Central Costa Rica: Travel Tips

Nature lovers gravitate to Central Costa Rica, where travelers can explore volcanoes, go whitewater rafting or take a surf lesson on one of the Costa Rica's famed beaches. With tropical rainforests, hot springs, and exotic wildlife up close, a vacation in Central Costa Rica is perfect for romance or adventure.

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Getting To Central Costa Rica

The best way to visit Central Costa Rica is to fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). For travelers staying under the shadow of the Arenal Volcano, expect the drive from the airport to take approximately three hours to the Arenal region. The Central Pacific region and its beaches is a two hour drive. November to April is considered the high season, when travelers can expect dry heat and very little rainfall while the rainier, greener season is between May and October.

There are non-stop flight options into San Jose from New York (JFK), Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Phoenix.

Flight times to SJO

  • 5.0 hours from New York (non-stop)
  • 4.0 hours from Dallas (non-stop)
  • 5.0 hours from Phoenix (non-stop)
  • 8.0 hours from Los Angeles (with connection)

Staying In Central Costa Rica

When staying in Costa Rica, travelers can see numerous species of wildlife, including monkeys, exotic birds, reptiles and flowers. The Central Costa Rica area draws visitors year-round thanks to its proximity to the Arenal Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and numerous surfing beaches.

Must see

  • Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest

Things to do

  • Hike across hanging bridges through the Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Catch a beautiful view from high above the tropical rainforest in a canopy tour.
  • Take a dip in a relaxing natural hot spring or under a secluded waterfall.
  • Visit Playa Jaco, one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica.
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Traveling In Central Costa Rica

Classic Vacations can arrange convenient and comfortable transfers at the time of booking. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel via private taxi or shared transfer.

While traveling in Costa Rica we recommend:

  • Private transfers at time of booking - Most private transfers include a meet-and-greet by English-speaking drivers, luggage assistance, and bottled water in modern vehicles.

Things to Know

Entry Requirements

  • A valid passport is required for entry into Costa Rica and return to the United States
  • Some countries may also require you to present a return airline ticket
  • It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain the proper documents


  • Costa Rican currency is called the colon, however U.S. currency is accepted nearly everywhere you go in Costa Rica.
  • Most major American and European credit cards are accepted throughout Costa Rica, however it is advisable to bring cash as well.
  • ATMs are available in resort areas, but are scarce in less populated regions.

Time Difference

  • Costa Rica is in the Central Time Zone.

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