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Destination Guide: Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Allianz - Costa Rica

If you’re craving an adventure, Costa Rica is calling.

Hike, surf, sail, snorkel, fish, or just kick back on the beach, all while marveling at the nature around you. This small, lush nation, which pioneered the concept of eco-tourism, is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and a living testament to the power of conservation. Fully 28 percent of Costa Rica’s land is protected as a national park or reserve.1

The Caribbean side is known for its humid, jungled coastline; the Pacific side boasts sunny beaches and tropical dry forest; and in the northwest, you’ll find the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest with its resident poison dart frogs.

Make sure you’re ready for your trip with our quick-read travel guide to Costa Rica.

Travel tips for visiting Costa Rica now

If you’re thinking of planning a getaway to Costa Rica, here’s what you need to know. International entry rules can change frequently, so check our interactive, updated map to see the latest travel restrictions and requirements for Costa Rica. You also should consult the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica for the latest updates and travel advisories.

Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is not required to visit Costa Rica. You do need a passport to travel to Costa Rica. (Don’t have a valid passport? Read The Ultimate Guide to Applying for a Passport & Passport Renewal.)

Is travel insurance required for visiting Costa Rica? Not currently—but it’s still a really good idea to buy it. Here’s why.

  • Emergency medical and emergency transportation benefits are crucial. Most healthcare providers overseas only accept cash payments, and the U.S. Department of State strongly recommends supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in Costa Rica.2
  • Travel insurance can protect your trip investment. Have to cancel your trip at the last minute, or cut it short? Trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits can reimburse your nonrefundable trip costs when you cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason.
  • Quarantine rules are still in effect. The Costa Rican Ministry of Health will issue a quarantine order to anyone receiving a positive COVID-19 test—and this order can’t be appealed.3 Individually ordered quarantine due to COVID-19 is a covered reason for trip interruption in the Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, now included in most of our travel insurance plans.

Shop for travel insurance for your next adventure

One last thing: Be sure to download the free Allianz TravelSmart app before you travel! This highly rated app gives you one-touch access to your travel insurance plan and 24-hour assistance services, as well as essential local information.

3 of the best things to do In Costa Rica

  1. Soak in volcanic hot springs. Costa Rica’s Arenal volcano, once known for its dramatic nighttime displays, has been sleeping since 2010. There’s still a lot of geothermal activity, however, which means the area’s rich in hot springs. Some are more natural, while others have waterslides, swim-up bars and restaurants.4
  2. Discover pura vida in remote beach towns. Skip the heavily developed spots and instead head to some of the smaller, and even more beautiful, beaches. Favorites include Playa Sámara on the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Ventana (named for the two sea caves you can explore), and Playa Cocalito.5
  3. Hike Corcovado National Park. It’s not easy to get to Corcovado, on the remote Osa Peninsula. There’s no vehicle access, so you must fly, boat or hike into the park, and you have to have a guide as well. Your reward is seeing old-growth forests inhabited by a stunning array of animals: tapir, scarlet macaws, capuchin monkeys, crocodiles and even jaguars.6

3 gorgeous Costa Rica eco-lodges

One of the best-known Costa Rica eco-lodges is Lapa Rios on the Osa Peninsula, where you can stay in one of 17 rainforest bungalows in a 1,000-acre private reserve. While you’re there, enjoy one of the three on-site beaches, hike to nearby waterfalls or kayak through the mangroves.

If the water is calling you, stay at Si Como No, an eco-friendly resort near the Pacific beach town of Manuel Antonio. Its 54 rooms have views of the sea and the jungle, with an on-site spa and three restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you encounter a few visitors during your stay, such as sloths, squirrel monkeys and toucans.

For people who truly want to immerse themselves in nature, Rara Avis (open seasonally and on demand) offers the chance to get as far away from civilization as possible. There are only two ways to travel to this rainforest retreat: by tractor, or on foot and horseback. Your reward is the chance to see rare animals and frolic in a double waterfall.

3 of the best restaurants in Costa Rica

Costa Rican cuisine is generally simple and satisfying. At almost any restaurant, the thing to order is the casado, a set plate that’s usually heaped with black beans and rice, fried plantains, cabbage salad and grilled meat, chicken or fish.7 In San José, the Restaurante Grano de Oro has become famous for a European approach to Costa Rican specialties such as heart-of-palm salad and local red snapper.

Sikwa, also in San José, takes an entirely different approach that’s inspired by the ancestral, indigenous cuisine of Costa Rica. “We say that we are not a restaurant, we are a gastronomic education and information center that sells food,” according to chef and founder Pablo Bonilla. On the menu, you might find fried cassava, shrimp with arracache (a native root vegetable), and chicken with pineapple and achiote.

For a perfectly beachy vibe, head to Lola’s on Playa Avellana. Relax under the palm trees, say hi to Lolita the pig, and order ceviche, a thin-crust pizza, and a Lolajito (or several.)

Wherever your Costa Rican adventure takes you, be sure to protect your vacation with travel insurance. Allianz Travel Insurance can help you recover from travel mishaps big and small, such as lost bags, delayed flights, medical emergencies and trip cancellations. Find your perfect plan.

What Do I Need to Travel to Costa Rica?

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Aug 18, 2022