African heritage is alive and well in Costa Rica. Develop a deeper awareness of the country’s Afro-Caribbean diaspora on this culturally immersive tour highlighting the coastal Afro-Latin town of Puerto Viejo. Pristine beaches and lush rainforest form the perfect backdrop for R&R and exciting activities alike that highlight the area’s unique multiculturalism.
**NOTE** Activity times, transfer durations, etc. are subject to change. Your activity providers and Soul Life Travel team are here to help - please see contact info and confirmation numbers listed in the daily itinerary!
All international tourists are permitted to enter Costa Rica by air, land and sea. Tourists must meet the visa requirements, when applicable, as well as the requirements established in the framework of the pandemic.
- A passport is required for entry in Costa Rica. For U.S. and Canadian citizens, only a valid passport is necessary and no prior visa approval is required. (For non-US/CA citizens, prior visa approval may be required depending on where your citizenship is based.) It is always a good idea to find out the current visa and entry requirements from your local Costa Rican Consulate.
- Upon entering Costa Rica, most visitors are given a 90-day tourist visa that is stamped in their passport. Make sure your passport is valid for the entire length of your stay.
- The Government of Costa Rica does not require tourists entering by air, land or sea to present a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine upon arrival.
- Tourists visiting Costa Rica are requested to abide by the sanitary protocols in place when participating in tourist activities throughout the country.
For more information and requirements, please visit the Costa Rica Tourism Board website.
San Jose - DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari San Jose
Enjoy modern comfort only five minutes from Juan Santamaría International Airport and close to downtown, businesses, and attractions. DoubleTree Cariari by Hilton features a heated outdoor pool surrounded by a garden and luxurious facilities. The hotel also offers a 24-hour fitness center, free WiFi, an on-site gift shop with local crafts and souvenirs, a free airport shuttle, and a handy on-site ATM. Cariari Country Club and golf course are next door. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the many poolside shaded areas. Guests can enjoy sports on TV, cocktails and other drinks at Bar Chiquiri or gourmet Costa-Rican dishes at Las Tejas.
Puerto Viejo - Le Caméléon Boutique Hotel
Le Caméléon Boutique Hotel is located in Puerto Viejo, Limon, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. With its laid back attitude and Caribbean lifestyle, Puerto Viejo has it all: long walks on the pristine beaches, exotic flora and fauna in a wildlife refuge, snorkeling or diving among the many reefs in crystal clear waters, world-class surfing, mountain biking, kayaking and cultural visits to indigenous communities. Cocles Beach with its beautiful golden sand is walking distance from the hotel. At Le Caméléon every day is a new day.
How Much Do I Need?
This is a hard question as everyone's spending habits are different. We recommend having at least per person $250-$300 for spending money, $30 a day for meals (excluding alcohol), and around $150 or so for tipping guides, drivers, housekeeping staff. This is a very rough estimate because again everyone's spending habits are different.
For the most part, U.S. Dollars are not accepted in Costa Rica; by and large you will need to pay with Costa Rican colones. Right now 1 USD equals about 700 colones.
We strongly suggest you exchange funds before leaving the airport. There are a number of ATMs at the San Jose and Liberia International Airports. (There is also an exchange business in the airport that will exchange all currencies, however their rates are known to be very poor.)
If you must withdraw cash at an ATM, be prepared for potentially hefty processing fees and currency exchange commissions. That said, most Costa Rican towns have several banks and almost every bank will have an ATM. In Puerto Viejo, for example, there is a Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional and there are also ATMs from BAC Credomatic and Scotiabank.
Card or Cash?
Credit or debit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica for payment of things like shuttle services, meals, and attractions. Expect, however, to pay for taxi rides and items sold at small, roadside shops/stalls/stands with cash as credit cards are unlikely to be accepted. You’ll also need cash for most tipping situations.
How Much Should I Tip?
Most service staff in Costa Rica hope, if not expect, to receive a tip. Here are some tipping suggestions for typical services during your Costa Rica trip:
• Tour Guide - 3500-10000 colones (5-15 USD), depending on size of the tour group & tour length
• Tour/Transfer Driver - 1500-3500 colones (2-5 USD) per one-way transfer; 7000 colones (10 USD) for an all-day tour
• Taxi Ride - Round up the total shown on the meter
• Restaurant Wait Staff - 15-20% if a 10% service charge (a mandatory gratuity charge) has NOT been added to the bill; 5-10% otherwise
• Hotel Housekeeper - 1500-3500 colones (2-5 USD) per night
Costa Rican Go-To's
• #1 Tip - Get Salsa Lizano with every meal! It’s a typical Costa Rican sauce that is SO GOOD.
• Batidos - Costa Rican fruit smoothies. You can get them with water or milk.
• Casados - typical Costa Rican meals with meat, rice, beans, salad, and plantains
• La Empanada - Begin your journey into deep-fried empanadas costarricenses at this Tico institution located alongside the Plaza de las Garantías Sociales. Since 1948 locals have been coming here for well-browned, crispy turnovers made with corn flour filled with beans, ground meat, chicharrón, cheese, and potatoes.
• Soda Tala - Local favorite!
• 11•47 - 11•47 is a magical place, which you'll see in just the atmosphere as you walk in, the decoration, the floors! This is a cozy space...call ahead, as it gets busy and it’s better to have a reservation. I always choose the 5-course tasting menu w/ the recommended wines (it makes the whole culinary experience even better) and just ask them to surprise me with the dishes and the chef always picks the best. - Sadie
• Maxi by Ricky - People come to Ricky Barthley’s homey restaurant, located in the Santa Ana neighborhood, to watch sports and order the rondon. This coconut milk stew is found all over the Caribbean; here it consists of fish or mixed seafood, cassava, taro, yams, plantains, and chile panameño.
• Raw Co Juicery & Food - Takeout operation specializing in vibrant dishes that emphasize the unadulterated produce of Costa Rica.
• La Esquina de Buenos Aires - High-end
• Restaurante Silvestre - High-end
• Cafe Rico - get the Santa Rosa!
• Soda Elizabeth - simple yet delicious
• Grow - good vegan options
• Tasty Waves Cantina - many kinds of dishes, solid choice near the beach
• Tamara’s - local Black-owned favorite, great Rondon
• Biribá - the best vegan food!
• Salsa Brava - great drinks
• Spicy Coconut - Curry, Thai, Mahi Mahi, seafood
• Wolaba Fusion - Good sushi
• Koki Beach Restaurant, Bar & Lounge - Higher end, nice ambiance, and great cocktails right on the beach!
• Cafe Viejo - Italian--great pasta
• Lidia's Place - Traditional Caribbean + Costa Rican food
• Madre Tierra - Get the breadfruit gnocchi w/ shrimp and thank us later ;)
• Stashu's Con Fusion - International fare
Please feel free to let us know what interests you. We're happy to make suggestions based on our extensive knowledge and personal experience, to help you make the most of your trip!
• Cahuita National Park - Cahuita National Park is considered one of the most beautifully protected areas in Costa Rica. If feeling adventurous you can always take a bus yourself to Cahuita and spend some time in this little funky town and park.
• Playa Punta Uva & Playa Arrecife - Experience Puerto Viejo's Beaches Like a Local! Playa Punta Uva and Playa Arrecife are two of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, with palm tree dotted beaches, turquoise water and soft tan sand. In between the two beaches is a great little sightseeing spot with a short trail (Playa Punta Uva on the right, Playa Arrecife on the left). You can walk around the peninsula jutting out for awesome views.
• You can also try Playa Negra, Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, or Manzanillo for a serene day in the sun and sand.
RELAX & RECHARGE
• Johnny’s Place
Monday - Ol' School night (lots of Whitney Houston and Michael!)
Wednesday - mix of reggaeton and Top 40...Sadie's fav :)
Friday - Afro beats
Saturday - salsa
• Selina's - DJ schedule changes weekly
In order to re-enter the U.S., you must present a negative COVID-19 test. It must be a PCR or antigen (rapid) test, administered no more than 1 calendar day before your flight. Please see the CDC website for details.
Testing Options in Costa Rica Airports
Antigen (rapid) testing and PCR testing are now available at both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR). Lab Echandi, a reputable lab in Costa Rica, performs the test. You need to make an appointment online. Here is the link.
Puerto Viejo COVID Testing Clinics
- Laboratorio Bioclinic is great for travelers wanting to cross international borders, this lab is one of the two places offering Covid tests in Puerto Viejo at this time. Both Antigen ($76) and PCR ($140) tests are now available. An appointment is recommended.
Location: Inside Puerto Viejo Shops near Puerto and CO.
WhatsApp: +506 8950 9101
Opening hours: 8:00AM-5:00PM
- Clinica San Gabriel is also offering Covid tests needed for travel purposes. They offer both Antigen ($75) and PCR tests ($130) from 8am to 3pm daily. Your passport is required but no appointment is needed. Results are generally available early the next day.
Location: Calle 213, beside MegaSuper
WhatsApp: +506 8870 8029
Pura vida! Welcome to Costa Rica! You’ll arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José where a transfer will whisk you to your first hotel in the city. To meet your driver, simply exit the Arrivals Terminal of the airport and walk to the right until you are in front of Malinche restaurant. This is where your shuttle will pick you up. After checking in and getting settled, take some time to unwind at the pool or explore all the hotel has to offer. If up for it, maybe head downtown. Explore at your own pace, do some shopping, and grab an authentic dinner.
- Airport Transfer: San José
Provided by your hotel
Arrival at Juan Santamaria (SJO International) Airport / JetBlue Flight 1695 at 1:10pm
Pick Up: The shuttle runs every hour and half starting at 4:30am and ending at 1:30am (eg: 5:30am, 6:30am, 7:30am and so on). The driver will monitor your incoming flight arrival and meet you outside in front of Malinche restaurant. The van is white with the DoubleTree´s logo (a cookie).
Drop Off: DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari San Jose
- Check in at DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari San Jose
Includes: 1 King Bed Standard Room for 1 night, Buffet Breakfast (except arrival day), Taxes
Confirmation #: 97453876
San Antonio de Belen, Cariari, San José, 40703, Costa Rica
T: +506 2209-1000
Free afternoon and evening to relax or enjoy the local surroundings - Lunch & Dinner on your own