Traveling to Costa Rica during the COVID Pandemic

Traveling to Costa Rica during the COVID Pandemic

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We spent 5 weeks in the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica, including Tamarindo, Nosara, Samara, Playa Flamingo and Peninsula Papagayo. It was our first international trip since the pandemic began and we celebrated our son's 1st birthday while on the trip.

Read The FUNemployed Family's full blog post about road tripping through Guanacaste here.

How did you enter the country?
Air
Any difficulties with your vaccination card when entering the destination?
No, at the time of our trip, Costa Rica was not requiring travelers to be vaccinated. So, we brought our vaccincation cards (for us adults, kid vaccinations hadn't come out yet), although we never had to show them to anyone upon arrival.
Did your children need to be vaccinated before arriving? If so, which ages? Also, did they need to wear a mask?
No, vaccination was not a requirement at the time of our trip. We could never figure out which age the mask mandate in public spaces applied to, but we always err on the side of caution, so our 4 year old child wore a mask when we did (inside closed spaces, grocery stores, moving about restaurants, etc). Our younger child was only 1 year old and we did not try to mask him up.
Did the local government ask for travel or health insurance when you arrived?
Yes, this was one of Costa Rica's main requirements upon arrival. We had to purchase a separate health insurance plan that covered Costa Rica and it had to include COVID coverage and a minimum of $2,000 related to potential COVID quarantine lodging.
Did you experience any challenges with customs, immigration, or the health authorities related to COVID?
No. We simply had to fill out a passenger locator form (to obtain a QR code) that explained where we were staying in Costa Rica and attest to not having any contact with a known COVID case. We provided that along with proof of the special health insurance, and we were all set.
If needed, were COVID tests easy to find and book at your destination?
We did need to test in order to get back into the United States in April. Fortunately, finding a testing site was quite easy. For us, our resort offered the test onsite for a fee. However, friends of ours that we traveled with were able to find a testing site by Googling locations the day before their flight out of San Jose.
Did you have any difficulties with testing or receiving your results on time?
No, our results were sent electronically to us in less than 24 hours.
Was this destination abnormally crowded or empty?
I would say it was slightly less empty than normal. However, because Costa Rica was one of a few countries that did not require vaccination or presenting a negative test (at that time), many travelers were interested in visiting. There was one week where Tamarindo felt very crowded, but I believe it was a popular Spring Break week. Overall, Tamarindo was the most crowded place we visited.
Were you required to wear a mask inside restaurants, event spaces, or public transportation? If you were able to choose, did you feel comfortable wearing or not wearing a mask?
Masks were required at indoor public spaces like grocery stores, shops and when moving about restaurants. However, due to so many open air and outdoor setting restaurants, the enforcement was relatively lax. Shops and grocery stores were more strict.
Did the destination adapt physical distancing in day-to-day situations?
It appeared that most restaurants attempted to separate tables more than normal, but overall we did not feel that Costa Rica in general was strict on physical distancing, however at that time, most patrons were keeping distance from one another anyway.
Did restaurants, businesses, and public services take COVID-related sanitary precautions that you noticed?
We felt that most businesses in Costa Rica took COVID quite seriously. Outside of most restaurants and grocery stores there were hand sanitizing stations and normally there was someone at the door monitoring for masks and/or capacity limits.
Were there any surprising or unexpected COVID policies on your trip?
Not really, it was overall a very smooth trip for our first trip since the pandemic began!
Anything else you think fellow travelers should know?
Overall, Costa Rica is a fantastic place to visit, especially with kids. The abundance of outdoor/open air activities helped us feel more comfortable about traveling during the pandemic. At the time (March/April 2021), we found that most other travelers were willing to abide by the mask mandates and other restrictions in place, but every once in a while we would notice some people not wanting to abide by the rules, but it was rare. We definitely recommend Costa Rica as a travel destination.
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