Traveling to Costa Rica

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If you  have considered coming to Costa Rica to look at properties, now is the time to buy in the south pacific villages of the Costa Ballena area.  The local real estate market is heating up with the weather and we expect this to continue. 

People want to live in this growing region, filled with vibrant communities that are situated amidst the natural wonders of this jungle forest region, with fresh mountain air and stunning views overlooking pristine, palm lined beaches. 

Below is some information that may help you more easily find your way to seeing the many wonders that await you on your future doorstep.

 

 

Direct flights to and from San Jose (SJO International Airport)

 

From Europe:

British Airways (UK) - non-stop service to SJO on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in the winter) from London’s Gatwick Airport.

Thomson Airways (UK) - non-stop service to Liberia (LIR) once a week (day depending on the time of year) from London’s Gatwick Airport.

Air France (France) - non-stop service to SJO on Wednesdays and Saturdays departing from Paris.  The airline also offers luxury sleeper seats.

Eidelweiss Air (Switzerland) - non-stop service to SJO on Tuesdays and Fridays from Zurich.

Condor (Germany) - flights arriving  to SJO on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a quick layover in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

KLM (Holland) – flights arriving to SJO on Tuesday and Friday, twice weekly November 2017 through March for the duration of Europe’s winter seaon.

Iberia (Italy/Spain) – flights arriving to SJO twice weekly from Milan and Roma via Madrid Spain.

There are many more airlines that fly weekly between Europe and Central America, with transfers typically in the U.S. or Panama. 

 

From United States:

There are a wide variety of options due to the proximity of Costa Rica to the U.S. and Canada, there are a multitude of flight options. To get an idea of the best airlines and fares, first find your city below, then read the approximate fares (2-6 month advance purchase, round trip, including all taxes and fees). If a city appears in two lists it’s because it varies a lot.

U.S. Cheap Cities – Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York, Newark, Los Angeles (L.A. jumped onto the cheap list in spring 2016 when Southwest started direct flights)

These cities all have direct flights to either SJO (San José International) or LIR (Liberia International) or both which generally means prices are lower.

Average High Season – $550

Average Low Season – $500

Good Deal – $450 or less

Great Deal – $350 or less

U.S. Average Cities – Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, L.A., New York, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco

Most flights from these departure cities require one stop and the total fare tends to depend on the fares to the domestic stopover city.

Average High Season – $650

Average Low Season – $550

Good Deal – $450 or less

Great Deal – $375 or less

U.S. Expensive Cities – Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle

Average High Season – $750-850

Average Low Season – $700-800

Good Deal – $650 or less

Great Deal – $550 or less

 

From Canada:

Fares vary widely  from Canada but generally it’s fairly expensive compared to the U.S. Some Canadians have told us they do better avoiding U.S. stopovers (TACA, AeroMexico). Others have told us the opposite.  They all agree that if they can drive to a U.S. airport they can save a lot.

Average High Season – $750-1150

Average Low Season – $  $450-  600

Good Deal – $ 600 or less

Great Deal – $ 400 or less

Remember these are average prices. That means that for everyone who saves a hundred bucks someone else is paying a hundred bucks more than the price displayed. If you start looking early, your dates are flexible and you can travel mid week you’ll have a better chance of getting or beating the average.

 

From Asia

There are a number of ports that fly to San Jose Costa Rica  There are no direct flights as of yet from Asia, with every airline offering two-stops to reach the destination and around 30 hours of travel time.

Last Minute Bargains?

Unlike domestic flights in North America, where purchasing far in advance is the best way to get a cheap flight, prices for flights to Costa Rica tend to start high for the two to six month advance purchase and then drop by as much as 30% for two to four weeks advance purchase.  Perhaps this is because people are willing to pay more for the security of knowing they have a flight and can make hotel and activity reservations.  Advance planning for many hotels and tours in this southern zone region is not generally necessary, and our team will be happy to assist you in finding the best businesses to suit your hospitality needs, including hotels, B&Bs, and home stays.

 

Do I Need a Tourist Visa?

Your home nation will determine the amount of days available for you to stay in the country as a tourist.  Residents from US, Canada, all European Union nations, Australia (for a full list of visa exempt countries, see here

In some cases, the Immigration official may request that you show economic solvency for your stay in the country (generally $500 USD per 90 days)

Even when you could have a 90-day tourist visa, the immigration official may assess the amount of time of your stay allowed on your passport (there is very little precedent for this discretion being implemented)

Visitors to Costa Rica must have apassport valid for minimum of 6 months from date of arrival, as well as proof that they will be exiting the country before their visa or entry stamp expires, usually within 90 days.

All travelers must have either a return ticket or a ticket showing they will be exiting the country, commonly referred to as an "outbound, exit or onward ticket." An onward ticket is required of non-residents who are:

•   traveling on a one-way ticket.

•   entering the country with a return ticket dated more than 90 days after arrival.

•   flying into Costa Rica and flying out of another country.

By law, an onward ticket can be any one of the following on approved, commercial transport:

•   a pre-purchased bus ticket out of the country,

•   a pre-purchased flight out of the country,

•   proof of passage on a cruise ship.

 

What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?

For people arriving from most countries, no inoculations are required.  However if traveling from the following countries, travelers must possess a yellow fever vaccination ceritifcate.  (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador as well as the Republic of Guyana)

I think we should skip this topic entirely as it changes frequently

 

The Low Season

While hotel, rent a car, domestic flights and tour prices certainly decrease in the off season, airfare to Costa Rica doesn’t necessarily decrease in proportion.  What this season does offer is a quieter time to do tours, take in sites, and peruse properties, all in the comfort of mid-20’s range temperature (high-70’s Fahrenheit) and afternoon rains refreshing the jungle habitats of this region.

 

How to Get to the Costa Ballena area from the Juan Santamaría International Airport

 

By Plane:

Two small turbo prop airlines fly between SJO airport and Quepos (as well as other locations around the country).  Nature Air flies twice a day (8:35am and 1:30pm) and Sansa Airlines flies 5 times a day to Quepos/Manuel Antonio.  Car rentals can be organized at the airport and driving instructions can be followed from step 4 below, as you are on the Costanera highway (going south).  Flights cost about $70 per person with 1 checked baggage of 30lbs/14kgs and one carry-on of 10lbs/4.5kgs (additional weight is subject to availability and has an additional $1/lb charge).

 

By Car:

3½ hour drive to the Costa Ballena from SJO airport.  We strongly recommend renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle as the roads are quite rugged in the mountain villages of this region.

There are two main routes from San José International Airport, but we recommend the new toll highway (Hwy 27) and coastal road (Hwy 34) route, which takes 3½ to 4 hours from San José.  We strongly recommend your rent a GPS or use Waze navigation on your phone.