5. Heed the caution when it comes to the weather
Even in the dry season (between December and April) visitors to the central highlands and the Atlantic coastal plain should prepare for frequent downpours.
No matter how clear the skies look at daybreak, make sure you pack waterproof clothing and dry bags for valuables on any trips into the rainforest. And if the showers are dampening your spirits you can always head west to the sun-scorched plains of the Pacific slope.
6. Learn the language
You won’t struggle to find locals with good English, but picking up some Spanish can not only earn you kudos and a warm welcome – it can really boost your bargaining power.
Those with a good chunk of time on their hands can go one step further and enrol in one of the many local language schools that are scattered across the country, putting their tico accent straight to the test.
7. Respect the country’s sustainability credentials
Costa Rica has set its sights on becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021. To help support its green goals, opt for locally owned ecolodges and operators that practise sustainable tourism wherever possible.
To help distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly, the Costa Rica Tourism Institute has developed the CST (Certificate of Sustainable Tourism). Businesses are ranked from levels one to five based on their commitment to the cause.
8. Swap the Pacific coast for the Caribbean
One quick fix for escaping Costa Rica’s crowds is to head east instead of west. With the international airport of Liberia so close to the Pacific coastline, it’s an easily accessible beach destination.
The sands of the Caribbean coast, however, are much harder to reach, meaning the region is also much less developed.
9. Tie in a neighbour
Although they’re tightly packed into the waist of the Americas, each Central American nation boasts its own character, attractions and heritage. Next-door neighbours Nicaragua and Panama make the easiest and most obvious add-ons to a sojourn in Costa Rica.
Nicaragua is a more raw destination that’s best suited to intrepid, budget-conscious travellers, while Panama offers a cosmopolitan capital as well as lashings of more rural adventure activities.
Explore more of Costa Rica with The Rough Guide to Costa Rica. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.