CASA TRANQUILA’S Insider Tips for Costa Rica

View You must be excited to be coming to Costa Rica.  Please let me provide a little help for you.

I’ve owned Casa Tranquila since 2006, and listened to questions from 800 Guests and Friends who have visited me here. These are the Most Valuable Insider Tips for Costa Rica I have accumulated, and I want to share them with you. Whether you stay at Casa Tranquila, another Amazing Luxury Villa in Manuel Antonio, or, for that matter: anywhere in Costa Rica, I want you to have these as my gift.  They will almost certainly help make for a stress-free vacation.

Yes, You can drink the water

It’s safe. More than safe.  Costa Rica’s water is high in calcium and magnesium and has been merited in making it one of the world’s top rated Blue Zones. (Areas where the largest preponderance of people live to exceed 100 years old).  Yet, if you drink bottled water in The US, you may feel more confident drinking it in Costa Rica too.  The disasters you hear about with Mexico’s water are worlds away from Costa Rica.  The Tip: Drink it.

There’s no need to exchange money before coming to CR

The exchange rates are horrible. If you are coming from The US or Canada, those currencies are accepted in Costa Rica. You can pay with USD, and will receive your change in colones (Costa Rica’s currency). The Tip: Bring your US Dollars. Use the ATMs as you arrive at the airport if you want some immediate colones.

Notify your bank

Costa Rica ATMs will recognize your US card and distribute either dollars or colones.  It is strongly suggested you notify your bank prior to your leaving The US to let it know you will be in Costa Rica.  When the security features activate, and your card is frozen or confiscated by a machine, it is very difficult to reactivate it.  The Tip: Send a quick email to your bank prior to your departure. 

Make Passport Copies

You will need your legal passport only to arrive, to drive, and to leave Costa Rica.  After you arrive at Casa Tranquila, lock your passport in the safe until you leave.  It is a very good idea to make several copies of your passport (place one in your checked luggage), and keep one with you at all times. The Tip: Visit Kinko’s before your flight.

Don’t worry about the police

Police in Costa Rica are very friendly to tourists. . . as long as you remain calm and courteous toward them.  Few speak English, so a big smile is always helpful if you have an encounter.  Usually, they just want to see how patient you will be. Produce your identification when asked, and be just as friendly as he will be.  The Tip: Calmly let the authority guide you through what he wants

Converters are not necessary

All outlets are 110 volts.  The Tip: Don’t bring a converter.

Bring a list of medications you use (and their generic equivalents)

Many (not all) medications that require prescriptions in The US (and other countries) can be purchased in Costa Rica without one.  You can return to The US with these (in reasonable amounts) as long as you retain your receipts.  The cost of these medications is usually not much different than they would be if purchased in The US, however. (This is also a smart precaution in case you get sick while here). The Tip: While here, stock up on your meds that may otherwise be hard to get in the US.

Costa Ricans (Ticos) are non-confrontational

Pack a big bag of Patience, and remember you are coming for vacation.  Ticos do not like to argue and they will not respond well to raised voices, strong body language or indications that a customer will: a) go “over their head”, b) write a bad review on Trip Advisor, or c) never come back to their establishment.  Unlike most other countries, ire usually backfires and makes your existing frustration even worse.  The Tip: Bring lots of smiles.

Forget about drugs

While officials are not renown for seeking out drugs, if you are found with illegal drugs, you will be detained in Costa Rica (and not for holiday).  The Tip: Plan a drug-free vacation.

Visas are not necessary

Your passport is all you need to visit Costa Rica.  The Tip: No consulate research needed.

Stop at the Duty-Free Shops when you arrive

Because all flights entering SJO arrive from other countries, you are allowed to shop upon arrival.  You will find the price of liquor, beer and wine to be less than half the cost of anywhere else in Costa Rica. The attendants will box your purchase in an easy-to-carry box, taped and handled. The Tip: As eager as you may be to get through immigration, you will certainly be happy you took the time to buy your liquor in the airport. . .after you see the prices in the other stores in Costa Rica.

Don’t visit your doctor

You don’t need any inoculations to travel to Costa Rica (or leave). The Tip: No shots.

Be ready for the Departure Tax

Upon leaving Costa Rica, you will pay a $28 departure tax.  Every single person departing the country must do this.  It is a simple and quick process at the airport, and can be paid in USD, credit card or Costa Rican currency. There is no need to pay it in advance since the process at SJO moves very quickly. The Tip: It’s a perfect way to dump all those remaining colones as you leave Costa Rica 

MORE . . . .

I have prepared additional helpful “Insider Tips” specific to Manuel Antonio. Costa Rica is a small country (the size of West Virginia), but there are profound differences among the regions.

Statistically, Manuel Antonio is the Most Popular, Most Visited area by all tourists of Costa Rica. 

It will be helpful for you to have information specific to Manuel Antonio.  For now, I am reserving those “Insider Tips”, exclusively for Guests who have sent inquiries for Casa Tranquila on:

VRBO/HomeAway (

Trip Advisor/Flip Key (

VacationRentals (

These Manuel Antonio Tips include topics such as:

  • Beaches
  • Safety
  • Driving customs
  • Local Transportation
  • Parks & Tours
  • Dates of “Green Season”

To receive these “Insider Tips: Manuel Antonio” immediately, please send your inquiry today.