Costa Rica is Open! Traveling During COVID

We have finally arrived back in Costa Rica after a 15-month hiatus. It’s great to be home. We’ve had a number of people ask what it was like to travel during the pandemic and also what it’s been like in Tamarindo since we’ve returned, so I thought I’d write a little post to talk about it.

The process of traveling was very simple and we were impressed with all of the safety precautions taken at both airports and on the plane. We did fly direct from Denver to Liberia, so I’m glad we didn’t have to stop and get off the plane in Houston as we do frequently. It really wasn’t any different than what we’re all used to going to the supermarket etc. these days. Wear your mask at all times, wash and sanitize frequently and keep your distance from others. I didn’t see a single person at the airport or on the plane without their mask properly on their face and everyone seemed to be on board with following the rules.

Once we arrived in Liberia, the only major change (besides wearing masks) was that you have to present your QR code from the health forms we filled out a few days before departure proving that we had the proper COVID insurance that was approved by Costa Rica prior to presenting our passports and documentation. As of the writing of this post, you have to have insurance that covers COVID-related expenses while you’re in Costa Rica before they will let you into the country. You purchase the insurance for the duration of your visit, so instead of the typical 90-day visa we usually receive, our visa is valid for the length of time that our insurance covers (limited to 90 days still) – once they scan your QR code, it’s business as usual through customs.

For those of you planning to come to Costa Rica in 2021, be sure to check the current guidelines and requirements for entry. We purchased our Covid insurance from Trawick International (https://www.trawickinternational.com/products/safe-travels-voyager) and it’s accepted in Costa Rica with no problems. Once you receive your letter of coverage, you have to upload your documentation (one per traveler) to the Costa Rica Health Pass website located at https://salud.go.cr/ – After you have completed that form and uploaded your proof of coverage you’ll receive a QR code that you can print or save on your phone (again one per person) to present to customs upon your arrival. The Health Pass needs to be completed 48 hours prior to your departure (not earlier) so be sure to do that 2 days in advance. If you are in need of a shuttle from Liberia (LIR) to Tamarindo, we’ve got great rates on shuttles for our readers, submit your travel dates HERE for a quote on airport transportation.

So what is it like right now in Tamarindo?

It’s been very interesting being back in Tamarindo during COVID, to say the least. It’s a very interesting mix of Covid protocols and non. All professional services require masks. Period. All the servers, cooks, drivers, bankers, cashiers, cleaning crews, etc. are all masked all the time. Anytime you go indoors, you are required to wear a mask and everyone seems to be following that from what I’ve seen. That being said, we have seen very few masks while we’re out and about in town. It honestly looks like business as usual. It’s fairly crowded, the restaurants are full and the beach is active and thriving. If you appeared suddenly on the beach out of thin air, you probably wouldn’t know that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We have been fairly cautious about going into overly crowded locations or restaurants, but we also feel comfortable outdoors not wearing a mask if we have some physical space. We have spent much more time at home than we normally would, but it’s been just fine, doesn’t feel overly restrictive since everything is outdoors in the fresh air.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Tamarindo fared during the pandemic business-wise. Costa Rica was closed to the world for close to 7 months with zero tourists, so I was worried that many shops and restaurants would be out of business, but that has not been the case at all. There are some changes and closures and new businesses around, but that typically is the case every time we return after being gone for a few months. It appears that Tamarindo has survived the worst of it and the town is doing well overall. I’m very relieved to see that. It’s not as crowded as it would typically be for this time of year (Spring break is starting) – but there is nothing quiet about Tamarindo at all right now, it’s full of energy and vibrant life as always.

Would I recommend coming to Tamarindo right now? Absolutely. It’s a great time to visit Costa Rica and Tamarindo is open and as amazing a place to visit as it was two years ago. Rental rates are still lower than usual as well, so it’s fairly easy to get a discount on your lodging, especially for longer periods of time. I’m very glad we’re back, no question about it. We’re in the middle of updating our Guide to Tamarindo (found here) so it’s up to date with all of the changes and new additions to the town, be sure to check that out if you need some advice or information. As always, enjoy your travels, stay safe and embrace the adventure! Pura Vida.

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