The basic unit of Costa Rican currency is the Colón (colones = plural) . It may be a little confusing as Costa Rican banknotes and coins are both referred to as colons; coins are marked as colones, although 1/100 of a colon coin is called a centimo.
As most seasoned travelers are acutely aware, an airport cambio is not the best place to change currency. However, we find that it's worth a couple of dollars extra to have some currency in hand when we land in foreign countries. For this particular trip, that is what we did at our home airport and it worked out well for a small amount of money.
We twice exchanged American dollars for Costa Rican colones at our hotel in San Jose because the exchange rate was excellent so we did not bother with banks or trying to find an ATM. Costa Rica does have ATMs, but I am not sure they would be considered as ubiquitous as they might be in other countries.
NOTE: As with some other countries, you may find that certain Costa Rican currency will be "out of date." For example, once when we were given Costa Rican coins as change after a purchase, we tried to use the coins on another purchase at a different store. But when it came time to use them, the vendor rejected a coin we gave him because it was "old." This apparently is also the case with some Costa Rican paper currency. If this happens, you may try exchanging it for newer money perhaps at a bank. However, there is probably no way to tell whether someone is giving you unacceptable currency or not.
For Collectors: travelers who collect country currencies as souvenirs may be interested in finding the old Costa Rican 5 colones paper bank note because it depicts a famous painting, the "Alegoría al café y el banano", from the ceiling in the Teatro Nacional in San Jose (the painting is depicted on the 3rd piece of currency at the bottom of the photo). This bank note has been pulled from circulation, and it is also likely that no vendor will accept it. However, these notes are considered by some to be collector's items. I actually bought several of these notes from a man selling them outside of the Teatro Nacional because of the famous painting it depicts, and there will eventually be none left -- also because, as with a few other Costa Rican bank notes, they are quite beautiful and the colors are vivid.
As I have a small collection of foreign currencies, I always try to keep a banknote or two from our travels.
Since so many people always ask about Costa rica weather here is a description taken from a costa rica weather page...
Rain is a fact of life in Costa Rica. Annual precipitation averages 250 cm (100 inches) nationwide. Depending on the region, the majority of this may fall in relatively few days--sometimes fewer than 15 per year.
. The mountains, by contrast, often exceed 385 cm (150 inches) per year, sometimes as much as 7.6 meters (25 feet) on the more exposed easterly facing slopes. And don't expect to stay dry in the montane rainforests; even on the sunniest days, the humid forests produce their own internal rain as water vapor condenses on the cool leaves and falls.
Generally, rains occur in the early afternoons in the highlands, midafternoons in the Pacific lowlands, and late afternoons (and commonly during the night) in the Atlantic lowlands. Sometimes it falls in sudden torrents called aguaceros, sometimes it falls hard and steady, and sometimes it sheets down without letup for several days and nights.
Dry season on the Meseta Central and throughout the western regions is December through April. In Guanacaste, the dry season usually lingers slightly longer; the northwest coast (the driest part of the country) often has few rainy days even during wet season. On the Atlantic coast, the so-called dry season occurs January-April.
Even in the rainy season, days often start out warm and sunny, although temporales (morning rainfall) are not uncommon, it may not even rain at all some days..
In the highlands, rainy season usually brings an hour or two of rain midafternoon. Still, be prepared: 23 hours of a given day may be dry and pleasant; during the 24th, the rain can come down with the force of a waterfall. The sudden onset of a relatively dry period, called veranillo (little summer), sometimes occurs July-August or August-September, particularly along the Pacific coast.
Fondest memory: Every thing, anyone traveling to costa rica or planning a trip there, enjoy .............
A troop of Howler Monkeys lived in the woods very close to our condo. Every morning at 4 am I would hear them strart howling. Again about dusk we would hear them again.
I love that sound and really missed it when we left.
One day we had gone for a walk. We heard something stir so we stopped. A short distance in front of us we spotted this Howler Monkey sitting on a branch in a tree.
There are 16 different sorts of parrots in Costa Rica. It's lovely to see them fly. They are always making a lot of noise and like to show off their colourful feathers.
Fondest memory: One of those parrots is the scarlet macaw. There are only 500 left in Costa Rica. These are beautiful yellow-red-blue coloured big parrots and measure around 85 cm (33 inch). You can only find them in Carara National Park, Corcovado National Park and along the Pacific Coast.
You must be very lucky to see them, and we were! We saw about 30 in Carara National Park, all together gathered in some trees. If they are around, you can't miss them because they make a lot of noise. We were so happy because this was the purpose of our trip to this national park.
I was recommended a few web sites before my trip and thought you might benefit from them. I used them all, for different aspect of our trip, from finding a hotel to learning about the country or the weather...!
General, Latin America: www.americas-fr.com
They send you free magazines for 6 months if you tell them your trip plan or make an itinerary for you according to your plan: www.costaricaexpeditions.com
National park: www.inbio.ac.cr/en/default.html
National park: www.minae.go.cr
National park: www.sinac.go.cr/inicio/index.html
Tico Time, newspaper: www.ticotimes.net
Sights and sounds of Costa Rica (really nice!!): www.naturesongs.com/CRsounds.html
My favorite thing about Costa Rica is the fact that the people there are trying very hard to preserve the natural beauty of their country. A visit to any of the National Parks is proof positive that conservation is of the utmost importance here. They are working hard to balance the "eco" and the "tourism" so that the entire world can enjoy the diverse beauty here, without destroying natural habitat.
Fondest memory: I can't pick just one thing to take away with me from Costa Rica. But our trip to a local school was both humbling and endearing. I want to revisit so that I can experience the wonder and smiles of the children there. They were eager to experience life through our eyes, and anxious for us to know how much they love their country, and how proud they are to be Ticos!
Favorite thing: Most butterflies are found around Monteverde. In this area you can find 545 different sorts. All over Costa Rica are about 1000. Most butterflies only live one month. They like to eat nectar, rotten fruit and even dead insects. Butterflies need the warmth of the sun to warm up their muscles. During cold weather they will hide under the leaves.
One of my favorite things about Costa Rica is there coffee.
Some say the best in the world...I guess it all depends on what you like.
I love there coffee,especially the Arabica blend.
Two main species of coffee are cultivated today.
Arabica coffee accounts for 75-80% of the world's production. Robusta coffee, is more robust than the Arabica plants, but produces an inferior tasting coffee with a higher caffeine content.
The coffee plant can grow to heights of 10 meters if not pruned, but producing countries will maintain the coffee at a height reasonable for easy harvesting.
For mor information on coffee and a place to shop is at cafebritt. Prices are not that bad and sometimes they run specials,2 for 1 etc
Go to www.cafebritt.com
Fondest memory: Good strong coffee....
My favorite thing about Costa Rica is everything. You can do about everything you can imagine. You can see what you only dreamt of. You can experience wonders...
Fondest memory: - The luxurious view we had up on the hill, north of Alajuela
- The rolling waves of Jaco beach
- The sunset on the Pacific ocean on the hill of Manuel Antonio
- The sailfish jumping on the horizon and their ballet dancing around the boat
- The quiet and warm air at night, even downtown San Jose, as I gazed at the stars
- The unexpected jacuzi in Fortuna's San Bosco
- The mist walls gowing down on Monteverde
- The prestige of the Arenal volcano
- The walk back from the Catarata Rio Fortuna
- The sloth on the shore of the Penas Blancas river
- The freshly squeeze juices
- The colorful hummingbirds
There are so many places and things about Costa Rica which are great.
I think that going on the Canopy tour is a great experiance. There are many to choose from, so read the description about each one.
It is something that you will not forget.
You can take a guided tour which will cost more, or you can try to get your own transpotation to each place and get your own ticket.
One good thing about a guided tour is that you do learn alot about the country and they no wear there going.
Also i enjoyed the quad tour, we had a great time....
Fondest memory: We miss the people of Costa Rica. Very friendly and all ways willing to help.
They all ways seem to smile and enjoy life.
Carlos and his friend were our guides on our Quad tour. We had a great time, got swim in the water fall, swing on the tree swing and got to get dirty................
Pack some clothes you can wash, or don,t mind getting dirty, because you will........
The beaches are great and if you have the chance , you must do the west coast at sunset......
The beaches of Manzanillo, playa san miguel and playa hermosa were done this day.
A page for them coming soon.
This sunset was at playa hermosa and it was spectacular......
We were able to swim out quit far and the sand was very fine..even walking out..
Our guide told us this was our day and we could do anything and go anywere we wanted ...
We got to see some very nice beach homes and places that were really beautiful.....
It was part of the sunset tour.....
Fondest memory: Sunset at playa hermosa......
Just being able to walk along the beach at this time of day and no back home that the tempature is -5 degrees....
The flamboyant (flame tree) is a tropical tree native to Madagascar. It is widely planted in Costa Rica for its immense racemes of scarlet and orange flowers.
Fondest memory: We were so lucky to come during the right season (between Spring and late Summer) and see the tree flower. The colour of this tree is so vivid and a joy for the eye.
All joking aside, it's probably not a great idea to go surfing or swimming at a rivermouth. Granted the odds are on your side against anything awful happening, but there's an increased chance of a croc encounter here as compared to a little ways down the beach. On a surf trip here about 10 years ago we surfed a really fun rivermouth spot called Tivives. We just found it by off-roading without knowing a thing about it. I was always a bit proud of the 'discovery'.
On this last trip, I mentioned the spot to a couple locals. Same reaction every time, "Too many crocodiles there, no way." One even told me a story of seeing a surfer with a croc attached to his calf....no thanks.
This slow-moving tree-dwelling mammal was difficult to spot. You really needed a guide. They were very good in spotting those creatures. Sometimes the guide pointed out a sloth to us, and still we couldn't see them. Most of the time you only saw a heap of fur hanging motionless in the tree. Green algae grow in its fur, which makes it a good camouflage against its predators.
There are two kinds of sloths: the three-toed and two-toed sloth. The latter is extinct and lives higher up in the trees. They are hanging around in the trees for about 40 years and only come to the ground once a week to go to the toilet.
Favorite thing: Cloud forests are found at an altitude of at least 1500 m. The forest is shrouded in mist for 9 months of the year. The mist and clouds come with the trade winds of the Pacific Ocean. The vegetation is somewhat different from the rest of the rain forest. Here you will find plants that grow well in this colder and more humid environment like moss and fern.
San Pablo De Turrubares, Costa Rica (Formerly La Finca Que Ama Hotel)
Good for: Business
I don’t know how many of you have stayed in an all inclusive hotel before... but this resort was so...more
Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...more