General Information

Costa Rica, the smallest country on the entire American continent, boasts an amazing 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Located in Central America, Costa Rica serves as the bridge between the South American and North American land masses.

Over 32% of Costa Rica’s land is protected, compared to 0.1% of the land in the U.S. Manuel Antonio National Park, (which was ranked within the top 12 National Parks in the World by Forbes Magazine) is home to at least 364 species of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and marine life, both the common and the endangered, as well as numerous species of flora and fauna. CR Vacation Properties and the majority of our Villas are located in the beautiful beach town of Manuel Antonio and the world-famous fishing port of Quepos.

CR Vacation Properties is blessed to be located right in the middle of one of the richest ecosystems in the world and is easily accessible by air or land.

Do I need a passport or visa for travel to Costa Rica?

Visas: Citizens of the United States, Canada, and most western European and Latin American nations do not need visas to enter Costa Rica.

A current passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after the first day of your entry is mandatory to enter Costa Rica, and all visitors must have a round-trip ticket to be permitted into the country.

You are allowed to drive with your normal driver’s license for a period of 3 months. All visitors should carry copies of their passports while traveling throughout the country, and the originals should be stored in safe places.

What time zone is Costa Rica?

Costa Rican time remains the same year-round, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (Same as Central Standard Time in the US.) – No Daylight Savings time. The sun rises at 5:45 AM and sets at 5:45 PM +/- 15 minutes year-round.

How is the culture in Costa Rica?

Costa Ricans are a fairly mixed group of people. Though the majority of the country’s approximately 4 million inhabitants are descendants of Spanish immigrants, many families originated in other parts of Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the lowlands, a high percentage of people are “mestizo” — possessing a mixture of European and Indigenous blood — whereas the majority of inhabitants along the Caribbean coast are of African lineage, and full-blooded Indians of various tribes inhabit much of the Talamanca Mountain Range.

Costa Ricans are commonly known as “Ticos,” because they often use the diminutive form of words to be more courteous or friendly. However, they tend to use “-ico” (example: one moment is “momento” or as they say, “momentico”) instead the more common “-ito” (“momentito”). Although “-ico” is a correct form of the diminutive, it is rarely used in other Spanish-speaking countries. Hence, people from other countries started calling Costa Ricans “Ticos.”

Ticos are famous for being hospitable and are quite happy to live up to this reputation. They are a polite, well-educated, and gregarious people, who are quick with a handshake, smile, and a little joke. They are well aware that their country is a special place and they go out of their way to accommodate visitors, pointing them in the right direction when they get lost, explaining things that might seem strange to a foreigner, and helping make their stay as enjoyable as possible. It has been said that the Ticos are the nation’s greatest asset, and once you’ve experienced their friendliness and spontaneity you will no doubt agree.

Female visitors should realize that Costa Rica is a male-dominated society where “machismo” still rules. Do not be offended by the forwardness of some men. Consider it a compliment.

What is the main religion in the country?

Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, but churches of other denominations are found throughout the country.

How is the medical treatment in Costa Rica?

For minor illnesses, prescription drugs, and emergency first aid, pharmacies are generally very competent. You should, however, bring any medication you usually take at home along with a copy of the prescription. Anything more serious can be treated at local private health centers or in the social security hospitals. According to the World Health Organization, Costa Rica has one of the best health care systems in the world. Evidence of this is the country’s infant mortality rate, which is continually dropping while life expectancy increases. You do not need any vaccinations to visit Costa Rica.

Pharmacies in Manuel Antonio: There are several pharmacies near your villa and some will deliver right to your door! Prescriptions are only required for narcotics and the prices are much better than in the US.

Medical Services in Manuel Antonio: There are two English-speaking 24-hour clinics within 15 minutes of your villa. There is also a public hospital 20 minutes from town which can provide any emergency service required. If you are in need of any medical help, your concierge will know what to do and will guide you through the process.

What is the Weather like in the Central Pacific and San Jose?

Almost ideal year-round, the climate is a moderate 72 degrees in the highlands, while the lowlands and coastal areas range from the low 70’s to the high 90’s. Evenings in San Jose are free of humid heat, and beaches are cooled by ocean breezes. Rainy season occurs from the end of May to November, with the heaviest rainfall in October. The Pacific side and central parts of the country are driest from January through March.

A lot of people have a misconception of our “rainy season”, imagining that it’s “monsoon like” and that it never stops raining. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can normally be assured of sunny mornings followed by some rain in the afternoons or evenings, and even plenty of days without rain. Specifically, for Manuel Antonio, Average high temperatures are 85-90°F (26-32°C) during dry season (December-May). Low temperatures range 65-70°F (18-21°C). During the green season (June-November), mornings are sunny with clouds coming in during the afternoon. It might rain during the afternoon, but most likely will rain during the night.

What is the local currency?

Local currency is the colon (colones in plural). Coins range from 5c to 500c, and paper money from 1000c to 50,000c. The colon is floated against the U.S. dollar, which is the currency worth bringing and is widely accepted throughout the country. Many establishments will not accept $100 bills due to currency fraud, so bring smaller denominations. Dollars and travelers’ checks can be exchanged for local currency at banks using your passport.

Credit cards are accepted in many tourist establishments, car rental and tour agencies, and most — but not all — hotels and restaurants. VISA is the most popular credit card, with MasterCard and American Express widely accepted also.

What is the standard tipping Policy?

Restaurants automatically add, by law, 13% tax of your bill and an automatic 10% service charge for all consumption, so tipping is not essential, although appreciated if the service was particularly outstanding. Service in Costa Rica is at a more laid-back pace, so your meal will be more enjoyable if you know this in advance.

Why choose the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica?

The Central Pacific Coast offers many activities for you, your family and your friends. Out of 27 types of tours offered in the Country, Manuel Antonio represents 24 of them. Manuel Antonio remains green in the dry or high season and doesn’t experience the strong “Papagayo” winds of the north Pacific area. Temperatures are consistently in the 80s F throughout the year.

The beaches of Manuel Antonio are the most popular in Costa Rica. Locals from San José travel to the area for the weekend. Sport fishing is extremely popular in the Quepos area. All activity stops around 6 PM to experience the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see. Despite its small size and great popularity, Manuel Antonio has managed to remain one of the premiere nature spots in the country. The rain forest and mountains literally meet the sea in this small town which is only 5 miles long. If there is one place to visit in this country and be assured of seeing animals in the wild, this is it. Just a couple of hours walking the park’s trails are likely to present various colorful and majestic birds and other animals such as scarlet macaws and toucans, white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, two and three-toed sloth, coatis, pacas, brilliantly colored land crabs, a variety of multi-hued butterflies, and interesting insects. The endangered squirrel monkey and a subspecies of the squirrel monkey endemic to Costa Rica are also frequently seen.

Can I drink tap water?

Yes, you can drink the water! The water is drinkable in Costa Rica, but if you are visiting for only a short time, we recommend you drink bottled water if you have a sensitive stomach, especially if you’re traveling with small children, we want you all to feel 100% all week.

What is the traditional menu I would expect to eat in Costa Rica?

A traditional Costa Rican breakfast consists of “gallo pinto” (black beans and rice), eggs, tortillas and sour cream, with coffee and fresh fruit juice.

A typical Costa Rica lunch known as “casado”, includes: rice and beans, one choice of meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish), salad, fried plantains (a type of banana, very sweet and very tasty).

Dinner is pretty much whatever you like, and fish and seafood here is excellent, well priced, and fresh, as are the fruits and vegetables.

Of course Costa Rica produces some of the finest coffee in the world and it’s not uncommon to see bumper stickers around proclaiming that “Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee”.

What should I pack and what kind of clothes should I bring?

Pack light: Baggage carts are scarce at airports, and luggage restrictions are tight. Bring comfortable, hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable in San José (during the day, if planning to go out in the evening pants are highly recommended as some restaurants won’t admit you in shorts or sandals). Loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts and pants are recommended if you take any day trips out to smaller towns, where immodest attire is frowned upon. Bring a large hat to block the sun from your face and neck. Pack a light sweater or jacket for San José’s cool nights and early mornings and for trips up volcanoes. Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and hiking.

Waterproof hiking sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe are good for strolling about town, and also for beach walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad mudholes you’ll find on rain and cloud forest trails. Manuel Antonio is warm year-round and all restaurants accept shorts and flip flops

Do I need to speak Spanish?

The official language is Spanish. Most people in San José and Manuel Antonio/Quepos speak English too. You can also find people who speak German, French and Italian. Knowledge of the basics hello (Hola) and thanks (gracias) goes a long way. Try to learn a few phrases and numbers before you come. English is spoken in most areas where tourism exists.

Do I need an electrical adapter?

Costa Rica follows the U.S. standards of 110/220V AC 60Hz.  Vacation Villas are equipped with standard U.S. flat-prong type outlets and will accommodate your electrical needs. However, if you stay in a hotel in San José or some other place, you may need a round prong adapter for your flat prong device; the voltage is the same.

Which Airport do I fly into?

The closest International Airport to Manuel Antonio is Juan Santa Maria International Airport with the airport code SJO. Please note that Liberia Airport is approximately 3 hours farther away from Manuel Antonio than SJO Airport.  When booking your flights, please be sure to check that you are booking to San Jose Costa Rica and not San Jose California. There is also a small regional airport located right outside of Manuel Antonio and approximately 20 minutes to each Villa. However, there are significant weight restrictions and airlines do not fly at night since there are no landing lights at the airport or during heavy rain storms. Therefore, it is better to have your personal Concierge Coordinate a private driver to greet you at the airport.

How to get to Manuel Antonio?

There are several options for getting to Manuel Antonio from the San Jose International Airport. The best way to get to your Villa safely, is by taking private transportation that can be coordinated through your personal Concierge Manager and Vacation Coordinator. Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport and will help you with your luggage. They will also stop along the way for any bathroom breaks, to eat lunch, and at the famous crocodile bridge, as requested. There are local flights to Manuel Antonio from the International Airport, however, these flights tend to be very unreliable and are often cancelled without any notice. There are also several companies that provide shared shuttle services, however, they often have limited schedules. This may be a good option for a solo traveler as the cost will be less than private transportation, but the trip can often take well over an hour longer than in private transportation. For 3 or more travelers, it is much more economical to take private transportation.

How Long is the Drive to Manuel Antonio?

The drive from San Jose airport to Manuel Antonio is approximately 2 hours 15 minutes. Occasionally, this can take longer if there are any delays on the road or during the busy weeks such as Christmas and New Year’s.

Should I rent a car?

There are many car rental agencies in Costa Rica and your Concierge can help you get accurate quotes for a car rental. Please be wary of quotes from the Internet for car rentals as they are often very inaccurate. Many people are surprised when they arrive at the car rental agency and are charged double what they are quoted on the Internet. This is because they do not include mandatory basic insurance and taxes in the quote. Your Concierge will have great contacts with car rental agencies and will make sure to give you an accurate price.

Do I need to rent a car?

Please keep in mind that the majority of excursions that you go on will provide transportation to and from the Villa. Often, it is more economical to take taxis than to rent a car. Your concierge is available to coordinate taxis for you at any time; please just let them know. Also, the public bus system runs every 20 minutes at a very reasonable cost of .75 cents.

How many beaches are there in Manuel Antonio?

The main beach is called Playa Espadilla. This beach has many restaurants small bars and some souvenir stores right in front of the water. There also water activities and you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas and they even have waiters walking around to serve you lunch or provide drinks. Your concierge will take care of any reservations necessary and will also call taxis for you to go back and forth to the beach.

Biesanz beach is the best beach for swimming as it is located in a protected Bay with small waves and no rip currents. Your Concierge will explain where the entrance to the Biesanz trail is. From there it is just a short 10-minute walk down to the beach. You can also rent beach chairs, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and paddle boards on this beach. While there are no restaurants, there are several people who sell drinks and snacks.

There are also several beaches within the Manuel Antonio National Park. Foreigners pay a $16 entrance fee and can spend the day in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Please ask your Concierge to coordinate a guided tour of the park. If you wish to stay behind to enjoy the beautiful beaches inside the park, just let your guide know.

How is security like in Manuel Antonio?

Costa Rica has a long history as a stable democracy and has not had an army in over 60 years. While, petty theft happens on occasion, Costa Rica is a very safe country and violent crime is very rare. To avoid any issues while on vacation, please keep your passports and valuables in the safe provided in the Villa and do not leave phones and wallets unattended while you’re at the beach.

Are there golf courses in Manuel Antonio?

The closest golf course is 1 hour 20 minutes from Manuel Antonio at the Los Suenos Resort. Here is a link so you can take a look and also book your tee time if you decide you would like to go: http://www.golflaiguana.com/index.php

Can we have a private chef prepare meals at a villa?

Some of our Villas come standard with a Chef while others can have one provided.  Hiring a private chef to cook at your villa is a great idea, especially for the day you arrive in Manuel Antonio. They charge $150 for dinner plus the cost of groceries. If you would like additional meals, the cost is $220 for breakfast and dinner, $250 for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and $80 for just breakfast. These are general prices for up to 10 guests and please add $10 per additional people. The chef will do the grocery shopping, prepare and serve the meal, and will do all the clean up afterward. It is such a fun experience! The chefs are able to prepare a range of meals and can accommodate different dietary needs / allergies. It is also really fun to ask them to prepare a traditional Costa Rican meal so you can experience some different foods.

How is the fishing in Quepos/Manuel Antonio?

Quepos is world known as one of the best destinations for both inshore but best understood for the fantastic offshore fishing. Several World record champions have won here. Sailfish is abundant and we have some of the best Dorado also known as Mahi Mahi and Tuna.

Inshore – you tend to catch Roosterfish, Snook, Jack Creavella, Snapper and Mackerel. And Offshore, you’ll have a good chance to catch Marlin, Dorado/Mahi Mahi, Amberjack, Snapper, Tuna, Wahoo, Black/Blue Marlin and many Sailfish

What are some of the popular restaurants in Manuel Antonio?

There are many top-notch restaurants in Manuel Antonio. Something for every budget that your Concierge can walk you through. Some of our favorites are Ronny’s Place, Z’s Gastro, Emilio’s Cafe, El Lagarto, Barba Roja, Gabriella’s, Jolly Roger, Sancho’s and for a really magical location, check out the new restaurant at Makanda.