Pickleball Costa Rica: F.A.Q.

Yes; It must be current, and have enough pages to be stamped. It must also have 6 months left before its expiration, upon return to your country of origin. 

Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your real passport during travel to Costa Rica.  (Do NOT put either of these in your baggabe.  Only in carry-on bags, but keep them separate). 

As we travel around Costa Rica, you will use your paper copy and leave your passport in your safe at your hotel.

Depending on your country of origin you may enter Costa Rica without a visa. USA, Canada and most European countries have this privilege.

Further details may be found at the U.S. State Department's travel site.

Tap water is safe.  We have lived here for almost 3 years now and have traveled all over the country with no problems.

Costa Rica is just above the Equator, but in spite of the warm, humid climate, there are many microclimates here, especially when going up into the highlands. Bring a light jacket and a light rain jacket or travel umbrella.  A pocket plastic rain jacket will do during dry season, (Late November through April), because some parts still have rain.  During rainy season (May through August), it rains for a few hours in the afternoon.  Also see our list of "Items to Bring"

Also, do not wear fancy clothes. Be casual and don't wear a lot of "showy" jewelry.  There is a lot of poverty and people don't enjoy having wealth shoved int heir face.  Casual wear is typical in Costa Rica.  If you choose to do this and happen to travel into the city of San Jose before or after our tours, you make yourself a prime target for theft. 

The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. Visa and Mastercard and cash are widely accepted. (No American Express).  Leave travelers checks and personal checks at home.

500 colones is approximately $1.00 USD.

1,000 colones is $2.   2,000 colones is $4.  etc.  Double the number in the "thousands" column, so 15,000 is aprox. $30.

There are banks everywhere.  You can use your ATM card to pull out money when needed. 

This is not Mexico.  Don't plan on getting a better deal by bargaining.  It's rare.

All  major credit cards are widely accepted.

You will also find ATM machines distributed throughout the country, but we suggest, out of experience, that you use only ATM machines at banks; not on the street. They tend to "eat" your card, and it can take up to a week or longer to get it back... if at all!

You should alert your bank and credit card company that you'll be traveling and ask them to advise you of any fees for using your cards while traveling internationally.

Departure tax is US $29.00, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with a credit card. 

Certain airlines now pack that tax into your fare.  Find out if your airline has this service, which saves you time and hassle at the airport in Costa Rica.

The Poas Volcano National Park is the only one that offers access for wheel chairs, the last we heard.

Costa Rica is not yet very "handicapped-friendly".  We have never seen a handicapped bathroom in a restaurant or anywhere else. nor have we seen any hotels..although there may be a few.   Don't plan on finding much.

All you need is insect repellent, a rain coat with a hood (a plastic "pocket" hooded rain coat will do) or an umbrella.  Wear closed toed shoes. 

Hiking boots are not necessary for our tour, unless you plan on doing off-road hiking on your own time.  If it is in rainy season, (May through early November), it rains usually only in the afternoons for a few hours May - August.  If you are planning to go off road, then bring hiking boots.

Many of the receipts at restaurants say that they have included a 10% tax for service, but unfortunately, the servers don't usually see that money. They would certainly appreciate it if you could throw in a little extra. They are paid around $1.50 to $3.00 per hour.

Maids ($2.00/day or 1,000 colones)

Porters (bell hops) ($1.00 or 500 colones per bag)

Taxi drivers and tour guides usually get a tip as well.

North: Nicaragua

South: Panama

East: Caribbean Sea

West: Pacific Ocean

Yes, but you can only use them at areas that provide wifi.  Unless you are an international traveler, your cell phone will not work here in Costa Rica.  Make arrangements with your cell phone company for international calls.

If you are a regular international traveler  and know  that your phone is definitely set up for changing sim cards; yes you may, but the process to purchase it is more time than you would expect.  If you come into Costa Rica much earlier than the tour start time, there is a Kolbi booth in baggage claim that may allow you to make this transaction.  If not, you can take time to purchase one in Jaco, our first stop.     

If you're planning to purchase an all night flight, remember that it has to start the DAY BEFORE our tour start date. Also be aware that our check-in time at our hotel is not allowed until 3 p.m. on that first day. If you prefer to a take a flight the day before, skipping the all nighter, please contact us, as we can suggest some hotels near the airport with free transport to and from the airport.

If you are planning to arrive the morning of the tour start date, remember that you must leave time, after arriving, to go through immigration and customs, baggage collection, and also leave a little spare time if the flight is late, etc. Our transportation leaves at 1 p.m. for our hotel. If for some reason you miss this ride, it is up to you to find transport to Best Western, Jaco on your own.

As you consider your flight home, remember that you will arrive at San Jose's Juan Santamaria Int'l airport at 9 a.m.. Everyone MUST plan to arrive 2 hours before your flight's scheduled departure time. Example: If you arrive at 9 a.m. at the airport to leave Costa Rica, your flight must not be scheduled to depart before 11 a.m.

If you choose a 7 day tour and live in a part of the states or Canada that have a very different time zone than ours, (SEE TIME ZONE QUESTION BELOW), may we suggest you come at least a day early or at least do not take an all night flight to arrive the day our tour starts.

Each tour starts at 1 p.m.  If everyone comes in on the same flight, we can change it to accommodate you, depending on hotel check-in times of the hotel your particular tour has.

If you are unable to catch a flight that arrives by 11:30 a.m., which gives you time to go through customs, immingration, and also gives you a buffer for a delayed flight.  You may want to come in the day before our tour starts if your flight won't come in until later.  See FAQ's question # 22 for suggestions on hotels near the airport that include transportation to your hotel and back to the airport.

If you choose an all night flight, remember that the flight must START the day before, so you arrive the day of the tour. 

The last day of our tour we schedule for 11:00 a.m.  Again, we can reschedule tour end time for earlier flight times if bulk of our guests is leaving earlier.  We need to schedule leaving our area 3 hours prior to scheduled flight departure time, giving us one hour to travel to the airport, and 2 hr. arrival at airport prior to your scheduled departure time. 

We use different hotels depending on the tour you have chosen. 

Our less expensive "Economy" tours have us staying at the Best Western Hotel, and La Posada Hotel.  See our list below. 

Our more expensive "Upscale" tours have us staying at Si Como No and Villa Blanca.  See our list below.

Best Western Hotel, Beach Front All-Inclusive Unlimited Food, Beverages, Alcohol, Snacks. Rooms are clean, beds are comfortable, and food and drinks are good.

Amenities:  Air Conditioning, Phone,  Free International Calls to the USA and Canada, Wireless Internet, Alarm Radio, Hot Water, Private Bathroom, Work/Desk Area, Cable TV & Free Movie Channel, Daily Housekeeping, In-room Safe, Hair Dryer, Iron & Ironing Board, Rollaway beds/extra Beds Available, Laundry & Dry Cleaning Service, and wheelchair accessibility. If you have someone coming with you has that need, please let us know immediately.  The hotel can accommodate you if reservations are made early enough.

Sports Available:  Adult & Child Swimming Pools, Beach and Grass Volley Ball Courts, Tennis Courts, Ping Pong, Fussball, and Billiards. 

Beds:  Each room contains 2 Double beds.


La Posada Hotel in San Ramon:  A family owned eco friendly hotel with solar power.  Rooms are clean, beds are comfortable, and the food is good.

Amenities:  Full Breakfast, Room Service, High Speed Internet, 24/7 reception, Free calls to the USA, Wheel Chair accessibility, Suites,  Air conditioning in some rooms, but there is usually no need for it except on rare occasions because of the altitude.  Ceiling fans in all rooms, ornate Costa Rican carved wood furniture, comfortable beds, hot water, and hair dryers. Each room is configured differently from the others, with a variety of bed sizes.

 

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel:

Located above San Ramon amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of the Los Angeles Private Cloud Forest Reserve, the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Nature Reserve offers one of the most extraordinary guest experiences in all of Costa Rica. Rolling green pastures lead you into the Hotel and Reserve, revealing the layers of exotic trees dripping with life that border the property. Even a brief foray along the fringes of this rare and fragile tropical forest will stir the emotions.

Rated #4 of the top 25 hotels in Central America by TripAdvisor reviewers, you’ll delight in this homage to early 19th-century village life in Costa Rica’s Central Highlands. Individual casitas, featuring wood-burning fireplaces and garden terraces and patios, create an intimate and peaceful ambiance that is a welcomed respite from the world you left behind. Private, peaceful, and personalized to your taste, Villa Blanca immerses you in a Costa Rica you never imagined existed.

Amenities:  Free High Speed Internet, Room Service, Bar/Lounge, Spa, Citness Center with Gym/ Workout Room, Private Movie Theater with Professional Thx Sound System, Wheelchair Accessibility, Hot Tub, Mini Fridge in your room, Meeting Rooms, Laundry Service, Concierge, Multi-lingual Staff, Self-Serve Laundry, Room Service.

 

Hotel Si Como No Resort, Spa, and Wildlife Refuge:

Si Como No is a nature-based boutique hotel overlooking the sparkling blue waters and golden beaches of Costa Rica's Central Pacific with a Trip Advisor ranking of Greentique Hotel Group placing them in the top 1% globally. Trip Advisor also rates them as #4 of the top 25 hotels in Central America. Highly awarded for sustainable hospitality and giving back to the communities near their hotels, their serious commitment spans more than 20 years. We have taken a serious look at their efforts and think you will be as impressed as we are.  We will be donating $2 per room, per day, toward these efforts.

This area is blessed with tropical rain forests, stunning beaches and warm ocean waters. Manuel Antonio is a small village with some restaurants, bars and shops. Just 7 km north is Quepos, another small, yet bustling town. It is known as a fishing village and offers an array of restaurants, live music, sodas and shops.

Due to the area is richness in rainforest and beaches, visitors have a variety of activities to engage in. There are waterfall tours, kayak and catamaran adventures, canopy safaris, sport fishing and tours to the local Vanilla Plantation. If hiking and bird watching are of interest, visit the Manuel Antonio National Park where you'll hike well-maintained trails into the rainforest to picturesque viewpoints and soft sand beaches.

This Costa Rica vacation immerses you in the incredible diversity of this mesmerizing Central American paradise. This trip will deliver memorable Costa Rica experiences that connect you with nature, and unite you with the warm, welcoming people, their culture, and the famous relaxing rhythm of life here in the tropics, called "Pura Vida".  Voted the "Happiest People on Earth", their friendliness combined with the beauty here, the hotel, and tours we've chosen, is the very best way to do Costa Rica.  Enjoy the unsurpassed barefoot luxury that redefines the Manuel Antonio resort experience.

Amenities: Bar, Restaurants, Energy Efficient Air Conditioning, Wireless Internet, Spa Services, Balconies, (most rooms), Ocean View, Coffee Service, fully stocked mini-bar (extra fee for use), Direct Dial Telephone, Currency Exchange, Fan, Hair Dryer, Handicap Accessible, Hiking Trails, Hot Water, Laundry Service, Mini Refrigerator, Safe Deposit Box, Wet Bar, 2 Pools, Swim-up Bar and Slide, Solar heated Jacuzzi,  Free Shuttle to the Beach, Free Passes to Si Como No's Private Movie Theater with THX Professional Sound System, Butterfly Farm, Wildlife Refuge.

 

If you come in rainy season you might say, "So what's a little rain"?  If you rent a car, please, for your safety, make sure you're not out on the roads in the afternoons and especially at night.   The roads here are narrow.  The traffic is usually heavy with many large shipping trucks.  People have no sidewalks to walk on along these roads, and are difficult to see during downpours or at night with on-coming truck lights in your eyes.  Driving in the full-on downpour can be treacherous.  Those of us who live here try to stay off the roads at night if we can. 

Another problem here in Costa Rica; There are no addresses, and little to no signage on the roads.  If you get lost, even if you speak Spanish, it is difficult to find your way back to where you were before you got lost. We have wasted MANY hours lost.  So far, no matter what brand of GPS we use, it's a 50/50 chance we'll get lost if we are unfamiliar with the area we're traveling in, because satellite coverage cuts out often and at crucial times.  If your GPS cuts off, there are many places that are a major crossroad to a popular area of the country that have no signs to tell you that this is where you turn.  If you stay on the main highways, sometimes you are fine.  If you get into any city, many of the roads and streets here used to be a tangle of cow paths that are now paved, with no rhyme nor reason for where it leads or exits.  If you get lost, do not ask those who are walking on the roads or standing outside their homes with no car in the driveway.  They don't drive, therefore they are unable to give you correct directions, even if you do speak Spanish!  Ask people who have cars.  Ask 3 or 4 people with cars!  If you find several people with the same directions, then you probably have the correct directions.  This is not the USA.

Directions provided on popular destinations' websites give directions like this:  From San Jose, turn left at highway 34.  (There is usually no sign that says that this turn is hwy 34!).  It will continue to say that you must turn right at the soccer field (but they don't tell you that there's a large building on the corner now, that blocks your sight of the soccer field).  This goes on and on.

May we suggest that you hire transport, like a taxi or a tour van to take you to certain destinations you want to visit.  Your odds of arriving there without incident, and return to your hotel are excellent.  If you speak Spanish fairly proficiently, take the public bus which is very inexpensive.  Many of the buses travel to your area of interest.  We're trying to keep you as safe and unfrustrated as possible.

Our most important information, if you're determined to drive here:  Do not drive at night.  Do not drive in the afternoons in rainy season.  Before you leave, get the actual GPS coordinates (the latitude and Longitude) of the place you are going.  Some of the tourist destinations provide them on their websites.  Do not assume the drivers will obey the laws.  Drive defensively!  Because you don't know the roads and therefore can't anticipate how people drive, get the most insurance you can on the car and yourself.

As we said, and want to emphasize, this is not the USA. 

 

First-time air travelers; Remember that when going through TSA security you are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Anything that is in a container that is larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters needs to be put in checked baggage.  That includes items such as peanut butter..even anything gooey can't be put in carry-on bags if it's more than the above allowance.

As you consider what to bring, please be aware that you are in a country that has poverty.  We suggest that you not bring any jewelry that is expensive.  The rural areas of Costa Rica where our club is, are generally safe, however when you go into touristed areas, be warned that you are vulnerable.  Costa rica is very casual, so we suggest that you leave your dressy items behind.

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Lightweight jacket,
  • Pocket raincoat, regular light weight raincoat, or small umbrella
  • One pair light weight pants
  • Shorts
  • Short sleeve and sleeveless tops or shirts, of cotton or quick-dry types.
  • Under garments
  • Socks
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush with cover, and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Brush or comb
  • Antiperspirant
  • Tampons (Ladies, these are NOT easily found here!)
  • Cosmetics
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Sun Screen (bring it from the USA.  It is extremely expensive here).
  • Bug repellent (sometimes we run into "no see ums " so bring something that handles these buggers, as well as mosquitos)
  • Water Bottle
  • Small bottle of liquid laundry soap for quick hand washing, (Optional), and remember more than 3.4 oz need to be placed in luggage, not carry-on bag.
  • Swim suit
  • Your pickleball paddle if you play
  • Sun Glasses
  • Aloe Vera for sunburn
  • Anti-histamine for itching (bug bites)
  • Binoculars
  • Court Shoes for pickleball play
  • Hiking boots or sneekers, depending on how rough of terrain you wish to use on free time.         
  • Which ever of these types of footwear you think you might want to use:
  •     amphibian hikers
  •     hiking/walking shoes
  •     river/reef sandals
  •     beach sandals/flip-flops
  •     sandals
  • Spanish/English Dictionary
  • Money belt and passport pendant for important documents
  • Passport (also phototocopies), never give your passport to anyone.
  • Drivers license (also photocopies)
  • Money, credit/debit card
  • Insurance card and contact information
  • Personal prescriptions should be filled before you leave home.

  • Contact lenses and cleaning solutions

  • Emergency contact information (names, addresses and phone numbers - in case of unconsciousness – of your parents, and physicians in your country of origin)If you wear prescription glasses, pack a spare pair

  • Cell phone or laptop wall charger.
  • Leave photocopies of your passport, drivers license, credit cards, airline tickets, and any reservations that you've prepaid with your home emergency contact person.

 

Yes, but please make sure that you find out what is NOT allowed to be brought into Costa Rica.  As far as we have heard, opiate-type painkillers are illegal, but check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure.  Below are some rules to follow.

  • Carry just the necessary quantity, which is the quantity normally used by a person having your health problem.
  • You should have a prescription or a written statement from your doctor, specifying that the medicine is being used under his/her control and that you need it for your physical health.
  • Have the medicines labeled or properly identified.If they are not labeled, you could be targeted as a trafficker, going in to, out of a country in customs. So, keep it in the packaging and have all documentation.  If they are not labeled, you could be targeted as a trafficker, going in to, out of a country in customs. So, keep it in the packaging and have all documentation.
  • Narcotics and certain drugs with a high potential of abuse, like ibogaine, may not be brought into the United States. If you need them, you need to declare them in your customs declaration, carry them in their original containers, carry only a reasonable quantity for personal use, and carry a prescription that explicitly states that you need these medicines for your condition.
  • If you need to bring in needles, syringes, oxygen tanks, and other similar devices, you should bring your prescription indicating that they are necessary. If you need special requirements, contact the airline and the Transportation Security Administration before your flight.

  • Non-prescription drugs, vitamins, and supplements will usually not pose a problem as long as the amount carried is reasonable.

If you must cancel before your trip, you must cancel in writing, by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)Please also call us, (509) 214-2451. This back-up will insure that your email hasn't vanished into cyberspace.

      When we receive notice, the following charges apply;

             31 days or more prior to departure, you will receive all payments except for a $300 cancellation fee.

               - 30 days or less prior to departure or anytime during our trip; NO REFUND.

Please remember that many hotels here in Costa Rica are smaller hotels than we are used to.  Some hotels are limited in availability for single rooms.  If you desire a room to yourself, contact us first for single supplement prices for your particular tour.  We'll make sure the hotel still has single rooms available for our group.  Then reserve your room as soon as possible. 

Half of the tour cost (50%) is due at the time of booking. 

Single Supplement:  If you are requesting a single room for yourself, the additional cost for that will be packaged into the final payment that is due.  Please contact us for single supplement cost.

EACH TOUR HAS IT'S OWN SPECIFIC FINAL PAYMENT DATE.  Your space on our tour is subject to cancellation by PBCR if payment is not received in full by that date.  Final payment is usually just a few days more than 3 months.  See below.

Notice;  If you wish to join any of our tours inside of the tour deadlines, (less than 3 months before tour start-date), please call first to make sure we still have room.  Payment must be in full.

 

Jennifer Lucore/Bob & Bev Youngren's tour,  "7 Day - The "Real" Costa Rica Pickleball Tour",

            Final Payment Deadline is;  Feb 9, 2017

 

Picture This Travel with Kathy Dusenbery,  "7 Day Pickleball Tour of the Real Costa Rica",

             Final Payment Deadline is;  March 3, 2017

Travel insurance, (including trip cancellation) is highly recommended. This is not the USA.  Road and weather conditions, as well as earthquakes and volcanoes can close roads for hours if not days in some cases.  If we are stopped or delayed, for any reason, from arriving at our destination, or you have a health problem or are involved in an accident and you have no cancellation or accident insurance, we will not be liable to pay for any expenses to change flights missed, change hotels to another location (as well as having paid for a hotel we cannot get to).  By paying for, and committing to this tour, you are agreeing that this responsibility is yours and that we are in no way expected to provide payment for anything other than our originally scheduled plans and expenses.  You are fully insured for bodily injury by our Costa Rican auto insurance coverage, but that is it. 

See "Terms and Conditions" under "Tours" tab for additional information.

Weather is basically the same year around in different areas of the country.  It depends on where you are, elevation-wise. 

The beaches, not matter where you are or what season we're in here in Costa Rica, will almost always be very warm, 90 to 96 degrees during the day, with high humidity.  Like Florida or much of the east coast in the summer. Each of our tours will have you in this area for at least a few days.

If you go up into the Central Highlands, where our club is, it is much cooler, 70 to 85 degrees during the day and less humidity.  Each of our tours, except the 7 Day UPSCALE, bring you to the Central Highlands to play Pickleball.

Rainy Season versus Dry Season: There is an upside and downside to each season.

DRY SEASON: (Late November/early December through mid to late April).  Many people are bent on only visiting Costa Rica during the dry season.  There are parts of the country that have no rain at all during this time.  But if you want to visit any of the lush, green primary-growth forest areas, it still rains occasionally in these areas...just not as much as during rainy season.  That's why the area is beautifully green.

The downside of dry season is the amount of tourists that come, and sugar cane fields out in the country are burned almost daily, making the skys hazy with smoke, and then there is the wind which makes the green more dusty looking.  Costa Rica has some deciduous trees, just like in the north.  As leaves fall from those trees, they become bare.  There is still a lot of green everywhere, but as locals, we love all of the landscape green.  Those who come from the states or Canada see dry season as beautiful.  We have found that even though it's more sparse green and a bit dusty, the tourists think it's gorgeous.  It's all in the eyes of the beholder, but we live here and don't mind the rain in the afternoons, so we like rainy season better.

RAINY SEASON: (Around May 1 through mid to late November)

This is the time of year we always encourage our friends to come down for a visit.  The rainy season is our favorite with it's beautiful blue skies and absolutely gorgeous lush green everywhere..because of the rain.

May through August: Downpours in the afternoons for a few hours, and sometimes no rain at all.  The mornings and rest of the day are beautiful most of the time, including after the rains, in the evening, which usually brings beautiful sunsets from the leftover clouds.
 
September and especially through October bring a lot more rain.  We don't do tours then.   Rain transitions out around mid to late November.
 

It all depends on how much you hate a bit of rain.  For our pickleball tours, there will still be days we can play in the afternoon, but afternoons are a part of the day that we don't schedule play.

 

Give us a call if you have interest in this.  We know of someone who would do that, but need to set it up with him, getting costs, etc. 

Sometimes traveling can be a little overwhelming and you're not sure what to expect. If you have any questions not answered here or elsewhere on our website, please let us know.