Costa Rica Travel Tips for Vegans: Bird’s Eye View
I’m assuming that you’re in the process of planning your travel to Costa Rica and could really use some tips right now to minimize this daunting task. I got you!
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Costa Rica over the years and am here to provide some useful tips, especially for my vegan travelers out there. Keep reading until the end to see my sample Costa Rica 7-day itinerary.
Costa Rica Travel Tips for Vegans: Our Top Picks
Costa Rica: Know Before You Go
Major Airports: There are 2 international airports that you’ll likely fly into.
- San Jose International Airport (SJO), which is located in Alajuela.
- Liberia International Airport (LIR), which is located on the northwest side of the country in Liberia.
Time Zone: Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, so the time zone depends on the time of the year.
- November to mid-March: Central Standard Time (GMT-6)
- Mid-March to November: Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7)
Currency: Costa Rican Colon (plural: Colones).
Language(s): Spanish is the most spoken and official language of Costa Rica. Creole is widely used on the Caribbean side of the country. English is often spoken in tourist destinations, but I recommend learning at least a few Spanish terms before traveling to Costa Rica.
Visa Requirements: For US Citizens, no tourist visa is required for stays under 90 days. For citizens of other countries, search your visa requirements here.
Travel Insurance: I recommend using SafetyWing. It’s what I use when I travel and I always recommend getting travel medical insurance in case you get a major boo-boo (or two).
Rental Cars: Word of caution because I’ve rented a car in Costa Rica before: beware of the REQUIRED third-party liability insurance that MAY NOT be included in your rental quote. Costa Rica, by law, requires liability insurance, which is not covered by most credit cards or your car insurance policy back home.
Cellphone Service: You can get a Costa Rican sim card (and number) from Kolbi without even having to leave the airport. You can place that sim card in your phone or get a burner phone to toss it in (one for the plug, and one for the load).
If you have T Mobile, your service should work in most highly populated areas. Either way, I recommend using WhatsApp for free texting and calling people back home and in-country. T Mobile will charge you for every minute you spend on calls, which I learned the hard way
Electric Outlets / Travel Adapters: If you’re traveling from the US, you typically won’t need a converter because Costa Rican outlets are two-pronged (Type A). For those that have appliances that need a different type of outlet or voltage, you should snag this universal travel adapter.
Best Vegan Hotel in Costa Rica
Best Vegan Hotel in Costa Rica: Mother Earth Vegan
1. All vegan everything (even the toiletries!)
2. Vegan restaurant on-site (best vegan food in Tamarindo!)
3. Beautifully designed rooms, pool, and yoga studio
Mother Earth Vegan (MEV) is my favorite all-vegan hotel that I’ve visited in all of Costa Rica. Below is what a few others have had to say about MEV. You can also check out my 5 Best Vegan Resorts and Hotels in Costa Rica post if you’d like to see other options and/or read my comprehensive review on MEV.
Positive review: “Best breakfast, the Tico was amazing and I could eat that every single day. We didn’t have a bad meal. Drinks were delicious and worth every penny. Staff and owner, all were extremely friendly.” – Allison from USA on Booking.com
Less-than-positive review: “Road up to hotel is steep and bumpy, to be aware of for those with mobility issues, would need to be dropped at door.” – Lucy from UK on Booking.com
Getting Around Costa Rica
If you plan to travel all around the country, I recommend using Discover Cars to book your rental.
There are buses that travel between the Costa Rica hot spot cities, but in my travels through Costa Rica, I’ve come to prefer the convenience of having a car over taking buses (when I have the option).
Best Car Rental Site: Discover Cars
1. Free cancellations
2. No hidden fees
3. Negotiated prices with local and international companies to get you more options and the best deal
Best Vegan-friendly Things to Do in Costa Rica
There is lots to do in Costa Rica, which can you leave you feeling worn out. When you’re ready to relax those achy joints and just chill, I highly recommend visiting the natural hot springs at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa
For those that rented a car, you can book your day pass and/or spa treatment directly on their site. My folks that didn’t rent a car can book this tour from San Jose for transportation to and from the city in addition to your entry to the spa and lunch.
1. AMAZING natural rainforest hot springs
2. Tour includes transportation from/to San Jose, admission to one of the best hot springs in Costa Rica, AND vegan lunch/dinner (Vegan menu at Ave restaurant)
3. Relaxing environment & beautiful scenery
Positive review: “The Tabacon Hot Springs Resort & Spa is a great resort where you can relax in the hot waters of the river and waterfalls surrounded by well-kept gardens. Due to covid restrictions the meal was al a carte instead of a buffet which was a bonus as the food was excellent.” – Robert on Viator.com
Less-than-positive review:“The only downside was the stopover in Sochi where we waited in a shop for an hour after a tour of the museum. I would have preferred to spend a little less time there adding more time to the resort.” – Robert on Viator.com
Costa Rica Vegan Travel Tips: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Costa Rica Vegan Friendly?
Yes, Costa Rica is vegan-friendly. Like, VERY vegan-friendly. I’ve eaten my way all around the country and have listed out some of my favorites in these posts below:
- Vegan Food in Jaco, Costa Rica
- Vegan Food in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
- Vegan Food in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
- Vegan Food in San Jose, Costa Rica
- Vegan Food in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Can you drink the water in Costa Rica
Yes, you typically can drink tap water in Costa Rica and can use tap water to brush your teeth. If you want to be extra cautious or will be traveling through to some other Latin American countries, this is the water purifier bottle that I use and recommend.
Best month to go to Costa Rica
From December through April: Costa Rican summer is their high season and falls from mid-November to April. It’s typically dryer during these months as well as more costly as tourists flock, causing prices to rise.
Costa Rica Colones to Dollars (USD)
A good rule of thumb for quick conversions is about 1,000 (un mil) Costa Rican Colones for every 2 US dollars. Use a conversion tool for more accurate and real-time conversions.
Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting?
Uh… yeah! I’ve listed out some of the major pros and cons that I’ve noticed in my many travels to and through Costa Rica.
– LOTS of vegan options throughout the country
– Costa Rica is very eco-conscious
– BEAUTIFUL country with many different ecosystems/natural settings (beaches, forests, volcanoes, etc.) and some of the kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet
– One of the more costly Central American countries, especially in tourist hot spots
– Getting from one major city to the next can take quite some time
Is Costa Rica Expensive?
Yes. Prices in Costa Rica can be comparable (and even higher) to prices in the USA. So if you consider the USA to be expensive, the answer is yes.
I’ve found Costa Rica to be one of the more costly Latin American countries that I’ve been to (and I’ve been to 9 by this point), but I still find it to be worth every penny.
How Many Days Do You Need in Costa Rica
Two weeks would be ideal if you want to hit more than two cities. However, there is a lot that you can do in 7 days if you’re limited to a one-week trip. Check out this sample 7-day itinerary, which is a less intense version of what I actually followed during my last trip to Costa Rica.
- Day 1 – Arrive at SJO
- Stay in Barrio Escalante to enjoy the many vegan restaurants in the area and the nightlife
- Day 2 – Travel to Puerto Viejo
- Stop over in Limon on the way and enjoy the Caribbean side of the country
- Day 3 – Enjoy your time in Puerto Viejo
- Check out AmaSer for yoga and vegan eats and catch the sunset at an all-vegan beachfront restaurant
- Day 4 – Travel from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna
- Find an excursion or two to get into or just enjoy a vegan sushi boat and chill
- Day 5 – Enjoy your time in La Fortuna
- Hike Arenal and end the day at Tabacon Resort & Spa
- Day 6 – Travel from La Fortuna up to Tamarindo
- Stay at Mother Earth Vegan Hotel to get your full vegan experience and relax just outside of the hustle and bustle
- Day 7 – Early morning adventures and late afternoon departure
- Take a morning surfing class or just roam around town finding vegan grub before heading back to SJO (or flying out of LIR if you want a closer option)
Best Vegan-friendly Places to go in Costa Rica
Thought you’d never ask… There are 5 cities I’d recommend you visit to grab some bomb vegan food with a bonus list of the best vegan resorts and hotels in Costa Rica.