Costa Rica: Fast Facts

Getting There: Scheduled direct air service to Costa Rica is available from numerous U.S. gateway cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Orlando and San Francisco. Carriers that serve Costa Rica from the U.S. include American, Continental, Delta, Lacsa and United.

Seasonal charter service is offered by several operators.

Vacation Express (800-309-4717) in Atlanta this year added two gateways and now offers weekly charter service to Liberia from Nashville and Louisville (April to mid-August) and from Atlanta and Charlotte (April to mid-December).

GWV International in Needham, Mass., operates weekly charters between Boston and Liberia from late December through May.

Getting About: Scheduled air service is offered within Costa Rica aboard Sansa and Travelair.

Agents can book Sansa through Lacsa in the U.S. The airline will relay requests to Sansa in San Jose; confirmation takes a day or two.

Travelair reservations can be made through the carrier's San Jose offices.
Sansa: (011) 506-221-9414, fax (011) 506-255-2176.
Travelair: (011) 506-220-3054, fax (011) 506-220-0413.

Entry Requirements: For U.S. citizens, a passport or original birth certificate and a photo identification are required.

Currency: Costa Rica's currency is the colon. At presstime, the exchange rate was 287 colones to the U.S. dollar. Credit cards are accepted at major establishments. Clients who plan to exchange U.S. currency in Costa Rica are advised to carry crisp new bills, since some banks and businesses now refuse to accept crumpled, torn or otherwise marred dollar bills.

Taxes, Tips & Fees: The tax on hotel stays is 16% (13% sales tax plus 3% room tax). Costa Rica's airport exit tax is $17.25. A 10% service charge is added to checks in restaurants. The entrance fee to national parks is $6.

Language: Costa Rica's official language is Spanish; English is spoken at most tourism establishments.

Time: The same as U.S. Central Standard Time. Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Climate: Weather varies considerably by region. In the central plateau or highlands, spring-like temperatures averaging 72 degrees are the norm year-round, while the mean temperatures on the Caribbean and Pacific coastal lowlands are in the 80s. Rainy season, promoted by the tourist board as Green Season, is from May to November in most regions. Typically during this period mornings are sunny and afternoons rainy.

Travel Information: The Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT) maintains a toll-free telephone line to its San Jose offices, where English-speaking operators answer questions and fulfill requests for literature. The number is (800) 343-6332. The tourist board's Web site is at www.tourism-costarica.com. Or, contact The Costa Rica National Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR), [email protected].

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