Q. What differentiates Costa Rica Online Travel from other Costa Rica tour operators?
A. Costa Rica Online Travel, located in San Jose, Costa Rica, is the sister company of Memorable Costa Rica in Rockville, Maryland. The San Jose office functions as an operations center that handles logistics, ground transportation, customer support, and sales. Our credentials and affiliations include membership in the Costa Rica Chamber of Tourism, and accreditation by the Costa Rican Board of Tourism (ICT). We are fully insured, licensed, and registered in both the United States and Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Online Travel offers the best of both worlds, a boutique agency dedicated to providing personalized service that's backed up with the support and expertise of a large operator. We work with you to design your ideal trip then provide ground support and post-trip assistance to guarantee a memorable experience.
Q. Will I pay more by using Costa Rica Online Travel than I would if I made my hotel and tour reservations myself?
A. Absolutely not. Costa Rica Online Travel charges no fees, and our prices include no markups. We are so confident in our price guarantee that we will provide the web sites of our suppliers to prove that we always obtain the lowest prices available. Our income comes from negotiated bulk rates with our suppliers, allowing us to be extremely price-competitive.
At times, you may find rates online that appear to be lower than ours. However, it is important to compare what is included and which services are provided. Hotels may publish low rates that do not include breakfast or other services that, when added back in to the rate, increase the price significantly.
Q. How do I know you are recommending the best resorts and services for me?
A. Our business is driven by referrals. More than 50% of our new clients come from recommendations given by travelers who visited the country using Costa Rica Online Travel then referred us to their family and friends. Because we value our clients' opinions, we strive to exceed their expectations and always recommend the best services for each individual.
Q. How should I move around the country?
A. Your destinations, preferences, budget, length of stay, and sense of adventure will help determine your transportation needs in Costa Rica. There are four basic ways to get around.
Flights: There is a very good network of local flights that use San Jose as their major hub. Two commercial airlines - Sansa and Nature Air - and private charter operators offer daily flights between regions. Schedules are convenient, and the airlines boast excellent safety records. Flying gets you from region to region quickly and avoids long drives. You also have the opportunity to enjoy an aerial view of the country, providing a different perspective. The two main drawbacks to flying are the 25 lb per passenger baggage limit, and you are bound by strict schedules. In general, local flights for two guests will cost about the same as a private transfer. For parties of three or more, ground transportation will be significantly less expensive than flying locally.
Car Rental: Having your own car gives you the ultimate freedom to move around at your leisure. You are not restricted by schedules, and you can stop or take detours at will. In addition, you will be able to drive to different restaurants, explore virgin beaches, and even take your own day tours. However, it is no secret that driving around Costa Rica can be an adventure in itself. Poor signage and winding roads provide challenging driving conditions that are not for everyone.
Private transfers: Having a private driver (with or without a guide) releases you from the stress of driving and the fear of getting lost. Private drivers are professional, experienced and friendly, and they can give you some information on history, culture and local traditions. This option makes the most sense budget wise for groups of four or more guests or for couples that put a premium on privacy and flexibility over price. However, when you reach your destination, if you wish to tour the region or explore nearby towns, you will require local cabs or tour operators.
Shared transfers: A well-developed network of shared transfers provides a safe, inexpensive option for travel between regions. Schedules are convenient but pre-set, with departure times starting in the early morning hours. Trips generally take more time since the van picks up and/or drops off guests at other hotels in the same region.
Q. Is it safe to drink the water?
A. Water is safe to drink in all locations unless otherwise indicated. Costa Rica has the highest percent of fresh water sources and flowing water per square mile in the world. The national water system is very safe, and in most areas, tap water is safe to drink. Many remote resorts rely on their own fresh springs rather than using the national potable water network. Bottled water is also readily available throughout the country.
Q. What is the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica?
A. Actually, all year round! The temperature in Costa Rica varies more with changes in elevation than changes in season. Although the weather is typically nicer during the "Dry Season," which lasts from around the end of November to the first of May, the "Rainy Season" is prime rafting season and offers the opportunity to view the country in its lush, green splendor.
Q. I want to travel during Christmas and/or New Year's. What should I do?
A. Book early! In order to assure space on any trip, we recommend making reservations as far in advance as possible. Many hotels have strict policies regarding mandatory Christmas and/or New Year's Eve dinner reservations, minimum night stays or additional charges. It is not rare to see hotels fill up almost a year in advance.
Q. What should I bring on my trip?
A. Costa Rica Online Travel's suggested packing list includes:
PASSPORT (Please make sure it is valid for at least six months after your arrival.)
Plenty of underwear and socks
Shirts (cotton or light synthetic)
Sneakers (Hiking shoes if you own them, but you don't need to specially purchase them.)
Rubber sandals with a backing, Tevas or old sneakers for rafting
Sweatshirt, sweater or light jacket
Dramamine (if you tend to get car or seasick)
If you plan to participate in your favorite activity (golf, sportfishing, scuba diving, surfing, etc.), bringing your personal equipment can be quite an additional load. If you want to avoid the hassle of extra luggage, be assured high quality, top brand equipment can be rented while in Costa Rica.
If you forget anything at home, don't worry. Most locations have well-stocked stores, supermarkets and drugstores. There are very few items you may require on your trip that cannot be obtained in Costa Rica.
Q. Are there any health concerns that I should be aware of? Do I need any vaccines or immunizations prior to traveling to Costa Rica?
A. Costa Rica boasts one of the highest health indicators in the Americas. In general, no vaccines or immunizations are required, but it is wise to check the recommendations issued by the United States' Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) prior to you departure.
Q. What are your trip cancellation and other policies?
A. Reservations, Payment and Cancellations:
50% deposit is due at time of booking. (Depending on hotel, service or activity, 100% payment may be required.)
Balance is due in full 30 days prior to arrival. (For travel during the holiday season, balance is due in full 90 days prior to your arrival date.)
All payments must be made payable to Costa Rica Online Travel in U.S. dollars. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. We also accept personal checks up to 30 days prior to departure (90 days prior to departure during the holiday season).
All cancellations must be made in writing. During high season, there will be no refunds if the cancellation is made 6 weeks or less prior to the scheduled arrival date. For cancellations made more than 6 weeks from scheduled arrival, supplier cancellation fees may apply. During low season, there will be no refunds if the cancellation is made 4 weeks or less prior to the scheduled arrival date. For cancellations made more than 4 weeks from scheduled arrival, supplier cancellation fees may apply.
Changes within 30 days of departure are charged $50.00 per person. If the change results in a cancellation of previously confirmed services, then the following cancellation penalties will apply for each respective service. If cancellation is received in writing by Costa Rica Online Travel at least 30 to 45 days prior to departure, a full refund will be made, minus a $75.00 administrative charge per person plus the applicable supplier cancellation fees. For cancellations received within 15 to 30 days of departure, a 50% cancellation penalty will be imposed. No refunds will be made less than 15 days prior to reservation date.
Costa Rica Online Travel
Fax Number: (888) 683-9558
Any claims for refunds must be made IN WRITING within 30 days of scheduled return. All negotiable vouchers must accompany the claim. No refunds will be made for features included in our itineraries in which travelers chose not to partake. No refunds will be made for missing transfers or sightseeing tours due to changes or delays in airline schedules. Costa Rica Online Travel will not refund any money for changes in travel arrangements made by the traveler after the departure date. Any service issue affecting the quality of the guest's hotel stay must be addressed directly with the hotel's management at the time the issue arises since refunds cannot be given for such inconveniences.
Costa Rica Online Travel will not disclose any personal information to third parties. All information we receive from you will be used only to confirm your vacation package or itinerary and at times to inform you about our services.
Costa Rica Online Travel (its owners, associates, agents, and employees) shall assume no responsibility nor liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity to person or property in connection with any service provided or resulting directly from the following: weather and road conditions, breakdowns, strikes, war, riots, acts of God, detention annoyance, terrorism, thefts, pilferage, force majeure, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, and discrepancies or changes in transit, car rentals, tours, or hotel services over which we have no control.
Costa Rica Online Travel is acting as a third party agent. All travel documents issued by Costa Rica Online Travel, including all tickets, vouchers and coupons issued and all arrangements for transportation or conveyance, hotel or lodging, car rental, touring, or sightseeing services, are subject to the terms and conditions of each supplier. By tendering payment to Costa Rica Online Travel LLC for any and all services, the participant(s) agrees to accept and be bound by the terms and conditions on this page.
Q. Should I purchase travel insurance?
A. In case of an emergency, we will honor each hotel and operator's cancellation policies and will try to negotiate the best possible outcome for you in the event of a late cancellation. Nevertheless, travel insurance is always a great idea. Insurance gives you the peace of mind that your investment will be refunded in case you need to cancel or cut short your vacation due to unexpected reasons. We work with AIG Travel Guard and its extensive product line. Some policies cover pre-existing conditions if purchased within 15 days of your initial trip deposit. All policies include options for trip interruption, lost or delayed baggage, medical assistance and evacuation, flight delays, and cancellations.
Q. What is a typical day like during the rainy season? Is it a bad time to visit?
A. The rainy season officially starts May 1 and runs through the end of November. It coincides with the tropical Caribbean hurricane season, which impacts weather patterns in Costa Rica significantly.
Rainfall is an integral part of the rainforest (thus the origin of the name). While weather and rain patterns tend to be more predictable on the Pacific beaches, rain can happen at any time in the rain and cloud forest regions.
But rain is not necessarily a bad thing. It improves conditions for white water rafting, turns the landscape into lush, green, picture-perfect scenery, brings out the wildlife in the rainforest, and even provides the perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon nap. If rain is a concern, you should focus your stay in the Pacific beaches during a May - November visit while reducing the number of days in the rainforest. But rain is no reason to delay or cancel your trip to Costa Rica.
Q. What is the weather like?
A. Because of its southern proximity, neither the temperature nor length of the days varies greatly throughout the year. The days are nearly twelve hours long all year round with very little change from summer to winter. Temperature is also fairly constant but drastic changes occur according to the altitude. At the beach, it is quite warm, sometimes down right hot! In the higher altitude cities like San Jose and Cartago, it can be a little chilly in the evenings and in the mountains sometimes freezing cold. It never snows in Costa Rica, so leave your parka at home, but a light jacket is a handy thing to have. The change of seasons in Costa Rica is determined more so by the dry season (the summer) and the green season. During the summer (December to May), it tends to be drier, sunnier but slightly cooler than in the "green season" (June to November), when rain is more likely. The amount of rainfall varies from region to region. The Pacific is generally drier and sunnier while the lush, green Caribbean receives more rain.
Q. How many regions should I visit, and how much time should I spend in each region?
A. When you research your trip to Costa Rica, you will find that this small country has many regions to explore and a variety of activities to enjoy. It is virtually impossible to visit every region in one visit. Careful planning is required to create an itinerary catered to your expectations, preferences and budget.
We usually recommend minimizing the number of regions in order to maximize your experience in the parts of the country you visit. Fill out our travel planner and talk to our travel consultants to design a trip that has the ideal itinerary for your needs. We suggest limiting a 7 night trip to a maximum of three regions and a 10 night trip to four regions. If you are travelling in a larger group or with smaller children, we recommend avoiding long drives within Costa Rica, opting for regions that are closer to each other or flying.
Q. Should I pre-book tours and spa treatments?
A. It is always a good idea to secure your reservations for popular tours and spa treatment appointments. It will not cost you more to pre-reserve, and it will guarantee your tour choice or time slot. Some tours and activities, like rafting, canyoning, zip lines (canopy tours), fishing, sailing, turtle watching, and kayaking, tend to sell out at popular times during holiday and high season, so we recommend planning and booking ahead.