8 Things Travelers Can Do in Costa Rica and 3 COVID-19 Restrictions
Updated July 28, 2021
All things considered, Costa Rica is doing a pretty good job keeping the country both operating and safe. In fact, the Costa Rican government’s initiative is called, in Spanish, the Costa Rica Works and Stays Safe Model.
Are there restrictions in Costa Rica? Yes.
Is there risk of the virus in Costa Rica? Yes.
Is there still a lot of things travelers can do in Costa Rica despite these restrictions, while keeping as safe as possible? YES!
Let’s take a look at what travelers can and cannot do in Costa Rica in 2021
1 -- Travelers CAN Travel Freely Around Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a small country. It’s quite possible to drive from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean in one day. There is even a peak where you can see both seas at once on clear days. However, despite being so small, Costa Rica is also known for its incredible wealth of biodiversity, geography, and microclimates.
We’re happy to inform you that there are no restrictions to where your participants can travel around our country.
Currently, there is a driving curfew during the night, which changes in reaction and anticipation of peaks in the virus. That means no one is on the road during these hours of the night, except for essential workers with a special permit, public transportation, and taxis.
You can still drive along the Guanacaste Pacific coast while enjoying the sea breeze or marvel at the lush green of the surrounding hills as you approach the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
2 -- Travelers CAN Go to Restaurants in Costa Rica
Whether your participants are looking for our famous Caribbean Rice and Beans or excited to experience one of our many gourmet fusion restaurants, you’ll be happy to hear that restaurants are open in Costa Rica. By law, they are operating at lower capacity, of course, but they are open.
The law governing health measures in restaurants is quite strict, requiring the following:
- People must use masks whenever in all spaces, except for when at their table
- The earliest they can open is 5am and the latest is 10pm (or whatever the circulation current curfew is)
- The restaurant cannot fill more than 50% of their capacity
- Tables must be spaced at least 6 feet (1.8 meters)
Additionally, the health department has established detailed guidelines for restaurants and cafes, which include the following:
- Disinfect and wash tables, chairs, bathrooms, and all surfaces between use
- People are advised to keep at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) whenever not at their table
- Most restaurants let you swipe or insert your debit or credit card directly, avoiding unnecessary contact.
- Scan the temperature of everyone who enters the restaurant
3 -- Travelers CAN Stay at Costa Rican Hotels
Hotels that have more than 100 rooms are allowed to operate at 75% capacity. While hotels are operating, almost as usual, due to the uncertain times, there are possibilities that hotels booked far in advance may not be able to complete your booking when the time comes. Many hotels and DMCs are offering flexible reservations where you can reschedule your reservation at a later time. Check with your local agent about the rebooking policies of your hotels.
The Costa Rican Tourism Board has established 16 sanitary protocols for hotels as well as tour operators and other activities and establishments associated with tourism. Institutions that follow these protocols strictly are awarded the Safe Travels Stamp, an internationally recognized certificate of risk-minimization best practices. Ask your DMC about the Safe Travels Stamp status of your lodging and tour operators.
In fact, there is a good chance travelers will be enjoying your hotel with fewer guests than normal, allowing them to enjoy its amenities all to themselves.
4 -- Travelers CAN Go to the Beach in Costa Rica
Costa Rican beaches are currently open every day between 5am and 6pm. Our gorgeous tropical beaches are why so many people travel to Costa Rica after all!
Even when restrictions to the beaches were stricter during 2020, they were still almost always open during specific schedules of the day. There is a good chance restrictions won’t get stricter than they are now, but if they do, you will still most likely be able to visit the beach.
The risk of infection is much less when people in open-air areas, making the beaches one of the best places to be. The sea breeze is both a welcome companion to the tropical heat and a risk diffuser. Maintain social distancing and use masks when in close proximity to others and participants can enjoy these Costa Rican beaches almost as much as they want.
5 -- Travelers CAN Go to Many National Parks
Did you know that 25% of Costa Rica’s land is protected? Costa Rica is proud of its 28 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 mangroves and wetlands, 12 conservation areas, and 8 biological reserves.
The tourists who come visit Costa Rica love its protected, natural beauty. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the national parks everyone has come to know and love. Not every single park is open with such few restrictions, but the most popular and developed ones are.
Never fear, travelers can still go searching for the monkeys, sloths, toucans, and all the other delightful fauna that makes these protected areas their home.
6 -- Travelers CAN Go on Costa Rican Adventure Tours
Zipline. White water rafting. Kayaking. Choose an adventure and Costa Rica delivers. Participants will be happy to hear that tour operators are still open for business. The government health ministry mandates that masks must be worn when putting on and taking off security equipment and when in close proximity to tour operators and other participants.
As a tropical country with a mild climate, Costa Rica offers good weather all year long, even when in the “rainy” season. Costa Rica experiences the most rain between May and December, however most of the rain occurs in the afternoons, leaving the mornings bright and sunny. No matter what time of year you visit, you will have plenty of time to fit in all the adventure and enjoyment you desire.
7 -- Travelers CAN Go to a Bar or Casino
One of the most recent updates to the restrictions and limitations in Costa Rica is the reopening of bars and casinos. All chairs and tables must be kept at a distance of 6 feet (1.8 meters), masks must be worn whenever not at your table, and the maximum capacity is 25% of the establishment.
The good news is that participants can still enjoy their piña colada or ice cold beer in peace, whether in a public or hotel bar or on the beach.
8 -- Travelers CAN Enter the Country without a COVID-19 Test or Vaccination
Due to many regulations and guidelines provided by the Costa Rican Health Ministry and Tourism Institution, it has been deemed safe for visitors to enter the country and circulate without needing a proof of a test or vaccination. The sanitation measures applied to all establishments and institutions intend to keep everyone as safe as possible and minimize risk of infection by all parties.
You will be asked a questionnaire about recent exposure and any symptoms you may be experiencing upon travel to Costa Rica. Travelers who have not been fully vaccinated for at least 15 days will be required to purchase health insurance that covers COVID-19 related expenses, including a potential 15 day quarantine in case of positive testing prior to departure. When going through the airport, all travelers are scanned automatically for raised temperature.
Conclusion: Costa Rica is Open for Tourism with Minimal Risk, Thanks to Detailed Guidelines and Reasonable Restrictions
As the situation with COVID-19 and international and local vaccination efforts continue to evolve, these limitations will also continue changing. If you have booked a MICE event in Costa Rica, keep in contact with your travel agency, who should always have the most recent list of permissions and restrictions on hand. We'll do our best to ensure a spectacular and safe event for all participants.