Costa Rica

 

Currency

Costa Rican Colones

Language(s)

Spanish

Independence

1821

Capital

San José

Driving

Right side of the road

Calling Code

+506

Visa Requirements

If you are staying for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa.  However, you must provide proof of onward travel.  I was planning to travel by bus from Costa Rica to Panama and then fly from Panama to Colombia.  I had already purchased the flight from Panama to Colombia and could not purchase the bus ticket from Costa Rica to Panama in advance.  The Copa Airlines staff made me purchase a flight at their desk, which ended up being very expensive.  Make sure you have proof of onward travel.

Entry and Departure Taxes

There is no entry tax for Costa Rica.

To depart Costa Rica there is a $7USD tax, but it is usually included in the price of your plane ticket.

Transportation

I flew to and from Costa Rica, so there is nothing unusual to report from that aspect.

Traveling within Costa Rica is easy, as well.  When I arrived at the airport in Costa Rica, there were dozens of people trying to get you to ride in their taxi.  If you walk to the right of the exit, there are airport official taxis.  These drivers do not hassle you and they use meters for your trip.  A ride from the airport to downtown San José should not cost you more than $30USD.  If you are taking a taxi to your hostel and you suspect the driver is overcharging you, tell the driver you need to go inside to get change and then have the hostel worker come out and negotiate the price for you.

Also, I found out as I was leaving Costa Rica that Uber is actually illegal.  I took Uber from downtown San José to the airport and, as we were pulling up to the airport, the police pulled us over.  The asked me how I knew the driver.  Not knowing that Uber was illegal, I said, "I don't know him.  He is my Uber driver."  Totally through the guy under the bus.  Woops.  The police wrote the driver a ticket and I had to walk the remaining 300+ meters to the departures terminal.  So be careful if you do take Uber.

volunteering

 Releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

Releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

While in Costa Rica, I volunteered with the Latin American Sea Turtle Association (LAST).  I spent three days in a remote part of Costa Rica volunteering with LAST. It was an amazing experience! At night, we patrolled the beaches for turtles laying eggs and poachers. We also supervised the hatchery and got to release the baby turtles into the ocean! 1 out of every 1000 baby turtles make it to adulthood, so it's great to know we are helping increase their odds! 

In Costa Rica, there is a non-confrontation agreement between Sea Turtle conservationists and poachers. Basically, whoever gets to the Sea Turtle and it's eggs first wins. It was a pretty odd experience walking up and down the beach at 3:00am and only being able to see a silhouette and knowing that you were walking past a poacher. Poachers kill turtles for their meat, shells, and eggs. They sell the meat and eggs, and make jewelry from the shells. Sea turtles are endangered, some critically endangered, so next time you consider purchasing a sea turtle product, please reconsider.

The cost to volunteer with LAST is bit expensive at about $40USD a night, but is cheaper compared to other similar organizations.  The experience is definitely worth it though.  The $40USD a night pays for your accommodation and food.  You also have to pay to get to the LAST office in San José, for a taxi to the bus station, and then your bus ticket to Bataan.