ARENAL - FAQ

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Costa Rica is served by Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA code SJO), which is located 17 kilometers (approximately 10.5 miles) northwest of downtown San Jose.

If you are continuing on to Arenal there are several options. You can rent a car on your arrival and drive to Arenal, this will also give you freedom around Arenal to explore the area and various attractions, hot springs, etc. Another option is to use a shared shuttle like EasyRide Costa Rica, Interbus, or Gray Line. Look at the schedules and see which one works best for you.

If you are spending the night in San Jose several options to get to your hotel. There is a local bus stop outside the airport (on the other side of the multi-story parking garage outside of arrivals). It costs less than 570 colones (about $1) and takes you right downtown. You can put your luggage in the storage area below on the bus. The least expensive option is taking the bus into downtown and get a taxi there to your final destination. Make sure you have some smaller colones bills as the may not take larger bills.The taxis charge 17,000 colones (about $30) to take you to the San Jose, be sure to take one of the licensed orange taxis that say `Taxi Aeropuerto.` There are many unlicensed taxi drivers who will charge you almost twice as much as Taxi Aeropuerto. There is an ATM by the entrance to he departures that will give you both Colones and Dollars.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Officially licensed taxis are colored red or orange; if a taxi is any other color or lacks the inverted yellow triangle on the doors, it’s a `pirate taxi` operating illegally. When boarding the taxi ask the taxi driver `Puede poner la maria, por favor?` (Could you please turn the meter on?), otherwise, you will pay a higher price. For a taxi, call Coopetaxi (tel. 506/2235-9966) or Coopetico (tel. 506/2224-7979).

Should I rent a car in Arenal?

Yes, renting a car is an excellent way to explore Arenal and see the countryside of Costa Rica. Some of the advantages are obvious – go where you want, when you want. Make your own agenda and have more freedom.

Is Arenal a walking city?

La Fortuna is a great place to get around by foot. Located 11 miles east of Arenal Volcano, the town of La Fortuna is approximately seven blocks long and three blocks wide. Restaurants, shops and internet cafes line the main street. There is a catholic church and a central park (Fortuna Park) in the center of town with shaded benches and views of the volcano.

Is the Arenal area dangerous? Are there any areas I should avoid?

Yes, Arenal is a very safe area to visit. Most of the crimes committed are petty and rarely violent. If you are traveling through San Jose, take precautions to prevent crime. When walking around the city, keep your passport safely locked away in your hotel room. Pickpockets have been known to target tourists, so make sure your purses, bags, and wallets are close to your body at all times. Travelers to San Jose have also complained about crime at the airport. Stay alert, only travel in familiar areas of town, and contact the police immediately if you are the victim of a crime.

What are the customs for tipping in Costa Rica? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Costa Rica is the Colon. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for colones upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I do not speak Spanish. Will many people speak English in Costa Rica?

No, about 90 percent of Costa Ricans speak Spanish as their first language. English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest that you get a good English-Spanish dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

Do I need a visa to visit Costa Rica?

No, U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica for stays of less than 90 days. However, they must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica (either to return to the U.S. or to go to another country).

Are Vaccinations required to visit Costa Rica? Are there any other precautions I should take?

No, there are currently no vaccination requirements to visit Costa Rica. There is no risk of yellow fever in Costa Rica. The government of Costa Rica requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. This does not include the US.

Zika is a risk in Costa Rica. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant should not travel to Costa Rica. All travelers should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika virus during and after the trip. For the latest updates visit the CDC page https://www.cdc.gov/ on the internet.

What kind of food is available in Arenal?

A typical breakfast is hearty and consists of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans - sometimes served with scrambled eggs). Lunch is solid too, the typical dishes are Casado (rice and beans, served with meat or fish, fried plantains, cheese and corn tortilla), Ceviche (fish marinated and cooked in lime juice, coriander and pepper). There is not a dinner culture in Costa Rica. An afternoon snack consists of bread and coffee.

Can I drink the water in Costa Rica?

No, the water is not drinkable in Costa Rica. We suggest that you carry bottled water with you. Most tourist areas will have bottled water available for purchase.