Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to Prevent Zika, Dengue, and More

Last Updated: May 21, 2019

Although Costa Rica has some amazing wildlife, not all creatures in its rainforests are postcard worthy. In fact, some, like the mosquito, are dreaded because of their ability to pass on diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya to humans. While these illnesses are a real concern in Costa Rica, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way in prevention. In this post, we’ll discuss Costa Rica’s most common mosquito-borne illnesses and give you some tips on how to stay safe during your visit.  

Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to prevent Zika, Dengue, and more | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Mosquito-Borne Illnesses in Costa Rica

As a traveler, you should know that Costa Rica’s government takes mosquito-borne illnesses very seriously and has aggressive campaigns to prevent the spread of such diseases. These include public outreach to eliminate breeding sites as well as targeted chemical spraying in areas where diseases have been recorded. Our friend actually worked for Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health for a while, eradicating mosquitoes, and told us that each day they were given the addresses of people who had been diagnosed with a mosquito-borne illness. They would then go door to door in those neighborhoods, handing out educational pamphlets, emptying standing water containers, and spraying to kill mosquito larvae.

These measures have helped to control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Costa Rica, but conditions are constantly changing. At times, there are reports of small outbreaks in certain areas, and at other times, things are very quiet. We don’t want to scare you off from your vacation, but we also want you to know what’s out there. Our goal is to give you as much information as possible so that you can stay safe.

Here are the most common mosquito-borne threats that you need to be aware of in Costa Rica (Updated May 2019). Later in this post, we’ll cover our tips on how to prevent mosquito bites in the first place.

Zika Virus

The Zika virus is the latest scare in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America. The symptoms of the Zika virus can include a mild fever, skin rash, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for two days to a week, but many people who have the disease show no signs at all. While Zika has relatively mild symptoms, the biggest danger according to the CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control) is to women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Reports from countries such as Brazil show an alarming rate of the birth defect microcephaly in children born to mothers who are infected with Zika. For this reason, the CDC recommends that those women consult their doctor or postpone their travel plans to countries that have the disease. Aside from being spread by mosquitoes, Zika also has been transmitted from person to person through sexual contact in the United States.

In 2017, Costa Rica had about 2,400 suspected cases of Zika, of which 359 were confirmed. We couldn’t locate the final data on the number of confirmed cases in 2018, but there were a total of 431 suspected cases so the number confirmed was likely ultimately less than that. 

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever has been present in Costa Rica much longer than Zika. Its symptoms can vary from mild fever to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, and rash. Although much less common, severe dengue (also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) has symptoms of fever, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, bleeding, difficulty breathing, and in rare cases, death.

Since 2010, there have been seven deaths in Costa Rica from severe Dengue. Cases of regular Dengue Fever vary each year and had been reaching around 15,000/year in recent years. There were about 11,000 cases in 2014, 17,000 in 2015, 23,000 in 2016, and 5,500 in 2017. In 2018, the number of cases was down to around 2,700. Like we said above, the Costa Rican government’s aggressive campaigns to eradicate mosquitoes help to keep these numbers in check.


Chikungunya is much less of a threat in Costa Rica and is also relatively new, occurring in only the last couple of years. In 2017, there were 396 cases, and in 2018, 146 cases. Symptoms of Chikungunya are an abrupt fever, which is usually accompanied by joint pain. Other signs include muscle pain, nausea, headache, fatigue, and rash. The joint pain associated with Chikungunya often can be very debilitating, but usually only lasts for a few days or weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain can persist for months or even years.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

The three viruses we mentioned above, Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya, are all transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito. These types of mosquitoes are most active during the daytime and usually have white markings on their wings or body. In order to get you sick, the mosquito that bit you has to have previously bitten someone infected with one of the viruses.

Here are our tips on how to avoid bites from the start.

Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to prevent Zika, Dengue, and more | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Aedes mosquito. Photo credit – CDC and James Gathany

Watch Out for These Spots

Mosquitoes in Costa Rica usually won’t bother you if you’re sunbathing on the hot sand or walking in the heat of the day. But watch out if you are resting under palm trees, hiking on shady trails, or passing by wetlands, ponds, or rivers. Also be extra careful in the morning and evening hours when it is a little cooler outside. We’ve been hit hard when eating at restaurants with outdoor seating. They love to hide out under the tables and bite your legs and ankles.    

Mosquitoes are also much more prevalent during the rainy season months of May through November. With more water, they are able to reproduce faster so have higher numbers. Avoiding the rainiest areas of the country can help you avoid bites. Read our Weather post for more information about which areas of Costa Rica receive the most rain.

Insect Repellent 

An obvious way to prevent bites is to use insect repellent.

DEET and Picardin Options

The CDC recommends an insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET. You can buy repellent at most grocery and convenience stores in Costa Rica, but unfortunately they mostly carry ones that have 15% DEET. This may work for a short amount of time but a higher concentration will last longer. Insect repellent is also expensive here, at about $10 a can. For these reasons, we recommend bringing your own supply. For serious hiking through the rainforest, we have used Repel 100, which is 98% DEET, but try to apply only when we know we will be washing it off within a few hours since it is so strong. Ben’s 30% Wipes are milder and good to keep in a backpack or purse. Here are some other options that are good for travel.

An alternative to DEET that is starting to become popular is Picardin. Picardin-based repellents have been proven to be just as effective as DEET in preventing bites and also keep mosquitoes farther away. Instead of landing on you and not biting, like with DEET, Picardin is said to prevent the insect from landing in the first place. We have used Sawyer’s 20% Picardin lotion with success. We like the lotion because we can tell that it has been applied to cover all areas. It also doesn’t smell bad and dries after application.

Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to prevent Zika, Dengue, and more | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Insect repellent for sale at a grocery store in Costa Rica

Natural Options

While DEET is proven to be effective against mosquitoes, a lot of people (us included) try to avoid it because of its potential harm to human health. Fortunately, there are some more natural options that work quite well in Costa Rica. We regularly use a few different products. Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus spray works just as well as our repellents containing DEET.

Essential oil blends are fairly effective too. You can mix your own or buy something already made. Our standby is a combination of coconut oil and lemon eucalyptus oil. Lemon eucalyptus is supposed to be one of the best essential oils for fighting mosquitoes according to scientific studies.

A premixed essential oil-based repellent that we like is doTerra TerraShield Outdoor Blend. It’s more expensive, but we’ve found it to be the most effective against bites, not oily, and pleasant smelling too. Unfortunately, natural repellents are hard to find in most areas of Costa Rica so we recommend bringing these from home too.

Cover Up

Covering up is a great way to prevent mosquito bites and lessens the need to use repellents. Some important tips are below. For a full write-up of what clothing to wear to prevent insect bites, read our new post Mosquito Repellent Clothing for Costa Rica. 

  • When possible, cover all exposed skin by wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of synthetic material that bugs cannot easily bite through. Loose-fitting, breathable pants like these are a good option for Costa Rica since it is so hot.
  • Sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms. Keep in mind when looking at eco-lodges and hotels in Costa Rica that some accommodations are open air. This means that there is only a mosquito net covering the bed, and mosquitoes and other insects can slip through screenless windows or slats in the walls. It is best to avoid this style of lodging if you’re prone to bug bites.
  • If you are staying in open air accommodations like we describe above, at a minimum, make sure you have a bug net for sleeping.

Don’t be a Target

Many people don’t realize it, but mosquitoes can smell you from up to 50 yards away. To prevent them from honing in on your exact location, there are a few tactics you can use.

  • If you are staying in one place for a while, like a vacation rental or cabin, be careful not to leave sweaty clothing and footwear hanging out to dry near where you sit. A 1999 study in the Journal of Chemical Ecology found that after a couple of days, the bacteria growing on sweaty clothes attracted many more mosquitoes than “fresher” sweaty clothes.
  • You also can try to mask the chemical compounds that mosquitoes are attracted to by burning incense, citronella, or mosquito coils. Mosquito coils are available in grocery and convenience stores all around Costa Rica and cost only about $1 a package. When we sit outside, especially in the rainy season, we usually burn a couple of these coils on each end of our porch, setting up a sort of smoke screen. It doesn’t work perfectly but it definitely helps.
Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to prevent Zika, Dengue, and more | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Mosquito coils can be found in grocery stores throughout Costa Rica

Mosquitoes in Costa Rica are not fun to talk about, but we know that they are on everyone’s mind now that the Zika virus is making headlines worldwide. Remember, though, that not every mosquito is infected, and your chances of contracting something during a short visit are relatively low. The preventative measures we’ve discussed in this post will go a long way towards prevention and hopefully will ease your worries so that you can enjoy all of the other, more beautiful creatures that this country has to offer. 

These are our tips for protecting yourself against mosquito bites in Costa Rica based on our experience living in the country. We are not experts in disease prevention or doctors and are not intending to give medical or other professional advice. If you’re unsure if you should travel to Costa Rica, consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) websites for more information or seek the advice of a medical professional.

Last Updated: May 21, 2019

Additional Resources

  • Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health: In Spanish, but they have an option to translate the site. Covers all the major health issues facing Costa Rica. The Información sobre Zika page has bulletins with recent data on all three diseases. In late 2018, the government stopped doing these bulletins, but more current information (2019) still can be found on their website here.
  • CDC: Info on travel advisories and ways to prevent mosquito bites.
  • WHO: Detailed info on different outbreaks throughout the world, including the Zika virus.
  • The Tico Times: Costa Rica’s leading English-language newspaper. Has several stories on Dengue and Zika in Costa Rica and are another good source for current information

Some of the links in this post are connected to affiliate programs we have joined. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Have any tips to prevent mosquito bites? Leave a comment below.

Looking for more information to help you plan? Check out these posts:

Related Posts

International Driving Permit Costa Rica
International Driving Permit in Costa Rica
Using At-Home Test Enter US from Costa Rica
Using At-Home Covid Tests to Enter US from Costa Rica
Testing Positive Covid Costa Rica
Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica
Getting a SIM Card for Travel in Costa Rica
Getting a SIM Card for Travel in Costa Rica


      1. I’ve seen this done in Mexico, with a coin or a small piece of metal, to keep flies away. I guess when hit with sunlight/light, is supposed to give the fly the appearance of a spider (spiderweb) in the area which they don’t want to get caught in. I’ve also read that in some DIY backyard “bug-free” article.

  1. Thank you so much for a very informational post about a topic most people don’t think about until it’s too late. Costa Rica is on out list, and I will remember to bring our own stuff plus some citronella candles to burn. Thanks again for the info.l

  2. Do you always wear insect repellent any time you are outside?
    We are supposed to do a bike trip in Costa Rica and are concerned about being outside all day.

    1. Hi Kathy, We don’t always wear repellent, just when we see mosquitos or will be outdoors for extended periods of time like to hike, etc. A lot of times during the dry season, we don’t wear it at all because bugs are less of a problem. If you’re on a bike, we can’t imagine you would get many bites anyway. Just be cautions when you stop to take breaks. Some repellent would be a good idea then.

  3. Hi there! I recently read an article about Malaria being found in the southern Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Are you familiar with this? We will be staying in Cahuita next February as part of a two week trip (first time in CR). Just wondering if we should be extra diligent with bug spray while on that side of the country? Thanks!

    1. Hi Vanessa, We haven’t heard anything about Malaria in the S. Caribbean or anywhere in CR in any of the local news outlets we follow or from other expats. We’d be interested to know where you heard this- hope it isn’t true. In any case, it’s always a good idea to be diligent with bug spray because of the other mosquito-born illness. Unfortunately there are a lot of mosquitoes in the S. Caribbean since it’s so wet and humid.

  4. Hello,
    How is the Zika situation in Costa Rica( July 2016)
    My sister is getting married in CR and
    I am pregnant.( really want to go)

    1. Hi Agnes, The number of cases for the year is still increasing, but overall, large numbers of people are not being affected. If you look at the latest bulletin from the Costa Rica Ministry of Health (July 13, 2016), there have been 186 total cases this year to date. The chart on page 2 shows that there have been 20 new cases since last week and the week before that, 13 or so. The bulletin is all in Spanish but it is pretty easy to translate. In that latest bulletin we link to, there is a map that has the areas that have had the most new cases recently (see pg. 2). Not sure where your sister is getting married, but it would help to find it on the map and see if there are any active cases there. I’m sure this is a really hard decision, I know you must want to be at your sister’s wedding. Hope this info helps you decide.

  5. Hello! Thank you so much for your site, it is providing us with so much useful info. We will be bringing our 3 boys (5, 4 and 1) to CR from 1st Nov until Christmas and we are very excited. What is the latest Zika news? I am guessing you must have friends that are thinking of becoming or are pregnant? How are they making sense of the risk? The news regarding Zika in the UK recommended that all travel should be avoided if there is any chance of pregnancy anytime soon. I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences. Love Karen

    1. Hi Karen, As we discuss above, there are still new cases of Zika, but it is not a widespread problem. Most of the cases this year have been the first ones around the Jaco area in May-June. There have been more scattered cases since then in different parts of the country – you can look at the bulletins from the CR Ministry of Health for the latest data. The government does a good job of coming to spray when there are reports of cases so that has been keeping the numbers low. As for assessing the risk, that is really a personal decision. Government guidelines say to avoid travel to affected areas if you are thinking of becoming pregnant. The risk of getting it is relatively low, but of course it could happen. People are still traveling here who have plans to have kids, but it is really what you’re comfortable with. Sorry for the wishy-washy response, but hope it helps at least some.

  6. Hi, we are also looking for information on Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya. We have a trip planned to Costa Rice in November (Playa Negra). We will be brining a 3 month old, almost 2 year old and 4 year old. We are seriously considering cancelling our trip because of the unknown impact of these viruses on an infant. We have heard that Chikungunya can have a severe neurological impact on infants and children if they get infected. I guess we don’t want to be paranoid while we are on our trip. Of course it will be harder to use strong bug repellant on an infant and there will be a long of day time napping for the kids (when the mosquitos are out). Are we crazy to go…or crazy to cancel? I know we can always go when our kids are a bit older…
    Thanks for your thoughts! Rochelle

    1. Hi Rochelle, We haven’t heard that about the effects of Chikungunya on children or know of anyone in Costa Rica that that has happened to. The viruses are here, though, and infections are more prevalent during the rainy season (includes Nov.) when there are more mosquitoes. You can find data on the number of cases in the Ministry of Health bulletins we keep talking about.

      We can’t help you decide what is best for your family, but we don’t think it is crazy at all for you to still come. We live here with our 7 month old and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. What we have done is to be really careful about not getting bites. We use repellents on ourselves, which helps our baby not get bites, use citronella torches or burn mosquito coils when we sit outside, and wear repellent, long pants, etc. when were hiking. We haven’t changed our lives–still hike regularly and go out and do things–but we’re more careful. Our son hardly ever gets mosquito bites (no-see-ums are more of a problem, and while pesky, they don’t spread disease). If you are careful too, stay in a hotel with screened in windows, etc., you should be fine. Your kids should always be napping indoors so bites then shouldn’t be a problem. We know it is scary but there is a lot you can do by way of prevention.

      By the way, we find that we don’t usually need to use repellent on our baby if we’re wearing it ourselves and carrying him. But if you’re somewhere where they’re really bad, the American Academy of Pediatrics says it is okay to use repellents with 10-30% DEET on babies 2 months and up. Our Baby Packing List post has links to the most helpful articles we found on repellent safety and babies. Hope that helps!

  7. Thanks for the info! I just bought the Burt’s Bee one. We are from Miami, but live in Texas now. I ordered it with Amazon prime free two day shipping. Just in time for our trip. Pura Vida friends.

  8. Hi there,
    I am wondering if you have any updates on Zika and Dengue in Costa Rica. I am looking to go in the beginning of February to the pacific side – an hour inland from Dominical and Dominical, and I hope to conceive there. It seems that it is safer in the dry season but would love to hear any current thoughts!

    1. Hi Sheila, The dry season is definitely better for mosquitoes. If you look at the government bulletins (click here) from the Ministry of Health, you can see the number of cases of all mosquito-borne illnesses going down in the dry season. The bulletin from Dec. 14 (No. 42) has a chart on page 2 showing Zika in 2016 week by week (all in Spanish but easy to translate). Last February there were hardly any cases and then there was a spike around June when it started raining more. February is usually very dry in the mountains near Dominical, but there are always some mosquitoes and, therefore, some risk. Your odds of contracting something are low that time of year, but it all depends on what you’re comfortable with.

  9. Hello-
    We are considering booking a vrbo in Samara. The house is built in an open air fashion with the exception of the bedrooms. The owner says he never gets bug bites even in the rainy season and I would imagine and hope he is being honest. My question is- how is this possible?! A completely open air home and limited bugs and mosquitos enter at night? – These homes seem pretty popular in the samara area however.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Khia, You are right to be skeptical. There are definitely mosquitoes in Samara, and personally, I wouldn’t stay anywhere that is open air unless there was some sort of screening (even curtain-style) so that you have the option closing up at least part of the living space. Even in the dry season, we have gotten bites there. It may be that the owner is not prone to them, but that doesn’t mean the mosquitoes and noseeums are not there.

  10. Is the zika virus found in every part of Costa Rica? I will be travelling to San Jose , La fortuna and resort assured there were no cases of zika there. Is this possible? I will be going in August.

    1. Hi Erika, There are very few cases of Zika in Costa Rica right now so it could be true. You should still wear repellent and take the usual precautions for avoiding bites because of Dengue and Chikungunya, but Zika is less of a concern right now.

  11. I see the rainy season is May to November. Is it less wet in November, i.e., does it begin to get LESS rainy, or does it accelerate from May to November with November being the wettest month? We’re hoping to come down in November and would rather not get drenched.

    1. Hi Diane, The rainy season typically peaks in September and October, with the rain tapering off in November. The dry season begins in December so November is usually a good time to visit. You can read our Weather post for more information on trends.

  12. Thanks for all the great info! we are planning a trip beginning of May to Papagayo (i think thats the place?) 🙂 but i am also planning on being pregnant than.. normally this wouldn’t bother me but i don’t want to endanger my unborn for a silly( but beautiful) vacation.. we will be in a villa, house style fully enclosed. How bad would mosquitoes be and the risk?

    1. Hi Stacey, It is a personal decision but your odds of contracting Zika are very low especially if you take the appropriate precautions to avoid bites, which it sounds like you are prepared to do. Staying somewhere with screens is key so that will help a lot. The mosquitoes usually aren’t bad in early May since that is very early in the rainy season, but we have experienced some bites in Guanacaste in April even during times of drought. I’m sure that’s not the clear answer you’re looking for for but hopefully it helps!

  13. Any thoughts on staying in Tamarindo in late January, early February and the risks of Zika? I know this is the dry season but still want to take precautions

    1. Hi Paul, The risk is low in late January/early February, especially for Zika. The occurrence of Zika in Costa Rica in general is very low; dengue is much more common, but even that is low in Costa Rica’s “summer” because of little-to-no rainfall. We still recommend repellent out of an abundance of caution, but you shouldn’t see too many mosquitoes.

  14. Hi there! Thank you for creating such a comprehensive web site! It has been very useful!
    My wife and I are going to Costa Rica in Mid-January 2018 for a couple of weeks on honeymoon. We are going to Playa De Matapalo, Guanacaste province to a beach resort but will want to do day trips out to other parts of the country here and there. My question is, how much repellent are we likely to need to bring? I’m looking at 100ml bottles of 50% deet to be on the safe side. I don’t really want to order way more than I need, but want to be safe.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Olly and Gemma, You’re not supposed to have to reapply repellents with a high percentage of DEET as often so one 100 ml bottle is probably enough for 2 weeks, but you could get 2 bottles just to be safe. Since Costa Rica is quite dry in January, there shouldn’t be too many mosquitoes. Hope you have an amazing honeymoon!

  15. We are considering moving to Costa Rica, but need to avoid the jungle areas since I am allergic to mosquito bites. Any recommendations for places to live, fairly close to one of the airports, since we will be traveling in and out of the country a lot.

    1. Hi Sherri, You will have to be careful because mosquitoes are found all around Costa Rica, even in most higher elevation areas. We would recommend looking for a place at the highest possible altitude. If you want to be close to an airport, this would be the San Jose area. One option that comes to mind is Grecia, which has a few different neighborhoods up in the hills. Best of luck!

  16. Thank you for your reply. Grecia is an area I’ve been looking at, although I didn’t realize mosquitoes could be found at the higher altitudes as well. 🙁

  17. Hey guys, we are heading to Costa Rica at the end of April until mid May for our honeymoon. Going all over the place really, heading to the beach for a week before heading inland to the volcano, rain-forests and nation parks. My partner is obviously concerned about Zika and I have picked up some 50% deet sprays, what would you recommend we do at night? I know there are some plug-ins you can buy, have you tried them before? do they work? Are there any tips you can share about the rainforest areas?


    1. Hi Peter, We have not tried those ultrasonic plugins but they are on our list. We’re planning to pick some up next time we’re in the States. But it looks like people like them because they have great reviews.

      For nighttime, if we’re going out and are concerned about bugs, we usually wear pants since it cools down a lot after dark. Then you mostly just have to worry about getting repellent on your feet. You could also burn those mosquito coils; they help some. The good thing is that the mosquitoes that carry Zika and Dengue are daytime biters so you don’t have to worry about them as much at night.

  18. Great pages. I’m still in the thinking and planning stage here and absorbing as much info as I can. I just wanted to say for mosquitos indoors here in S. Europe, we have cheap small electric plug-in devices (very low consumption) that can take a screw-in bottle or slide-in tablet containing a repellent/knock-down agent like this ( We use the fragrence-free tabs at night and they are great for a good mozzie-free sleep. I dont travel without one these days. I did try an ultrasonic one … no effect all. But perhaps there are better ones out there.
    Keep up the great work!

  19. Thanks, Jenn & Matt, for your informative article. My teenage son is headed there for an educational tour with his science teacher and classmates. They will be traveling to 5 different areas in 3 different regions. He’s not big on remembering to put on sunscreen or bug repellent. His teacher has promised to remind all the kiddos. As a precaution, I found a bug repellent trigger spray that is safe for and goes on clothing, backpacks, gear, tents, etc…, but not on bodies. It’s by a company named Sawyer and is called, “Premium Insect Repellent” a treatment for clothing, gear & tents. The active ingredient is odorless Permethrin. It contains an EPA reg. #. It sounds hazardous when wet, but once dry on the clothing and gear it’s a-ok. Lots of info and instructions/precautions for use on the bottle. Bottle states it repels mosquitos that may carry: Zika, West Nile Virus, Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever, plus ticks and chiggers. It got great reviews on Amazon. I’m giving it a try. Fingers crossed all goes well.

    1. Hi Michellene, Treating clothing with Permethrin is supposed to be one of the best ways to prevent mosquito bites, so that’s great that you got it for your son’s trip. We just did a bunch of research on it and bought some clothing that was pretreated with Permethrin for the upcoming rainy season. We are product testing it now and will come out with an article about our experience with it soon. Hope it helps to protect your son. It is nice that it goes on the clothing so he won’t have to remember to apply repellent. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    Thanks for a helpful information.
    If we are going to hike (3 days in Corcovado, in Chirripo area, Los Quetzales, Manuel Antonio and Tortoguero) and relax in Uvita, what kind of repellent(s) it would be better to buy (from mosquitoes and ticks)?
    p.s. our trip will be in the middle of December

    1. Hi Kate, For the last year or so, we have been using mosquito-repellent clothing or Picardin mostly for repellent. Here’s a link to our post about clothing that has been treated with mosquito protection/permethrin- these are a great option because it cuts down on bug sprays/lotions and will be good since you’re doing some more rugged hikes. For exposed skin, we’ve been liking Picardin lotion the best lately.

  21. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    My fiance and I are planning to honeymoon in Tamarindo at the end of June. I’ve been reading lots about the concern of Zika for pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant. My concern is more futuristic – I’m not looking to get pregnant for another 5+ years. Does Zika stick around in your system? I don’t want to do anything that could have a negative impact on my hypothetical future family. Is that a valid concern? Thanks!

    1. Hi Emily, Zika numbers have been really low for a while so it’s not a huge concern. It can stick around in your system but you could always get tested when you get home. You should talk to your doctor about the particulars of testing but I think they normally recommend getting tested 2-12 weeks after you return from your trip. If it makes you feel better, I (Jenn) am pregnant now (due in about a month) and am not worried at all about Zika virus.

  22. Hi – Thanks for all this info! How many ounces of bug repellent and sunscreen do you recommend for an 8 week stay for one adult? (1 wk near San Jose + 1 wk at beach + 6 wks in Monteverde) The goal is to pack most of what is needed rather than shop for it there. Thanks!

  23. Hi Jenn,

    I am planning a honeymoon for early December 2019. We would like to try for a baby soon after returning. Do you have any updates on current cases of Zika? We plan to stay in La Fortuna and Tamarindo.

    1. Hi Ana, The number of cases of Zika right now are very low. You can see the exact numbers by visiting the Costa Rica Health Ministry’s website here. Look at San Carlos for La Fortuna and Liberia/Santa Cruz for Tamarindo.

  24. Hi Jenn and Matt, My husband and I will be leaving in a few days for Costa Rica. We’ll be in San Jose, Monteverde and La Fortuna. One of the highlights of our trip will be a 2-hour bird and nature walk with a guide at Bogarin Trail in La Fortuna. One of the tours in a night tour to see what’s there at night. It’s supposed to be awesome. I have been reading all the dangers concerning mosquitoes, etc. and now I’m hesitant to partake in this. What would be your opinion? Thanks

    1. Hi Susan, Don’t change your plans because of mosquitoes; it’s really not as bad as it can seem from reading online. Just wear long pants when hiking and repellent on exposed skin and you should be fine. Here’s a link to our post about the best clothing to wear for mosquito protection.

  25. Hi Jenn & Matt,

    Thanks for such an informative website. My wife and I are visiting for 3 weeks in February. We’ll stay in Atenas, Manuel Antonio, Drake Bay, San Gerardo de Dota, Arenal area and Hotel Colinas del Miravalles (thanks to your recommendation). The CDC website mentions Hepatitis A and typhoid through impure water and food being a danger. How prevalent is this and is a typhoid vaccine, or any other vaccine, necessary? Also, any update on mosquito issues? PS – We reserved a car with Adobe through your website.

    1. Hi Dennis, Hep A is recommended but not much of a problem here. We didn’t get the vaccine until we moved here. I’ve never heard of anyone getting typhoid. Right now is dry season when mosquitoes are less common. But last year, Zika cases were very low and dengue was up from 2018 but still relatively low. It’s still best to wear repellent or cover skin when you’re outdoors just to be on the safe side. Thank you for renting your car through our website. Hope you have a great trip!

  26. my extended family is returning to CR next month. My mom is fighting cancer. Is there anything you can suggest we do or do not do? She was at the start of the fight when we were there last year. But since the situation has’t improved, I worry about the mosquitoes and the repellents. We used SkinSoSoft last time. Also, the drinking water. Last year, my husband, my dad, my son’s dad and I all ended the trip with explosive diahrea. What can i do to help my mom? Because she can’t laugh it off anymore. And I am worried. The rest of us have our own funny story about where we pooped our pants. But my mom is another story. Any tips or advice would mean a lot to us

  27. Hi Jenn and Matt, We are staying in Tamarindo the first week of April with our 6 and 1 year old. We plan on taking a day trip to Finca de Verde Lodge and Llanos de Cortez. What’s the terrain like in those areas as it compares to Tamarindo? I’m wondering if we need to lather up more in bug repellent when we go to those places than we do in Tamarindo. Should we stay lathered up the entire week we are in Costa Rica? I am aware we are visiting Tamarindo during CR’s summer and know it’s drier in that area, but curious as to your thoughts as parents.

  28. Thank you for this informative post. I am thinking of taking our first family (with two kids) trip to CR in mid to late August because we currently can’t afford to travel during the high / dry winter and spring break season, and we only do family travel during school vacations. I am concerned about the mosquitos situation because my older kid and I are mosquito magnets even when we were insect repellent as that can’t be applied to every area (think near eyes and mouths). The hotels we’re looking at all have pools (and one has a hot springs), but now I am realizing that having standing water at our lodging would be a bad idea since we wouldn’t want to be near them in the evenings when we’re done with touring. Is the mosquito situation in mid to late August better or worse than late June? That’s the other week we might be able to swing a trip this year. Thanks

    1. Hi Amy, The mosquito situation is pretty similar late June and late August so you should come whenever is more convenient. Late June might be better weather wise since it is earlier in the rainy season. I wouldn’t worry about pools and hot springs attracting mosquitoes because the water is circulating and not standing, which is what you have to worry about. We’d recommend getting some clothing that had been treated with Permethrin- see our Mosquito Clothing post for more information: Mosquitoes really like me too, but as long as I am careful, I don’t get too many bites.

  29. Hi Jenn & Matt

    Super-grateful to have discovered your posts about moving to CR. I have a question about just how bad the mosquitos are. Not so much the chance of diseases they carry, but the experience of living with them on a daily basis. We lived in St Croix a few years back, and didn’t do our research enough ahead of time, choosing a home on the beach but in a slack wind area with few breezes. The mosquitos on a daily basis were SO fast, aggressive and prolific that we could not cook or eat dinner without four fans around us. And one count on a single leg contained 75 bites at various stages of infection (large red puffy and crusty). It was diabolical and made living there kind of hellish. We went through every imaginable repellent and nothing worked (except deet-based which was not a sustainable daily proposition). The locals said about 6 months the body would start developing natural immunity but it never happened for our family. I would be grateful to know if the mozzies and noseeums are this bad. Super grateful!

    1. Hi Rachel, I don’t think the mosquitoes are quite that bad here, thankfully! It varies by location and season, but we’ve never been anywhere where we’ve gotten 75 bites at once.

      Beach towns have more of them and they can be bothersome in rainy season. But not horrible. We’ve noticed that their speed varies by location actually (haha). When we lived near Dominical, they were slower, and near Jaco, they are a bit faster. This is probably because of different types. We spend a lot of time outdoors and can avoid most bites with repellent- we use natural ones mostly and Picardin. If we’re going somewhere very buggy or it’s rainy season, we might wear lightweight pants. In dry season, we usually don’t need anything. Hope that helps give you an idea of what it’s like!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Add Trees to Your Order


Become a Subscriber!

Receive our newest articles by email. It’s free.