Stay Connected on Vacation in Costa Rica
Apps, infrastructure & technology all keep you connected while traveling in Costa Rica
These days, it’s not difficult (and even less expensive) to stay connected during your Costa Rica vacation at Croc’s Resort & Casino, given its free, high-speed WiFi service. However, you’re likely to be out and about sightseeing; so, what then? It’s still easy, and cheap when you take advantage of free apps such as Waze and WhatsApp.
You can buy an international plan from your cell provider before you leave home. The trouble is that it’s hard to keep track of data usage and it can be expensive. If you choose an international plan, keep the phone on airplane mode until you need to use it to avoid additional expense.
Instead, when you land at the airport in Costa Rica, get a local, prepaid SIM card. Kolbi, one of the country’s major cell phone providers, has a kiosk in the baggage claim area at Juan Santamaria International Airport (in Liberia, you’ll see it after you clear customs).
To use a prepaid SIM card in Costa Rica, your smartphone must be quad-band, use a sim card, and be unlocked. Any brand/model/manufacturer will do if your phone meets these 3 requirements.
You can also buy a prepaid cell phone once you arrive in Costa Rica. Be aware these aren’t smartphones, but they are only about $50. Smartphones cost slightly more but may be worth the price tag when you consider all the applications that can make your vacation better.
The Costa Rican government regulates cell service; the rate per minute for local calls is 34 colones. For about 2000 colones (around $3.50) and 5 minutes to sign up (you’ll need your passport), you can get a Costa Rican number. Data plans vary from company to company. By the day, expect to pay about $1/day; by the week, it’s about $5. Month-long plans are also available. You can top up almost anywhere in the country.
If you enter Costa Rica over the border from Nicaragua or Panamá, keep an eye out for SIM card vendors. They’ll charge a little more, but they’re usually a reliable source. You can also buy a card at one of the phone companies (other major cell phone providers include: Movistar, Claro, and Tuyo móvil).
Once you have a local SIM card, you can download Waze (the best map app for Costa Rica), WhatsApp (free hot-spot texting and phone calls and low data usage when on the road), or even Spotify for entertainment value. For just a couple of dollars, the kids are content and you can figure out where you’re going.
To stay connected with family or friends at home, your cheapest option is to use Croc’s free Wi-Fi to use Skype or Facebook’s messenger app. Still, I recently checked my billing statement from Kolbi and discovered that a 45-minute direct phone call to the U.S. only cost me about $6.
Except in the most remote or extremely mountainous rural areas, Costa Rica cell coverage is at least 4G throughout the rest of the country, meaning it’s never been easier to stay connected.
Stay connected and enjoy free, or cheap, and easy access to great, happy- travel applications like Waze, TripAdvisor, Uber, Instagram, and more by using your smartphone and a local SIM card while visiting Costa Rica.