Costa Rica Frequently Asked Questions



Entering Costa Rica

Are Passports Required to Enter Costa Rica?

Yes, passports are required. A 90 day tourist visa is automatically granted upon arrival. Also, there is a $29 exit fee which must be paid prior to departing Costa Rica

What type of vaccination is needed to enter Costa Rica?

Be aware that even if your were only transiting through any one of the following countries, Costa Rican authorities will require a yellow-fever vaccine certification: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Guyana.

Can i enter Costa Rica with a one-way air ticket?

In order to be granted entry into Costa Rica, all visitors are required to hold a valid departure ticket, whether it is by air, sea or land

Do I need a VISA to visit Costa Rica?

Some countries such as the USA, Canada and most European countries allow entrance without a VISA, providing you have a valid Passport.nn Depending on the country, it is determined the number of days available to visit as a touristn In some cases, an immigration official could ask you to demonstrate your economic solvency for your stay in the countryn Although you may have 90 days available on your tourist visa, the immigration official will assess the allowed visiting period on your passportn Visitors to Costa Rica must have a valid passport, as well as proof that they will be departing the country before their visa or entrance stamp expires, generally within the 90 days.

Is a passport needed to enter Costa Rica?

Yes, passports are required. A 90 day tourist visa is automatically granted upon arrival. Also, there is a $29 exit fee which must be paid prior to departing Costa Rica.



What are the necessary documents to bring pets into Costa Rica?

All cats and dogs entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate from a veterinarian and endorsed by a veterinarian service.  A physical exam must be conducted two weeks prior to the date of the trip.  The required vaccines are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus.  Rabies will also be required for all animals over 4 months old.

What are the country´s international airports?

Costa Rica has two (2) international airports: Juan Santamaría Airport in Alajuela, Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia.  If I decided to extend my stay, can i get a visa for this while in Costa Rica?

Visitors from countries that enter with a 30-day visa can go to the Immigration and Foreign Department for an extension of their visa for up to 90 days. The following criteria will need to be met:nn you have a valid passportn demonstrate economic solvency, andn have a departure ticket or fare.nnThe amount of time allowed to stay in the country will depend on the immigration official.nFor more information (available only in Spanish) you can download the following: Department of Migration – Costa Rica

Exploring Nature

Where can I watch turtles during nesting season?

You can visit the Tortuguero National Park in the Caribbean and the Ostional Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific. 

What is the difference between a Rainforest and a Cloud Forest?

The main difference is that in a rainforest the precipitation is higher. The flora and fauna differ from one type of forest to another as well.

What should I bring to the rainforest?

You will need insect repellent, rain poncho, and comfortable shoes.

Are the national parks accessible to persons who are physically disabled?

The following parks provide accessibility: Poas Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Carara National Park

Tell me about the Resplendent Quetzal.

To see something like this captured on film begs the question “How are such beautiful colorings even possible?”

In fact, the magnificent colors of the Resplendent Quetzal do have an origin…  The elusive song-bird has a history steeped in pre-Columbian mythology.  Legend has it that on the day the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado fought against Tecún Umán, there was a quetzal flying overhead. On the first strike Tecún Umán, on foot, managed to disable Pedro de Alvarado’s horse. Alvarado was then given another horse and on the second strike ran through Tecún Umán’s chest with a spear. The quetzal flew down and landed on Tecún Umán, dipping its chest in the warrior prince’s blood. It is there that the bird acquired its distinctive red chest feathers.

Food and Water

 Is the water safe to drink?

The water is purified throughout the country, so you will have no concerns wherever you go to eat with regard to water, ice or produce.  The tap water and ice is safe to use in all the houses or condos.  However, if you are concerned for any reason, bottled water is readily available.

Are groceries readily available?

Yes, there are a number of small corner stores in the immediate area that carry a wide selection of food, meat, fresh produce, wine, liquor and beer.  There is also a very large big-box type grocery store called “Super Mercado” that is approximately a ten minute drive.

What is in the traditional Costa Rican dish called “Casado”?

Casado (Spanish for “married man”) is a Costa Rican meal using rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla. An optional protein may also be added – such as chicken or beef.

General Info

How do we purchase gasoline in Costa Rica?

Gasoline is sold by the liter and can be purchased with Costa Rican Colones, American Dollars, or credit cards.  Nearly all the gas stations are full-service.  It is a good idea to make sure the pump is zero’d prior to filling.

 What is the sales tax in Costa Rica?

There is a 13% sales tax on the price of goods. Restaurants also have an additional 10% service tax.

Can I use my mobile phone in Costa Rica?

If you want to use a mobile phone in Costa Rica, you must have an UNLOCKED cellular phone and purchase a prepaid SIM card. You can also visit the different telephone companies throughout the country which offer different options for prepaid cards, including internet access.

What kind of electricity does Costa Rica have?

The electricity system is exactly the same as it is in the USA and Canada.  Outlets are typical to North America and provide a current of 110 – 115 volts.

 Is Costa Rica safe?

Costa Rica has a very low level of violent crime.  However like all tourists areas, care should always be taken with your valuables.  Use commons sense, such as not leaving valuables visible in a vehicle even if it is locked.  Also, if you have car trouble or a flat, it is best not accept help from strangers.  To be extra safe, it is recommended that if you do get out of your vehicle for any reason, even if you are repairing a flat, lock your doors

What is the Exchange Rate in Costa Rica?

The national currency is the Costa Rican colón.  It is traded against the US Dollar and the rates vary from day to day but usually hover around 550 colónes for each USD.  So for a rough ‘in your head’ estimate, converting colónes to USD  is a simple matter of dividing by a thousand and doubling the result.  For example, a 5,000 colónes bill = roughly $10 USD.

For those who want to be more accurate, just take the value of the bill, in this case $5,000 C, and divide it by the daily exchange rate, which is in this example is 550.  Therefore the result will be 5000 / 550 = $9.09 USD.

Do I need a plug adapter for my blow dryer?

Costa Rica´s outlets are 110 volts, with a standard duplex outlet, just like the USA and Canada!

I heard about an Exit Tax, what is it?

The exit tax, via air is US $29.00 and US $7.00 by land payable in US dollars, colones or credit card at the Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, Banco Lafise, or the Banco de Costa Rica. Some airlines already include this fee in the airline ticket; therefore, we recommend you consult your airline.

What is the area code for Costa Rica?

To call into Costa Rica from outside the country, dial “011-506” then the local 8 digit number. To call the USA or Canada from Costa Rica, dial “001”, then the area code + the local 7 digit number. For assistance on other international calling see this handy link: how-to-call-abroad

 Is smoking allowed in Costa Rica?

All rental properties are smoke-free. However, smoking is allowed outside. No smoking in bars or restaurants including outdoor facilities. 

What are the natural boundaries of Costa Rica?

North: Nicaragua South: Panaman East: Caribbean Sea West: Pacific OceannnCosta Rica is divided into seven (7) provinces: Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, San José, Puntarenas, Limón and Guanacaste.

What is the number I should call in case of an emergency?

Call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance. For tourist assistance, you can dial: 800-turismo..

What is the local currency of Costa Rica?

The Colon is the currency of Costa Rica, although American Dollars and credit cards are certainly welcome.  It is advisable to purchase goods in the local currency, as some shop owners may not provide the best exchange rates.

Visa card is generally more accepted than Mastercard.  There are two ATMs available in Flamingo at Banco de Costa Rica and at the Banco Nacional.

What is the official bird of Costa Rica?

The Clay Colored Robin

How do we purchase gasoline in Costa Rica?

Gasoline is sold by the liter and can be purchased with Costa Rican Colones, American Dollars, or credit cards.  Nearly all the gas stations are full-service.  It is a good idea to make sure the pump is zero’d prior to filling.

Do I need to rent a car?

We recommend renting a 4×4. Some of the roads can be rather challenging, especially if you want to explore. There are private guides available for hire in the area if you prefer not to rent a car. Taxi’s are also available from the airport to Flamingo/Potrero area.  Renting a car requires a little forethought here in Costa Rica. There are customs here that you are probably not used to so to better prepare you we have created the information page renting-a-car-in-costa-rica.

Is an International Driver’s License needed?

Anyone over the age of 18 holding a valid driver’s license from their country is permitted to drive for a period of three (3) months.  However, you must be at least 21 years of age to rent an automobile.

Are there domestic airlines?

You can contact SANSA at (506)2290-4100, or Nature Air at (506)2299-6000.  Both offer frequent service to the different tourist destinations within the country.

If I rent a car, can I drive it to Nicaragua or Panama?

Rental cars are not allowed to leave the country.

Is there train service in Costa Rica?

There is no train service to destinations outside the Central Valley, the only existing service, is between Cartago-San José and San José-Heredia during the peak hours from 6:00 am to 8:00 am, and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Service itineraries can be found at:

 Getting Married in Costa Rica 

Can I get married in Costa Rica? What are the necessary documents?

It is possible to marry in Costa Rica!  The required documents are: a valid passport or valid travel documents and a sworn statement (affidavit) signed in the presence of a Costa Rican lawyer.  If divorced, you will need the official documents of such divorce from your country or wherever the divorce was granted.


What if I don’t speak Spanish?

Although Spanish is the native tongue here in Costa Rica, English is widely spoken throughout Guanacaste. The people here are very friendly and will gladly teach you a little Spanish while you are here

Are their English language newspapers?

The main English-language newspaper is The Tico Times:

Moving to Costa Rica

How do I apply for legal residency?

There are several ways to legalize your residency within Costa Rica temporary resident retired governmental international missionn and others…For more information contact the Costa Rican Consulate, the Residents Association at or you can visit the Department of Migration at




This is an excellent article written by the Broker for Tres Amigos – Michael Simons.  Mike is a good friend and a terrific realtor.  He has worked in this area for over 20 years is a great person to work with. 

Most Buyers and Sellers in the coastal regions of Costa Rica are not native to the area so it seems like common sense that you would seek out advice from a seasoned and professional Agent that works in a well-established agency to guide you through the purchase or sale process of a property in a foreign county.  I think we would all agree with that statement so far.

Suffice it to say that most Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Companies will claim they are the wisest and most knowledgeable.  There are definitely quality individuals and companies operating in the Papagayo area and beyond.  During a hot real estate market, the number of agents working increases and the number of unexperienced agents goes up as well.  It is not too hard to put together a good website and present yourself in a good light and sound like you are knowledgeable to the unknowing client.  Especially since the laws and customs for buying and selling real estate in Costa Rica are probably much different from what you are accustomed to that could cause you to not notice that you are working with an experienced person right away.

There are some basic things that you should require from your realtor in order to feel comfortable with who you are working with.  Don’t feel shy to ask who you are potentially going to trust with one of the most important transactions of your life to provide this information.  Your realtor should be at the minimum:

-A legal permanent resident of Costa Rica with full rights to live and work in the country.

-A member of either Costa Rica Realtor Boards – CRGAR or CCCBR.  We go into great detail about the need to work with a licensed real estate agent in another blog post here

-Registered with the financial regulatory agency SUGEF.

If the answer to any of these questions is no then you should strongly consider to cut ties with that person and find another agent to help you.  You may have been referred to your realtor by a friend or through a local person that you trust as you might anywhere else.  And they probably had a good experience with that agent or they would not have referred them to you.  That does not mean that your transaction is the same and might be totally different requiring the keen eye of a true expert to guide you through any potential pitfall.  There are certainly well-meaning people trying to make a living as a real estate agent in paradise (who wouldn’t!) and they might not intend to put you in harm’s way but their inexperience could cost you time or money or both.  In the end it is a big investment decision you are making that deserves the advice of an experienced local expert.

Beyond these basic things that your realtor should posses there are many other factors that you should take into account when choosing who to trust with a complex foreign transaction.

Your agent should have been through at least one full cycle in the local real estate market or have been a realtor in another area and has gone through both a good and bad real estate cycle. Anyone can sell real estate in a hot market but the best realtors are the ones who flourish in a down market and have been through several of these cycles.  They are the realtors who know the value of being a trusted adviser to their clients and creating a mutually beneficial relationship that will last decades and hopefully generations.  A seasoned realtor not only brings to the table the experience of navigating successfully both in good and bad markets, but is also looking toward the future when you will need to sell that beautiful home, condo or lot when the time comes for a change in your life. 

Costa Rica is a second home market and acts very differently than a commodity market of any city in North America.  It is essential that you not only purchase something you love but also have your realtor guiding you to purchase a property that will be readily sellable in the future.  A good realtor will tell you not to buy something because they know it will be difficult to sell it going forward.  This applies to all real estate markets but much more so in a second home market like Costa Rica.

As you may have found out there is no formal MLS in Costa Rica.  For both Buyers and Sellers, it becomes absolutely essential to work with an experienced agent that works at a strong agency.  As a Buyer, you will save yourself an endless amount of time by searching for a good realtor first, instead of surfing the thousands of websites that have Costa Rica property listings.  A good realtor should know everything that has been bought and sold in their local market and will be able to guide you in the right direction based on the criteria you have chosen for your property search.  A seasoned professional will also have an extensive network of contacts with other realtors, property developers and sellers.  This is no different from any other real estate market but it makes a huge difference in a market that has no MLS.  You would be surprised to know that a good majority of agents that appear to be solid professionals on paper do not have a good grasp of the inventory in their local market.


A common misconception in Costa Rica is that Realtors will only show a Buyer their exclusive listings.  If you are working with a good realtor, they will show you all the listings that fit your criteria and will be good fit for you to enjoy and have a good exit strategy to sell when your situation changes.  An experienced realtor will have contacts with all the realtors in the area as well as property developers and individuals who are selling on their own.  The most important point here is that a long-standing realtor will have knowledge of and know how to get access to any property for sale in the area so you won’t miss out on anything that might go undiscovered by a less seasoned agent.  They will also be able to steer you away from a property that looks good on the internet but has a hidden issue or future resale problem.  Again, no different from other markets, just more important to have a good adviser by your side when there is no MLS. 

If you look at a map of Costa Rica for example, it looks like the distance between Playas del Coco and Tamarindo is minimal and stands to reason that a realtor could cover both territories.  This is unfortunately not the case.  A good realtor will have well established and long-standing relationships with professional realtors in other key areas of Costa Rica.  Depending on the realtor they may accompany you to areas outside of their local area of expertise as a Buyer’s agent and rely on their trusted colleagues to assist them in choosing the correct properties for you.  It may be tempting to use multiple realtors – one for each area – but in our experience it is more important that you have only 1 trusted advisor to help you navigate your experience and when possible, have your trusted realtor come with you.  If it is not possible then your realtor will be able to refer you to a trusted colleague in the area you are interested in.

Not only is it important to have a trusted professional working on your behalf, but it is equally important that the company they work for is well established in the area and has been around a long time.  A company should have at least 10 years of being in business and preferably more.  Your agent will be able to draw on the experience of their colleagues and use the vast database of knowledge when looking for properties on your behalf or navigating a potential issue that might affect the value of the property in question.  The fact that your agent works for a long-standing real estate office in the local area will also assure you that the professionals that you will be working with (Attorneys, Property Managers, etc.) will also be the top professionals in their field. 

You should work with a real estate company that only sells real estate.  You will find that many real estate companies are a one stop shop for everything – Real Estate Sales, Vacation Rentals, Property Management, Tours, etc.  This may seem like a good synergy but the opposite is often true.  It is hard enough to be good at one thing and serve your clients to the best of your ability. Look for a company that focuses on only sales and you will find these are the companies that are consistently the top producers and have the most satisfied clients.

For a real estate company to have lasted a long time in their market they have made significant investments in their infrastructure of their businesses and have long time employees that are experienced in the real estate field.  The wealth of knowledge that comes from being in the same business for many years with the same employees and long-time agents creates an incredible wealth of knowledge and wisdom in the marketplace that can be leveraged by all the agents that work in the office.  You will also find that a successful agency will have agents that have worked at the same agency for a long time because the Broker/Owner is constantly investing in their business and their people.

It goes without saying that a successful agent and company will be invested in their community and involved giving both their time and resources to help out those in need.  A mark of a good agent is the one out there doing good in the community without looking for a reward. 

In Costa Rica, we always say the easy part is finding you a property you love and getting a fair offer accepted by all parties.  Where a good realtor becomes invaluable is after the contract is signed.  There are a myriad of things that you will need help navigating to get to a successful closing.  Your realtor will introduce you to a good attorney, help you set up the escrow account, introduce you to a seasoned home inspector, will arrange for a topographical review if needed and will guide you from step A to Z all along the way.  This is the most essential time to have an advocate on your side guiding you through all the steps to get your property closed.  If something comes up during due diligence your realtor will be able to explain to you clearly what issues have come up and if they are something to be concerned with or not.  The piece of mind that you receive when working with a professional is priceless and can make a potentially stressful situation go smoothly and leave more time for you to think about enjoying your time in your new property!

And don’t forget that your realtor will guide you through how to get a phone line, who to use as an interior decorator, maid, pool service, what is the best internet, where to buy a car – all the little things you take for granted because you know how to do them at home.

And of course, as most often happens you will gain a good friend in the process.  A trusted ally that has gone through everything that you are going through before and can give you advice along the way.


Whether you are selling your property to upsize, downsize or your time in Costa Rica has come to an end you will also need to assistance of a quality professional realtor.

For many years in Costa Rica the custom was for Sellers to sell their properties For Sale by Owner.  This was a hodgepodge method that really began to fail when a serious number of foreigners began to purchase properties in the coastal areas, predominately along the Pacific coastline.  With the lack of a professional intermediary acting as an advocate for the Seller the system was ripe for problems caused by unsuspecting Sellers and Buyers.  Depending on the area of the country, the expat realtors, mostly operating along the coastlines, along with the professional Costa Rican realtors, mostly in the Central Valley surrounding San Jose, began to form professional organizations.  In the Papagayo region, after the real estate crisis of 2008-9 there were a handful of realtors that weathered the storm and were still in business.  As a group we began to purposely work together to increase the professionalism of the realtors working in the area.

One of the biggest issues was that not all Sellers were interested in signing exclusive listings.  We, as a group, got together and decided that we should strongly suggest all Sellers to list their property with a local realtor no matter who it was.  Slowly but surely all Sellers began to understand that listing their property with one realtor meant they would get that realtor to do professional marketing of their property, take professional photos and video and market it across multiple website and other media outlets.  There was still print media in those days and the internet was still in its infancy, especially in Costa Rica. 

Since Costa Rica does not have an MLS, it is extremely important for a Seller to contract a professional realtor that works with a powerful real estate company because the only way for them to get their property marketed is if one realtor has the incentive to spend marketing dollars to do a professional marketing package and promote it across the internet on multiple websites, social media and the like.  Also, since Buyers cannot go to one single source for all properties for sale in Costa Rica, they are reliant on their realtor to find them their dream property.  A good professional agent will have an extensive database of all the local realtors so that when he gets and new listing everyone on their database is made aware of that new property immediately.  At the same time, when an agent has a Buyer they are going to contact thier database of realtor colleagues and ask them what properties they have listed.  If you, the Seller, do not have your property listed with a good realtor then your chances of selling will be much lower than if you have it listed for sale by owner.

If you want to ensure a successful sale of your property you should work with a realtor that has an extremely strong online presence.  They should have their own sophisticated personal website and their agency they work for should have websites that consistently rank at the top in SEO for the area.  Your realtor should have a good social media footprint to market your property and have their own YouTube Channel at a minimum to advertise your property.  

Many people think that it is essential to work with an international real estate brand.  Back in the old days, before Costa Rica was on the map as a destination to purchase second homes, it was more important to be associated with a well-known international brand.  In all honesty it gave Buyers and Sellers more comfort to be doing business with a brand they knew from back home but produced surprisingly few qualified leads.  Now everyone has Costa Rica on their wish list to buy a second home or condo.  The amount of money that has to be paid to the home office for use of their brand far outweighs the small number of clients that come in the door just because of the brand name.  In the end, the money that is saved not having to pay to the home office can be much better spent on marketing to attract Buyers and Sellers and to give back to the local community.

As in all real estate markets an experienced realtor knows the market and will advise you of local market trends, will help you price your home correctly the first time and give you tips to stage your property for maximum impact.  A good realtor should produce for you an outstanding marketing package that will attract buyers.  Once you receive an offer a seasoned realtor will be worth their weight in gold when it comes to negotiating the offer to deliver the best price under the best terms for you the Seller. 

It is almost more important to have a good realtor that works at a good and long-standing agency when it comes to navigating the due diligence process and getting the deal to successfully close.  There have been innumerable sales that would not have closed if it were not for the realtor who knew what were the sticking points to get the sale done and because they had the experience and know how, were able to steer the sale through to closing.

So please do yourself a favor and do a small amount of due diligence and find yourself a professional and experienced Agent that works for an Agency with a long history and good track record.  So you can spend more time enjoying all that Costa Rica has to offer.  Pura Vida.

All of our agents fit these requirements and then some.  We have the most experienced group of agents in the entire country and boast over 125 years of combined experience in the Papagayo Real Estate Market.  Of course I want to toot our horn but also we are very selective in who we bring aboard as new agents to make sure our clients will receive the best possible care and service.

Pura Vida,  Michael Simons Tres Amigos Realty Group

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Among Cheapest Countries to Retire: Travel & Leisure

Arenal Volcano and surrounding area ! 

It is well known that once you retire, living outside of the U.S. can be one of the best ways of reducing your cost of living without sacrificing your quality of life and for this reason Costa Rica has often been listed as one of the top destinations for retirees.

The trend continues again this year as Travel and Leisure magazine has listed Costa Rica as one of the eight cheapest destinations in the world for U.S. retirees.

The overall cost of living is about 38% lower than in the United States, and housing is 72% lower on average, based on June 2022 data,” points out Travel + Leisure.

To see how Costa Rica compares with the other countries on the list, here is their complete list of the top 8 retirement destinations listed by the magazine:

  1. Mexico
  2. Ecuador
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Portugal
  5. Panama
  6. Vietnam
  7. Montenegro
  8. Colombia

It’s no secret that Costa Rica has conquered the hearts of many foreigners. The beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, and other beautiful natural landscapes, along with great weather and the pura vida lifestyle, are some reasons many people choose to settle down in the country.

The magazine points out some of Costa Rica’s residency programs, especially focused on retirees.

Residency programs include the Pensionado visa, which requires a monthly income of at least $1,000 to be transferred to a Costa Rican bank for expenses,” mentions the article.

In addition, “the Rentista Program, for those without a monthly pension, requires a minimum of $60,000 or a monthly income of at least $2,500 from a guaranteed source for at least two years.”

One aspect that the publication highlights about Costa Rica is the access to health care, whether public or private.

“Excellent health care is available… The national medical program, with no co-pays or exclusions, is available to residents along with the option of private health care with out-of-pocket costs that can be self-insured or paid through a private insurance policy,” they mention.

Although San José, the capital city, isn’t the first choice for most, Travel + Leisure explains that for those who love the city, the “cost of living is 55% lower than in New York, and rents are 82% lower.”

Housing options are also available in nearby zones, and many foreigners choose to live near mountainous areas.

Cost generally depends on lifestyles, individual needs, location within the country, and other personal expenses.


Guanacaste, Costa Rica: 10 Interesting Facts and Things to Do

Thanks to  Sarah Jordan of the Ticotimes

August 2, 2022

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica 

Best known for its sprawling Cordillera de Guanacaste mountain range volcanoes and paradise beaches, Guanacaste has made its presence known in Costa Rica and across the globe. However, it is a province of duality. The luxury resorts, beach vacations, and booming development alongside the culture of the Guanacastecos.

Guanacaste is a province of cattle ranching, traditional dances, and music, customary foods with corn as a staple seen represented through their corn rice, drinks, and tortillas. Here are 10 interesting facts to know about the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

  1. Named After a Tree

Guanacaste transpires its name from quahnacaztlan, the native word for the Guanacaste tree. Also known as the Enterolobium cyclocarpum or perhaps a few that are easier to pronounce are the monkey ear tree, elephant ear tree, and caro caro tree.

Regardless of which name you choose to call it, it doesn’t change the special characteristics of the tree. The Guanacaste tree is of importance providing tremendous shade from the sun and heat for both animals and humans. Guanacaste is recognized for its cattle farming and the national tree plays a significant role as a food source for the cattle with its seeds and leaves.

The Guanacaste Tree was designated as the national tree of Costa Rica on August 31, 1959.

  1. Destination of the Sea Turtle Arriba

Guanacaste’s Ostional is distinguished as one of the few places in the world where the natural phenomenon of the sea turtle arriba occurs.

Tens of thousands of sea turtles make their way up the dark sands of Ostional to nest upon the beach. This extraordinary event is called an arribada and is known as “arrival” in Spanish. And that is exactly what it is, a grand spectacular arrival.

They begin by the hundreds, and thousands of sea turtles then continue to arrive over the following days. One of the biggest recordings of arribadas was 500,000 sea turtles in Ostional.

After dragging their bodies up onto the shore, the sea turtles use their flippers to dig themselves a nest laying upwards of 100 ping-pong-shaped eggs each. They then do their best covering and packing the sand, returning into the waters leaving the eggs to be in defense of themselves.

For this Ostional Wildlife Refuge was created in 1984 to protect the olive ridley sea turtle nesting sites as the location is one of incredible importance worldwide.

  1. Home to One of Costa Rica’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been declared in Costa Rica and one of them lies within the province of Guanacaste, Area de Conservation Guanacaste

Comprised of both land and sea it makes up 147,000 hectares. Most notably it protects the endangered dry tropical forests of Santa Rosa, Rincon de la Vieja, National Park, and Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge. Its also is made up of cloud forests, lowland rainforests, mangroves, wetlands, oak forests, savannahs, beaches, and estuaries. Many of Costa Rica’s diverse and vulnerable ecosystems can be found within.

Almost two thirds of all of the different species that call Costa Rica home are residing in Area de Conservation Guanacaste. From the endangered Central American tapir, jaguars, ocelots, white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, deer, 13,000 species of bats, and 20,000 species of beetles.

  1. Guanacaste Wasn’t Always Part of Costa Rica

A province that represents so much of what we hold in our hearts to be Costa Rica wasn’t always part of the country. With the hostility of Nicaragua and Guatemala far north, the residents of Nicoya chose to officially become part of their neighbor country of Costa Rica.

It was on July 25, 1824, when the province annexed to Costa Rica becoming an official holiday in the country. The annexation of Guanacaste is celebrated every year in honor of this historic decision. Throughout the country, you will find folk dances and music, dressed in red white, and blue, and even a few parades.

It was a choice made by the people to become part of Costa Rica through their own will and decision.  And for this you will hear “de la patria por nuestra voluntad” 

  1. There is a Car Free Beach Town

When arriving in Las Catalinas you might be a bit confused and wonder if you have somehow ended up in the Mediterranean. Las Catalinas design does take inspiration from the Mediterranean with its cobblestone-like streets, fountains, and plazas.

Oceanfront on Guanacaste’s Pacific Las Catalinas is a walkable beach town, meaning car-free focused on outdoor living. The 21-acre beach town features colorful and unique homes, exclusive villas, exquisite restaurants, gourmet grocery stores, and of course shopping.

  1. A Blue Zone is Recognized

Blue zones refer to places in the world where people live longer than average lives and parts of Guanacaste’s Nicoya Peninsula have been recognized as one of them.

Many of the Nicoyan people often live to surpass 100 years of age, many in which don’t need to rely on medication. It is said that their healthy way of living is responsible for the centenarians living such a long-life expectancy.

Eating healthy off the land of natural fruits and vegetables, meals that provide the needed nutrients through rice, beans, and corn, meat isn’t the primary food source at every meal. Getting outside, walking, being surrounded by nature, and family focus are only a few factors that have helped to increase life longevity.

  1. Known as the Gold Coast

Guanacaste’s Pacific Coast has been coined Costa Rica’s Riviera for its coastline of beautiful beaches and white sandy shores. Most infamously known as the Gold Coast, it plays a large role in the country’s tourism industry.

This sunny side of Costa Rica is a destination of all-inclusive resorts, luxury villas, high-end condos, and boutique hotels. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and world-famous surfing it is a wealth of water activities.  

The Gold Coast is famed for its over 400 miles of paradise coastline with clear blue waters. Fine white sands of Playa Flamingo, the sparkling beach of Playa Conchal, and Tamarindo sunsets, there are a plethora of secluded secret beaches. The turquoise waters of Guanacaste’s beaches have made Guanacaste stand out on the map.

  1. Home to One of Costa Rica’s Two International Airports

Costa Rica has two international airports and one of them is in the northwestern part of the country in Guanacaste. Liberia International Airport (also known as Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport) is just outside of Liberia.

The primary international airport of Juan Santamaria International Airport is located in the central valley for access to the other half of the country.  Prior to the second airport, you would have to drive 4 to 5 hours to reach Guanacaste.

Named after former president Daniel Oduber Quirós, it was built in 1975 with hopes that it would help increase tourism in the Gulf of Papagayo. It now serves as a gateway to accessing the Gold Coast getting you to Playas del Coco in half an hour and just over an hour to the popular Tamarindo.

  1. Cowboy Country

The land of Guanacaste can be associated with farms, cattle, and horse ranching. The sabanero (cowboy) is a symbol of Guanacaste across its cattle country with its roots in ranch life.  

Out into the open fields herding cattle and horses, working the land, sabaneros are generational and it is born in their blood. They know how to work hard and are ready to play hard after a long day. The traditions of the sabanero shine brightly through music and dance and continue to be honored.

  1. Vino de Coyol

It wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of Guanacaste’s traditional drinks, vino de coyol. Although vino is in its name don’t be fooled it is not a wine. Instead of grapes, it comes from the extracted sap of the coyol palm.

During the summer the cuts are done, leaves removed, and then laid out on a partial incline. Cuts are carved to help the sap move along and start flowing. Those familiar with the traditional process have grown to know exactly when is the perfect time for everything to work out just right. Using spoons made from the Jicaro tree it is then put into the bottles for natural fermentation. The lunar cycle plays a big role in its production.

Some say it’s a great way to help you sleep but a little too much can have the same effects as alcohol depending on how long it has been fermented. But don’t search for it in the supermercado’s. Along the highway stands is where you can often find yourself some, sold in various styles of recycled bottles – think pop bottles and fruit juice bottles!

The dichotomy of the province of Guanacaste is what brings such an allure. It is an escape into a paradise of coastlines, nature, and wildlife many of the treasures that Costa Rica is admired for. Alongside are the traditions of the Guanacastecos that are held strong and proudly honored by Costa Rica. Guanacaste represents much of what is at the heart of the country.

The Costa Rican Digital Nomad Bill has been signed into Law! 


Earlier this week, the long-awaited Digital Nomad bill was signed into law by President Chavez, with moderations to make it easier for remote workers to apply. While the initial bill was signed into law in August 2021 by then-President Carlos Alvarado, it needed some fine-tuning for implementation, and months passed while various ministries disagreed about how to proceed. 

Now, the new Chaves administration seems to have resolved the issues of excessive regulations regarding the bill by scrapping many of them. These regulations were being heavily criticized that they would hinder the process instead of encouraging remote workers to apply. With the new bill moderations, remote workers will be able to get their applications completed online and according to the Department of Immigration, have approval within two weeks.

To be eligible for the Digital Nomad Visa, remote workers must have a monthly income of $3,000 (or $4,000 for families). If approved, they can stay in Costa Rica for up to a year and extend for one more if they wish to do so. The Visa exempts them from paying income tax or duties on any work-related equipment (like laptops) they need to perform their job. 

It is expected that the finalized, full bill will be published in La Gazeta within the next few days and then will be open to receive applications from remote workers. 

Remote workers and digital nomads play a vital role in fostering entrepreneurship around the world. They will be a boom to Costa Rica’s local economy and we’ll benefit from not only the money spent locally but the spurring innovation and collaboration that remote workers can infuse their surroundings with.

The new Visa will also have a positive impact on Real Estate as remote workers can truly get a feel for what life in Costa Rica is like and have ample time to investigate investment opportunities. 

Let’s hope that the application process does open shortly and that we start welcoming remote workers with the new Visa shortly!

Renewal of your DIMEX/Residency Card for Expats in Costa Rica

By Laura Gutierrez of Immigration Help Costa Rica

DIMEX Renewals:

This information is a bit dated, but since many of you are still emailing me about renewals of your DIMEX (residency) cards, I thought it timely to post this review.

Due to urgent needs to be outside of Costa Rica during COVID, some of you had/have not been able to renew your DIMEX (residency) cards. Or you just let it slip your mind. Others have been keeping track and are being proactive only to discover you cannot renew your DIMEX (residency) cards.

Why not?

The renewal system is being upgraded with new software and staff training (and hopefully hardware invented in this century.)

This upgrade is significant and expected to take up until September 30, 2022, to complete. The DGME (Immigration) has granted extensions to most cards under certain circumstances.

These measures were set in place as of January of this year.

Through Resolution No. DJUR-0197-12-2021-JM, the DGME has decided to extend all DIMEX expired from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.

The measure is applicable for the following migratory categories: Residencia Permanente (Permanent Residency),
Residencia Temporal (Temporary Residency), Categorías Especiales (Special Categories) and the subcategory Estancia (Estancia Visa).

1. Renewal appointments: As of January 22, 2022, DIMEX renewal procedures will not be carried out in any Banco de Costa Rica offices, at the VES Windows of the Costa Rican Post Office, or the central or regional offices of Migration.
2. For those who already paid the renewal deposit: Central and regional offices remain available to request a refund, presenting the payment receipt.
3. Clarifications on the relevance of the expiration date: If your DIMEX is for Permanent Residency, you can benefit from the extended validity even if your DIMEX expired before October 1, 2021. Otherwise, if your DIMEX is for a category other than that of Permanent Residency, that is, if it is a DIMEX of Temporary Residency, Special Category, or Estancia, it will be extended only if it expired after October 1, 2021, since if it were already expired on that date, you would no longer be able to carry out the renewal process in the usual way.
4. Fines: If your DIMEX expired before January 10, 2022, please take into account that you will still need to cancel a penalty regarding all pending months. Visit your nearest BCR to handle this issue.
5. Extension of the Term: After September 30, 2022, the DIMEX shall be renewed in the three subsequent months.

Logically, that appointment system should open before September 30 to create the que, so please be attentive to that appointment system opening up. Check with your local BCR from time to time starting in August. I strongly suggest that you put alerts in your cell phone calendars and be ready to proceed by the end of July to make those bookings. There will be a bottleneck of others trying to book for the same thing. But the main thing is to call and book the appointment as soon as those appointments open up. When I get more definitive news of the appointments, I will post it on this site to alert you.

I also remind readers that you are entitled to apply for Permanent Residency after the three initial years of temporary residency. That category requires no further proof of income and allows you to work or draw a wage or an income from a business without a work permit. Permanent residencies are renewable every three years. After a combined total of 10 years of permanent and temporary residency, renewals for Permanent Residency are every five years. After a combination of seven years of Temporary and Permanent residency, you are entitled to apply for Costa Rican Citizenship. That allows you to opt out of CAJA, vote, and obtain a Costa Rica passport.

If you are in need of immigration assistance Laura can be reached by clicking here, Toll-free at 1-833-733-6337, Locally at or by sending an email to [email protected]


Costa Rican Healthcare: Public (CCSS/Caja), Private, and Mixed Medicine


  • Published on April 18, 2022 – excellent article from Rebecca Clower of Blue Water Properties – a fellow realtor from the Flamingo area. 

One of the most important considerations before moving abroad is your health: your wellbeing, lifestyle, and access to medical care in your new home. It’s a question I get often, so I thought I’d dig into some details on healthcare in Costa Rica.

You can find a lot of Big Claims about Costa Rica’s healthcare, including the off-cited WHO ranking: 36th-best in the world (one spot higher than #37 United States) and a longer-than-average lifespan (as of 2019, 80.3 years vs. 79.1 in the USA). But those are just numbers and, in practice, healthcare is about a lot more than an intangible (albeit impressive) statistic.

So, what is healthcare in Costa Rica really like? In this post, I’m breaking down public (Caja), private, and mixed medicine (medicina mixta) care, with details on costs, pros and cons, and a few insights along the way. (As always, please get in touch if you have specific questions about healthcare or living in Costa Rica.)

Public Healthcare in Costa Rica: The CCSS

The Caja Costarricense de Salud Social, often shortened to la Caja (or, in writing, la CCSS), is the “Costa Rican Social Security Fund” – but not that kind of social security. This is Costa Rica’s public healthcare (and, yes, pension) service.

The Caja can be a huge topic that covers a lot of ground so, for the sake of brevity (and because I’m writing a blog post, not an entire book), I’ll stick to the broad strokes with a few important details. Starting with this: When you become a resident, you will be required to join the Caja.

Monthly Caja Costs

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer here. Officially, a Caja contribution is calculated at 5% to 12% of your monthly income.

In practice, it’s not quite that simple. First of all, many residents don’t work, at least not locally. In that case, your Caja payment would be 12% of your declared monthly income. That said, your mileage may vary.

For starters, “monthly income” is also a debatable term, especially if you don’t work, or you freelance (and earn differently each month), or are retired, or a dozen other possibilities. Furthermore, if you’re over a certain age (60-65; the laws are changing), your monthly quote will be lower because it won’t require a pension contribution. If you’re married, one spouse may be covered by the other spouse. Etc. etc.

All this said, expect a Caja payment… but I can’t tell you exactly what to expect. As a ballpark figure, you’re most likely looking at $100-$350/month per individual or couple. But again, your mileage may vary.

Cost of Caja Healthcare

This one’s an easy one: Beyond your monthly payment (known locally as a contribución or “contribution”), you’ll have exactly zero out-of-pocket costs for Caja services. That’s right: You’ll never pay a single colón for any Caja healthcare or prescription medicine, ever.

Pros and Cons of Caja Healthcare

Here’s where I get to the section that could fill a book. There are so many upsides and downsides to the Caja that it’s hard to summarize. I’ll do my best.

Before I get into it, know that many Costa Ricans live their entire lives under only Caja healthcare. It’s doable – but it probably won’t be like what you’re used to. Here’s what I mean:

Excellent Preventive Healthcare

As a recent New Yorker article highlighted, The Caja shines at public health – as in, keeping the public healthy (as opposed to treating a sick public.) In large part, that boils down to preventive healthcare: Get into the system and you’re on the road to regular blood panels (and other tests), check-ups/check-ins, colonoscopies/endoscopies, men’s & women’s health visits, and more.

Superb Emergency Healthcare

Ask almost anyone and you’ll hear the same thing: If you break a bone or have an accident, the public hospital is a great place to be. Not only will you receive excellent emergency care but, come what may, you won’t pay anything, no matter how many life-saving measures are required.

And No Such Thing as a Pre-Existing Condition

You read that correctly: With the Caja, there’s no such thing as a preexisting condition. Come as you are.

But, There Are Long Waits for Almost Everything Else

Preventive medicine can be scheduled ahead: See you in six (eight… twelve…) months! Emergency medicine is literally green-lighted to the front of the line. Everything else… well, be prepared to wait. Hoping for a not-so-urgent knee or hip replacement? Get in line. (And FYI, that line could take a few years.)

The Patient-Doctor Relationship Is Somewhat Impersonal

Public healthcare can be very formulaic and, among other things, that means that you won’t “choose” your doctor or your clinic or your anything, really.

You’ll go to your local clinic or Ebais, where you’ll be assigned a doctor based on your residence. Need to see the specialist? They’ll be here every third Tuesday and no, it’s not the same specialist you saw last time; it’s whoever is assigned to the next pass-through. Even if you’re pregnant or planning a major surgery, your prenatal/pre-op visits likely won’t be with the same professionals every time, and your birthing experience or surgery won’t be with anyone you’ve met previously.

And Some Services/Medicines Just Aren’t Available

The services you’re used to – for example, a 20-week pregnancy ultrasound or a specific type of imaging – may not be considered “necessary” to the Caja. And if it’s not necessary, you’re not getting it. Ditto for medications: The Caja has a set list of medicines (mostly generics) that it provides; if your prescription from back home isn’t on that list, the Caja will offer a substitution. If you choose not to take the substitution, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket (privately) for your medications.

In summary, it’s safe to say that there’s not a lot of choice with public healthcare and, sometimes, you’ll have to advocate for what you need but, when you receive healthcare, it’s of a high caliber.

Private Healthcare in Costa Rica

Ah yes, another topic that could fill chapters and chapters of a book. Another topic that I’ll try to distill down to some of the most salient details.

Costs of Private Healthcare

Don’t blame the messenger, but this is another one of those can’t-be-answered questions. But, for different reasons than for public healthcare.

Typically, private healthcare costs are broken down into three possibilities:

Option 1: Pay Out-of-Pocket

If you plan to use private healthcare sparingly, you’ll probably elect to pay out-of-pocket for the occasional visit. To see a general practitioner (GP), expect to pay about ¢25,000-¢45,000 ($40-$65), depending on the doctor and your location. Specialists (ex. an ENT or allergist) will usually run ¢50,000-¢80,000 ($80-$130) per visit.

Option 2: Purchase Private Insurance

If you plan to opt for mostly private healthcare, with some pinch-hitting from the Caja for potential emergencies, then you’ll most likely opt to purchase private insurance.

As it does elsewhere around the world, policy premiums vary depending on many, many factors – among them, your age and preexisting conditions. Yes, preexisting conditions are important to private insurance (and can really hike up your costs, if they’ll cover you at all). That said, premiums locally usually fall into the $125-$500+ per month and typically have a deductible AND still, only cover up to 80% of your costs. 

Option 3: Buy a Medical Discount Plan

Discount plans, including the ever-popular Medismart, offer a sort of middle-ground for private healthcare, offering discounts on in-network care, in exchange for a very modest monthly fee (currently, <$14 for the primary plan-holder and <$7 for additional plan members).

Pre-existing conditions are fully covered but keep in mind, this isn’t insurance: You’ll pay for everything out of pocket, only at a reduced out-of-pocket rate. For example, a GP visit is ¢8,000 ($13) instead of ¢40,000 ($65) and a visit to the cardiologist will run you ¢23,000 ($37) instead of ¢57,000 ($92). Still, you’ll pay for everything, so if you need surgery, prepare to pay not only your doctor but your hospital fees, your OR fees, your medication costs, your overnight costs, and etc. etc.

Pro Tip: Most residents, if they’re inclined toward private healthcare, run a split between public and private (also see below, re: Medicina Mixta) and stick to private healthcare for smaller costs and public healthcare for major surgeries, emergencies, and other big-ticket healthcare items.

Pros and Cons of Private Healthcare

In addition to the cost, here’s what you should know about private healthcare in Costa Rica:

The Costs Add Up

As you may have gleaned from the above, the cost of private healthcare varies. And it can vary wildly. If you’re older (say, 55+), prepare for your private insurance premiums to hike. (Older than 80 and they can climb sky-high.) Require a specific medication that’s not on the Caja list? It can be 4x, 5x, 10x the cost you pay back home.

That said, Costa Rica’s out-of-pocket healthcare costs, even for private healthcare, don’t even begin to approach U.S. costs. For example, while birth can cost $10,000-$25,000 in the U.S., it’s usually about $5,000 in Costa Rica (even at the “fanciest” hospitals). Lasik eye surgery? $1,500 vs. $4,500 in the U.S. So, it’s all relative.

But You Can Choose English-Speaking Doctors

One of the perks of private medicine is that you can choose your doctor. Don’t like your choice? You’re free to go somewhere else. And this freedom of choice means you’ll have full access to Costa Rica’s wide network of English-speaking professionals (many of whom studied in the U.S., Canada, and Europe).

And Private Doctors are Everywhere

While with Caja healthcare you’ll have to visit your assigned clinic, Ebais, or hospital, with private healthcare, you can visit anyone, anywhere (unless your private insurance deems otherwise). And that’s a great thing because Costa Rica’s network of private doctors, specialists, labs, and pharmacies is vast, reaching into even the most rural areas.

Wait Times are Short

Need an appointment with a specialist? You can probably get one today. With private healthcare, your wait is almost always very, very short.

And You’ll Be More of a Participant in Your Healthcare Decisions

Whereas with public healthcare in Costa Rica, your attending physician views your need as a true need (and therefore “prescribes” the resulting procedure, surgery, etc., if it’s available at all), with private healthcare, you have more latitude in your healthcare decisions. Want that Lasik surgery? You can have it. Prefer to give birth in a birthing pool or standing up? The choice is yours.

In summary, private healthcare is all about balancing your preference and comfort with your willingness to pay for those things. Again, most residents choose a balance of public and private: When the cost is relatively low, go private; with costlier procedures or surgeries, go public, when possible.

Mixed Medicine: A Balance of Public/Private Healthcare in Costa Rica

Medicina mixta, or mixed medicine, is a popular schema for local healthcare. Without getting into all the technical details, mixed medicine essentially mixes public and private via doctors and specialists who work both for the Caja and in private practice.

So, what’s the big deal? In a nutshell, mixed medicine can help you jump the line: Book a private appointment with a doctor or specialist who also works with the Caja, and you can avoid some long waits. If you’re seeing a specialist, mixed medicine can also offer a fast-track to Caja prescription medications – and an English-language fast-track, at that!

As mixed medicine is really just a mix of public and private healthcare, there are no specific pros or cons, costs or concerns associated with it. Essentially, use it when it works for you. When it doesn’t, revert to your choice of full-public or full-private healthcare.

Costa Rica Weather: When the Rain Comes

From Special Places and Karl Kahler

Living in the dry tropical forest of Guanacaste during months with names like January, February and March, you begin to wonder if it will ever rain again.

Skies are blue, cows are dry, and your car looks like it hasn’t been washed in months. 

Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to this place during this supposedly ideal period. 

“Honey, should I pack a raincoat?”

Depending on the time of year, you may or may not find rain gear necessary.

“Sweetheart, what part of ‘February’ don’t you understand?”

When to expect Costa Rica rain

Guanacaste is a true outlier in Costa Rica because it’s the driest region in a very wet country. There are parts of Costa Rica that get 7 meters of rain per year – that’s more than three Shaquille O’Neals. Yet Guanacaste is almost always perpetually sunny from December through April.

The unique ecosystem here is known as “dry tropical forest,” with the “dry” indicating that it doesn’t rain here as much as it normally does in other tropical regions. Much of Guanacaste looks like the plains of Texas, or the savannas of Africa. 

December through April is called “summer” in Costa Rica, while the rainy season from May through November is called “winter.” There is no spring and there is no fall.

Of course, the weather patterns are totally different on the Caribbean coast, where the gods of rain make their own rules. They say there are two seasons in the Caribbean: the rainy season and the really rainy season.

But here in Guanacaste, a strange thing happens at some point in April after months of clear skies. Dark clouds drift in, you hear thunder in the distance, and the sky changes to a weird yellow color. 

Next thing you know, it’s pouring rain, and you’re so delighted you want to go out and dance in the mud puddles. But first you have to close all your windows, or everything you have is going to get wet.

It takes a lot of rain to make a rainforest.

Rainy season lovers

It’s no secret that the locals here love the rain. It smells great, it washes everything clean, and it gives you a great excuse to take a nap.

During the dry season, dust tends to accumulate on all the plants, especially next to roads. Costa Rica is never ugly, but sometimes it’s a bit dusty. 

Then that first downpour washes everything clean – every leaf in the forest! The rain also prompts fresh growth, making new plants spring up everywhere. Costa Rica becomes, if possible, even greener in the rain. This is why the rainy season here is often called the “green season.”

You’ve probably been told that if you come to Costa Rica you need to bring rain gear. Yet you’ll almost never see a Costa Rican wearing a raincoat. Some Ticos live 100 years without ever owning a raincoat.

So what do they do when it rains? They find a roof to stand under, that’s what. Downpours here tend to be brief. Oh, and a lot of people carry umbrellas.

You rarely see Costa Ricans wearing raincoats, though they often carry umbrellas.

One remarkable feature of the Costa Rica rain is that it almost always occurs in the afternoon. This means that even in the height of the rainy season, both tourists and locals can go about their day in the morning without getting wet. 

Go ziplining, go fishing, go birdwatching, go shopping, whatever, but do it early. By midafternoon, you’ll be looking for shelter.

It usually rains in the afternoon, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors in the morning without getting wet.

And there’s no finer pleasure than to be under a roof during a Costa Rican thunderstorm. Sometimes it rains harder than you thought possible. And then it rains even harder than that. And then it rains harder still!

You find a hammock, a rocking chair, a comfy bed. You find a book, a magazine, you scroll through your Facebook feed.

Lying in a hammock under a roof is a great way to enjoy a rainstorm.

Then the power goes out. 

“Honey, we need to buy candles.”

“No, YOU need to buy candles. It’s raining, we only have one umbrella, and you’re the husband.”

“OK, I’ll be right back.”

“Be careful not to get wet.”

Rainy season haters

Judging from Costa Rica’s tourism numbers, most visitors come here between December and April looking for blue skies and sunny beaches. Perhaps they come from rainy, cold places like Seattle or Sweden and they just want some sun for a change.

That, of course, is fine. But, but, but….

The dry season, by happenstance, coincides with Costa Rica’s two biggest holidays – one is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and the other is Semana Santa, the week before Easter.

Never mind the tourists – during these holidays most Ticos travel too, and almost all of them go to the beach. Prices for everything are through the roof: lodging, restaurants, transportation, tours, you name it. Merchants can charge what they want because demand is so high. Everywhere you go is more crowded, and driving can take hours longer because there are so many cars on the road.

Most parts of Costa Rica are more crowded during the Christmas and Easter holidays.

But why? Why not visit Costa Rica during the rainy season? Are you afraid of getting wet?

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with 1 out of 20 animal species living here, in a country that occupies just 0.03% of the world’s landmass.

Enjoy the rain — it’s only water!

Why are there so many animals here, and why are there so many plants?

Rain. They love the rain.


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Category: Discover Costa Rica




Published on April 13, 2022 by Karl Kahler


Costa Rica is Truly Free

Borrowed from my good friend and great realtor Michael Simons! 


Costa Rica is Truly Free!

In his first official act as President, Rodrigo Chaves eliminated the obligation to be vaccinated and the mandatory use of the mask. Also, the refusal to be vaccinated will no longer be grounds for dismissal in the public sector. Only front-line health care workers are required to be vaccinated and wear masks.

The first decree, No. 42543 canceled the former government order of mandatory vaccination against covid-19 for public employees. The second decree, No. 42544 cancels the mandatory use of facemasks in public spaces. The mandatory use of face masks will only be mandatory for front line health care workers.

The newly elected President said that the purpose of the decree was to give Costa Ricans freedom and responsibility to make their own decisions about their health.


You no longer need any COVID test, health pass or insurance to visit Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the pathetic leaders of Canada and the USA, still require you to take a COVID test and/or show proof of vaccination to return.

Why on God’s earth would you go back?

Come on down baby. AND STAY!



Snowbirds in Paradise

This article will appear in the June edition of Howler Magazine.  Candy and I will be famous 🙂 

Snowbirds in Paradise

After spending all our lives enduring the cold Canadian winters of western Canada, my wife Donna and I decided to make the giant step toward living part time in paradise. I had worked as a surface land man in the oil and gas industry and travelled many an icy road on cold snowy winter nights. Prior to that I was a forest ranger and spent time in many parts of Alberta freezing in the cold. My wife Donna was a dental hygienist and she also spent a lot of cold evenings commuting to work in Calgary on icy snow covered roads. After spending many winter holidays in Costa Rica and enjoying the sunshine, warm beaches and friendly people, we made the decision in 2007 to live part time in paradise.

For many snowbirds the idea of leaving the Canadian health care system is worrisome despite the great private and public health care here in paradise! So, if that is your worry, try the part time snowbird gig! Depending on your province, you can spend 180 days or more outside of Canada each year. A lot of people miss the Canadian seasons, so how about just missing one season – old man winter that can be 6 months or more, as recent snowfalls in Calgary in May prove! For American snowbirds, you will find the private health care system here to be top notch for half the price. Many Costa Rica specialists spend a lot of time in the best medical universities and hospitals in the USA and many speak English.

We enjoy our life here in paradise and keep busy travelling the country and doing the things we love to do. Having lived in Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste beach towns), the mountains of Guanacaste (incredible back country horse back riding) and Escazu in the central valley (beautiful weather), we are back living in Playas del Coco on the NW Pacific coast. Over the 15 years of living in paradise, we have had many adventures in this wonderful little country. To keep us busy, we teamed up with the number one real estate firm in the NW of Costa Rica – Tres Amigos Realty Group. What a great group of people from all over the US and Canada and Costa Rica! They keep us young and busy. 

The Guanacaste area has a lot to offer! Great weather year-round and you can pick your climate for the day! Stay at the beach and enjoy the year-round warm ocean water or head out to the mountains (1 hour drive)  to enjoy cool breezes, hot springs, canopy tours, horseback riding – whatever your pleasure. Only 25 minutes to the international airport makes our NW coast the most accessible, both coming and leaving paradise. 

So, if you are thinking of making the move or just spending part of the year in the sun, give us a call or email. We are here to help you plan your escape to paradise! With our 20 plus years of visiting and living in Costa Rica, we can answer the questions you may have about the health care, culture, the people, security, where to live and even help you pick your weather.  The transition has not always been easy adjusting to a new culture, but our experience can help you avoid some of the bumps along the way – Pura Vida!

Herb DeMars

Tres Amigos Realty Group

[email protected]

Costa Rican Cell:  011-506-8996-8683

WhatsApp:  +506-8996-8683

Toll Free from US/Canada: 1-587-703-7924