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Frequently Asked Questions

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What was once a little dirt road that welcomed the occasional surfer is now Costa Rica’s most thriving tourist destination – Jacó (pronounced Ha-ko).  Jacó and neighboring Herradura have developed more quickly than any other part of Costa Rica in the first decade of the 2000’s.  Surrounded by incredible natural beauty and countless activities and services, the area has become a haven for long-weekend vacationers.  Though North Americans constitute the overwhelming majority of tourism in the area, the demographics of the tourists cover the spectrum.  From backpackers looking for a hostel, to millionaires out for a few days of sport fishing on their yacht – Jacó attracts people from every rank and file. 

Natural beauty, world-class surf, world-renowned sport fishing and, perhaps most importantly, close proximity to the international airport by way of a new highway have given Jacó new life.  Luxury condos, gourmet restaurants and an active nightlife have evolved with the surge of foreign visitors and ex-patriots.  The list of activities and tours being offered is seemingly endless, as are the vendors in Jacó.
With the completion of Jacó’s neighboring Los Sueños Marriott Resort and Marina in 2000, the area’s future became clear.  Now boasting a world-class fleet of sport fishing yachts as well as luxury condominiums and residences, the resort fills up with high-dollar thrill-seekers and family vacationers year-round.  When the boats dock, and the families get bored of hanging around the pool, they invariably head to Jacó for the tours, restaurants and nightlife.

Still welcoming to the budget-conscious surfer, but no stranger to the five-star traveler, Jacó is everyone’s playground.  ATVs, bungees, canopies, crocodiles, diving, hiking, horseback riding, jet skiing, rafting, surfing, snorkeling are just a few of the activities and tours offered in the surrounding area.  Two of the country’s most popular national parks Manuel Antonio and Carara National parks are both easily reachable from Jacó.  A few of the larger hotels also offer full casinos and spas.

This explosion of tourism has given rise to a before-absent middle class and ever-growing service sector.  Droves of English-speaking and gratuity-seeking people from all over the country have come to enjoy a higher-than-average wage, and the generosity of American gratuity.  Indeed the whole of Costa Rica has molded itself around the interests of the foreign traveler.  For a country only slightly larger than Maryland, its 4.7 million people play host to roughly two million foreign visitors per year. 

In light of these facts, and in a largely developed tourist center like Jacó, some visitors feel that the country is becoming overrun by tourism.  While it is true that high-rise casinos and luxury spas are not for every traveler, it does sustain an ever-growing number of people.  In fairness, it should be noted that getting in to a car and driving five minutes out of any Costa Rican tourist center will land you in the middle of the sticks. 

There are indeed pockets of tourism all over the country, however they have yet to overrun it.  With the largest percentage of protected land in the world, Costa Rica has thus far successfully tamed the lion of foreign development.  Jacó with its condo towers and marinas - one of the country’s largest centers of tourism –is still surrounded by hectares and hectares of protected forest.  The Costa Ricans are truly proud of the natural beauty they are blessed with, and even in a place as trafficked as Jacó-they manage to enjoy it, respect it and protect it. 

How far is Jaco Beach/ Adventure Tours’ Costa Rica Central Office from the International Airport (SJO)?

The trip from Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose is a beautiful 1 1/2 hour drive that makes us the closest beach resort community from the International Airport.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is your cancellation policy?

Tour Cancellation Policy –

All tour reservation deposits are non-refundable.  In some cases some percentage of credit may be applied to a future tour, or rescheduled tour – these credits are NOT guaranteed and will be given ONLY AT THE DISCRETION OF ADVENTURE TOURS COSTA RICA. 

In cases of full online pre-payment:

- One week of advance notice is required to receive a full-refund minus the reservation deposit fee (either $103.50, or 10% of the tour package – whichever amount is greater). 
- Cancellations made with 48-hours notice or more are entitled to 50% of the tour package total minus the reservation deposit fee (either $103.50, or 10% of the tour package – whichever amount is greater).

We hope you understand that in most cases there is limited availability on tours.  For that same reason we require a tour deposit to secure your place on tour which is then guaranteed for you by virtue of your deposit.  We operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Therefore all subsequent reservation requests will be made if, and only if, space is available having accounted for your reservation.  Once we have reached our capacity for any given tour, subsequent reservation requests are denied in order to respect your reserved space. 

 

Does an American citizen need a valid passport to visit Costa Rica?

A valid passport IS required when entering Costa Rica.  All foreigners must carry a valid passport that has validity for a minimum of six months following the date of entry in to Costa Rica.  Additionally, be sure that your passport is in decent physical condition as damaged travel documents may be refused at the place of entry.  (TOP OF PAGE)
 

Is a visa required to enter Costa Rica?

Citizens of the US, Canada and Europe are NOT required to have a special visa to enter the country.  At entry a stamp will be made on your passport indicating date of entry and the 90 day period given when arriving as a tourist.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Is Costa Rica a safe place to travel?

Costa Rica is THE safest place to travel in Central America.  Costa Rica has no military, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for President and boasts the most stable democratic government in Central America.  Of course, common sense practices of securing valuables and essential documents is always wise.  Petty theft is common in tourist destinations worldwide and Costa Rica is no exception. 

Hiring a reputable company to handle your initial transportation and accommodations is always a good idea when visiting a foreign country for the first time.  Use credit cards when in doubt, companies that do not handle credit cards can seldom be held accountable for their practices.  Adventure Tours Costa Rica is glad to accept any major credit card for any of our services that you may require.  (TOP OF PAGE)

How is cellphone and internet communication in Costa Rica?

There are internet cafes almost everywhere a tourist has ever set foot now in Costa Rica.  In major tourist destinations such as Jaco/Los Suenos, wireless signals abound.  Contrarily, there are few international calling plans that actually do work (though most claim to) in Costa Rica.  Depending on the technology, AT&T, Cingular and Verizon are among the few that do work inside the country.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Is an international drivers license required to drive a car in Costa Rica?

No special international license is required to drive in Costa Rica, though you must have a valid license from your home country.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Is driving a rental car a good idea in Costa Rica?

Driving a rental car in Costa Rica can be a great way to get out and explore lesser traveled areas, as well as save on transportation expenses if you plan on spending the majority of your time traveling during your stay.  However, there are a number of things to consider when making your decision:

- Costa Rica driving is NOT like driving in the United States, most Americans find Costa Rican drivers to be extremely aggressive on the road, and to some it can be very stressful. 
- Transportation in Costa Rica is expensive.  Despite what you may find on the internet, you will not find a decent car for less than $50/day once taxes, securities and all fees are applied. 
- There are no street names and numbers in Costa Rica which can be extremely frustrating to those trying to find their way for the first time and do not speak the language.
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How are the taxis and car services in Costa Rica?

Always use a reputable company when choosing a transportation service.  Be sure to verify basic info such as: the kind of vehicle being offered, if the driver is bilingual, if the vehicle is properly insured etc.  It can be surprising what passes as professional transportation in Costa Rica. 

The national taxis are a good and inexpensive option for local transportation.  Always be sure to use a nationally licensed taxi, they are red and all have a yellow triangle on the doors indicating the vehicle ID number.  Be sure to insist that the meter is used ("la Maria").  (TOP OF PAGE)

Is the water safe to drink in Costa Rica?

Though considered by most to be safe, it is always recommendable to drink bottled water to insure an illness-free vacation when traveling abroad.  Foreign tap water is exactly that - foreign, and everybody reacts differently.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is the currency of Costa Rica?

The currency of Costa Rica is called the Colon.  You can click here for an up to the minute quote on today’s dollar/colon exchange rate.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Are dollars or credit cards accepted forms of payment in Costa Rica?

Yes, credit cards and dollars are accepted in most areas that tourists frequent.  However, along the road and in smaller towns the Colon is the normal form of payment.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Are there ATM machines that accept American/foreign ATM/Credit Cards?

Almost all ATMs in Costa Rica accept Visa/MasterCard ATM cards.  Cash advances are also common at most Costa Rican banks though service fees may vary.  (TOP OF PAGE)

Are there any inoculations or vaccinations that are required before traveling to Costa Rica?

Though no vaccinations are required to enter Costa Rica, it is always a good idea to check the CDC - Center for Disease Control website for up to date information on any area you are traveling to.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is the voltage in Costa Rica and is a converter needed for electronics etc?

Voltage/electricity in Costa Rica is the same as the United States with two/three-pronged outlets giving 110 volts.  European electronics will require a converter.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What timezone is Costa Rica in?

Costa Rica is in the U.S. Central Standard Timezone.  However, Costa Rica does NOT observe the daylight savings changes observed in the US, and therefore varies by one-hour for half of the year.  (TOP OF PAGE)

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

It is always a good time to visit Costa Rica!  High Season is considered by most to run from December to April, though in more heavily touristed areas it can be considered to extend through early August.  Some people, however, prefer the “Green” Season because the temperature is a bit cooler and the more popular tourist areas are less crowded.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is the difference between High Season and “Green” Season?

Above all things that distinguish High Season from “Green” Season is the rain.  The rain is occasional in High (or Dry) Season, whereas consistent afternoon showers are the norm in “Green” (Rainy) Season.  Though the Rainy Season is considered to begin in April or May, the heaviest rainfall typically occurs between September and November.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is standard tipping practice in Costa Rica?

Costa Ricans are not strangers to the generous tippers from the United States, and in fact many depend upon it.  Service industry workers such as drivers and guides are accustomed to receiving what their equals might receive in the US. 

However, one notable exception is the Costa Rican restaurant.  It in not uncommon to be automatically charged 10% for service and 13% for taxes at many restaurants in Costa Rica.  Though some unknowingly tip 15% - 20% on top of this inflated amount, adding 10% for excellent service can be seen as both a gesture of generosity and understanding.  (TOP OF PAGE)

What is a ‘Tico,’ and how is the term ‘Gringo’ used in Costa Rica?

‘Tico’ is simply the Costa Rican term for Costa Rican - there is no positive or negative connotation to the term.  Similarly, ‘Gringo’ is simply the word for American - there is no positive or negative connotation. 

As a side note, ‘Americano’ is not a recognized way to express that someone is from the United States as everyone in Latin America considers themselves to be an Americano.  The correct way of indicating you are from the United States is Estadunidense. For most, the term Gringo is a much easier way to express their nationality.  (TOP OF PAGE)

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