Tourism in Costa Rica has been negatively influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic but things seem to recover starting with the second quarter of 2021 so hurry up buy your airline ticket.
Costa Rica, one of the most beautiful countries in the world is located in Central America and is home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Cloud forests, volcanoes, and jungles are home to many species of animals and plants, while the popular beaches from the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean Sea are the perfect places for perfecting your tan and observing marine life.
Travel to Costa Rica at this moment required some additional documents besides the visa file needed for certain nationalities interested in visiting the country.
Entry to Costa Rica
Marine and air borders are open at the moment so every person interested in visiting Costa Rica is welcome and the following requirements are in place:
- fill in and submit the Health Pass and submit it to national authorities 72 hours prior to departure; you have to submit a form for each person that visits the country
- to buy medical insurance from any international company that covers at least 50.000 USD medical expenses including the ones related to COVID-19 and at least 2.000 USD for accommodation related to quarantine
Stay safe while you travel
- medical safety abroad
- medical assistance including COVID-19
- emergency medical evacuation
- trip interruption -up to $5.000
- travel delay - up to $100/day
Tourism in Costa Rica – visa requirements
Not all people who want to entry to Costa Rica need a visa, it depends on their nationality, country of residence, the purpose of the visit, and the length of their stay.
The immigration officer is the one who has the final word and can grant you or refuse your entrance in Costa Rica based on the interview you have on your arrival in the country.
United States citizens do not need any visa to enter the country, but they need to have a valid passport and an outbound ticket or proof that they will leave the country within 90 days from the moment of their arrival.
You can extend your stay in Costa Rica and stay longer in this magnificent country, but the number of days spent here should not exceed 90.
If you want to stay more than 90 days on Costa Rican territory you should get your residence permit from the department of state.
Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica
No matter if you are required to get a visa before you enter Costa Rica or you come from a non-visa country, you need to show a valid passport to the authorities.
The minimum validity of the passport should be 6 months from the moment when you enter the country.
Yellow fever vaccine
Tourists interested in visiting Costa Rica that comes from Angola, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Guyana should be vaccinated against yellow fever.
Those of you who come from these countries are allowed to enter Costa Rica 10 days after the vaccine.
Tourism of Costa Rica
Starting with 1999, Costa Rica becomes more and more popular among tourists from all over the world and the income from tourism exceeded the revenue obtained by the country from exports of products like bananas, coffee, and pineapples together.
Actually, Costa Rica for tourists’ significant increase started in 1987 as the country showed more attention to nature, set up a lot of national parks and protected areas, and implemented environmentally-friendly policies.
If a few decades ago the number of tourists was around 300.000 visitors per year, in 2019, before the pandemic crisis, more than 3.5 million people visit this country each year.
About 25% of the total surface of the country is protected by law, is located in national parks and protected areas.
This beautiful Latin American country is home to a large number of plants and animals and about 5% of the world’s biodiversity is located here.
Tourism in Costa Rica play an important role in the country’s economy in the last couple of years, and tourists attracted more than 30% of the foreign investments in the country.
The main reason why Costa Rica is such an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world is its vast areas of national parks and protected territories, the largest in the world if we compare it with the total surface of the country.
Let’s take for example the year 2019 and analyze it a little: the number of foreign tourists exceeded 3.5 million people, while the income from tourism was around 4.5 million USD.
Most of the tourists come from the United States, followed by Nicaragua, Canada, Panama, and Mexico.
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Ecotourism is the most popular form of tourism from Costa Rica because of the increased number of national parks and protected territories that exist within the borders of this country.
Actually, Costa Rica was among the pioneer in this domain and today the country is one of the very few which can talk about real ecotourism.
More than 50% of the people who visit Costa Rica land in San Jose and include into their tours daily visits into the protected areas and national parks from the country ( Manuel Antonio, Arenal Volcano, and Monteverde Cloud forest being the most popular).
It is true that you have to pay an entrance fee to most of the attractions and credit cards are widely accepted.
There are two types of tickets available at the entrance of the parks: one for residents ( that are cheaper) and another one for tourists.
The high quality of the services and the attention given to preserving nature, flora, and fauna made Costa Rica a popular destination among nature lovers.
Blue Flag Award or Bandera Azul Program
Tourism in Costa Rica is not just about protected areas and parks it is also about wild and beautiful beaches spread across the Pacific Coast and Caribbean side.
The Bandera Azul Program equivalent with Blue Flag Award from Europe is a program with the main purpose of cutting off the negative impact of mass tourism and support local communities in their fight against pollution and nature protection.
The program monitors the quality of the waters, the quality of the beaches, the facilities from the beach, the security of the area as well as the waste policy.
Based on these criteria the beaches are evaluated each year and if everything goes according to the plan, the Bandera Azul award is given.
More and more beaches are interested in obtaining this certification that proves the quality of the waters and the beach but just a few of them get the 5-star distinction.
Voluntary certification program
The program started in 1997 and refers to the concept of environmental sustainability and the ways we can utilize more responsible resources and motivate local communities to take actions in this direction.
The list you have to tick is quite long but the list of the hotels, accommodations, tour operators that obtained this Voluntary certification program is quite long.
Tourism in Costa Rica – most popular attractions
A few years ago this tiny Central American country launched a contest in a national magazine asking people to choose which of the 7 wonders of the country are.
Based on people’s choices, the following top had been made with the best destinations from the country:
These are indeed the most beautiful places in the country, but they become very crowded during peak season, so expect crowds, noise, and queues.
Costa Rica together with other countries from Latin America like Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Brazil, and Columbia is one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism.
The number of tourists that visited the country for medical tourism exceeds 100.000 people per year and they spend more than 300 million USD for medical procedures and treatments.
Most of the treatments are in the dental care services sector and cosmetic surgeries and the main factors that contribute to the increase of this sector are:
- lower prices than in the US
- high quality of services
- the proximity from the US via air
Costa Rica is one of the most visited countries in Latin America because of its stunning sceneries, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and high quality of services.
The peak season lasts from December to April, when is the dry season, a period of the year when the prices are higher, the sun is shining brightly and the crowds hurry to national parks and protected areas.
Tourism in Costa Rica brings to this tiny country, not just money, but also fame and many visitors from all over the world and all tourists leave Costa Rica with amazing memories and with their souls full of joy.
You definitely have to visit this country at least once in your lifetime and my personal advice is to include into your itinerary like many places as you can from the one listed as the 7 wonders of the country.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.