The Costa Rican unit of currency is the colón. The colón, originally named after Christopher Columbus who was the first European to visit Costa Rica, has a value that fluctuates between 500-550 colónes per 1 US dollar. US dollars are pretty universally accepted in Costa Rica, especially at hotels and restaurants and are essential to bring here to Drake Bay where there aren't any ATMs or banks.. We always recommend to be prepared to pay colónes when dining at local sodas, taking public transportation and tours not offered directly from the hotel. Below are our top Costa Rica money tips & travel costs :
Costa Rica Travel CostsTours and Activities : Various tours and activities can range tremendously in price. Anywhere from $30 on up. Here at Tranquilo Lodge in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, we offer many different tours to choose from when on your vacation. Our list of our tours include:
- Corcovado National Rainforest Park Tour
- Cano Island Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
- Terraba / Sierpe Wetland Experience (Mangrove Tour)
- Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours
- Pelagic Sea Tour
- Rio Claro Jungle River Adventure Tour
- Horseback Riding Tour
- Ziplining / Canopy Tour
- Night Rainforest Tour
- Bird Watching
- Sport fishing
- Sunset Boat Cruise
Food : Just like everything in Costa Rica, dining and restaurants can vary in price, whether you're on a budget, looking to splurge or looking for an all-inclusive dining + lodging option, there's a little something for everyone here.
Budget travelers or "doing as the locals do" travelers, tend to gravitate towards local sodas for their Costa Rican fare and meals. Cost : $3-$4 US per person per meal.
Mid-range travelers usually stick with a variety of restaurants that offer many different types of delicious fare that tend to cater to those from many areas of the world (seafood, american, italian, spanish, with a Costa Rican influence). Cost : $5-$10 US per person per meal.
Depending on which area of the country you are visiting, there are some high-end restaurants experiences available, costing around $20 on up per person per meal.
All inclusive dining tends to be travelers' favorite option when visiting Costa Rica. Here at Tranquilo Lodge, we offer all-inclusive dining with a variety of homemade, gourmet and specially cooked meals by our own resident Chef Raffa. We use all fresh and local ingredients, including our own fresh caught fish, local vegetables, and fruit from our own trees, all to meet any dietary restrictions or specifications. A typical breakfast could be : homemade Costa Rican breakfast, Gallo Pinto or Vegetable Omlette, A typical lunch or dinner could be : our own fresh caught Oahu fish beer battered or grilled and served family style with homemade tortillas, local roasted vegetables, beans, homemade salsa, and a gourmet dessert to top it off.
Lodging : Budget hotels/hostels ($15 on up), midrange hotels ($50 on up), high-end hotels & impressive ecolodges ($100 on up) exist all over the country to suit your travel needs. Tranquilo Lodge is an all-inclusive luxury hotel and eco-lodge located in Drake Bay, Costa Rica. Nestled on the Southern Pacific coast of the Osa Peninsula, our hotel offers luxury hotel accommodations, all-inclusive gourmet dining, an infinity pool with 180 degree panoramic ocean and sunset views and is perfectly situated near the Corcovado National Rainforest, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world.
Visit www.thetranquilolodge.com to book your reservation today!
Seasons : All around, traveling to Costa Rica tends to be more expensive during the "dry season" (December to April) and holidays, including Christmas, New Years, and Semana Santa. Whereas "green season" tends to be the least expensive time to travel (May-November).
Costa Rica Money Tips
Banks, ATMs and Money
Colónes come in 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 bills. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100. Older coins are silver and slightly larger, while newer coins are gold-colored and smaller.
All banks will exchange US dollars and many will exchange British pounds or euros. Travelers checks can be cashed at banks or exchange bureaus for a commission of 1% to 3%. Some hotels accept travelers checks for payment, but many do not.
ATMs (known as cajeros automáticos) are widely available in Costa Rica. Some banks charge a fee for using an ATM abroad, so check with your bank before traveling to Costa Rica. Credit cards are widely accepted at midrange and upscale hotels and restaurants. Most credit cards include a transaction fee for international purchases.
Taxes and Tipping
There is a 13% tax on all purchases in Costa Rica, including souvenirs, food, and hotels. Hotels add an additional 3% tourist surcharge and most restaurants include a 10% gratuity fee. You are not obligated to tip on top of this, but it’s good practice to do so, because the 10% fee is split among many people. If you want to tip your waiter directly, leave more money on the table.
Should you choose to do so, you may want to tip other people while in Costa Rica, including maids, bellhops, or drivers. Tips for these services usually range from US$1 to US$10 a day. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip.
Getting and Exchanging Money
Before you get here: There is no advantage to trying to change dollars to colones before you get to Costa Rica, but when traveling to Tranquilo Lodge in Drake Bay, we suggest exchanging money at the airport or stopping at an ATM before arrival, as there are no ATMs in Drake Bay, and only cash is accepted in this area.
At the airport: You can change money at the airport banks from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are two ATMs there as well, which we recommend using. Ask for the cajera automática if you are unable to locate one. You will see money-exchange booths in the baggage claim area at the airport, but keep in mind that they charge hefty commissions.
ATMs: ATMs that work with debit cards are located all over Costa Rica. If you don't have a debit card, order one several weeks before you leave, so that your bank has time to mail it to you.. Be sure you know your PIN, and find out your daily withdrawal limit before you depart.
To protect themselves from theft, credit card companies sometimes limit the amount that can be withdrawn abroad, so let them know you will be traveling. You can get the official exchange rate using an ATM, but some banks impose a fee every time a card is used at an ATM, and the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee.
Some US banks charge an additional currency conversion fee. Still, the time you save by using an ATM rather than travelers checks (which also have fees attached) might be worth it.
We hope this article has helped with your vacation planning and that you and your loved ones get to experience all of the incredible adventures here in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!
We are Tranquilo Lodge, an oceanfront Drake Bay hotel with luxury accommodations, ocean view deluxe cabinas, infinity pool and all-inclusive dining all located in the jungle of Drake Bay, Costa Rica. Ready for pure adventure? Visit www.thetranquilolodge.com to book your reservation today! Still have questions? Contact us, we are here to help!