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Costa Rica FAQ’s


Do I need a visa?

A tourist visa is NOT required for US or Canadian citizens. To enter the country you need a valid passport and a valid airline ticket for onward travel. Costa Rica does impose a departure tax of $29 per person to leave the country through either one of the two international airports. For those traveling with a passport from a country other than the US or Canada, visit the Costa Rica embassy website for more information.

Is my passport valid?

US and Canadian passports must have an expiration date at least 6 months after your scheduled trip. If it expires earlier, be sure to get a renewal.

Do I need any shots?

No vaccinations are required for travel from the USA to Costa Rica. Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are recommended but not required. Yellow fever vaccinations are required if arriving from some countries in South America or Sub-Saharan Africa. See the CDC website for details.

When can I expect more details on my trip?

You will receive two e-mailings: 1. Pre-departure materials once your trip is guaranteed, typically a few months prior to your departure; and 2. Final Documents sent two weeks before you leave.

When is my balance due?

Your land balance is due 90 days prior to departure. For private trips, balance is due 120 days before departure. An invoice will be sent with your sign-up confirmation email.

Will I be met at the airport?

Yes, if you arrive according to schedule or have arranged extra transfers through our office. Meeting instructions and local contact information will be given with your Final Documents.

Are there local flights within Costa Rica? Who books them?

Costa Rica is a small country; therefore most Southwind itineraries do not include local flights. Travelers will generally arrive in the San Juan International Airport (SJO) and depart from the Liberia International Airport (LIR), using overland transit to cover the distance between them.
Some extensions to Costa Rica’s more remote areas may require local flights; in this case, Southwind will provide you with an air schedule to best match your trip. We can also recommend a Latin American ticketing specialist to assist you with all your airline ticketing needs.

How much money should I bring?

Depending on the length of your trip, plan to bring $300-500 per person for spending money, tips, airport taxes and those meals not included in the itinerary. Note: Visitors must pay a departure tax of $29 USD when leaving Costa Rica.

Should I bring cash or bank cards?

Cash is the easiest to exchange and many places accept US dollars in addition to the Costa Rican Colon. Credit or debit cards are also easy to use at most establishments. Be sure to check with your bank prior to your departure to inform them that you will be using your card in a foreign country. Traveler’s checks are less efficient and may take extra time and documentation to use. Find current exchange rates.

Are ATM machines available?

Yes. There are ATM machines in the main cities such as San José, La Fortuna and Liberia. We recommend using the ones located inside some hotels, stores, restaurants or banks. Be cautious as some thieves may watch these machines and target tourists and others who take out large amounts of cash. Consult with your guide for safety recommendations on ATM’s or exchanging money.

What will the weather be like?

Costa Rica enjoys a warm tropical climate year-round, with a rainy season between May and November. Average high temperatures are in the lower 80s, with average low temperatures in the mid 60s year-round. The weather varies considerably based on the region, with microclimates that depend on elevation and geography. The climate on the Pacific coast is humid and warmer, and in the highlands expect less humidity and cooler temperatures.
Costa Rica is a year-round destination, but ideal time to visit is during the “summer” dry season of December-April. See more Costa Rica weather and climate info.

How do I train for my trip?

If you lead an active lifestyle (walking, cycling, swimming, tennis, etc. on a regular basis) you will do fine on a Grade I or II trip. For Grade III trips you should plan to jog or stair climb for at least 45 minutes 4-5 times per week (more frequency for a Grade IV trip). View more details on Trip Ratings.

Who will be my guide?

We work with the most respected and experienced native guides, many of whom have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, history, culture or other specialties. All speak fluent English and are knowledgeable, patient and fun to be around. Your Final Documents will provide guide details.