Last updated: 6 Jan 2022

Costa Rica


Costa Rica's national parks are its greatest glory. The Costa Rican authorities have set aside one-third of the country as protected areas, and dozens of private wilderness reserves have helped elevate Costa Rica to star status for ecotourism. The country has a stunning variety of landscapes, microclimates, and flora and fauna, and nature lovers will not be disappointed by the superb wildlife viewing.

Relax in San José's numerous parks, including Parque Nacional, Parque Central and Parque Morazán. Avoid them at night, however. Tree-shaded Parque Nacional is the most interesting for its national monument, various busts and statues.

Be thrilled by a white-water raft trip. Two of the country's best rivers for rafting are the Reventazón and Pacuare. The best times to go are from May to November.
Capital:  San José (SJO)
Currency:  Costa Rican Colón (CRC). USD is widely accepted.
Language:  Spanish. English is widely spoken.
Dialling code from SA:  + 506
Time Zones: UTC / GMT – 6 (8 hours behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2022: 

Jan 1; Apr 11, 14-15; May 1; Jul 25; Aug 2, 15; Sep 19; Dec 5, 25

Side of the Road: Right
Best Time to go: High season is late November to late April.
Best For: Rainforests, Eco-tourism, Adrenalin-activities, Pristine Beaches
Plugs: 120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped private medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services in cash. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Beachwear should be reserved for the beach/poolside. Avoid being confrontational, Costa Ricans highly value the concept of saving face. Conservative and traditional values should be respected.
Travel Warnings / Tips: In rural towns, cash is the best form of currency.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Costa Rica without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g tobacco.
• 3L of alcoholic beverages (travellers aged over 18 only).
• Goods to the value of US$500.
Prohibited Imports: Food items are generally not allowed to be brought into Costa Rica, in particular fruit, vegetables, dairy products, seeds and plants. Firearms are not permitted.
Prohibited Exports: It is forbidden under the CITES treaty (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to remove orchids from Costa Rica, or indeed any wild flora and fauna. Removing animals, dead or alive, is also forbidden, and be very careful when buying carvings or antiques in Costa Rica. Most probably you’ll get freshly handcrafted art, but removing Aztec, Incan or Mayan cultural artefacts from the country is thoroughly illegal, and happens far too often.

Travel Alerts

Last updated: 07/09/2021

Costa Rica is open for arrivals at certain airports only, for travel from all parts of the world. Foreign passengers must hold travel insurance that covers Covid-19 and accommodation.

Entry requirements

  • Passengers are only permitted to arrive at San Jose Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) or Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR), unless the airport is closed.

Form requirements

  • Passengers will be refused entry to Costa Rica if they do not hold a QR code showing they have completed the Covid-19 Health Pass Form "Pase de Salud", available here, prior to boarding. The Health Pass will be available 72 hours before boarding.

Insurance requirements

  • Residents of Costa Rica must prove that they are either up to date on the payments of the National Social Security (Caja Costarricence del Seguro Social) or hold valid health insurance.
  • All passengers must hold travel insurance that covers Covid-19 and accommodation for at least 14 days. Passengers must also upload their insurance documentation to the "Pase de Salud".
  • This does not apply to:
    • Nationals or residents of Costa Rica;
    • Passengers aged 17 years and below;
    • Passengers holding a vaccination certificate showing that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to arrival, approved vaccines include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson;
    • Passengers in transit, provided they do not leave the airport; or
    • Crew members, provided their length of stay does not exceed 72 hours.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

Honorary Consulate of Costa Rica:
Tel: (011) 486 4716
Fax: (011) 646 7514

Visa Requirements

No visas are required by South African passport holders for a stay not exceeding 90 days.

Passengers must be in possession of a valid passport for at least 6 months, a return airticket and proof of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay. Ensure that there are 2 blank pages in the passport. Passengers wishing to remain for any length of time should announce their intentions to the immigration authorities upon arrival and they will be dealt with accordingly.

SA Representative

SA Honorary Consul
Estación Ferrocarnil al Pacifico, 150 al norte de entrada Principal
Entre Calle 16y18 San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 222 1470 Fax: +506 223 8223

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio