SONAS VACATIONS & SUP SONAS
As of April 19, 2016
DISCLOSURE: The majority of information contained herein and any information you receive now or in the future from SUP SONAS in person or in writing was gathered not solely from research and documented statistics but from first-hand or second-hand knowledge and therefore it is your sole responsibility to verify the accuracy of all information by conducting your own due diligence and do hereby hold Sonas Ventures LLC and SUP SONAS, its employees or affiliates harmless of any and all misinformation that may be contained herein. All information is based on the area in and around Playa Ostional, Costa Rica, in the Province Guanacaste, Municipality of Santa Cruz on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. The beach climate, culture, vegetation and habitat differs significantly at times from the cities, jungles, rain forests and interior central plains.
ENGLISH to SPANISH:
ATM: Cajero Automático (kah HEH ro)(aw to MAH tee koh)
CHECK or BILL at a Restaurant: La Cuenta (lah KWAYN tah)
RECEIPT: Factura (fac TOUR a) or Recibo (re SEE bo)
CREDIT CARD: Tarjeta (tar HEY tah)
THANK YOU: Gracias (GRAH see us)
PLEASE: Por Favor (por)(fah VOR)
FILL MY GAS TANK WITH REGULAR: Lleno. Regular. (YAY no) (RAY goo lahr)
BATHROOM: It is typically called Servicios (sir BEE see ohs). If you say bano, they will think you want a shower, but they will understand.
SPANISH to ENGLISH
BIENVENIDOS (bee EHN ben EE doze): Welcome
PURA VIDA (POOR a VEE duh): Everything is awesome.
CON MUCHO GUSTO (con MOO cho GOO sto): With much pleasure. Nice to meet you.
TICO (TEE koh): Local Costa Rican man or boy
TICA (TEE kah): Local Costa Rican woman or girl
TICOS (TEE koze): Local Costa Ricans: SIM card for a cell phone
CEDULA: (SED ewe lah) Costa Rican ID Card
MAE or MOP: Guys greeting each other.
TUANIS: (Tew AWE nees) Greetings.
LIR - Liberia Airport, Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport
SJO - San Jose Airport, Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alejuela
Below we will give information solely on Liberia, since we have no vacation packages into San Jose this year as of yet.
When on the plane, they will give you two pieces of paper to fill out. Have your pen handy, so you don’t have to go shuffling through your bag. Have your passport number and flight number available as well. The category for what type of passport is ORD (for ordinary).
ARRIVALS TO LIR:
- Before Customs. Bottom of the stairs to the very left as you look at the customs lines. It’s up to you if you want to go here, at baggage claim or when you exit the airport. You will be far back in line for customs if you do this.
- Next to Baggage Carousel. As you go through the glass doors to baggage claim, you will see the carousel to your right and bathrooms to your left.
- After you clear both customs, baggage claim and baggage scan. You will see all the taxi drivers straight ahead at the glass doors. Do not exit. Take a right and go all the way down until you are close to the glass exit doors. The bathroom is on your left. I will also meet you outside these doors. We are not allowed to come inside to get you. You must go outside.
You will see Customs at the bottom of the stairs after you exit the plane. The line doesn’t take too long if there is one plane, maybe 15-30 minutes, depending how many flights come in at the same time. They will ask you how long you are staying and if it’s for vacation and will want ONE of your sheets that you filled out on the plane. Just hand them your passport and your 2 sheets. They will return your passport with the other sheet in it. You will need the next sheet to hand to the next checkpoint, which is after you collect your bags. You may put your passport away now unless you are going to exchange money or go to duty free.
Before you pass through the glass sliding doors, notice on the left there is a money exchange counter and a duty free shop. My recommendation is that you do not exchange any money here, since dollars are widely accepted and they will give you your change at the stores in colones, plus the airport has a horrible exchange rate! (See the MONEY section). Alcohol is less expensive here in the duty free and you will need to show your passport upon purchasing.
MEETING US UPON ARRIVAL
As you exit, you will see the large glass doors in front of you with many taxi drivers waiting outside. Do not go through those doors. Instead, take a right. At the end, you will see bathrooms on theft and a glass door to exit. Exit here and look for a sign with SUP SONAS on it. It may be a big sign with waves on it or a small piece of paper. Usually I will be holding it, but just in case of an emergency or someone else is picking you up, that is what you will look for. See my contact information below for contacting me. Best way to contact me when you exit is via texting my Costa Rica cell below. 011-506-6242-9379. If you can't txt, then email SUPSONAS@gmail.com. We will get you something to eat within 1.5 hours after we leave the airport. If you want something sooner, we can stop along the way for a fresh coconut water or at the store or even lunch if everyone is in agreement. We can even have lunch immediately after exiting the airport.
DEPARTURES FROM LIR
We will aim to have you at the airport 2-3 hours prior to your flight. If you check-in under one hour from your flight time, they will not check your luggage. You must pay a $29 departure tax in dollars, colones or Master Card or Visa. Many of you have this included in your package. Check the bottom of your quote to see if it was included. If we do not pay your tax for you, you will do it at a ticket counter. To find the ticket counter, you will face the airline check in counters, then walk left. It will be on your left with 3 windows and a small line. You MUST fill out the form they hand to you PRIOR to checking your bag or going through the line for your boarding pass. If you have a connection in the United States, it is important to note that your luggage will be dropped off in that airport and you will have to collect it, re-check it, and go through customs again.
BEACHES & SURFING
There are strong currents and rip tides and the surf is powerful. Work on your cardio and muscle strengthening before you come if you plan to do any significant surfing or sup surfing. You will enjoy your lessons and experience a lot more if you aren’t winded while trying to learn and play in the ocean.
The electricity goes out in the town every once and awhile and your headlamp will come in handy.
WHAT TO BRING
A couple of bathinsuits
Bug spray (see CAUTION section)
Headlamp (see TRANSPORTATION section)
Small bills $1’s and $5’s and $10s (see MONEY section)
A Small Tube of Antibiotic such as Neosporin
Credit Card or Debit Card
A couple of bathing suits
Tank tops or t-shirts (you may swear a lot). No long sleeves needed unless you are going to the volcanoes or rainforest.
Shorts, even for fine dining. All restaurants are open air.
Sundress for women
Flat shoes. You will be walking on dirt/rocky roads sometimes. If you are staying at the Azul or Diria resort, you will have more opportunity to be walking on concrete, but it's not necessary to have high heeled shoes, but a lot of women like them for evening wear.
Closed-toed shoes for some activities such as zipline and hiking. It would be best if they are good both for rugged terrain and if they get wet. January through March is very dry here however.
A light jacket only if you will be venturing away from the beach or a rain jacket if you come between May to November. I have come in all months and have never needed a jacket at the beach, but if you are heading to the volcanoes or rainforest, bring spring clothing.
Water hiking shoes if you will be doing any hikes through rivers and waterfalls
Water shirt (called a rash guard) is good if you will be doing watersports. They usually have sun protection in them. We have ones for $30 if you forget yours.
Hats if you will be in the sun a lot, which you probably will! We might have some hats left for $20
Refillable water bottle
Photocopy of your passport and license, plus originals.
For those staying at Camamar Beachfront Surf Hostel, please bring soap and toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner.
SOMETIMES HARD-TO-FIND ITEMS or
EXPENSIVE ITEMS TO PURCHASE IN THE SMALLER BEACH TOWNS:
Bathingsuits you like. There are no department stores here.
Electronic Equipment such as Apple iPhone Charger
Always lock everything up. Ask your hotel manager about the best way to secure your items. Sometimes they can take your passport for you or instruct you about your hotel safe or inform you that they will keep an eye on your room, but even if anyone says they will keep an eye on your belonging, a reminder that your valuables are your responsibility and not in the hands of others.
They are extremely friendly, non-intrusive and love to hang out with the tourists. Of course, they love when you buy them a beer. :) They are warm and inviting. You come for the weather and activities, you return for the people. You will blend in just fine if you can relax, unwind, chill and realize that everything is “pura vida”. Every little thing is going to be alright. Don’t get uptight if things don’t run on schedule, the internet isn’t working or your electricity goes out. It will be ok. :)
Tips are always nice in any country, but as you know, some countries do not expect them. The Ticos love tips and know the Americas tip. Their minimum wage here is pushing $3/hr.. You can politely any service such as carrying your bags and decline by saying "No Gracias". Note that anyone that works for us is instructed to help you with your luggage or other items, so you do not have to tip them, but at the end of the trip if someone has been exceptionally accommodating, that would be a nice gesture.
LOCAL TELEPHONE NUMBERS:
They have 8 digits.
Those that start with 8, 6, 7 are cell phones.
Those that start with 2 are landlines.
If anyone from the USA is calling you on a Costa Rica number, they dial 011-506- then the number.
If you are calling anyone in the USA from a Costa Rica number, you dial 001-1- and then the number with the area code first.
CONNECTING TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY WHILE HERE:
There are many ways, some of which are:
-Purchase an international plan with your carrier.
-Rent a SUP SONAS cell phone while here where you can pay as you go by adding money to your card. It’s $20 for the week. It will allow you to txt and call and receive calls at a reasonable cost. No internet. No emails.
-Use your own phone and buy a sim card here.
-Use your wifi here and only tap in when you are connected to the internet.
SUP SONAS CELL PHONE USE:
Many of our group trips include one local cell phone per group with $10 credit on it for contacting SUP SONAS to arrange transportation, coordinate activity times and locations, etc., but if you want to tap into home, you can purchase more minutes on your SUP SONAS cell phone at the local grocery store or mini-supermarket by giving them the number of the SUP SONAS cell phone. You can also purchase a calling card (tarjetas telefonicas)
YOUR CELL PHONE from HOME:
If you plan to use your cell phone from home, you check with your local carrier to be sure that your phone is compatible with GSM 1800MHz or 3G 850MHz band. All carriers are different and change frequently, so we can’t quote you on this, but it would be something similar to: AT&T charges $30 for you to receive unlimited txts and a certain amount of data. T-mobile has towers around the world and tend to be good! Plus you can tap into wifi and download emails, txt people on iMessage, FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, for free. A little bit more difficult way would be to ask your carrier to UNLOCK your phone only if you plan to use a sim card from costa rica (not necessary) because you are traveling internationally (which may take a few days to unlock) and then purchase a SIM card called Prepago (more commonly referred to as a CHIP) when you get to Costa Rica. This must be pre-arranged with us, since you will need a special stop along the way to purchase the CHIP. Note that you will have to have iPhone SIM cards in Costa Rica CUT to a smaller size by a professional at a store (sometimes hard to find). If you want to purchase an already unlocked phone, because you travel internationally a lot, you can purchase a basic nokia phone already unlocked for appx. $80-$100 in the States and must be GSM 1800MHz or 3G 850MHz band. These are the same phones we include for our groups. If you would like to rent a second phone for your group, we rent them for $30 for the duration of your trip. Local cell phone carriers: KOLBI, Movistar, Claro
There are bars and coffee shops with free wifi, so you can tap into your friends and family back home with free apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, TextMe, iMessage & FaceTime (for iPhones only). Ostional does not have any cafes with wifi, but we do have it at the Camamar Surfbreak Hostel for $5 for the week for those not staying there and free for those staying there. Keep in mind that Wifi is temperamental! It tends to shut down every once and awhile. The whole town will go down, so you will be off the grid until it comes back on maybe days later. When it goes down, sometimes there is one guy who has to fix it for the whole area. It has been known to go down for days. Also, the electricity goes off on occasion, so that will limit your wifi access :). All other hotels have it in the common area if not in your room.
DIALING IN/OUT OF THE COUNTRY:
When dialing out to the U.S., dial 00 then the the country code (which is 1 in the U.S.), then the number, so to call SUP SONAS in the U.S., you would dial 00-1-707-847-6627.
If people are calling you on your SUP SONAS number, it is free for you but it will cost them long distance international rates. Family back home in the States can purchase an international calling card at a convenience store and it usually costs between $.07 to $.09 per minute to call you. The country code for Costa Rica is 506, so if they were calling our main office cell in Costa Rica, they would dial from the U.S. 011-506-6242-9379. You will have your own SUP SONAS cell number you can give them.
As always, we stress that your electronics are easy targets for theft. It will be difficult for you to have them on a beach day, but during a jaunt through town for breakfast, lunch or dinner or drinks, this would be a good time to tap into the internet. Leaving your phone or iPad in a car unattended is discouraged, since petty theft is big business in Costa Rica.
COLONES - You don’t need to exchange Colones or bring them from the U.S. Also, you do you need to at the airport either. Nearly everywhere takes U.S. dollars and will give you Colones for your change, so you will have some Colones regardless. Sometimes when you see a price listed in Colones AND in U.S. Dollars, you will see the exchange rate was 500 colones to $1.00 but it varies and and in 2016, it was anywhere between 520 to 540 colones to the $1.
Do not exchange money at the airport. The exchange rate is horrible and you don’t need it. U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
IMPORTANT! Tell your banks and credit card companies you are traveling to Costa Rica.
-They drive on the right side of the road.
-There are no street names or addresses.
-There are street signs on major roads, but not on smaller roads.
-There are no “Now Entering Boston” signs. You have no idea what town you are in until you see the name of the mini supermarket.
-Taxis are not available in all towns.
-There are a lot of dirt/rocky roads, ditches on the sides of the roads, one-lane bridges that have one side yielding to the other with a sign that says CEDA for those who need to yield.
-Drinking and driving with an open container for both driver and passengers is legal but drunk driving is illegal.
-If you get in an accident you must remain with your vehicle until the police or insurance adjuster come. It is recommended you get the FULL insurance and not rely on your credit card, since they will come pick you up and give you a new car, which your credit company will not. There are a lot of hazards on the road such as ditches, coconuts falling on your winshield, smash and grabs. One wrong turn or one bad decision on where to park and you might be stuck :).
-Shuttles and taxis are expensive, as is gas. It's harder to find a taxi in remote areas.
-Driving distances on the signs are not accurate.
-Rental cars require a mandatory insurance, which is not shown when you go to book your online reservation. This is not the above-referenced “FULL” coverage. This is called “BASIC” insurance.
Go through us and our car rental company will give you an accurate rate. http://www.SUPSONAS.com/costarica/carrental.html
-CARS have the right of way. NOT pedestrians. While driving, don’t stop in the middle of the road to let someone walk, because you may get rear-ended if a Costa Rican driver isn’t anticipating you stopping! Likewise, don’t walk in front of a car to cross the street, because they are not used to stopping for you. Be respectful of the rules.
-Car rental companies. They will put a hold on your credit card or debit card, so you may not be able to use those funds.
-Police check-points. They will have random check points and ask for the passport of everyone in the car. It is best not to carry your original passport around, so a copy will suffice. This isn’t a dangerous checkpoint where they have guns! It’s a casual checkpoint that is great for the country, because it keeps a check on everyone, so if they are looking for someone, this is a great idea! I think the U.S. should try this.
-Air travel on NatureAir. This is one of their small national airlines that carry up to 16 people. There are 3 levels of seating. The first allows only a carry on, the second allows 27lbs of checked baggage and the third allows 40lbs of checked baggage and I believe the latter two allow a change in flight or name change for $25. You must give your weight when you book your flight. If you weight over 250lbs I believe you have to book 2 seats and can bring 80 lbs of luggage. IMPORTANT: If we book the flight for you, a reminder that you MUST BRING YOUR RESERVATION CONFIRMATION NUMBER AND PRINT OUT the present the printed confirmation email. This is a nice excursion since you get a beautiful bird’s eye view of the mountains and ocean. If you wanted to take a plane ride, we would need a little time to coordinate it for you to and from your location. It’s a commercial airline.
We strongly suggest that you purchase this for our trips. It is a good idea to take a picture of your suitcase and belongings before you go too. Go to: https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com and be sure to enter our TRAVEL AGENT ID# F204777
Dengue Fever is the only major concern and is caused by a mosquito bite during the day and is more risky during rainy season from May to November. Symptoms are flu-like and there is a mild case and a more severe case, the latter of which will have you bed-ridden for awhile. Bug repellent should do the trick to avoid this. It is rare to get, but I do know people who have gotten it.
If you are staying at the Camamar Beachfront Surf Hostel, you will be able to wash and dry your clothes daily, by hand and line dry. We have soap to use. If you are staying elsewhere and would like to do this, it would be $5.
See MONEY for the cost of food.
See WATER for information on the quality of the drinking water.
A typical tico meal called a casada consists of rice, refried black beans, salad and sometimes plantains, together with your choice of fish, chicken or beef. Casada means “married”.
A typical rice dish served at anytime of day and especially in the morning is gallo pinto, which is a recipe of rice, refried black beans, something similar to what we use as worcester sauce, cilantro among other spices.
The food is amazing and fresh.
A common fish is red snapper and served either whole or otherwise. The whole fish actually has a lot of white meat easy to tear away from the bones, because of the way they prepare it for you.
Chicken and beef are often served on the bone.
The water here IS safe to drink! Exceptions may be in VERY remote or rural areas. If you have a sensitive digestive system and are heading outside of the beach area, I would recommend purchasing bottled water when you get here and mixing it with the local tap water a little bit at a time. The water here is better than in the U.S.
A drought may begin to start around March, which causes a water shortage. You may notice in Guiones that there is no water during certain times and then when it does turn on, the water is brown. This is for a short period of time. This is not a problem in Ostional.
Mid-80s all year round, anywhere from 78 to 92 degrees Farenheit but the majority of days it is approximately 84 degrees, regardless of the time of year. The water is typically not far off from the temperature of the air. The breezes are cooler in the rainy season. The seasons are:
High Season / Costa Rica Summer: December 15 - April 15 (No Rain)
Green Season / Costa Rica Fall: April 15 - August 15 (Some Rain in Afternoons)
Rainy Season / Costa Rica Winter: August 15 - December 15 (Lots of Rain in October and less in other months)
There are not shopping malls, supermarkets, gas stations or banks at every corner, so plan accordingly. Our main stops for shopping would be Playas Brasilito, Conchal, Tamarindo and Nosara. Remember this if you are staying in remote areas of Playas Azul, San Juanillo or Ostional.
The towns of Ostional, Nosara, Marbella, Azul, San Juanillo do not have much night life except some bars with acoustic music until no later than 10pm. They are surf towns and surfers rise early to catch the best waves. The town of Tamarindo has the most nightlife on our tours.
The most common beers are Imperial, Silver (a light Imperial) and Pilsen, among a few others. Don’t expect every bar to anything more than that but you may find a local brewer here and there and some Corona or IPAs. They are approximately $3 per beer when you go out to a bar or $10 for a six pack. Mixed drinks are anywhere from $6 to $12.
Guaro is their version of Moonshine, although not quite that potent!
They do not enforce the prohibition of marijuana, so basically it is allowed and the police turn a blind eye. They prohibit you to grow it and I gather that it is not easy to get.
Prostitution is legal.
Costa Rica is not an island :). It is located 9 degrees north of the equator in Central America bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Our trips are on the Pacific Coast. The water is not crystal clear like the Bahamas. It is similar to the Atlantic Ocean along the U.S. East Coast or California’s Pacific Coast.
ANIMALS AND REPTILES
There are many deadly snakes in Costa Rica, but I have never seen any at the beach areas. Boas sometimes can be found after heavy rains, but as you know, they don’t strike at you and aren’t poisonous. Again, they are not prominent at the beach. People have said to have seen scorpions and spiders, but I have only seen 2 spiders before, not much bigger than my thumb. In your room, you may definitely see some geckos, ants or small minuscule bugs at the sink, but none are known to bite or crawl on you. I think they are used to people! The houses and restaurants are practically outdoors. If they do have walls and windows, they aren’t build as tight as in home. They don’t need to keep the cold out. Even the 5 star resorts have little bugs in their rooms. Sorry! You are in the tropics. There are no wild huge bugs at the beach areas. As you get further into the jungle, you will see larger flying grasshoppers and much larger bugs. Nothing to be alarmed about. The pharmacies have doctors on call and will prescribe you antibiotics over the counter. Bring a list of what you are currently taking and what you are allergic to.
There are crocodiles in the rivers and although sharks are not as prevalent as they are in California, Mexico, Florida, the Carolinas or Australia, they do exist. There is not a high food population for them near us in Guanacaste, but I have hear of them being around. There have been no reports of incidents except one many years ago at a beach 20 minutes north of Tamarindo, called Grande, but hearsay was that it wasn’t even a shark.
DISEASE & SHOTS
You do not need shots but check with your doctor about which shots they might recommend for you, such as a tetanus/booster is always good to have before you travel. There are bad flu-like diseases you will NOT want to get, but there is no vaccination for them and they are caused by a mosquito. Called Dengue fever.
ENTRY & VISAS
You do not need to obtain a visa prior to entering the country, but they will stamp a visa in your passport when you arrive in Costa Rica at customs. They can reject you and some of the reasons they may be:
* You do not have proof that you are exiting the country by a return flight or a bus ticket at some point within the next 90 days
* Your passport expires under six months. Please contact me if it does. I believe as of 2016 they changed the regulation.
* Your passport is not in good condition and can’t be read by the electronic system.
* Whatever reason they want.
The airlines in the U.S. will ask you for a copy of your return flight if you do not have a return flight with them, so bring a copy of your confirmation for a return flight to the U.S. ONLY if you have a return flight on a different airline carrier.
See ANIMALS & REPTILES
PETTY THEFT. Please do not leave your valuables unattended in your car or at the beach and try to lock up your valuables in your accommodation whenever possible.
HOTEL, HOUSE, CONDO or HOSTEL:
Your accommodations are included in your package price, but no incidentals are included unless listed in your quote. You are responsible for all costs, so it is recommended you do not put them on your room tab. SUP SONAS can start a tab for you for items you want to purchase when you are out and about if you don't have your cards or cash with you and each night we will go over your tab.
When communicating with us while SUP SONAS is in Costa Rica,
try the following communication in this order if available to you:
COSTA RICA Cell: 011-506-6242-9379
FaceTime for iPhone: 1-617-827-1154
WhatsApp (smartphone application): 1-617-827-1154
COSTA RICA Office: 011-506-2682-5260 (sometimes only spanish-speaking staff)
U.S.A. Cell: 1-617-827-1154
U.S.A. Office: 1-707-847-6627
Let us know if you have any further questions!
We love to answer questions and make your trip perfect!
SONAS VENTURES & SUP SONAS