Costa Rica is a small country, which comes as an advantage while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our country has increased its safety measures but lowered the restrictions so tourists can come and enjoy its paradisiac beaches and wonderful landscapes in a safe way.
Most of the airlines have reopened their flights to both Juan Santa María International Airport in San José and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Guanacaste…and restaurants, bars, parks, and attractions are open and available to all visitors.
If you feel attracted by this wonderful natural paradise, these are the five things you should know to start planning your next Costa Rica vacation.
1. There’s only two requirements to travel.
To keep all visitors and locals safe, the government has established two requirements to keep in mind before your trip. Although it’s not necessary to present a PCR test result upon arrival, there’s a requirement to fill an Electronic Health Pass.
The Health pass is simply a digital form that includes the contact information, passport, and flight information of the traveler, plus the policy number of the required medical travel insurance. The visitor must confirm that they don’t have any COVID-19 related symptoms such as fever, cough, lack of smell or taste, among others, before taking the flight.
Every traveler including children under 18 must complete the form on the Ministry of Health website at least two days before their arrival.
Once the information is submitted on the Ministry of Health website, the page will display a QR code that the passenger should print and save with their passport, so that airlines, security, and immigration agents can check before and after their arrival.
Besides the Health Pass, visitors are required to purchase a medical travel insurance policy to cover any COVID related situations the visitor might encounter during their flight or vacation.
This policy can be purchased locally or internationally and must cover at least $50,000 USD on medical expenses related to COVID-19 and at least $2,000 USD for lodging expenses to cover any extra costs in case the traveler is required to quarantine in Costa Rica. There are three local insurance companies that cover COVID-19 costs: INS, BlueCross BlueShield and Sagicor. All three can be purchased through their respective website.
Update September, 2021: If you have your vaccine certificate, you don’t need to purchase additional medical insurance. You will, however, need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
2. There are PCR Test locations all over the country.
It doesn’t matter where you’re planning to visit or where you’re planning to stay in, there are many hospitals, clinics, and labs to get tested for COVID-19 all over the country.
PCR tests on public hospitals are reserved to those that have the symptoms of COVID-19 and are sure they have contracted the virus, so the best option for you as a traveler is to get it in a private hospital or laboratory.
Some private hospitals that are certified to offer the RT-PCR test are Hospital Cima, in Escazú, Clinica Catolica in San José and Clinica Biblica, located in downtown San Jose and Santa Ana.
Another option is to get tested at the Hospital Metropolitano, which offers a lower cost for the PCR test for traveling purposes. The Metropolitano has a main office in San Jose though they also have locations in Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste.
There are also some authorized labs such as Laboratorios Labin, Laboratorios Echandi and Laboratorios Paez that offer the PCR as well, and they have multiple locations around the country to get tested.
The delivery time of the results might vary from one place to another, but they are normally delivered between 24 to 72 hours after the test was taken.
Tests costs are around ₡50.000 – ₡80.000 ($100 – $130 USD). Prices might increase depending on the location of the test center. In more touristic areas like Guanacaste, prices tend to be a bit higher than in the capital city.
If you need more information about the authorized center to take the antigen or PCR test, here is the full list.
3. There are some safety measures you would have to follow during your travel.
As soon as you arrive you will realize that in Costa Rica you have to use your mask everywhere you go. On crowded places or during a tour, to buy an ice cream or to talk to a guide, masks are required in any situation you face outside your social group or family bubble.
If you take an Uber, bus or a taxi, a mask is required, although these are not recommended since they can be crowded, and the infection rate can be higher.
There is no requirement to use a mask while driving, so renting a car is a good option if masks are not your thing.
One of the many advantages of traveling to a tropical country like Costa Rica is that most of the touristic places such as beaches, national parks and rainforest areas are open spaces where you can take your mask off safely.
As long as you are close to your social group or family bubble, you can take your mask off at the beach, on self-guided tours through national parks, while visiting waterfalls or rivers and more. You can also take your mask off at any food venue or restaurant, after ordering your food or drinks.
In public places like restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, and bars, you will be asked to follow a safety protocol that includes washing your hands or using alcohol, using your mask, and letting a staff member take your temperature to check any fever signs.
Currently all commercial businesses can remain open 7 days a week from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm.
National Parks and beaches can operate at 100% capacity and remain open, while bars and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity.
4. In the case of COVID infection, it is easy to get medical help.
Getting help if you get infected is easy. As having insurance is a requirement to visit the country, if you happen to get COVID related symptoms you can call your insurance and ask to get tested.
If you are not sure if you got COVID or if your symptoms are more related to a flu, you can call the COVID hotline: 1123 and ask for help.
If any tourist is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip, they will receive a sanitary quarantine order that will be issued from 10 to 14 days, depending on the severity of the infections. Visas might be extended if needed.
5. If you want to enjoy your vacations and stay safe, renting a car in Costa Rica is your best option.
Renting a car during your travel to Costa Rica is the safest and most convenient option to go around.
Keep in mind most of the destinations in Costa Rica are not walking friendly and you would have to get to restaurants, supermarkets, tourist attractions by taxi or by taking several buses. The same happens if you are planning to visit multiple beaches or a national park: most of them are not accessible by public transportation or walking distance.
By renting a car, you won’t need to contact anyone outside your family bubble or social group, and you can get to multiple destinations in one day.
One of the many advantages of traveling to Costa Rica is that there are many destinations near San José that are amazing road trips! There are waterfalls, amazing viewpoints, parks, and lakes less than 2 hours away from San José that are amazing day trips for any visitor.
For example, you could take your car and go from San Jose to Puntarenas Port on a one hour and a half trip, enjoy the beach, walk through the Port, eat a Churchill, and then have lunch in Puerto Caldera, located less than 20 minutes away from Puntarenas. You can spend the afternoon there, watching the sunset and then return to San Jose to enjoy the night and have some drinks at a local bar.
If you want to know more about car rental options, get help with your travel itinerary and general information regarding traveling in Costa Rica, you can book a car here or send us a message for further information. Our mission is to add value to every traveler’s experience, one rental at a time.