Costa Rican Facts
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Costa Rica FACTSTime Zone – Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time (US), the same as Chicago.
(wet and dry). As far as temperature; year around you can bet it’s always somewhere between 70 and 90 degrees, depending. Most tourists visit Costa Rica during its dry season, which is December through April, so expect to pay a little more for everything, and in some of the more popular destinations, accommodations can be a little more difficult to come by. The wet season, which is May through November, is a great time to visit Costa Rica, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. Although it can rain hard during this time and does; it’s mostly in the afternoons and evenings, the mornings and early afternoons are quite pleasant and a great opportunity to take in a tour or explore the beautiful surroundings found in every destination in Costa Rica.
Caribbean cost is more susceptible to frequent rain squalls and tends to have the opposite weather patterns of the rest of the country. On the Pacific side the northwest regions of Guanacaste is the driest part of the country and home to the unique Dry Tropical Forest. The Southern Pacific region of the Osa Peninsula tends to get the most rainfall but with the exception of the end of September and October, most showers do not last long. Nonetheless, whereas in the past one could expect the rainy season to start like clockwork about the second week of May, the effects of global warming are being felt and the once consistent weather patterns have become much more difficult to predict. Basically, it comes down to this: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a moment, it will soon change.
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is the most populated city in the country with about a million inhabitants. Based on population the other major cities in Costa Rica are: Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Liberia, Limon, and Puntarenas. NOTE: many travel companies put together packages deals where San Jose is the ‘home base’ and you’re merely shuttled back and forth in and out of the city for day trips and tours for up to 5 days in a row before moving on to some other destination. We would discourage this as Costa Rica has much more to offer than just another big ‘anywhere’ city. That being said, San Jose does offer many attractions in and around the city and should not be missed, but there is SO much more to Costa Rica, so plan accordingly.
When leaving Costa Rica, don’t forget the departure tax- currently it’s $26. per person. So a group of 4 traveling on a budget will be hit with a bill of $104. when leaving, so plan accordingly.
Pacific Coast Beaches – The beaches along the western coast of Costa Rica are very popular with the surfing and backpacking crowd on a budget and particularly busy during the dry season when many such tourist are taking in all the sun, surf and sand the beaches have to offer. It should be noted that the Nicoya Peninsula, in the north, is considered the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to surf and sand.
The Pacific Coast has the upperhand over the Caribbean when it comes to surfing in Costa Rica, but the beaches are just as pristine. The Caribbean side does have a few good surfing spots on the southern coast near Panama, especially Puerto Viejo with its famous break, “Salsa Brava,” which may be in fact, Costa Rica's BEST break.
Exchanging] your money is not a problem in Costa Rica with its many exchange booths and banks all around the country. It is advisable to carry colons for the smaller mom and pop eateries and local markets and such, but you could easily get along using US dollars and major credit cards. Leave the Travelers Checks at home, they're accepted here in the bigger and more established hotels / restaurants / tour companies, but many smaller places WILL NOT except them because they take too long to 'clear' at the bank. Cashing them in could mean long lines at the bank. Trust us, don't use them.