Costa Rica lies toward the southern end of Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica is a prime travel destination known for its sandy beaches, national parks, diverse wildlife, and even volcanoes. Tourism has become a mainstay of the country's economy, welcoming more than 3 million visitors in 2018. Costa Rica is most popular for its ecotourism attractions—Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, and turtle nesting sites, among others—as well as adventure tourism opportunities like backpacking, surfing, and hiking.
Are you ready to enjoy some fun in the sun in Costa Rica? Be sure to plan an itinerary, prepare to enjoy yourself, and get travel medical insurance or travel insurance in case something unexpected happens.
Travel Medical Insurance for Travelers in Costa Rica – FAQs
If you’re traveling outside your home country, you’ll need travel medical insurance. You cannot depend upon your domestic health insurance to provide coverage abroad, making international medical insurance an absolute necessity.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Costa Rica?
Costa Rica ended their mandatory requirement for travel medical insurance on April 1, 2022. Regardless of vaccination status, travel medical insurance is now optional from a legal perspective.
However, from a practical and financial perspective, it is definitely needed. Without it, you would be solely responsible for paying all medical treatment costs yourself if you get sick or injured during your Costa Rican trip.
Why buy travel medical insurance before traveling to Costa Rica?
If you were to get COVID-19 or any other illness, or become injured while visiting Costa Rica, you would be responsible for paying all treatment/quarantine costs yourself if you do not have coverage. This can be a financial inconvenience at best, and it could bankrupt you at worst. Why take the chance? Get travel medical insurance, so you can get the treatment you need, along with extra peace of mind.
Trip Cancellation Insurance for Travelers in Costa Rica – FAQs
You may not be thinking about them while planning your vacation, but there are lots of reasons you could need to cancel your Costa Rica trip: Personal illness, a death in the family, jury duty, a natural disaster, or even a pandemic. Whatever the reason, you will want a way to protect yourself from the financial impact of trip cancellation with Costa Rica travel insurance.
Why should I get trip cancellation insurance for my Costa Rica travel?
If you have to cancel your trip to Costa Rica, you are unlikely to get a full refund for most of your prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses like airfare, hotels, and tour packages. Essentially, you’ll be forced to pay for a trip you’re unable to take.
With trip cancellation insurance for Costa Rica, you can be reimbursed for the nonrefundable portion of these expenses, so long as the cancellation is due to a covered reason.
What can be covered by trip cancellation insurance for Costa Rica?
Travel insurance is intended to provide coverage for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses, and standard benefits can include emergency medical expenses, trip interruption, lost luggage, and coverage of travel delays, passport replacement, emergency cash transfer, rental car coverage, concierge services, and ID theft assistance.
However, keep in mind that not all travel insurance plans are the same. The coverage offered, policy maximum, and premium will vary depending on the policy you purchase. It’s a good idea to take the time to compare numerous policies on this website before making a decision. If you still have questions, our representatives are happy to assist you.
Costa Rica’s Most Popular Places for Travel
Manuel Antonio National Park
Located on Costa Rica’s southwestern coast, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country; it's even been listed as one of the 12 most beautiful national parks in the world. The park offers four long stretches of beach for sunning, swimming, and snorkeling. Its forests are also a great spot for observing wildlife. Even on unguided tours, you don't have to leave the beaten track to see sloths, monkeys, birds, iguanas, and more. The area provides miles of hiking trails to explore on your own or with tour guides. The adjacent town of Manuel Antonio is packed with hotels, restaurants, and shops to help break up the day.
Corcovado National Park
Located on the remote Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is the site of the only tropical primary lowland rainforest in the world. The forest plays home to a wide variety of endangered plant and animal species like the Harpy eagle, the harbor squirrel monkey, the Baird's tapir, jaguars, poison dart frogs, anteaters, and four species of sea turtles. Hiking through the forest is a common pastime here, and four ranger stations lie spaced throughout the area. Popular activities in the area beyond wildlife observation include diving, snorkeling, and fishing. Combined with the nearby Drake Bay, which offers secluded beaches and cozy lagoons, the area is a prime ecotourism hotspot.
Three of the country's most accessible beaches lie along the north Pacific Coast. Tamarindo is a popular tourist center for surfing and other beach activities. Waves of varying sizes offer surfing opportunities for newbies and experts alike. The town also offers plenty of spots for food and lodging. Just south, Playa Langosta is a quieter, less crowded beachside community that offers similarly ideal surfing conditions. Playa Grande is a beach open to the public but heavily protected because it's a popular nesting site for leatherback turtles. Between October and May, turtles come ashore to bury their eggs in the sand and return to the ocean. Leatherback turtles can grow to be seven feet long and weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Police patrol the beach each night to help protect these nesting sites. Playa Grande also offers hiking and surfing opportunities, as well as a small bay ideal for snorkeling and swimming.
Arenal Volcano National Park, located near Lake Arenal in the north-central part of the country, is centered around the Arenal Volcano. The volcano stands more than 5,300 feet tall and last erupted in 1968, when it killed 82 people and destroyed two villages. It's still not quite dormant; visitors might observe a column of ash or a trail of glowing lava streaming down the side. The park is also home to a second volcano, the Chato Volcano, whose peak has collapsed and created an emerald lagoon in the center. The park's diversity of wildlife is also notable, featuring representatives of about half of the country's native species.
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, lies in the center of the country. The city is named after Joseph of Nazareth and is the most popular urban destination in Central America. San Jose is home to numerous historical and cultural attractions that draw millions of visitors a year. The National Theater, completed in 1897, is considered the most impressive historic building in the city. It features a facade with Renaissance columns topped with statues symbolizing Dance, Music, and Fame. The inside features more statues and murals about life in Costa Rica. The auditorium seats more than 1,000, and the theater is home to a gallery displaying the work of local artists.
Museums in San Jose include the National Museum of Costa Rica, featuring artifacts and exhibits related to the country's geological, colonial, archaeological, religious, and modern history; the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, containing more than 1,600 artifacts of pre-Columbian gold; the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design; and the Jade Museum, which holds the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts in the world. Also, make sure you save time for Central Park, Morazan Park, National Park, and Democracy Plaza.
Key Guidelines for Travelers in Costa Rica
As a country that depends upon tourism for much of its economy, the Costa Rican government does all it can to help tourists feel safe and welcomed. However, just as in any nation, there are certain safety tips and guidelines that you should keep in mind.
Costa Rica is much safer than its neighboring countries from a crime perspective, but crime does still occur. Muggings and petty thefts are possible. This is especially the case on buses, where thieves may work in pairs to distract you while snatching your bag from an overhead compartment. It is best to keep your bag securely attached to your body.
Only Use Official Taxis
In Costa Rica, official taxis will be orange at airports, and red in other areas. They will have a triangle-shaped sticker and sign on the roof with the cab company’s name. These taxis are typically radio-dispatched. Unofficial taxis may be cheaper, but they can be unsafe, resulting in fraud, theft, or even violence against passengers.
Purchase Alcohol from Official Retailers
Purchasing and consuming “discount” alcohol from illicit sellers in Costa Rica can potentially be deadly. Criminal gangs are known to sell illegal spirits containing high amounts of methanol – a deadly poison. Whenever buying alcohol, make sure it is a recognizable brand from a reputable seller.
Not every beach in Costa Rica will have a lifeguard on duty, and rip currents can be quite strong, dragging you under and out to sea. If you plan to go swimming or snorkeling, heed local advice, and always utilize necessary safety equipment.
Research Reputable Tour Operators
Some tour operators, particularly those that offer boat tours, may use craft that are in disrepair and lacking in essential safety equipment. Take time to research licensed tour operators with good reviews, and never embark on a tour if you feel that it is unsafe in any way.
Before You Travel to Costa Rica – Do This
- Check your passport validity – If you need a passport to travel to Costa Rica, it must be valid for at least one day longer than the day of your departure from the country.
- Don’t buy a one-way ticket – Costa Rican authorities strictly enforce overstays in the country. If you cannot provide evidence of return or onward travel (such as a return airline ticket), you may be denied entry.
- Insurance is no longer mandatory, but it is essential – Don’t leave your financial security up to chance. Before you travel to Costa Rica, get travel medical insurance or travel insurance.