Best Restaurants and Where to Eat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica in 2022 (2023)

La Fortuna, Costa Rica is known for its beautiful volcano and its many adventure activities. It also has SOO MANY delicious foods and restaurants – we ate veerrrry well during our time in La Fortuna! This article breaks down where to eat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, including the best restaurants in La Fortuna, types of foods to try, and general info about dining out.

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What to Eat in La Fortuna: Foods You Have to Try

Knowing what to eat is as important as knowing where to eat in La Fortuna – these are the foods and dishes that we ate and loved and should definitely be on your to-eat list!

Batidos (smoothies)

You will definitely know this word by the end of your trip because batidos are everywhere! I loovvveeeed all the batidos we drank in Costa Rica! The fresh and juicy tropical fruit makes the smoothies absolutely incredible.

I ordered one at every restaurant we went to and don’t regret that choice one bit. You can usually order it made with either milk or water, but… for sure get it with milk. It’s so much better!

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Fruits

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Some of the fruits we saw and tried were mango, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple (so juicy!), watermelon, guanabana. The amazing selection of fresh, tropical fruits was refreshing and delicious and the price was generally very reasonable!

Casados

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A casado isn’t a specific type of food per se, but rather the name for a plate of food that includes rice, beans, plantains, a salad, and some type of meat. Every casado we had was delicious.

Picadillo de Papa

“Potato hash” – this reminded me of a potato stuffing and was my favorite part of the casados. In the casado picture above, the picadillo de papa is in the 10 o’clock/11 o’clock position!

Plantain Hash

This was served at breakfast one morning, was more savory than sweet, and while it looked like slop, was incredibly delicious. Don’t be put off by the appearance; if you have a chance to try it, definitely do!

Patacones

I didn’t actually even know what I was ordering when I ordered the patacones, but I’m so glad I did because this was one of my top favorite things I ate in Costa Rica. Patacones are fried plantain chips and were served with guacamole, beans, and salsa.

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Gallo Pinto

This rice and beans dish is typically served at breakfast. It was very flavorful! I actually really liked mixing it with my eggs and topping it with…

Salsa Lizano

Salsa Lizano is a uniquely Costa Rican condiment. It is widely served at breakfast and every one of us put it on our breakfast foods each morning. It’s not chunky, but rather it is very smooth and potently flavorful.

(Video) Best Restaurants of La Fortuna, Costa Rica - EXQUISITE FOOD TOUR + Must Eat Cuisines

A few drops go a long way. It was so good and unique, we brought back little bottles of it as souvenirs! (A 4 oz bottle is about $1 at the grocery store)

Where to Eat in La Fortuna: The Best Restaurants

La Parada

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Don’t miss the patacones appetizer and the smoothies at La Parada – the papaya smoothie I got was one of the best smoothies I had in Costa Rica. I also got the fajitas, which were top notch.

Alfa Venezeulan Food Truck

You can’t beat the prices and the quality of the food you’ll receive at this food truck.

The arepas, a soft english muffin type bread made of corn flour sliced and stuffed with food, and empanadas were super tasty, warm, and STUFFED. The plantain and queso empanada sounds weird, but was really amazing. The arepas were impressive with how much delicious tender meat was overflowing the bread.

The atmosphere was also really sweet. They had an adjoining open-air eating area set aside surrounded by plants and lights. The truck and eating area were directly in front of the owner’s home, which had a nice feel.

La Cava Pizza a La Leña

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The pizzas at La Cava Pizza were really thin crust and really flavorful, but the stars of the meal were the two appetizers we ordered: the mushroom dip, and these Venezuelan chorizo tacos.

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Frutas Y Verduras Hnos Lazo

This fruit and vegetable stand had THE BEST smoothies! They were so fresh and creamy and flavorful and cheap (~$1.67) My personal favorite was the mango pineapple, but we also loved the guava pineapple as well. Definitely get it with milk. We came back here almost every day, I loved it so much.

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It’s an unassuming little place, but was maybe my favorite thing in La Fortuna!

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Las Palmas Restaurant

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The absolutely gorgeous resort we stayed at had an on-site restaurant – Las Palmas – and their food was incredibly delicious. For dinner, we really enjoyed the casado, the fajitas, and the creamy pasta bowl.

But breakfast, oooooh breakfast. The breakfast buffet was a dream! There was a whole lineup of hot foods, like gallo pinto, plaintain hash, eggs + sausages, and other dishes that rotated daily, PLUS a lineup of fresh fruits, PLUS a lineup of savory and sweet breads, PLUS juices. I looked forward to that breakfast every day!

(Video) WHERE TO EAT IN LA FORTUNA

If you’re into a filling and tasty breakfast, you’ll love staying here!

Soda La Hormiga

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When considering where to eat in La Fortuna, you cannot miss eating at a soda – a family run, “fast food” – type restaurant. Sodas are the absolute cheapest places to eat, and they have some delicious food.

We ate at Soda La Hormiga for lunch one day (they are only open for lunch and close at 4pm). I got a burrito and a delicious batidos for under $5. Everyone’s food was very delicious and inexpensive – we were impressed!

Lunch at Lands in Love with Arenal Canopy Tour

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This lunch was included in the price of our Adventure Tour with Arenal Canopy Tours and was provided at the Lands in Love Hotel. It’s pretty far out of La Fortuna (it took us an hour to get up there), so I mention this only if you are considering the same adventure tour package.

The lunch was absolutely delicious and very well-prepared. We were given a casado which included picadillo de papa – one of my favorites!

Chocolate Tour with Don Olivo

This tour may be the most unique place on this list of where to eat in La Fortuna, but it’s a delicious feast!

It is marketed as a chocolate tour, but you get to try all sorts of interesting tropical fruits as well. Come hungry because you will get stuffed!

This is a family run farm grown just for tours and teaching tourists, but you get a really intimate, authentic-feeling experience! The son gave the whole tour and the dad freshly cut the fruit and passed it out during the tour.

Other family members were there to sell handmade goods and freshly made cocoa powder from their farm.

You try the most fresh, delicious fruits such as mango, guanabana, pineapple, apple bananas, starfruit, papayas, and fresh squeezed oranges. You also get to try cocoa beans in all stages and squeezed sugar cane juice, and can make your own chocolate from the cocoa beans you’ve just pressed.

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In addition, you get to see really unique things and animals: a really weird caterpillar/slug, hummingbird babies, a large iguana, a tattoo plant, and pink, non-edible bananas.

(Video) Top 10 best Restaurants in La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

General Information about Eating Out in Costa Rica

Tipping

Tip 10% of your meal charge. Double check the bill – sometimes the 10% is already included in the charge, and sometimes it isn’t. If it’s not already included, you will need to pay the tip in cash – there’s not a way to add it in like in the United States.

Food Costs

I would say that food was slightly less expensive than the United States – although it depended a lot on where you ate in La Fortuna!

We got delicious fresh smoothies for $1.50, and a burrito for $3, but also spent $20 on dinner one night. Most entrees I bought were around $10, and my dinner bills usually came out to between $15-20 (that included the entrée, smoothie, tax, and tip). Read more about our trip costs in my Costa Rica budget post here.

Water

We had read before we went that you can’t drink the water in Costa Rica, unless you are at a big resort (and even then, confirm that the water is purified). However, we asked at a few places if the water was purified and were told either yes, it was, or that the water in the whole region is purified.

We still only drank tap water at restaurants a few times – but later realized that we were drinking smoothies that they had put tap water into *shrug*. Our MO was to drink bottled water.

Walmart

Okay you don’t really want to eat at Walmart, ha! But I mention it here because it’s the best place to stop and stock up on water bottles, sunscreen, and bug spray. Water was about $5 for a case, and $10 for a can of sunscreen or bug spray.

As an aside, Walmart in Costa Rica is fancy. There were security guards out and the workers inside were dressed up like perfume salespeople in Dillard’s. Definitely a different vibe than in the US!

Open Air

All restaurants in La Fortuna (and in any spot we saw in Costa Rica) are open-air. Meaning, there is a roof, but no windows or walls. We actually loved this! The restaurants were all very pleasant and it added to the ambiance of the area to have the bustle of restaurants open to the street.

Getting Your Check

You will need to ask your waiter/waitress specifically for your check when you want to go – they don’t want to rush you out and so won’t bring it until you ask for it.

How to Pay

The currency in Costa Rica is the colon (plural is colones). The current exchange rate is about 670 colones to $1. We found it easiest to figure prices by figuring 6000 colones is equal to $10, so 12,000 colones was $20, etc.

Most places (even small, independent shops or restaurants) took credit cards (Visa or Mastercard, not American Express or Discover) so I paid almost exclusively with my card. You can always pay with colones, of course, but everyone also takes the US dollar in cash as well. If you pay in cash dollars, you will usually get colones in change!

Do note that the price they give you in dollars is not as good as the price in colones, but it is helpful to have the option to pay in dollars.

(Video) BEST FOOD IN LA FORTUNA, COSTA RICA THE DIAMOND LIFE

When paying with a credit card, always ask them to run the bill in colones, not dollars. Your credit card will automatically make the conversion when it bills you, but you will get a better exchange rate that way.

Funny story about this: Our first night in Costa Rica, my parents’ bill for dinner came to 23,000 colones. My dad gave our waitress his credit card and told her to run it in colones. A few minutes later, he got a text from his credit card company that his purchase was denied because it was over his credit limit.

He understandably had a short heart attack before figuring out the issue – our waitress had mistakenly run the bill as 23,000 DOLLARS!

We really believe it was an honest mistake and everything got sorted out just fine, and we never had this problem anywhere else in Costa Rica. Now we have a great story – we laughed about it through the entire trip!

Other Helpful Tips for La Fortuna

Where to Stay

We really adored our stay at Los Lagos, a gorgeous hot springs resort. It was an incredible value for the high quality stay we got! There are extensive, gorgeously landscaped grounds, a large, hot breakfast buffet (as I waxed poetic on above!), a couple of regular pools with seriously fast waterslides, 8+ hot springs, a wet bar, a perfect view of the volcano, and really nice rooms.

We loved ending our day hopping between the all thehot springs on the resort.

How to Get Around

I would 100% recommend renting a car for your time in Costa Rica – it’s hands down the easiest and most convenient way to get around. Definitely check out my article about everything to know about driving in Costa Rica before you go – there are a lot of helpful and money-saving tips in there!

Other Posts About Costa Rica

  • Our Costa Rica Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Costa Rica Cost?
  • A 10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary
  • 16 Awesome Things to Do in La Fortuna
  • Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: Sleep, Eat, And Do
  • A Guide to Driving in Costa Rica

Final Thoughts on Eating in Costa Rica

There’s so much good food in Costa Rica that no matter where you decide to eat in La Fortuna, you’ll be sure to find something delicious. Definitely don’t miss the smoothies, the casado, or the patacone!

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FAQs

What city in Costa Rica has the best food? ›

Where You Can Enjoy Excellent Culinary Discoveries. San Jose – Costa Rica's capital is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the epicenter of the new-wave food scene in the country. International chefs hail from every corner of the globe, competing with one another to offer unique dishes using local, once-forgotten ingredients.

Does Costa Rica have any Michelin star restaurants? ›

If you're wondering about the Michelin stars mentioned in the intro there are zero in Costa Rica and always will be, but there are hundreds of excellent purveyors of international cuisines across Costa Rica. A small sampling of our favorites – reservations are strongly recommended, even in low season.

Is La Fortuna too touristy? ›

La Fortuna is a perfect place to base yourself in the Arenal area. The town is touristy, but it's not the end of the world, and you can find far worse places on the road.

Does La Fortuna have a night life? ›

Every thursdays at night, locals and tourists alike flock to La Fortuna Nightlife. Mercadito Arenal is located right near the Arenal Volcano, this popular destination is the perfect place to have a few drinks and enjoy the the nightlife in La Fortuna. Nightlife is a big part of Costa Rican Culture, and for good reason.

What is Costa Rica's most famous dish? ›

Gallo pinto, which has a literal meaning of "spotted rooster", is the national dish of Costa Rica. It consists of rice and beans stir-fried together in a pan to create a speckled appearance.

Do you tip waitress in Costa Rica? ›

In Costa Rican eateries, tipping is optional, though it's polite to offer an additional sum if you feel your server exceeded your expectations or went the extra mile to ensure you were happy with your meal.

What are 3 main dishes in Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rica Food, An Authentic Experience

Pinto and beans are a staple of Costa Rica and common denominator among different culinary tastes in different regions of the country. As a whole, the three most famous dishes of the country are Casado, Gallo Pinto and Arroz con Pollo.

What is typical dinner time in Costa Rica? ›

Dining Etiquette

Costa Rica operates on the same dining timetable as the rest of northern Latin America. This means dinners typically begin between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m., or around the time the sun sets.

What do you wear to La Fortuna? ›

Attire. For walks through the rainforest, hikes to birdwatch and for exploring National Parks, the ideal clothing is lightweight breathable dry-fast clothes, and plenty of underwear and socks to always have a dry pair available. A lightweight rain jacket that packs easily is a must-have.

How many days do I need in La Fortuna? ›

We recommend to spend at least 3 nights in La Fortuna so you can have 2 full days to enjoy the area. Here are some sample itineraries for your full days in La Fortuna. Remember, you can perfectly visit La Fortuna without a car and book tours with roundtrip transportation.

Can you drink tap water in La Fortuna? ›

The short answer is yes. You can drink the tap water in Costa Rica safely in most every part of the country.

Do you have to pay for La Fortuna Waterfall? ›

The La Fortuna Waterfall entrance fee is $18 for adults and $5 for children. The good news is that they take both cash and credit card.

Do you need a 4x4 in La Fortuna? ›

Arenal and La Fortuna

There are some unpaved roads in the area such as the road to the Arenal Volcano National Park Peninsula sector but it is not horrible. Majority of hotels have paved roads. Therefore, a 4×4 is not necessary to go to La Fortuna.

Can you see sloths in La Fortuna? ›

The best place to see sloths in La Fortuna is at the Bogarin Trail right in town. It is a restored secondary forest and there are around 25 sloths on the property. Take a guided walk to see around 5 to 6 sloths in an hour!

What is the most popular breakfast in Costa Rica? ›

The most common dish for breakfast is Gallo Pinto which consists of rice mixed with black beans, served with natilla (sour cream), eggs (scrambled) and fried plantain. Costa Ricans usually drink a cup of coffee or fresh fruit juice with it.

What is a typical breakfast in Costa Rica? ›

What is a typical Costa Rica Breakfast? In Costa Rica, a typical breakfast is Gallo Pinto! It is a Costa Rican rice and beans made with leftovers with plenty of great toppings added in. Sometimes Gallo Pinto is served with sausages, and sometimes with plantains.

What is the largest meal of the day in Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rican people would also agree that breakfast is the main meal of the day- and we do it big! You won't find grab-and-go breakfasts often in Costa Rica, and cereal is almost a 4 letter word. If you are traveling to Costa Rica, note that almost every local hotel offers breakfast as part of the stay.

What is Costa Rica's most famous dessert? ›

1. Tres Leches. Considered by some to be the national dessert of Costa Rica, this dessert is by far the favorite of many. Tres leches, meaning three milks is moist, rich, creamy, and indulgent.

What can you not bring into Costa Rica? ›

Since 1991 all ozone depleting substances have import restrictions as well as asbestos. Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, natural products with pharmaceutical use and medicines are restricted and all of them must comply with regulations with the pertaining ministry before entering the country.

Is $20 a good tip in Costa Rica? ›

The standard percentage to tip in Costa Rica is 10% for tourists. A good way to see the tipping etiquette in Costa Rica for tourists is that there isn't a mandatory minimum percentage so any amount is very much appreciated.

Should you bring cash to Costa Rica? ›

Credit cards are accepted in Costa Rica nearly everywhere in the country so you don't have to bring a ton of cash. However, it is always good to have some cash on hand. Keep in mind that some businesses may not accept credit cards.

Can I use my cell phone in Costa Rica? ›

Most major and many boutique hotels offer free Wi-Fi with a high-speed connection. Most of Costa Rica uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks. Making and receiving calls in Costa Rica should be no problem except in the mountains or the most remote areas.

What is a typical snack in Costa Rica? ›

If you go to Costa Rica, you will see that empanadas are one of the most common snacks. These delicious fried pastries come in many flavors and sizes. You'll commonly see corn flour empanada filled with picadillos and plantain empanadas stuffed with cheese.

Is the US dollar accepted in Costa Rica? ›

Something many visitors to Costa Rica find convenient is the fact that U.S. dollars are accepted virtually everywhere. This means you won't have to waste a lot of time converting your cash into Costa Rican colones before you can start shopping.

What drinks is Costa Rica known for? ›

Costa Rica's known for guaro, the nation's most popular liquor, made from sugar cane. Guaro is a clear liquor with a neutral flavor similar to vodka, and you'll see the famous brand of Cacique Guaro sold across the country.

How should I dress for dinner in Costa Rica? ›

With the exception of the San Jose metro area, Costa Rica is an extremely casual country. Leave that office-wear behind and slip into your more comfortable tops, shorts, and sandals. If you plan to go out for some nice dinners, simple dresses are a good option for the ladies, and shorts and polo shirts for the men.

Should I take jeans to Costa Rica? ›

Jeans, khakis or long pants are better. Our recommendations: For Costa Rica, clothes that dry fast (like Nike Dri-fit clothes) and wick away moisture are the best. Additionally, most laundromats don't normally use dryers so you will want clothes that dry fast.

Can you wear jeans to a luau? ›

We suggest a light jacket and comfortable shoes with casual Aloha attire, i.e. a casual Aloha shirt and jeans or shorts.

What should you not wear to a luau? ›

Luau wear and outfits

A luau just isnʼt a luau without the famous aloha shirt. If youʼre not fashion-savvy, donʼt worry – no floral pattern is off limits and no color is too loud.

How do you get around La Fortuna without a car? ›

Getting Around La Fortuna

Most attractions are an easy 15-minute drive from town and having your own car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Travellers without a car can rent a scooter or bicycle, take the public bus or catch taxis.

Does it rain everyday in La Fortuna Costa Rica? ›

Nope! It doesn't even rain all of the time during the rain/green/wet season. The Arenal region, like most other Costa Rica destinations, experiences sporadic and heavy downpours from time to time but clear skies are also common.

Is there Uber in Costa Rica La Fortuna? ›

Is Uber available in Costa Rica? Yes, you can use Uber in Costa Rica but only in select cities. It's primarily present in the capital, San José, along with Jaco, Tamarindo, Liberia, and La Fortuna.

Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Costa Rica? ›

The water used for bathing and brushing one's teeth is not safe to drink, and most of the time it's fine — but on that rare occasion it's not. The water is known to be good in most parts of Costa Rica, but regardless, it's always good to check with locals to make sure the water is okay to drink.

Do you flush toilet paper in Costa Rica? ›

Except in exclusive hotels and gated communities that are constructed with advanced plumbing, flushing toilet paper in Costa Rica is a no-no. The simple reason for the request is that Costa Rica's small and antiquated septic systems can't accommodate discarded toilet paper without clogging.

How far is the beach from La Fortuna? ›

La Fortuna, Costa Rica is unfortunately not close to a beach. One of the closest beach cities, Puntarenas, is about three hours away. If you are staying in La Fortuna for your entire vacation in Costa Rica and want to visit the beach, be sure to add an extra day to your itinerary since it will be an all-day excursion.

How much time do you need for La Fortuna Waterfall? ›

How long is the hike to La Fortuna Waterfall? It's only about a 15-minute trek down to the waterfall from the lookout. You might spend about 45 minutes exploring and swimming in the waterfall. The return trek might take 30-40 minutes up the 500-step staircase.

Is Arenal Volcano hike worth it? ›

Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most most visited national parks in Costa Rica with several hiking trails and view points, making it a great activity from La Fortuna. It's also an excellent way to experience and see an active volcano up close. Read our Arenal Volcano National Park to plan your visit.

Are there monkeys in La Fortuna? ›

In the region of La Fortuna there are three of the four species of monkeys that exist in Costa Rica. The howler monkey, the white-faced monkey and the spider monkey.

Can you walk to the top of Arenal Volcano? ›

Hikers of Arenal volcano are often hiking across old lava flows from past eruptions. It's not possible to hike to the top of the volcano but a half-day guided hike is a great way to get to know this beheamoth wonder of nature.

Is La Fortuna walkable? ›

Getting Around in La Fortuna

The downtown area is very condensed and walkable, but most activities are located within a twenty to thirty minute drive of downtown. This means that if you don't rent a car you will have to book day tours which include transportation.

Do you need a tour in La Fortuna? ›

The volcano is around 6km away from La Fortuna on one side and over 20km away on its other side. There are some hiking trails, but you will need to pay the entrance fee(s) and fees to farmers to access a lot of this. I definitely recommend a tour if you want to get to the volcano without a lot of hassle.

What time of day are sloths most active? ›

Sloths are nocturnal, they are most active at night and sleep all day. They sleep about 15 to 18 hours each day, hanging upside down. Sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly. They have about half as much muscle tissue as other animals of similar weight.

What are the top 3 foods in Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rica Food, An Authentic Experience

Pinto and beans are a staple of Costa Rica and common denominator among different culinary tastes in different regions of the country. As a whole, the three most famous dishes of the country are Casado, Gallo Pinto and Arroz con Pollo.

Where is the best location in Costa Rica? ›

Best Places to Stay in Costa Rica
  • Arenal Volcano—Adventure Capital.
  • Manuel Antonio—#1 National Park.
  • Tamarindo Beach—Surf & Sunsets.
  • Monteverde—Birdwatching Paradise.
  • Conchal Beach—Shell Beach.
  • Gulf of Papagayo—Calm Waters.
  • Jaco Beach—Sportfishing Hotspot.
  • Nosara Beach—Surf & Yoga.

How much is $1 US in Costa Rica? ›

Dollar to Costa Rica Colon Exchange Rate Today, Live 1 USD to CRC = 604.3512 (Convert Dollars to Costa Rica Colon)

What is the best side of Costa Rica to stay on? ›

If you go by what the locals say, the Caribbean coast wins. Well-traveled Costa Ricans love to visit the area south of Limon with its most famous beach towns of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Manzanillo. It is less crowded, not as expensive, and known for its great food scene.

What is the number one tourist attraction in Costa Rica? ›

Manuel Antonio is the single most popular National Park in Costa Rica with nearly half a million visitors a year.

What is a common breakfast in Costa Rica? ›

What is a typical Costa Rica Breakfast? In Costa Rica, a typical breakfast is Gallo Pinto! It is a Costa Rican rice and beans made with leftovers with plenty of great toppings added in. Sometimes Gallo Pinto is served with sausages, and sometimes with plantains.

What is the main meal of the day in Costa Rica? ›

It's important to mention that Ticos don't eat in excess, and they make lunch the main meal of the day. Costa Rican cuisine is a funny thing. People either love and crave it, or they are not impressed.

Should I wear shorts or pants in Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rica doesn't have a strict dress code so comfortable and casual is best for pretty much the entire country. At the beach, your wardrobe will consist mostly of shorts, tank tops and flip flops. In the city, we recommend closed toed shoes, long pants and a light jacket or sweater.

What month is best in Costa Rica? ›

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April, when the weather is at its driest and brightest. We'd also recommend traveling in the country's green season, from May to June or in November. This is when you catch the seasons in transition, and the national parks are quieter.

Where do most Americans go in Costa Rica? ›

The most popular expat places here would be Playa Herradura, where there is a large upscale development called Los Sueños, Playa Jaco, Esterillos, and down the coast to Quepos and Manuel Antonio. The Central Pacific coast is the most established in the country.

What is the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica? ›

Playa Conchal

Arguably the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, tiny yet never understated Playa Conchal is covered in a fine sprinkling of crushed seashells. As you wade through crystalline water in search of a memorable souvenir, pause for a moment to reflect on how wonderful it is to be in paradise.

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