Covid-19 in Costa Rica: Living Here Through the Pandemic

For several months, we have been updating our readers on the coronavirus and how it has affected Costa Rica. That post has mostly formal details on the current number of cases and measures that the government is taking. But we thought it also would be interesting for you to hear about our personal experience and what is happening locally as the pandemic progresses. In this post, we’ll share these details about life in Costa Rica during Covid-19.

Living in Costa Rica During Covid-19

The Beginning – Covid-19 in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica saw its first cases of Covid-19 at the beginning of March 2020. As a country, we had already watched the virus spread in China, Italy, and other parts of Europe. Immediately, once the first case arrived, the government reacted. By March 18, Costa Rica’s borders were closed. At the time, we had around 50 cases and one death from the disease.

For us, those first few weeks of March were really intense. This was mostly because our travel agency had many clients already in Costa Rica or due to arrive soon in March or April. Stress levels were high. Everyone was emailing us for updates on the situation in Costa Rica.

They wanted to know if the government was going to close borders, what would happen to them if they closed while they were here, and how refunds would work. We even had a client trapped in Italy, who was supposed to travel here but got locked down because of the escalating situation.  

Like most companies, we encouraged being cautious and careful, even if that meant postponements or cancellations. By March 21, we had helped get our last clients out of Costa Rica, cutting their trip short by a few days. They got to the airport and on one of the very last regular flights out of the country.

Shutting Down 

By late March, it was like someone had flipped a switch. Costa Rica had been in the middle of a booming “high season” as they call it here, then suddenly there were zero tourists and no money coming in.

The local economy relies heavily on international tourism. It is one of Costa Rica’s main industries. Hotels, restaurants, tour companies, transportation companies, and attractions that had just been at their peak were suddenly now closed. These businesses make most of their money from December to the end of April, so it was a big hit to be closing in March. Thousands of workers were laid off. And because many locals don’t have much savings, it has been very hard on people.

Additionally, in March, the Ministry of Health began restricting businesses and services. Schools were closed first, along with large events, amusement parks, bars, and nightclubs.

Many restaurants near us on the central Pacific coast either closed due to lack of business or only offered take-out. Access to beaches and national parks also was prohibited.

Closed beach Costa Rica Covid-19
Beach access taped off during Covid-19

By month’s end, almost everything was closed except grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, and medical clinics. While there was no formal stay-at-home order, driving restrictions had us only able to leave on certain days between certain hours.  

Staying Informed 

At the end of March, there were around 300 cases of Covid-19 in the country, with 15-30 new cases per day. The coronavirus was all over the news. The Ministry of Health started running ads everywhere (e.g., TV, social media, radio), telling people to wash their hands and keep a safe distance.

The Ministry of Health was doing (and continues to do) a live press conference every day, where they share the latest numbers and any new regulations taking effect. Health Minister Daniel Salas also does a small lecture or pep-talk about the importance of the health measures to get the point across to the general public. Salas is a doctor with two master’s degrees (public health management and epidemiology) and incredibly well spoken and reasoned, in our opinion.

At this point in the pandemic, much of the country seemed to be taking things seriously. Costa Rica’s public health care system normally has less than 300 intensive care units for the whole country. But only around 50 of those are typically open from what we’ve heard from news reports. Seeing health care systems be quickly overwhelmed in other countries and being informed from our own health officials of it possibly happening here made people think.

Adapting to Stay at Home

Costa Rica’s reaction to quarantine was impressive. Overall, people were staying home and that really helped keep the coronavirus numbers in check. After a couple of weeks (by mid-April), new cases were down to single digits per day. And with recoveries, the curve of active cases began to slowly trend downward.

Also, with the lockdown, new services were popping up fast. We’ve always thought that Ticos were resourceful, but after this pandemic, we think it now more than ever. Below we’ll talk about some of the adaptations that people have made to cope with the changes.

Note: We realize that many of our readers, friends, and even family have different opinions on what was/is best during this crazy time. For us, it was/is to be overly cautious and maintain social distance. Therefore, our experiences shared here might be somewhat different than others also living in Costa Rica.


When schools were closed in mid-March, it was quickly announced that learning would continue online. That meant different things for different schools, of course. Some public schools didn’t have as many resources as others, and from what we have heard, up to half the country’s public-school students weren’t getting much of anything.

Our oldest son goes to a private school and that experience has been better (although challenging as many of you readers with kids can relate to). For us, it meant a short online video session with the teacher each day and some other things to practice at home. He’s only in kindergarten so it wasn’t/isn’t too intense but enough to keep him on track.

Filling the rest of the day with kid activities was and continues to be the bigger struggle! We even tried to help other families around the globe by coming up with some Virtual Field Trip posts of our own.  

Virtual learning Costa Rica Covid-19
Our son doing his virtual school lessons

Getting Local

Something really cool that started happening where we live is that we could get most things a lot more locally. We have always supported the community farmer’s market. We also regularly purchase some groceries from the mini-super (small store) in town. But many of our household items usually came from bigger stores and chains nearby. Now that we were stuck at home and a bit intimidated to go to the larger grocery stores, we had to look for other options.

Luckily for us, new offerings were all around. Our small grocery store started taking orders through WhatsApp and delivering to our door. If they didn’t have something, they would help find an alternative or order it for us. People in town compared prices against the big chains and they were similar or sometimes even less.

Organic produce, which we normally had to get at the weekly farmers market, could now be purchased online through a small delivery company. Not only that, but they began partnering with many local suppliers to get other items like baked goods, jams, dairy products, chocolate products, and even bath items.

And one of the best additions for us is our new source for yogurt. A family we know who has a dairy farm started delivering the most amazing yogurt as well as cheese and fresh milk. They had previously sold mostly to restaurants but adapted when many of those closed.

Pair that with the egg delivery that we were already using from another farm, and most of our weekly grocery needs were taken care of.

Produce delivery Costa Rica
Our organic produce delivery

We were also able to purchase some foods from locals in our community who were out of work. Our cleaning person, for example, has been periodically selling things like arroz con pollo, tamales, and other treats. Some local chefs who aren’t back to work yet also have been selling their dishes on and off to help support their families.  

For missing items, we have managed to stock up a couple of times at PriceSmart near San Jose. This is a big box store, which is owned by Costco. They started a curbside-pickup service, which has been very easy to use.

Gradual Reopening with New Health Measures

By mid-May, Costa Rica was getting world praise for controlling Covid-19 and keeping the death rate very low (just 10 deaths from around 840 cases). New cases were often in the single digits per day. With two weeks of decreasing cases, the government announced plans for a very gradual reopening. You can check out our other coronavirus post for the phased plan. For us, this meant that some important things would be opening back up.

Back at the Beach

Beaches were the highlight for us since we live at the beach and all really needed to get out of the house. Even though they were only open only from 5:00-8:00 a.m., we made the best of it. Luckily, we only live about five minutes away so early mornings were still doable.

The local surfers may have been the happiest of all. They had been pretty vocal about being kept off the beaches during lockdown. A few were even chased off by police, which made news headlines.   

Costa Rica Beach During Covid-19
A beach near us, just reopened

National Parks

Another highlight of reopening was that some national parks were opening at 50% capacity. We were able to visit both Carara National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park.

On both visits, there were only about 30 people in the entire park. That’s fairly normal for Carara, but Manuel Antonio usually has hundreds of visitors daily during peak season. The number of trails was limited, but it was still really nice to get out and hike.  

We were impressed with the parks’ safety measures too. Per Ministry of Health guidelines, both required handwashing before entering and the staff was either wearing masks or face shields, or they were behind glass. They also took the temperature of the person buying the tickets, although not the whole family.

The facilities were modified a bit. At Carara, the benches along the main trail had been sectioned off with caution tape to distance people. Both parks had lots of soap and sometimes alcohol gel in the bathrooms, a big improvement from the norm. Manuel Antonio had restricted the use of many of their picnic tables and kept the beach sections closed to prevent people from gathering.    

Carara National Park During Covid-19
Safety measures at Carara National Park

Stores and Restaurants

During reopening and with the low number of cases, we also felt more comfortable getting out to the store or grabbing something from a restaurant (allowed to be open at 50% capacity). For these businesses, things had changed too. They had to comply with a lot of new regulations.  

Grocery stores had all their staff wearing masks. Bigger ones also set up Plexiglas petitions around registers. Employees were either spraying alcohol on the carts or asking you to do it when you enter. Floors were marked so you would stand at a distance from other customers when waiting in line. Many supermarkets had senior hours’ as well.

At the Ekono department store that we visited in Jaco, they were allowing only around 10 people inside at once. The line outside was spaced apart and you had to have your temperature taken before entering as well as sanitize your hands at a special station.

On a visit to the ice-cream shop, the staff was wearing face masks. Servers at restaurants were not required to wear any face coverings, though (until recently), so that was a turnoff for us. But we did still get takeout. For people dining in, the tables had been spread apart to keep a distance.   

Lightening Up

During May and into June, we noticed that many people weren’t being as cautious as before. They definitely seemed to be lightening up. Some people we know were getting together for small gatherings or making trips to San Jose or other higher risk places to get errands done. Locals were trying to get back to work so that they could put food on the table. We completely understand how hard it is for people right now, but much of the lack of social distancing didn’t seem to have much to do with work.

On a drive through bigger beach towns like Jaco or Quepos, you may have seen a few people wearing a mask, but mostly it was only employees at stores or delivery drivers. Really only those who were required to wear them. One rainy afternoon in Jaco, we saw dozens of people crowded under a bus stop, none of them wearing a mask or social distancing.

On a drive Matt took to PriceSmart in Alajuela (near San Jose), he did see more of the public wearing masks, but not the majority. With more active cases in that area, it made sense to see more masks.  

But overall, people seemed to have had enough of it. We were starting to get stir crazy too.     

The Second Phase, the Second Wave

The second phase of the government’s reopening plan went on as scheduled on June 1. Now, larger hotels and function halls could be partially opened. Restaurants could open on the weekends too (take-out only), instead of just during the week. The idea was to encourage local tourism and get some of the economy going again. We were all encouraged to stay within small “social bubbles.”

As has happened elsewhere in the world, concurrent with reopening, cases began to steadily rise. New cases were numbering in the 20s or 30s per day, with some peaks into the 50s.

Suddenly by mid-to-late June, there were record-breaking days of new cases in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 147.

Data Covid-19 Costa Rica Second Wave
Rising curve during the second wave. Source: Costa Rica Ministerio de Salud


A big issue starting in May was Costa Rica’s northern border with Nicaragua. From what we have read, the situation in Nicaragua sounds a bit out of control and the virus is spreading quickly without any government intervention.  

There are many Nicaraguans that live in Costa Rica, and therefore, a portion normally travel back and forth to visit family or for work. With the borders closed, some have been entering the country illegally, either to get back to loved ones or to find a safer place than their home country.

Costa Rica has been trying to patrol the northern border and has set up checkpoints and a small airport for surveillance. But a lot of the territory is wetlands and hard to traverse. Many Nicaraguans still have managed to find their way through.

Some Nicaraguans have tested positive after riding a bus in Costa Rica or working alongside others in the agricultural sector. Cases have spiked in certain northern areas of the country, resulting in region-specific restrictions and illegal worker crackdowns.

Truck Drivers

Truck drivers from both Nicaragua and Panama to the south also have been an issue. A lot of trucks pass through both borders, and for a while, the Ministry of Health was requiring Covid-19 tests. These took around 24 hours, so it created a big traffic backup at both borders and some tensions between governments.

Since then, Costa Rica has been allowing police-escorted convoys of trucks to pass from one border to the next, without testing, with a controlled stop along the way. We have seen several of these on the highway near our house. They include about 20 tractor-trailer trucks and usually three police escorts. 

Party Time

Amidst the spiking cases, we also have been seeing some bigger gatherings make the news. One family get together of 50 people resulted in at least 30 new cases. Another was said to be a baby shower, where several attendees then tested positive, including the expectant mother.

Over Father’s Day weekend, the Health Minister urged everyone to celebrate from afar and even issued harsher driving restrictions. But news headlines still told some stories of large gatherings getting broken up by police.

Where Is It Headed? 

Costa Rica’s first wave of coronavirus was small and controlled. At the peak, there were around 600 or so total cases and it felt like we were winning when daily cases dropped into single digits and people started to recover.

Now, almost suddenly, we are in the second wave, with around 2,500 accumulated cases and the curve is still rising. New cases are in double, and sometimes triple, digits each day, even with the same amount of testing (only around 400-500 tests per day). For us, the end is nowhere in sight, but we still have hope.

New Measures

Just this week, Costa Rica announced that masks will be required in some situations starting on June 27. This includes anyone who interacts with the public (e.g., employees at restaurants, banks, churches, cinemas, theaters). The general public is required to wear them at banks, cinemas, theaters, and on public buses and in taxis.

The third phase of reopening (originally scheduled for June 20) was initially delayed after the recent spike in cases, but resumed on June 27 with modifications. See our original coronavirus post for more information.

We’re still waiting for details, but with these new measures, it seems that the government won’t let up on their fight to control the pandemic.

Uncertainty but Optimism

International Tourism

A big uncertainty for many, including us, is the reopening of international borders. The government has been very vague about when borders will reopen. This week (June 22), they announced that it would be a very gradual reopening, and countries with high transmission (like the US perhaps) would not be allowed to enter for some time. At the time of this writing, they have still not specified a date that airports will open again or what countries will be permitted entry.

In the back of our minds, we know that they can’t just allow people to travel in from other countries, but waiting for a set plan has been hard on all of us in the tourism sector. Many hotels, restaurants, and tour companies have been preparing to reopen, only to be shut down because of a new restriction or extended border closure.

People here are really struggling financially, and many are very frustrated with having to keep waiting. In some tourism towns, grassroots organizations have formed to push the reopening. Still other locals are nervous and not ready to get back to normal life. Schools are supposed to reenter session after July vacations for some grades, but there are many concerned parents.

Looking to the Future

It is a very difficult time for everyone, but our hope is that people heed the directives of the Ministry of Health now so that we endure this for the least amount of time possible. Typically, enforcement in Costa Rica isn’t great so we will have to see how the new mask requirements go.

Costa Rica has banded together and shown ingenuity before, and we think they will again. Already there is a lot of patriotism behind new efforts. We have seen face shields being 3D printed by concerned citizens, a university has developed an easy-to-make respirator, and the country’s snake-venom scientists are testing a scalable blood plasma treatment, which could even provide a sort of vaccine.  

Time will tell for both Costa Rica and the rest of the world, but one thing is for sure, we can’t wait to get you all back here for a visit soon!

What is it like where you live right now with Covid-19? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more information? Check out these posts.

Costa Rica and the Coronavirus: Stay up-to-date on the situation in Costa Rica with this detailed post.

Life in Costa Rica: Interested in moving to Costa Rica? Our Life in CR section has many articles about getting residency, moving with kids, starting a business, house sitting, and more.

Recipes: If you can’t get to Costa Rica, one of the best ways to bring yourself here is through food. Check out our recipes for arroz con pollo and homemade beans.

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  1. We are so nervous about the COVID 19 situation going on for a very long time. We booked a flight to Costarica on January 2021, coming from Cancun,Mexico. Hopefully it will be better by then and we don’t have to cancel again. We cancelled one time already. We have fallowed your posts for a long time. Thank you for keeping us posted

    1. Hi Elsie, We are optimistic that things will be better by next January. We have several clients with trips planned, who also had to reschedule already, during that time frame. Thanks for following our posts for so long!

      1. We want to travel to Costa Rica but have a 2 yr old. Will she be required to wear a mask. We are flying on Delta and they have a young child exception from the CDC recommendation of 2 yrs and older to wear masks.

        1. I found your website most informative. Just used the links provided for our car rental and travel insurance for our trip at end of may 2021.
          Was just wondering if you can comment on COVID-19 situation in the Puntarenas areas.. ie: tarcoles, jaco. Thanks

          1. Hi Elizabeth, Thank you for booking your car and getting your insurance through our site! We appreciate it.

            The Covid situation in Jaco and Tarcoles isn’t that bad. We live near this area actually. Currently there are 321 active cases for a population of around 23,000. We’ve had anywhere from 5-25 new cases per day for the last couple of weeks. Usually it’s around 10-20. You can check this website for updated data: Jaco is in the canton (county) of Garabito. By the numbers, most of the cases in the country are in the greater San José area. Hope that helps!

  2. Just a slight correction. Price Smart was originally owned by Costco, but it was sold several years ago. What fuels your thought that they are owned by Costco is that Price Smart still carries many items with Costco’s private brand labels. Confusing isn’t it.

  3. We live in British Columbia, Canada and our government here has done a good job leading us thru this pandemic. We did not have a lockdown but some businesses were closed down as well as parks. Guidelines were to stay home and social distance much like Costa Rica. We have been slowly reopening and case numbers have remained low. We feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place and spend our time enjoying the outdoors but we are sure hoping we can come back to Costa Rica this winter.

    1. Hi Nancy, That’s great to hear that the situation is under control in British Columbia. It sounds like the government and everyone else has done a good job handling the situation. Yes, let’s hope we can get Costa Rica back to the low numbers so that you can come this winter. Pura vida!

  4. Hi Jenn & Matt… You guys run a fantastic blog with up to date, really relevant info.. Mucho Gracias!
    We live in Ojochal (3yrs) originally from Melbourne Australia.
    The similarities in regards to Covid19 that both our new country and Australia share is quite surreal?
    Both, Costa Rica & Australia have been world leaders in managing this pandemic, I honestly believe!
    We all have our usual gripes with the governing by Costa Rica (and Australia, I suppose?)
    But the last 3 or 4 months, I have nothing but admiration for the way Costa Rica has handled this crisis!
    They appear transparent & totally honest.. They are obviously concerned about this huge hit to tourism, but putting the health welfare of people before $$$!
    Also appears that both countries are experiencing a 2nd wave!
    In Melbourne’s case, I think complacency is now the culprit with so many fed up with lockdowns and having their social life interrupted?
    Costa Rica… Our Northern neighbors certainly aren’t helping the cause! (A real conundrum this!)

    2 points I believe are vitally important! And things we can all do.
    1/. Adhere to the advice given by the authorities, and treat their guidelines seriously! If we can’t go to the beach, don’t!
    2/. Look after our Tico Amigos!
    So, So many are doing it damn tough… If you employ locals.. Please try to keep it going, regardless of how quiet things are!
    You’ll find both a gardener or a housekeeper will adapt to all matter of tasks (painting, re-grouting tiles, helping with all those jobs we’ve been putting off etc) to keep gainfully active!
    We are all in this together, and blessed to have been welcomed & accepted into their beautiful country… look after them please!
    Stay safe all!
    And aren’t we SO lucky to be “trapped” in Paradise during this awful pandemic?

    1. Hi Charlie and Jess, We totally agree. Costa Rica has been handling this so well. Right now, everything is intensifying so hopefully this continues.

      Looking after the locals is so important, you’re totally right. They have been doing a community food bank where we live for several months and I know other areas are doing this too. Maybe with the airports opening, there will be some tourism to give people at least a little help. Yes, we consider ourselves very lucky to be here! We just got back from the beach. Really enjoying the extra time in the morning. Stay safe and pura vida!

  5. Hi Jenn, we are from the UK and it has been terrible here. Our restrictions are being lifted and thousands of people flocking to the seaside, only a matter of time before we get a second spike too. Over 40,000 have lost their lives so far since March and millions of people have been excluded from financial support packages so face financial ruin. Sadly our government have not done a good job 🙁 Its been 18 months since our first trip to Costa Rica and we still talk about it most days. We cannot wait to come back when all this is over and this time maybe for an extended vacation. I found your website invaluable when we were trip planning and have recommended it to many people, so thank you for that. I still enjoy keeping up with your updates now, takes me back to those fantastic memories. My friend is hoping she can come this November, as missed out last year to ill health, so fingers crossed.

    1. Hi Lisa, Great to hear from you again. Yes, we have been following the news out of the UK. It seems it’s a problem in many places that people are sick of the restrictions and just wanting to get back to normal. Similar problems in the US, where we are from, with overcrowded beaches and resistence to mask guidelines. I hope you can get back here for a visit again in the near future. Thank you for following our website for all this time!

  6. Thanks for the update and I can feel your frustrations. We live in a small town in Michigan out side of Detroit.
    Our Covid numbers in Michigan are down but many states in the US are on the rise. Here in Michigan we have opened up much slower than other states but now restaurants and bars have opened recently. When we do go out we wear our mask but many people have let down their guard and do not wear mask and nobody seems to reinforce it.
    I wish everyone could get on board and work together on this pandemic, something as simple as wearing mask in public would make a huge difference.
    Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Hi Joan, Yes, it is frustrating. We have been following the news in the US closely and don’t understand the resistance to mask wearing. We will see how Costa Ricans react to the new mask requirements. With cases really spiking here, we all need to do our part to get things back under control. Hope you don’t see another spike in Michigan with the restaurants and bars reopening. Stay safe!

  7. We visited CR the first week of March and departed on March 7 with quite a bit of trepidation. Looking at news feeds from the states it was getting more scary everyday.
    Being we live in the NYC metropolitan area did not help.

    We made it back with the usual airline delays and went through customs at EWR in record time. The customs agent actually told us to get out of the area as fast as we can. It took longer to walk from the plane to the customs gate than it took to go through. That will never happen again!

    2 or 3 days later all our area was locked down and still is to a certain extent.

    We did enjoy our stay and booked two excursions through you. The Manual Antonio park was fabulous, the Catamaran ride not so much.
    As advertised the driving is not for the faint of heart, and we were either stopped at a road block or pulled over by the police on 4 occasions. Not sure why either. The police were coldly polite and let us go everytime. It was a little unnerving seeing so many AR 15 rifle toting police around.

    Hoping all returns back to normal soon in the world, there’s quite a lot of resurgent cases of covid19 in the US too.

    1. Hi George, That’s crazy that you got through customs in the US so quickly, good though. Glad you made it back home without too much trouble and enjoyed your trip. That’s strange about getting stopped by the police so many times. It is normal here, and throughout Central America, to see police with large guns. We’ve never had any problems with the police in our seven years living here, fortunately. Yes, let’s all hope we get back to normal soon. Thanks for commenting and stay safe.

  8. Just happened upon this particular page and glad I did because I had no idea about the online delivery! With exception of online school, our experience is similar to yours, since we are here. Through the lockdown we have shifted from living here part time to full time and count each day here as a blessing. Now we’re looking to buy a pick-up, clear out our apartment in Miami and make this our permanent home. I’ve been sewing masks since March and showing people how to make face shields. Never thought these would become part of my skill sets.

    1. Hi Jo, Yes, the online delivery is awesome! Good luck with your plans to move permanently. Living in Costa Rica through all this does make you realize how nice it is to be here. Pura vida!

  9. We had to cancel our March trip to Costa Rica ☹️ We were due to fly in the day before the country went into lockdown. Seeing how well CR is handling the crisis is uplifting. I only wish I could say the same for how things are going here (US).

    1. Sorry to hear that, Vincent. We had several clients who were supposed to come in that time frame as well. It is great how well Costa Rica has been handling it, we feel very fortunate to live here. Hope things improve in the US soon. We have been following the news closely.

  10. It is sad to see CR’s numbers of COVID cases coming back up. It looks much like some of the new hotspots in the USA. I live in Connecticut and we had it very bad in March and April but now it is better. But, we must stay vigilant lest the virus comes roaring back again as it seemingly has in CR and many other places.

    1. Hi Tim, Yes, it is sad and unfortunate. This is really the first time Costa Rica has had big numbers, though. They are testing more too, although the positivity rate has been increasing also. With the new lockdown in orange alert zones, hopefully things will get back under control soon. Glad it is better in CT. Thanks for reading!

  11. We moved to Costa Rica in November of last year earlier than we had originally planned due to my husband being offered an early retirement package. We have been very impressed as to how CR has handled this crisis. So fortunate to be going through this here versus the US. I was heartbroken thought that I missed my son’s wedding as the lockdown took place a few days prior to our departure. With that said, if we had left, we’d still be there. We live near Tilaran, Guanacaste and our numbers here has been in the single digits and at zero most of the time so our lives have been minimally impacted. Now with masks, is the most we have had to deal with and for us, it’s a minor inconvenience. We love it here.

    1. Hi Elsa, That’s sad that you missed your son’s wedding, what terrible timing. But yes, we are grateful to be going through this in Costa Rica as well. We love the Tilaran area – we spent several months in Puerto San Luis/Tronadora in our early years here. Love the vast farmlands and kind people. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

  12. Greeting from Canada!
    Thank you for sharing all of this very honest and interesting information.
    Me and my family were planing to escape to CR in the beginning of 2020.. and this pandemia changed everything. We are looking forward to go to CR when border will be reopening to skip second in Canada. Could you please tell me if it is good timing to move now? Thank you!

    1. Hi Iryna, You’re very welcome!
      Yes, it would be a good time to move once borders reopen. The only major thing to be aware of is that if you do not have residency, you will need to leave the country every 90 days to renew your visa and it may be difficult to use the land borders. Panama and Nicaragua have a lot of Covid cases so we expect the land borders to stay closed for some time. So you would need to fly to another country in order to renew your stamp. Feel free to check out our Living in CR section for articles about moving to and living in Costa Rica.

  13. We connected with a few local families during a visit. They are struggling, what is the best way to support them? Is there a fund that goes directly to the locals for essentials?

    1. Hi Nicola, Many communities have been doing food banks at the town level where they accept donations and supply local families with the basics. We don´t know of anything online that you could do from afar that is general in nature like that, but we have a friend who runs tour groups to CR who has been working with an organization in Drake Bay to provide relief. They are helping to support guides in Drake Bay who are no longer working. Here´s the link to the campaign and more info.

    2. Hello there, just wondering now that the boarders are open to Canadians vacationing, can you also relocate at this time? Our plans to do so where halted because of the pandemic:(

  14. Hi,

    We’ve been following your posts for some time, always a good help to us in our planning. Having been visiting Costa Rica since I first did a ‘Hippy Bus’ tour in 2001, We can’t wait to get back. Each of our recent visits have been either camping (with lodge stays on rainy days!) or by campervan. We had to cancel our planned trip in March, but have just re-booked for Christmas, and hoping it will go ahead. We will be in a campervan, alternating between wild camping and campsites during our travels, so isolation will be relatively easy.

    This is a very informative article, and I was just wondering how you are finding it now that limited tourist flights have recommenced? Apart from the obvious face masks, hand washing, sanitising etc. are there any other considerations you feel we need to take for traveling by camper?

    In the UK things are slowly getting back to as near to normal as we can expect, with pubs/bars, restaurants, schools, hairdressers and many others open again. Hopefully Costa Rica will also crest this current wave and come down the other side into smoother waters soon.

    1. Hi Alan, Thanks for following us! How cool to travel around by campervan.

      We feel pretty safe here now that masks are required in most indoor situations. Traveling by campervan, you should be able to stay away from people easily, but keep in mind that it is much busier here over the Christmas holiday. Many beaches will be jam packed with locals who are camping for the week. You’ll just want to strategically claim your spot so that no one intrudes too closely. The farther from San Jose, the easier it will be to avoid crowds. Anything south of the Dominical/Uvita area shouldn’t be too crowded. That very southern region is much quieter in general and has gorgeous lush rainforest. Maybe take a look at the Pavones area too. Hope that helps! Nothing else really for specific recommendations for travel by campervan.

  15. Great article. Any updates since this that you can share? I might be crazy, but thinking CR for the winter since school and work are online, but do we need residency visa to stay beyond 90 days? And what happens if there is a shutdown while there and it pushes you past 90 days? Any insight would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Christine, Costa Rica is experiencing a big increase in Covid cases right now and hospitalizations as well. You can read more in our Covid post:

      You’re not crazy to want to come, but you should know about that and also the current entry requirements. One important one is the insurance requirement since it can be costly if you’re coming for a long period of time. You may already know but you need travel insurance to cover Covid medical expenses and accommodation costs in case you have to quarantine. We cover this in more detail in our Covid Entry Requirements post:

      Tourist visas are strange right now in that the government keeps extending them so that you don’t have to leave after the standard 90 days. They just announced that tourists who enter by October 31 can remain in Costa Rica until March 2021 without needing to renew their visa. See more here:

      Hope that helps! Our FAQs About Living in CR post ( may also be helpful for you. Best of luck with your plans!

    2. I was thinking the same exact thing is it safe From covid. I spent 3 months backpacking Costa Rica and couldn’t wait to get back. Then covid hit It’s been a brutal 7 months every time i think of Costa Rica I get crazy anxiety it makes my heart race. I love the ticos and ticas I enjoyed the public transportation and hostels and wanna continue to use them do you think is a bad time to be running all over a country on public transportation and sleeping in dorm hostels. I’m in my 30s good health but I have a bad anxiety of germs. I’m so nervous here in Florida touch anything. I wonder if I would feel comfortable or if I should postpone my trip till whenever. I figured if I make it to the ocean and stay there for 3 months that will limit my risk from over exposure to the virus. Confused Gee In Miami. I could only imagine the locals not being able to work. It really is a crazy world

      1. Hi Gee, It totally depends on your comfort level, but if you’re worried about germs, it may not be the best time to come. Costa Rica is still experiencing high Covid numbers and has completely opened the country now. There are good sanitary protocols in place at buses, hostels/hotels, restaurants, etc., but you’ll want to make sure you can enjoy your time here without worrying too much. It’s a hard time right now, we totally agree.

    3. We are from NC and are in Jaco until Jan and find things more than safe. Love CR! Don’t be afraid. Nothing different than here than NC except the people are nicer and I will take that all day long!

  16. Hello Jenn and Matt, hope you can shed some light on the following:

    We are a family of 4 from NC wanting to spend December in CR. We’ve visited several times in the past and overall know what to expect. We’ve been to greater Liberia area (Playa Hermosa, Coco etc), Arenal and Monte Verde. We’d like to find another destination that is safe, offers good infrastructure, strong internet signal and a proximity to a quiet kid friendly beach (the kids are 8 and 11).
    Is this a mad idea due to covid? What areas within the reasonable drive from San Jose do you recommend?
    Huge thank you in advance for your advice.

    1. Hi Tonya, From San Jose, you could look at some of the towns surrounding Jaco. Jaco is more built up but there are lots of quieter communities nearby like Playa Hermosa, Esterillos, or Bejuco. High-speed cable internet is in all these areas. Otherwise, you could look at Manuel Antonio a little farther south, but the beaches there are busier. Hope that helps! If you’re planning to rent a car, be sure to check out our new Monthly Rental Car rates. They are really good right now because of Covid.

      No, we don’t think it’s crazy to come now. Yes, Covid cases are fairly high but you can easily socially distance here just like anywhere else. We have grocery delivery, stores in San Jose offer curb-side pick up, etc. Many of the beaches aren’t busy at all and that’s a great way to spend time with kids. We have done some traveling with our kids in Costa Rica during Covid, and have felt very comfortable. The businesses are all pretty good about following protocols.

      1. Hi, your ‘boots on the ground’ report is very informative. My family of 4 is set to travel to CR in mid Feb. We have heard reports that we will have to wear masks not only where mandates, but at all times outdoors too. This concerns us…if we are out and about on our own we want to shed masks…wearing them outside does not sound like much of a vacation to us esp in the hot weather. If we stand to get shamed or worse, ticketed, maybe we should reconsider travel there?

        1. Hi Darren, Masks are not required outdoors in general. In busy places like commercial areas, many people do wear them even when outside. Others do not and people do not make a big deal about it. They aren’t required until you actually enter the store, office, etc. They are required for some outdoor activities like at the entrance of national parks (not along the trail) and on zip line tours and things like that when you’re in close proximity to other people. They’re not required at restaurants for patrons either, only staff. The mask requirements here seem very reasonable to us. Hope that helps!

  17. Hi Jenn – Thanks for all of your wonderful advice. We have plans to travel from the US to CR on Dec. 26 – Jan 6 with plans to stay in the Puntarenas Province, Esterillos Este beach area. Would you change your advice to Tonya now that cases are surging? My feeling is the cases are surging in US but not as bad in other places like CR. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jason, No, I still think it’s safe to travel here as long as you’re careful. Cases in CR are much lower than in the US in general, and specifically in the Esterillos area, they are very low. If you’re comfortable flying, you should be fine when you get here. Tours, stores, and restaurants are all following Health protocols.

  18. Hi there! Thank you so much for all your helpful information! I am planning to spend January in an Airbnb in Santa Teresa. Any thoughts on the COVID situation there, if people are following protocols and access to care if needed? Realize you may not know this but figured I would ask.

    Thank you so much and stay healthy!!

    1. Hi Jen, Santa Teresa is in a really remote area so it’s farther from good medical care, which is mostly in San José. There is a public clinic in Cobano nearby, though. Most likely there is a small private clinic in town too. Most of the popular tourist destinations have these so they would be able to help diagnose any problem you were having and coordinate medical care. These private clinics have English speaking doctors. You could ask your host if there’s one in town.

      For whether people are following protocols, honestly, that is where we heard about some large gatherings happening a while back that the police had to break up. It’s a really rural area so compliance is probably mixed, but businesses do try to enforce the mask and other requirements so that they don’t get shut down. We just came out with an article on what it’s like traveling in Costa Rica right now that should be helpful. Here’s the link:

  19. I heard that car rental companies will try to make you buy their insurance even if we have purchased one from the website we rented the car from. How can I prevent this from happening to us?

  20. Hi,
    My name is Alina and I’m from Austria. How is the current situation in Costa Rica? We are planning to come there very soon. My husband is a bit worried about the international flights and if it can happen like in March when they suddenly closed all the international flights from one day to another. We would need to be back in Europe by mid of January, so basically we have almost 3 weeks there.
    I would be super happy to receive an answer.

    1. Hi Alina, The government has said informally that it would not close borders to flights from the UK. We don’t think they would close the border in general since they have been pushing so hard to reopen to reactivate the economy. Hospitalizations are way up here right now, though. So there may some restrictions coming but it’s really hard to say. Currently, there aren’t any over the holidays. We will update our Coronavirus post and Entering Costa Rica During Covid-19 post with any new information.

  21. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    I’m planning on flying in to San José on jan 10th … in 3 days time …, but I’m going through some doubts ….will be wanting to take the public buses to Sierpe and then a boat to Drake bay … Because of Covid 19, Is this still feasible ? I guess we have to wear a mask on the buses ?

    Thank you so much for your help !


    1. Hi Guy, Yes, that’s still possible. Buses are operating like normal but have some capacity limits. The boat taxis to Drake are still going too. Masks are required at bus stops/stations and during the ride.

  22. We’ve so appreciated your posts for many years. We’re considering a 4 month temporary relocation to Costa Rica for our kids to finish the school year there from Mar-Jun. Knowing what you know, is this advisable? I’ll be fully vaccinated by the time we come, but my partner may not be.

    1. Hi Sarah, Thanks for following along with our posts all this time!

      It’s fairly easy to stay safe in Costa Rica so we don’t think that would be a bad idea at all. A lot of families actually seem to be doing this right now. Overall, people are pretty good about wearing masks here and following protocols. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to our post in What It’s Like to Travel in Costa Rica Right Now ( with more details on what to expect.

      One thing to keep in mind is that four months might be tough. Standard visas are 90 days, and unless they open land borders to tourists, you will need to fly out of the country to renew your visa.

      Best of luck with your family’s plans. Also, feel free to reach out through our Video Chat Service ( if you think we could help through a one-on-one conversation.

  23. Great article and thank you for sharing. I am staying in Tamarindo and was wondering if you have heard anything new about Nicaragua. From my understanding, the land and air borders are closed. It is sad to see how the country is doing and I hope they get under control and open back up. It was such a great way for visa runs to be handled and to be able to contribute to their tourism. Let me know if you have heard of any plans to reopen or updates. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kristina, We think the air borders are open but that most commercial airlines aren’t flying to Nicaragua right now due to government restrictions. Their land borders are open. But because of Costa Rica’s restrictions, you still can’t do a border run there. Costa Rica’s land borders are open to tourists exiting but not entering so you can’t get back in. It is sad. We are hoping Costa Rica will open the land borders fully soon!

  24. I’m planning to visit Puerto Jimenez third week April how are the cases trending? Are the visitors fully returned? Is there a covid testing facility near there?

    1. Hi Joe, Costa Rica’s Covid numbers are very low right now. You can see the curve with this link: Active cases are orange.

      It has actually gotten busier with visitors over the last month or so, but numbers are down overall.

      Yes, there is Covid testing right in Puerto Jimenez. Our Where to Get a Covid test post ( has more info.

  25. Hi! Thank you for such a great informative website! I am so overwhelmed, we are looking into all the details to move there in the next 6 months with our 5 yr old. what’s the covid status looking like these days? Nothing is mandated, is that correct? If our child is not put into the school system, are there ways to meet other kids and families? classes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Dina, That’s exciting about your move!

      Nothing is mandated now but it very well could be later on. Here’s a link to our post on Covid Vaccination Rates in Costa Rica. Towards the bottom is some info about how pro vaccine Costa Rica is.

      Yes, you should be able to meet other kids and families. Just try to pick an area of the country with a lot of families around. These tend to be where the good private schools are. You can also meet people at the playground or through activities like kids’ art classes, karate, fútbol teams, etc.

      Best of luck with your plans!

  26. Hello,
    How is the situation today? Would you advise travel there now in January 2022? Won’t be in San Jose except to arrive and depart. The rest of the time in the interior.

    1. Hi AC, Cases have been increasing steadily throughout the country since last week due to the omicron variant. You can get current data here. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with. If you have your own car, that limits your exposure a lot. Dining is outdoors, which helps, and so are most activities.

  27. Your website is great as it seems both very informative as well as up-to-date. My husband and I are coming to Costa Rica for the first time. We’ll be joining a nature tour in early February; the itinerary includes Tortuguero, Corcovado, Monteverde and Arenal. The group must be fully vaccinated and each participant tested three times (‘pcr’ prior to leaving the US, ‘rapid’ upon arrival at the group’s starting point in San Jose, and another rapid test prior to our flight home). We are very glad these precautions are being taken. Meanwhile, the covid-specific information on your site has provided an added layer of reassurance!

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