to flights, the cost can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, airline, and how far in advance you book. Flying into the capital city, San José, or the popular tourist destinations of Liberia or Quepos can offer competitive prices. Remember to keep an eye out for any deals or promotions to help reduce your travel expenses.


Accommodation options in Costa Rica range from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxurious resorts and eco-lodges. Prices can vary depending on the location and facilities provided. The high season, which typically runs from December to April, tends to be more expensive. However, if you’re traveling on a budget, there are plenty of affordable options available, especially in less touristy areas.


Currency and Exchange Rates

When traveling to Costa Rica, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local currency, the Costa Rican colón (CRC). While US dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas, it’s beneficial to have the local currency on hand, especially when venturing into more remote areas or when dealing with smaller businesses.


The exchange rate between the USD and CRC fluctuates. As of the time of writing, the exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 600 CRC. It’s advisable to check the current rates before your trip to ensure you’re getting the best exchange rate possible.


There are a few options for exchanging currency in Costa Rica. You can exchange your money at banks, currency exchange offices, or major hotels. Banks often offer the best rates, but they may have limited hours, so it’s important to plan accordingly.


Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most establishments. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases or for places that may not accept cards.


ATMs are readily available in Costa Rica, allowing you to withdraw cash in the local currency. Be mindful of any fees associated with international ATM withdrawals and notify your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your card.


It’s worth noting that many businesses in tourist areas quote prices in US dollars, especially for larger purchases or activities. However, you may still need colones for smaller transactions and in more local establishments.


While it’s not necessary to have a large amount of cash on hand, it’s advisable to have some colones for emergencies, tips, or situations where cards may not be accepted.


Remember to keep your money secure while traveling by using hotel safes or carrying a concealed money belt. It’s also a good idea to have a mix of payment options to ensure you’re always prepared for any situation.


Flights to Costa Rica

Getting to Costa Rica is relatively easy, as several airlines offer direct flights to the country’s two main international airports: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia.


The cost of flights to Costa Rica can vary based on a variety of factors, including the time of year, the airline you choose, and how far in advance you book your tickets.


Generally, the high season for tourism in Costa Rica runs from December to April, which coincides with North American and European winter holidays. Flights during this time tend to be more expensive and can be booked well in advance. If you plan to visit during these months, it’s recommended to book your flights as early as possible to secure the best prices.


Shoulder seasons, such as May to June and September to November, usually offer more affordable flight options. However, keep in mind that these periods may also have more unpredictable weather, with increased chances of rainfall and occasional storms.


Low season, which typically falls between July and August, can be a good time to find deals on flights. However, it’s worth noting that this is also the rainy season in many parts of Costa Rica. If you don’t mind the occasional shower and want to take advantage of lower prices, visiting during the low season can be a cost-effective option.


It’s always a good idea to compare prices from different airlines and use flight search engines to find the best deals. Flexibility in your travel dates can also help you score more affordable flights. Additionally, consider signing up for airline newsletters or following their social media accounts to stay updated on any promotions or discounts.


Another tip for finding cheaper flights is to consider alternative airports. While San José and Liberia are the main international airports in Costa Rica, there are also smaller regional airports, such as Quepos and Tamarindo, that may offer more affordable options depending on your travel plans.


Lastly, consider booking a round-trip ticket if your travel plans allow it. Sometimes, booking a round-trip flight can be cheaper than buying two one-way tickets.


By being flexible with your travel dates, comparing prices, and considering alternative airports, you can find affordable flights to Costa Rica and save money to spend on enjoying the beautiful attractions and experiences the country has to offer.


Accommodation Options

Costa Rica offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for luxury resorts, eco-friendly lodges, budget-friendly hostels, or cozy guesthouses, there is something for everyone in this tropical paradise.


In popular tourist areas like Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio, and Arenal, you’ll find a plethora of high-end resorts and boutique hotels. These accommodations often offer stunning views, luxurious amenities, and proximity to popular attractions. Prices for these upscale options can vary depending on the location and the time of year, with peak tourist seasons commanding higher rates.


If you’re on a more modest budget, fear not. Costa Rica has plenty of mid-range and budget-friendly alternatives. Guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, and smaller hotels are scattered throughout the country, providing comfortable accommodation at more affordable prices. The cost of these options can be significantly lower, especially if you venture off the beaten path and explore less touristy areas.


For a truly unique experience, consider staying in an eco-lodge. These environmentally conscious accommodations are nestled within Costa Rica’s stunning rainforests and offer a chance to immerse yourself in nature. From sustainable practices to breathtaking surroundings, eco-lodges provide a one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking a closer connection to the natural beauty of the country. While eco-lodges can be pricier compared to traditional hotels, they often provide exceptional service and unforgettable experiences.


If you’re a budget traveler or looking to meet fellow backpackers, hostels are a popular choice in Costa Rica. These communal accommodations provide affordable dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at a lower cost. Hostels often have communal kitchens, social areas, and organized activities, making them an excellent option for solo travelers or those who want to connect with other like-minded individuals.


When booking your accommodation, it’s advisable to consider the location in relation to your planned activities and attractions. Choosing accommodation close to your desired sights can help save on transportation costs and allow for more efficient exploration of the area.


Booking websites and platforms, such as Booking.com, Airbnb, and Hostelworld, offer a plethora of options for finding and comparing accommodation in Costa Rica. Reading reviews from previous guests can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision.


Remember, regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, it’s always best to book in advance, especially during the high season, to secure the best rates and availability.


Overall, Costa Rica offers diverse and exciting accommodation options that cater to a range of budgets and preferences. From luxurious resorts to budget-friendly hostels, you’re sure to find the perfect place to rest and recharge after exciting days of exploring this captivating country.


Transportation within Costa Rica

Getting around Costa Rica is relatively easy, thanks to its well-developed transportation infrastructure. Whether you prefer public transportation, renting a car, or utilizing private shuttles, there are several options available to suit your needs.


Public buses are the most common and affordable mode of transportation in Costa Rica. The bus network is extensive, with routes connecting major cities and popular tourist destinations. Buses are comfortable and equipped with air conditioning, making them a convenient option for budget travelers. However, keep in mind that travel times can be longer compared to private transportation due to multiple stops along the route. It’s also important to note that bus schedules may vary, so it’s advisable to plan your trips in advance and arrive at the bus station early to secure your seat.


If you prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car is a popular choice for exploring Costa Rica. Having your own vehicle allows you to explore remote areas, national parks, and off-the-beaten-path destinations at your own pace. Rental companies are available at major airports and cities, offering a variety of vehicle options. However, it’s important to note that driving in Costa Rica can be challenging, especially in rural areas with winding roads and unpredictable weather conditions. It’s recommended to familiarize yourself with local driving laws and be cautious while on the road.


For those looking for a hassle-free transportation option, private shuttles and taxis are available in Costa Rica. Private shuttles offer door-to-door service and are a more convenient option for groups or families traveling together. Taxis can be found in major cities and tourist areas and are a convenient mode of transportation for short distances. However, it’s important to negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi or ensure that the driver uses the meter.


An alternative and adventurous way to explore Costa Rica is by renting a motorcycle or ATV. This gives you the freedom to navigate through scenic routes and explore the countryside. However, it’s crucial to have prior experience and knowledge of driving these vehicles to ensure your safety.


When it comes to navigating through the city, walking and cycling are popular options, especially in urban areas. Many cities, such as San José, have bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas, making it convenient to explore on foot or by bike.


Ultimately, the best mode of transportation in Costa Rica depends on your travel preferences, budget, and itinerary. It’s advisable to research and plan your transportation options in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey throughout this beautiful country.


Food and Dining Costs

Costa Rica is renowned for its delicious and diverse culinary offerings, making it a paradise for food lovers. From traditional Costa Rican dishes to international cuisine, there is a wide range of dining options to suit every palate and budget.


The cost of food in Costa Rica can vary depending on where and what you choose to eat. In touristy areas and upscale restaurants, prices tend to be higher compared to local eateries and street food stalls.


If you’re on a budget, exploring the local “sodas” is a great way to experience authentic Costa Rican cuisine at affordable prices. Sodas are small family-owned restaurants that serve delicious homemade meals. They offer a variety of traditional dishes such as “casados” (a plate with rice, beans, meat, and side dishes) and “Gallo Pinto” (rice and beans), which are staple foods in Costa Rica. These sodas often provide large portions, ensuring you get the best bang for your buck.


Costa Rica is also known for its fresh seafood. Coastal towns and beach areas offer an abundance of seafood dishes, including ceviche, grilled fish, and shrimp dishes. Enjoying a seafood meal overlooking the ocean is a must-do experience in Costa Rica, although prices may be slightly higher in these areas compared to other parts of the country.


For those who prefer international cuisine, larger cities like San José offer a wide array of restaurants specializing in different cuisines such as Italian, Mexican, Asian, and more. While these restaurants tend to be pricier, they provide a great opportunity to try different flavors and cuisines from around the world.


When it comes to beverages, Costa Rica is known for its coffee. Don’t miss the chance to sample the rich and flavorful local coffee at the many cafés and coffee shops scattered throughout the country. In addition to coffee, Costa Rica is also famous for its fruit juices, including pineapple, mango, and guava. These refreshing drinks are widely available and reasonably priced.


When dining out, it’s customary to leave a tip in Costa Rica. A service charge of 10% is often included in the bill, but it’s common to leave an additional 5-10% if you received excellent service. It’s always appreciated to reward attentive and friendly service with a gratuity.


Overall, food and dining costs in Costa Rica can vary depending on your preferences and dining choices. By exploring local eateries, trying traditional dishes, and embracing the local food scene, you can enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank during your visit to this gastronomic paradise.


Entertainment and Activities

Costa Rica offers a wide range of entertainment and activities for all types of travelers, from adventure seekers to nature lovers and relaxation enthusiasts. Whether you’re interested in exploring national parks, engaging in thrilling outdoor adventures, or simply enjoying the beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise.


One of the main attractions in Costa Rica is its abundant and diverse wildlife. National parks like Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero, and Corcovado offer opportunities to spot a wide variety of animals, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, and colorful tropical birds. Guided nature hikes and wildlife tours are popular activities that allow you to learn about the unique ecosystems and witness the beauty of Costa Rican biodiversity up close.


For adrenaline junkies, Costa Rica is a paradise of adventure activities. The country offers world-class opportunities for zip-lining through the rainforest canopy, white-water rafting down thrilling rapids, and canyoning down beautiful waterfalls. Surfing is also popular, with both beginners and experienced surfers taking to the waves at the country’s numerous surf spots.


If you’re seeking relaxation and tranquility, Costa Rica’s stunning beaches are the perfect setting. Beach towns like Tamarindo, Jaco, and Santa Teresa offer opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Many beaches also provide options for snorkeling, scuba diving, and stand-up paddleboarding.


Cultural and historical sites are also worth exploring in Costa Rica. The cities of San José, Heredia, and Cartago are home to colonial architecture, museums, and art galleries, providing a glimpse into the country’s rich history and vibrant culture. Don’t forget to visit the local markets, such as Mercado Central, to experience the authentic flavors of Costa Rican cuisine and to purchase unique souvenirs.


Visiting hot springs is another popular activity in Costa Rica. The country is known for its geothermal activity, and there are several natural hot springs and thermal resorts that offer relaxing and rejuvenating experiences. Soaking in the warm mineral-rich waters surrounded by lush greenery is a perfect way to unwind and recharge.


It’s important to note that some activities and attractions may have entrance fees or require advance booking. National parks, in particular, often have admission fees to help with conservation efforts. It’s advisable to research and plan your activities in advance to ensure availability and to incorporate any fees into your travel budget.


No matter what type of entertainment and activities you choose, Costa Rica offers a plethora of options to keep you engaged and enthralled throughout your trip.


National Park Fees

Costa Rica is home to a remarkable selection of national parks and protected areas, showcasing the country’s stunning biodiversity and natural wonders. While these parks provide incredible opportunities for exploration and wildlife encounters, it’s important to be aware of the entrance fees associated with visiting these protected areas.


The fees for national parks in Costa Rica vary depending on the specific park and the type of visitor. There are separate fee structures for locals and foreigners, with foreigners typically paying a higher fee. The revenue generated from these fees goes towards the maintenance, conservation, and protection of the parks.


The popular national parks, such as Manuel Antonio, Arenal Volcano, and Tortuguero, often have fixed entrance fees. These fees can range from around $15 to $25 USD per person, with additional costs for guided tours or specific activities within the park.


It’s important to note that the fees for guided tours or specialized activities, such as snorkeling, canopy tours, or river boat cruises, are typically separate from the park entrance fees. These activities may have additional charges, which vary depending on the specific activity and the operator.


For those planning to visit multiple national parks or protected areas during their trip, it may be worth considering purchasing a “Pase Anual” or annual park pass. The annual pass allows unlimited access to most national parks and protected areas throughout the year and can provide cost savings for frequent visitors or those planning an extensive exploration of Costa Rica’s natural wonders.


It’s important to research the specific park fees and guidelines before visiting, as some parks have limitations on the number of daily visitors to help manage and preserve the delicate ecosystems. Booking in advance or arriving early is recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons or for popular parks.


Keep in mind that the funds generated from national park fees contribute to the ongoing protection and conservation efforts in Costa Rica. By paying the entrance fees, you are actively supporting the preservation of these natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.


Remember to check the official websites or contact the relevant park authorities for the most accurate and up-to-date information on entrance fees, activities, and any additional requirements or restrictions.


Shopping and Souvenirs

Shopping in Costa Rica offers a delightful mix of traditional crafts, unique souvenirs, and local products. From vibrant marketplaces to boutique shops, there are plenty of opportunities to find memorable treasures to commemorate your time in this beautiful country.


One of the most popular items to purchase as a souvenir in Costa Rica is coffee. Known for its high-quality beans and rich flavor, Costa Rican coffee makes for a perfect gift or personal keepsake. You can find coffee beans, ground coffee, and even coffee-related accessories in local stores and markets across the country.


Another must-see shopping experience is visiting local markets. Mercado Central in San José is a bustling market where you can find a wide variety of products, including fresh produce, local spices, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and get a taste of authentic Costa Rican life.


Crafts and handmade goods are abundant in Costa Rica. Look out for traditional crafts such as wooden carvings, woven baskets, ceramics, and colorful textiles. These items showcase the skills of local artisans and make for unique and meaningful mementos of your trip.


The town of Sarchí is renowned for its traditional oxcart wheels and colorful painted wooden crafts. Oxcarts are an important symbol of Costa Rican culture, and you can find various sizes of miniature oxcarts and other handmade wooden crafts to take home as souvenirs. Sarchí is also a great place to witness artisans creating beautiful pieces in their workshops.


Costa Rica is also famous for its exquisite jewelry, particularly pieces made from precious stones and locally sourced materials. Look out for jewelry stores that offer unique designs inspired by the country’s natural beauty, including stunning pieces featuring volcanic stones or vibrant gemstones.


When shopping for souvenirs, it’s essential to practice responsible tourism and support local businesses. Look for products that are made in Costa Rica and are sustainably sourced or produced. This ensures that your purchase directly benefits local communities and contributes to the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage.


Lastly, don’t forget to bargain or negotiate prices at local markets, especially when purchasing from independent vendors. It’s part of the customary shopping experience in Costa Rica and can sometimes lead to great deals.


Whether you’re searching for unique crafts, coffee, or captivating jewelry, shopping in Costa Rica is an opportunity to bring back a piece of the country’s rich culture and natural splendor. It’s the perfect way to cherish your memories and share a taste of Costa Rica with friends and family back home.


Health and Travel Insurance

Prioritizing your health and well-being is crucial when traveling to any destination, including Costa Rica. It’s essential to be prepared and informed about any potential health risks and to ensure you have appropriate travel insurance coverage.


Before traveling to Costa Rica, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or visit a travel clinic to receive any necessary vaccinations or medications. The recommended vaccinations often include Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and updates on routine vaccinations such as measles, mumps, and rubella.


Costa Rica has a relatively robust healthcare system, with both public and private hospitals and clinics. However, medical costs can be high for visitors without travel insurance. It’s highly recommended to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.


When choosing travel insurance, ensure that it includes coverage for activities that you plan to participate in, such as adventure sports or outdoor activities. Read the policy details carefully to understand the coverage limits, exclusions, and any additional requirements.


In addition to medical coverage, travel insurance can also provide protection for trip cancellation or interruption, lost baggage, and travel delays. These additional coverages can offer peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances that may disrupt your travel plans.


While in Costa Rica, it’s important to take necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe. Drink bottled water or use water purification methods, such as boiling or using water purifying tablets, to avoid gastrointestinal issues. It’s also recommended to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly or peel them before consumption.


Mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and Zika virus, are present in certain areas of Costa Rica. Take precautions to prevent mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, covering exposed skin, and staying in accommodations with screens or air conditioning.


If you require prescription medication, ensure that you bring an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. It’s also wise to bring a copy of your prescriptions or a letter from your healthcare provider, especially for controlled substances.


In case of a medical emergency, dial 911 in Costa Rica for immediate assistance. It’s advisable to have the contact information for your travel insurance provider readily available so that you can contact them in case of any medical or travel-related emergencies.


Ultimately, having comprehensive travel insurance and taking necessary health precautions will provide peace of mind and ensure that you can fully enjoy your trip to Costa Rica while staying safe and protected.



Costa Rica is a captivating destination that offers a wealth of opportunities for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and connection with nature. However, it’s important to plan and budget for your trip to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.


Understanding the currency and exchange rates, as well as the cost of flights and accommodation, will help you make informed decisions and manage your expenses effectively. Researching transportation options and considering the various modes of getting around in Costa Rica will enhance your convenience and flexibility during your stay.


When it comes to dining, exploring local eateries and indulging in traditional Costa Rican cuisine will provide an authentic and budget-friendly experience. Balancing entertainment and activities, such as wildlife encounters, adventure sports, and relaxing on beautiful beaches, will create lasting memories without exceeding your budget.


Additionally, being aware of national park fees and incorporating them into your travel expenses will allow you to explore Costa Rica’s incredible natural landscapes responsibly. Shopping for souvenirs and local crafts while supporting local businesses will ensure that your mementos reflect the rich culture and heritage of the country.


Prioritizing your health and well-being by obtaining appropriate travel insurance coverage and taking necessary health precautions will provide peace of mind and protect against any unexpected medical or travel emergencies.


By considering all these aspects and planning accordingly, you can have an unforgettable and immersive experience in Costa Rica, exploring its wonders, engaging in thrilling activities, and creating lasting memories that will stay with you long after you leave.


So, pack your bags, embrace the pura vida lifestyle, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey in the stunning paradise of Costa Rica!