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How much it costs to go to Costa Rica
Are you dreaming about your next big, life-changing vacation? You’ve probably already heard how fabulous Costa Rica is given its world-renowned biodiversity, popular adventure and nature experiences, abundant wildlife, trending eco-friendly approach to tourism, glorious beaches, and loads of other draws, but you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to go to Costa Rica?” Knowing the costs of Costa Rica travel upfront is incredibly important; not only will the information help you decide if you can afford a trip, but also it will help you determine exactly where your hard-earned funds are needed so you can choose to spend more or less on certain parts of your vacation depending on your interests.
To help you assess affordability and appropriately plan for a trip to Costa Rica, we created several helpful price charts that outline the costs of participating in activities, staying at accommodations, moving around the country, dining out, and buying souvenirs in Costa Rica. If there’s a particular cost you’re curious about that we’ve missed, feel free to let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this article and we’ll add it to the bunch.
Note: The prices listed below are in USD.
Unhelpful approximations to avoid
For your own benefit, don’t give much thought to Costa Rica resources that offer trip budgeting advice according to “$X per day”, “$X per week”, or “$X per trip” models. In our opinion, this overarching approach to Costa Rica trip planning misses the mark and doesn’t make much sense.
Costa Rica is both an adventure destination and a relaxation destination, so it’s likely you’ll be busy exploring the rainforest or the cloud forest via hikes, zipline tours, white-water rafting excursions, etc. during part of your trip, and you’ll be lounging around a beach resort or a mountain lodge during the other part. If you’re like most travelers, you’ll spend more money during the days you plan to be active in Costa Rica than the days you plan to relax in Costa Rica, so being given an average amount of money that you’ll spend each day throughout your trip is neither practical nor helpful. Vast generalizations about the amount of money you’ll spend per day or week are also far from accurate because they don’t (and can’t) account for your desired trip experiences.
To best understand the costs of your specific trip, reference our price charts below. They’ll help you determine, on a day-to-day basis, roughly how much money you’ll spend each day according to your exact itinerary plan. If you want to add up the total amount of money you’ll spend and divide it by the number of days you plan to travel for in order to get an average cost per day, that’s no problem. But make that calculation for yourself according to your own vacation vision instead of following the advice of others who offer daily and weekly spending amounts that don’t reflect the Costa Rica travel experience you aim to have. 🙂
The cost of being active in Costa Rica is determined by several factors, most notably the number of activities you want to experience, the types of activities you want to experience, and whether or not you want or need a tour guide to accompany you during the activities. Not surprisingly, guided tours are the most expensive activities.
The cost of guided tours in Costa Rica
Guided tours cost more than unguided tours because they require the hiring of a tour guide. Depending on the activity you choose, the guided tour might also include round-trip transportation to/from your hotel, snacks, meals, the use of equipment, and applicable entrance fees, all of which add to the cost of the tour.
Below is a list of approximate prices you can expect to pay for guided tours in Costa Rica. Since guided tour costs vary across tour operators, and inclusions factor heavily into guided tour pricing, the guided tour(s) you choose for your trip may cost more or less than the prices listed below. Since our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., is home to hundreds of discounts for Costa Rica tours and activities, we’ve also included the lower prices you’ll have access to if you opt to use the Pura Vida! eh? discounts.
|Guided activity type (in alphabetical order)||Average price(s) per adult||Our discounted price(s) per adult (discounts available through our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc.)|
|Aerial tram ride||$48||$36|
|Boat tour / safari float tour / sailing tour||$55-105||$35-75|
|Canopy tour / ziplining tour||$52-84||$42-63|
|Coffee tour / chocolate tour||$40-55||$30-35|
|Dolphin- and/or whale-watching tour||$70||$50|
|Hanging bridges tour||$40-70||$30-40|
|Hiking tour / volcano tour||$60-95||$45-65|
|Horseback riding tour||$55-80||$44-62|
|Mountain biking tour||$85||$60-68|
|Waterfall tour / waterfall jumping tour||$27-125||$20-87|
|White-water rafting tour||$75-135||$65-95|
The cost of unguided tours in Costa Rica (i.e., self-guided tours)
Unguided tours aren’t actually tours, they’re activities you experience on your own (or with your personal travel group). If you’d rather not explore attractions, adventure parks, national parks, biological reserves, and/or wildlife refuges alongside a tour guide, you can explore them on your own, in some cases. All you need to do is pay the applicable entrance fee to the site you wish to explore and go! Not all activities in Costa Rica can be experienced without a guide (some activities, like zip-lining and white-water rafting, require a tour guide for safety and navigational reasons), but those that permit self-guided exploration invite you to discover Costa Rica at your own pace.
Entrance fees for self-guided exploration of attractions and adventure parks typically range $5-30 per adult. For a list of entrance fees for self-guided exploration of national parks, biological reserves, and wildlife refuges, don’t miss our related blog post:
Special rates for children and students
Some, but not all, tour operators in Costa Rica offer lower tour and activity rates for children and/or students. Some even allow young children to participate for free. Each tour operator decides for themselves the age range that applies to children, though the divide tends to fall around the 11- or 12-year mark. Tour operator policy also dictates the age range that applies to students, which determines if adult students qualify, and whether or not the presentation of a valid student ID is required to access the student rate.
Our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., has special discounts for children and students. You can browse through some of the Costa Rica tour and activity options for which child discounts and student discounts are availble in our discount database:
The cost of equipment rentals in Costa Rica
Sometimes self-guided exploration of Costa Rica requires the use of special equipment. Below is a list of approximate prices you can expect to pay for rental equipment in Costa Rica. Since rental costs vary across equipment providers and destinations, the equipment you choose to rent during your trip may cost more or less than the prices listed below.
|Equipment (in alphabetical order)||Rental duration||Average price|
|Beach bike||1 day||$10-15|
|Boogie board||2 hours to 1 day||$5-10|
|Golf cart||1 day||$35-65|
|Golf clubs||1 day||$40-85|
|Kayak||2 hours to 1 day||$70-100|
|Mountain bike||1 day||$55-85|
|Scuba gear||1 day||$20-25|
|Snorkeling gear||1 day||$10-20|
|Stand-up paddleboard||2 hours to 1 day||$25-70|
|Surfboard||2 hours to 1 day||$10-20|
Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of accommodation types from low-end budget hotels and hostels with shared rooms to world-renowned boutique hotels and top-rated resorts. You can stay in rooms, suites, cabins, casitas, bungalows, apartotels, condos, and vacation homes here; some are simple and rustic and others are modern and refined. The type of accommodation you choose plays into the amount you’ll pay for an overnight stay, but so do many other factors, including the time of year you plan to travel and the popularity of the destination(s) you intend to visit. Not surprisingly, accommodations are the most expensive in popular destinations and during the high season and the peak season.
Below is a list of approximate prices you can expect to pay for accommodations in Costa Rica. Since inclusions, amenities, occupancy, and countless other criteria factor heavily into accommodation pricing, the accommodation(s) you choose for your trip may cost more or less than the prices listed below. Please note that the price ranges provided below are for a private room with a private bathroom.
To learn about Costa Rica’s high, low, peak, and shoulder seasons, don’t miss our related blog post:
High season travel to Costa Rica
|Accommodation type||Destination type||Average nightly price (double occupancy)|
|Economy quality / below average||Popular destination||$60-100|
|Standard quality / average||Popular destination||$100-175|
|Superior quality / above average||Popular destination||$175-350|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Popular destination||$350+|
|Economy quality / below average||Moderately popular destination||$50-90|
|Standard quality / average||Moderately popular destination||$90-150|
|Superior quality / above average||Moderately popular destination||$150-250|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Moderately popular destination||$250+|
|Economy quality / below average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$40-80|
|Standard quality / average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$80-125|
|Superior quality / above average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$125-175|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$175+|
Low season travel to Costa Rica
|Accommodation type||Destination type||Average nightly price (double occupancy)|
|Economy quality / below average||Popular destination||$50-75|
|Standard quality / average||Popular destination||$75-150|
|Superior quality / above average||Popular destination||$150-300|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Popular destination||$300+|
|Economy quality / below average||Moderately popular destination||$40-80|
|Standard quality / average||Moderately popular destination||$80-125|
|Superior quality / above average||Moderately popular destination||$125-200|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Moderately popular destination||$200+|
|Economy quality / below average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$30-70|
|Standard quality / average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$70-115|
|Superior quality / above average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$115-150|
|Resort quality / luxurious or exclusive||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$150+|
Peak and shoulder season travel to Costa Rica
The peak season, which is a subset of the high season, sometimes translates to accommodation prices that are higher than high season accommodation prices. In other words, you may end up paying more than the high season prices noted above for accommodations if you choose to visit during the peak season.
The shoulder season, which is a subset of the low season, sometimes translates to accommodation prices that are higher than low season accommodation prices but lower than high season accommodation prices. In other words, you may end up paying somewhere in the middle of the high season and low season prices noted above for accommodations if you choose to visit during the shoulder season.
There are plenty of ways to move between destinations in Costa Rica. Below is a breakdown of the costs associated with the most popular modes of transportation used by foreign visitors: car rentals, shared shuttle services, private transfer services, and taxis.
The cost of renting a car in Costa Rica
A variety of vehicles are available to rent in Costa Rica but most travelers rent either a non-4X4 sedan, a small 4×4 vehicle, or a large 4×4 SUV. (Pickup trucks and vans are also available to rent.) The type of vehicle you choose to rent sets the stage for the amount you’ll pay per day for the rental, but so do many other factors, including the time of year you plan to travel and the number of days you need the car. Obviously, rental car rates are the most expensive during the high season and the peak season.
Below is a list of approximate prices you can expect to pay for a rental car in Costa Rica, excluding the cost of car rental insurance and other possible rental add-ons. Since the vehicle’s make, model, size, condition, transmission type (manual or automatic), and countless other criteria factor heavily into rental car pricing, the car you choose for your trip may cost more or less than the prices listed below.
|Season||Vehicle category||Average rental cost per day|
|High season||Non-4×4 sedan||$40-70|
|High season||Small 4×4 vehicle||$45-80|
|High season||Large 4×4 SUV||$70-120|
|Low season||Non-4×4 sedan||$30-60|
|Low season||Small 4×4 vehicle||$35-65|
|Low season||Large 4×4 vehicle||$55-110|
The cost of car rental insurance in Costa Rica
Unlike the cost of a rental car in Costa Rica, the cost of car rental insurance tends not to fluctuate with the change of Costa Rica’s tourism seasons. There are a few different types of car insurance you can purchase in Costa Rica (don’t miss our related blog post Costa Rica Car Rental Insurance Information for more information about the various types), and the amount of money you’ll pay for the car insurance will be determined by the type of insurance you buy, in addition to the category of car that you rent. Expect to pay roughly $12-25 per day for basic CDW insurance or upwards of $20-30 per day for full insurance.
Shared shuttle services are commonly used by foreign travelers to travel between destinations in Costa Rica, especially lone travelers or travel groups consisting of only two or three people. (For more information about shared shuttle services, see our related blog post Shared Shuttle Services In Costa Rica.) The cost you’ll pay for a seat on a one-way, shared shuttle service is dependent on the route you take (i.e., the destination you want to be picked up at and the destination you want to be dropped off at). In most cases, the longer the shared shuttle service route, the more expensive the cost of the shared shuttle service. Not all destinations in Costa Rica fall along shared shuttle service routes but the most popular destinations (and a handful of less popular destinations) do. Shared shuttle services cost anywhere from $20 per adult for a one-way transfer between nearby destinations, and upwards of $125 per adult for a one-way transfer between destinations that sit at opposite ends of the country. Discounts for round-trip fares are not the norm, so plan to pay double the cost of a one-way transfer for round-trip service.
The cost of private transfers in Costa Rica
Private transfer services are another means of traveling between destinations in Costa Rica, but unlike shared shuttle services (where your purchase buys one seat on a shared vehicle), private transfer services provide use of an entire vehicle, allowing passengers to split the cost of the transportation service among themselves. For this reason, though private transfer services appear more expensive, they’re often the most affordable transportation option for travel groups consisting of four or more people. (For more information about private transfer services, see our related blog post Private Transfer Services In Costa Rica.)
The cost you’ll pay for a one-way transfer using a private transfer service is dependent on the route you take (i.e., the destination you want to be picked up at and the destination you want to be dropped off at); long-distance routes are more expensive than short-distance routes. Since private transfer services are private to your travel group, they can be coordinated to and from nearly any destination in Costa Rica. Infinite route possibilities make pinpointing the cost of private transfer services next to impossible; you could pay anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars for a one-way private transfer service. Remember, though, that the cost of a private transfer service can be split among members of your personal travel group, so for a group of 10 people, a $300 private transfer service would set everyone back only $30 per person.
The cost of taxis in Costa Rica
Taxis, which can be found in most cities and towns in Costa Rica, are a common way of getting around destinations, or between a destination’s center and its environs. The going rate for a taxi ride varies, but figuring $1 (or a little more) for each kilometer of distance traveled is a good way to budget for the service.
Meal costs (food and drink)
The cost of food in Costa Rica
It’s impossible for us to predict what you’ll eat in Costa Rica, so for this particular chart, we’ve chosen to detail only one meal: the traditional dish known as casado. Since casado is one of the least expensive meals you can order in Costa Rica, it’s safe to assume that most other meals you’ll enjoy will cost you the same if not more than the prices listed below.
Want to learn more about casado? Don’t miss our related blog post:
|Restaurant type||Destination type||Average cost of a casado|
|Soda / informal / average||Popular destination||$6-8|
|Tourist-geared / above-average||Popular destination||$8-15|
|Formal / fancy / fine-dining||Popular destination||$15+|
|Soda / informal / average||Moderately popular destination||$4-5|
|Tourist-geared / above-average||Moderately popular destination||$5-10|
|Formal / fancy / fine-dining||Moderately popular destination||$10+|
|Soda / informal / average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$3-4|
|Tourist-geared / above-average||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$4-8|
|Formal / fancy / fine-dining||Off-the-beaten-path destination||$8+|
The cost of drinks in Costa Rica
This may go without saying, but drink prices are higher at restaurants and bars than in grocery stores. If you plan to drink at restaurants or bars, take advantage of the drink promotions available during happy hours. Tons of establishments host these daily, especially establishments located in popular beach towns.
|Drink||Purchase location||Average cost|
|Cup of coffee||Restaurant / cafe||$2-2.50|
|Cup of specialty coffee||Restaurant / cafe||$2.50-6|
|Natural fruit drink||Restaurant / cafe||$2.50-3|
|Power smoothie||Restaurant / cafe||$2.50-6|
|Bottle of water||Grocery store||$1.50|
|Bottle of water||Restaurant||$1.50-2.50|
|Can or bottle of soda / pop / soft drink (i.e., Coke or Iced Tea)||Grocery store||$1.50|
|Can or bottle of soda / pop / soft drink (i.e., Coke or Iced Tea)||Restaurant / bar||$1.50-2.50|
|Can or bottle of Imperial or Pilsen beer||Grocery store||$1.50-2.50|
|Can or bottle of Imperial or Pilsen beer||Restaurant / bar||$2.50-3.50|
|Can of Cuba Libre (rum with coke)||Grocery store||$1.50-2.50|
|Cuba Libre (rum with coke) and other cocktails||Restaurant / bar||$5-10|
We couldn’t possibly provide a list of every souvenir you can purchase in Costa Rica, but we’ve priced out a few of the more popular choices, which are documented below. Note that if you opt to purchase souvenirs at either of Costa Rica’s airports, the souvenirs you buy may cost more than the prices listed below. Souvenir prices can also vary across stores and destinations.
|Souvenir type||Average cost|
|Bag of coffee||$5-10|
|Bottle of rum||$20|
|Bottle of cacique||$7|
Other potential costs
International travel can be expensive. Here’s a list of other possible costs you will or may need to pay during your trip:
- International flight fares, baggage fees, and/or seat fees
- Travel insurance fees
- Arrival fees (such as Covid tests, if required) and departure fees (Costa Rica requires a paid departure tax, though the tax is typically included in the cost of an international flight)
- Private guide fees (if you opt to hire a private tour guide)
- Extra guide fees (these are sometimes required for groups with young children; the extra guide accompanies the child)
- Tips (for tour guides, drivers, parking attendants, restaurant wait staff, and hotel staff); see our related blog post What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica for more information
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off fees (if applicable, according to where you plan to stay and which activities you plan to participate in); see our related blog post Costa Rica Tour Transportation: Hotel Pick-Ups And Drop-Offs for more information
- Car rental fees (i.e., rental insurance fees, car delivery and/or pick-up fees, and fees related to car rental add-ons like child car seats); see our related blog posts about Costa Rica Car Rentals for more information
- Cover charges (if you plan to visit exclusive bars or clubs)
In 2019, Costa Rica set in motion a new tax plan that applies to tourism services. Under the new plan, which includes a rollout period during which tax will be charged at varying rates, you could pay as little as 0% tax or as much as 13% tax on your Costa Rica vacation items. This means that in addition to the costs outlined above, you should budget extra funds for paying tax on top of several of the costs outlined above. Don’t miss our related blog post What You Need To Know About The 13% VAT Tax In Costa Rica for more specific information about tax in Costa Rica, including tax rates and their applicable dates.