Colorful tropical jungle with tourists and a sloth signpost.

Understanding Cultural Norms

Greetings and Communication

In Costa Rica, a warm greeting can unlock doors and smiles. Cheek kissing is a common salutation, but reserve it for one side and avoid the air-kiss faux pas. Handshakes are the go-to for first encounters. When conversing, maintain eye contact as it’s a sign of integrity, but don’t overdo it to the point of a stare-down competition.

Attire and Dress Code

Flip-flops and shorts shout tourist louder than a howler monkey at dawn. Opt for casual yet tasteful attire. For nights out or more formal occasions, step it up a notch – elegance, after all, is a universal language.

Environmental Considerations

Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are proud of their slice of paradise and work hard to preserve it. Follow their lead: reuse towels, limit AC use, and always, always recycle. Mother Nature will thank you with another stunning sunset.

Do’s in Costa Rica

Embrace Pura Vida

This isn’t just a slogan, it’s the Tico version of hakuna matata. It means chill out, things will get done eventually. Breathe in, breathe out, and go with the Pura Vida flow.

Use Polite Language

“Por favor” and “gracias” can be your best friends here. Politeness is treasured, and a kind word can open up the hearts and kitchens of the locals. Don’t forget “Disculpe” to be excused, it’s like saying “Open Sesame” to good manners.

Support Local Businesses

Go for the hole-in-the-wall eateries, the family-run souvenir shops, and the local guides. Your money will count for more and you’ll earn authentic experiences and street cred in return.

Engage in Eco-Tourism

Eco-tourism isn’t just a buzzword here, it’s a way of life. Hug a tree – metaphorically, of course – and dive into sustainable travel. The planet will write you a thank-you note.

Respect Wildlife and Nature

When a sloth gives you the side-eye, it’s not an invitation to a selfie. Observe from a distance and keep the wild in wildlife. Remember, it’s their home you’re visiting, not the other way around.

Participate in Local Festivities

Dance, wear a mask, and eat things you can’t pronounce during local celebrations. It’s like crashing the best party ever, and you’re actually invited.

Try Costa Rican Cuisine

Savor the gallo pinto, the casados, and the plantains. Costa Rican cuisine is a love letter to your taste buds. Refusing a dish might just be the biggest insult, short of declaring their football team second-rate.

Learn Basic Spanish Phrases

English may get you by, but Spanish will get you friends. Learn the basics and watch the locals warm up to you faster than the midday sun.

Don’ts in Costa Rica

Avoid Illegal Substances

Just say no – it’s not only a great life motto but also keeps you out of a Costa Rican jail. The view from a cell doesn’t compare to the beach.

Resist Feeding the Wildlife

Don’t be the human vending machine for animals. Feeding wildlife disrupts natural behaviors and diet – plus, an iguana with a taste for potato chips is just plain wrong.

Don’t Litter or Pollute

Treat the land with respect – don’t make it cry by littering. It’s a small country, but the walk to the nearest trash can is even smaller.

Refrain from Loud or Disruptive Behavior

Costa Rica isn’t the place for your outdoor voice. Keep it down, blend in, and remember: the only thing that should be loud is your shirt’s tropical print.

Don’t Disrespect Sacred Sites

Chill with the irreverence. Holy sites, cemeteries, and monuments are not stages for your next social media post. Show some respect or face the wrath of history buffs everywhere.

Social Interaction Tips

Tipping Etiquette

Tipping isn’t a city in China, and it’s appreciated here as well. A 10% service charge is often included in restaurant bills, but feel free to add a bit extra for exceptional service. Your server might just bless you with the secret to eternal happiness, or at least free refills.

Personal Space and Body Language

Ticos value personal space, so don’t stand too close unless you want to be mistaken for a pickpocket. Keep gestures open and friendly – no need to mimic a traffic cop directing a bustling intersection.

Understanding Punctuality

Tico time can add a whimsical twist to punctuality. If you’re invited for dinner at 7 PM, feel free to fashionably drift in at 7:30. Just don’t test this theory with your flight schedule.

Legal Considerations

Abide by the Laws

Laws in Costa Rica aren’t suggestions; they’re the rule. Stick to them like rice to beans, and you’ll stay on the sunny side of the law – quite literally.

Be Aware of Traffic Regulations

Driving here can be a cross between a video game and an obstacle course. Know the rules, buckle up, and keep your eyes peeled for the next pothole or rogue cyclist.

Health and Safety Advice

Stay Hydrated and Protected from the Sun

The sun here isn’t just a celestial body, it’s a force to reckon with. Slather on SPF like frosting on a cake and drink water as if you’re a plant – a very thirsty plant.

Be Cautious with Adventure Activities

Costa Rica is an adventure seeker’s playground. But remember, safety is sexier than a broken arm. Gear up, listen to your guides, and don’t be that person who thought a backflip off a waterfall was a good idea.