Questions about Costa Rica

What is the exchange rate?

The Colone is a volatile currency and therefore is subject to significant changes in value. Check here for more current information: COLONES EXCHANGE RATE

Where should I get money changed?

ATM’s are VERY common throughout Costa Rica. Both credit cards and Interac cards are fine. We do NOT recommend getting money changed at the San Jose International Airport as they post very poor rates. This tends to be the same for purchasing Colones in foreign countries. Airport taxis will accept USD bills of $20.00 or less but you should expect Colones back as change.

Are USD, EUROS or CAD accepted widely?

Small bill USD are widely accepted throughout Costa Rica in the tourist sector. Euros and Canadian Dollars are not, though this is gradually changing. Hotel La Rosa will ACCEPT Canadian Dollars for all payments at the hotel. We recommend using Costa Rican Colones as your primary currency while traveling however as this is the National Currency of Costa Rica and the local people are very proud of it. Also, it is wise to always have some colones on hand just in case the vendor does not accept USD or credit/debit cards. You should expect to receive any change in Colones as vendors do not normally keep stocks of USD currency on hand.

What are the sizes of denominations?

Paper Costa Rican Currency comes in 1,000 colones, 2,000 colones, 5,000 colones, 10,000 colones, 20,000 colones and 50,000 colones.  As a rule of thumb, to get approximate USD value, simply remove the last three zeros and multiply the remaining numbers by 2 to get USD. Thus a 10,000 colone note is about $20 USD. This can be useful to ensure that you do not get taken advantage of while trying to work out the currency exchange.

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What is the weather like year round?

Hotel La Rosa de America is situated in the driest part of the Central Valley of Costa Rica. At our hotel, one can expect sunny days from Dec thru April, moderate rain in May, sunny with periodic showers in June thru Aug, and moderate to heavy rain in Sept and October. November is a transitional month from wet season to dry season. Temperatures range from 16 degrees C at night in October to 30 degrees C during the heat of the day in March. Check HERE for up to date weather forecasts of selected Costa Rican Cities and Towns.
The Pacific Coast dry season mirrors the weather at La Rosa, however depending on location, the intensity of the wet and dry season can be much greater. Of course, being at sea level, the Coast is an average of 6 degrees C warmer, day and night. The Atlantic (Caribbean) side tends to be wet year round but does have a drier season in the September and October timeframe. Note, most of Northern Costa Rica actually is under the Atlantic weather pattern. Again temperatures here will be 6 degrees hotter then at La Rosa.

What are other tourist ideas that we can do?

There are SO many things to do in Costa Rica it is hard to know where to start! Immediately around Hotel La Rosa de America you can visit ZooAve, Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Doka Coffee Plantation, Barva Volcano and so much more. Due to our central location within the country (and near the major roads) many guests use La Rosa as a “home base” to branch out into the countryside on day trips. For those interested, La Rosa also offers discounted rates for guests wishing to book a hotel package combo.

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What are the roads like?

Bridge to Manuel Antonio Bridge Retired Last Year – Honest!

Well, the “Dude, where is my transmission” road still exists however, to be fair, the road net in Costa Rica is rapidly improving. Roads are paved and in decent repair to most of Costa Rica’s major tourist destinations. San Jose, Arenal, Fortuna, Tamarindo, Samara, Jaco, Puerto Viejo, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and all the way to Golfito are paved and respectably maintained. Please note that access to Monteverde Cloud Forest is NOT paved for a minimum of 20 km depending on your choice of entry. Also the entire Mal Pais and Cobano area is not paved past Tambor and in the dry season this area can get very dusty. Road surfaces tend to be more “pothole strewn” in the wet season and one must keep an eye out for this.

Who should we rent a car from? Do we need an SUV?

Car and SUV renting can be a tricky affair in Costa Rica. Sadly, the vehicle agencies, especially the largest ones can often give poor service, incomplete quotes, or simply not honour the confirmed reservation when you arrive in the country. If you receive a quote, ensure that it includes ALL the taxes, unlimited kms, type of car/SUV, whether hotel drop off or airport pickup is included, license fee, roadside assistance policy, and most importantly if the mandatory 3rd party liability insurance is included. Note: SUV‘s are mandatory for guests planning to travel to Monteverde, otherwise the vehicle insurance will be voided in case of accident.
Hotel La Rosa de America started a program for our guests three years ago where we assist guests in the renting of a safe, quality vehicle – with correct pricing and a proper confirmation. Though we can not guarantee 3rd party service, our status as a major “client” for these preferred car agencies helps guarantee you better service. If you wish to use our car rental services, just let us know in an email and we would be happy to get a quote for you from one of the agencies whom we trust to give good service.

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Is it safe?

Costa Rica is recognized as having one of the only long standing stable democratic governments in the Central and South America. This, in conjunction with the complete lack of a military has fostered a feeling of general contentment (Pura Vida!) and relative prosperity within the country. However, crime is definitely on the rise – especially in the major cities and by the airport. We do not recommend travelling unawares in San Jose, Limon, Puntarenas, or Alajuela – especially after dark. Also, ostentatious displays of wealth are not recommended. Petty crime tends to be greater on the Caribbean side of the country. Local police forces tend not to be as effective as what most guests are used to expecting from police forces in their home countries.

Hotel La Rosa de America is actually located 7 km West of Alajuela in the upscale area of La Garita. This location is very peaceful and quiet, but of course, we recommend that travellers practice normal caution. Overall, one can expect the same level of crime in Costa Rica, as they would in the United States.

Is the food safe?

Costa Rica has a very strong Ministry of Health (Salud). This Ministry is responsible to ensure food standards and preparation/storage techniques are enforced throughout the country. Generally, all types of food is safe to eat throughout the country. This is a major benefit for guests travelling to Costa Rica over other “sun” destinations such as Mexico. Note: if you are in a very poor area or a very rural area, common sense applies. If the food looks or smells bad, don’t eat it!

Is the water safe?

Water distribution and production is regulated by another Government agency – AYA. This agency is responsible to the people of Costa Rica for ensuring adequate and clean potable water. For most areas of the country they do a respectable job. Areas recently flooded, or undergoing water shortages may experience questionable water quality. This can happen in the wet season in the Caribbean Low Lands or sometimes in the Guanacaste area. Water at Hotel La Rosa de America is of a very high standard and is drawn from resevoirs directly off the slopes of Poas Volcano.

Is there concern for Malaria or Dengue?

The more common of these two diseases in Costa Rica is Dengue. Both are carried by mosquitoes. The most exposed areas tend to be in the wet low lands of Costa Rica – specifically along the Caribbean. Areas recently flooded are also prone. Though one can get dengue anywhere in the country it is very unlikely and not a serious concern for the majority of guests. If you are planning to spend significant time in the rainforest/jungle or in an area of high concentrations of mosquitoes, we do strongly recommend an effective and PROVEN bug repellant. For more information on these diseases we recommend you visit your country’s Foreign Affairs/Consulate web page.