Interested in Coming to Costa Rica? What you need to know

Ever since this COVID-19 mess started, and spread like wild fire throughout our world, more and more people from North America are interested in traveling to Costa Rica, either to invest as a hedge against a recession or live a much slower and relaxed lifestyle.

Logo for Ministerio de SaludThe Costa Rican government has worked very hard to re-establish tourism and re-open the country, through efforts by the Ministry of Health as well as the ICT (the Spanish acronym for Costa Rica Tourism Institute). Every two weeks government agencies review statistics from countries and individual states in the US for the number of new (the key here is NEW) coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in each location.

If you are interested in traveling to Costa Rica, for which I can’t blame you, here is a list of the approved US States you can arrive from.  Requirements to meet before departure are listed below.

List of US States approved for travel to Costa Rica as of September 28, 2020

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • District of Colombia (Washington, D.C.)

Additional States approved as of October 1, 2020

  • California
  • Ohio

Click here for a complete list of countries allowed to come to Costa Rica.
Countries allowed to travel to Costa Rica

Personally, I wish they would just open up to everyone so I don’t have to do this Covid-19 update any longer.  However, I agree and support the efforts the Costa Rican government to protect their people from this illness. In the near future, residents interested in coming to “Pura Vida” land from states like Hawaii, West Virginia, Delaware, Louisiana and Alaska may be allowed because the numbers of new cases in these States are dropping below the 100 new cases per 100,000 threshold.  Let’s hope so!
Face masks in Costa Rica

The requirements for tourists that are coming to Costa Rica and reside in an approved area is as follows:

  1. All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or  click “Pase de Salud.”
  2. Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 72 hours before the flight to Costa Rica.  It used to be 24 hours but the time was extended to 72 hours on September 1st. If you have a layover you are not allowed to leave the airport and it can only be for a maximum of 18 hours.
  3. Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging.
  4. Tourists from the United States must demonstrate they reside in one of the approved States, via their driver’s license or State ID.
  5. You will be required to use a face mask on the flight, throughout out the airport upon arrival, and in all enclosed areas, as in taxis, buses, stores, malls, museums to name a few.
    Playa Hermosa Monkeys

Enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica in the national parks, with volcanos, waterfalls, tropical birds and of course, Monkeys. If you are interested in visiting Costa Rica, come on down! You won’t be sorry!

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Pandemic, Costa Rica Managing the Covid-19

Pandemic in Costa RicaI have written a few articles as well as posted many YouTube videos concerning this. Like the rest of the world, Costa Rica’s primary concern in 2020 has been controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. How has it fared? The answer is not simple. In some areas, like the Papagayo region of the Guanacaste province, the spread of the pandemic virus has been substantially contained and its effects have been largely mitigated. However, the densely populated Central Valley surrounding the capital has had an entirely different experience. How did we get to where we are today?

pandemic In Costa ricaThe first case of Covid-19 in Costa Rica was confirmed on March 6. Having seen the outbreaks and mortality rates that had occurred in other countries, the government quickly took steps to curb the spread of the contagion. Within ten days of the first case, mass gatherings were prohibited, and employees were directed to work from home if at all possible. In-person school classes were suspended, and the border was closed to visitors who were not citizens and shortly thereafter to permanent residents also. The next week additional restrictions were imposed on nighttime driving, church gatherings, and beaches. Even greater travel restrictions were in effect during Semana Santa, the popular vacation period during the Easter week. Many businesses considered to be non-essential were forced to close their doors temporarily. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. The measures were so effective that a full two months after the first reported case, Costa Rica had accumulated just 761 cases, and only six people had died after contracting the disease. During the early months of the pandemic, the number of daily new cases was in the single digits or low double digits.

Costa Rica’s national health care system prepared for the pandemic before it developed locally. On March 31, a hospital dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus was inaugurated. This former rehabilitation center was equipped with the ventilators and other ICU supplies and personnel that would be needed. As the virus spread in San Jose and the surrounding metropolitan area, sections of other hospitals were conditioned to receive and treat Covid patients. In the more rural parts of the country, there were few changes in the health care system. More capacity was not needed as the number of cases continued to be very low.

Motivated by the early containment of the disease as well as pressure to reactivate the economy, the government began to ease restrictions. In June and July, national parks, hotels, stores, and dine-in restaurants were allowed to fill to 50% capacity. The authorities applied a method they called “the hammer and the dance”. A period of tight restrictions (the hammer) was followed by a period of eased restrictions (the dance). Plans were made to reinitiate in-person classes after the mid-year break in July, but these plans were later scrapped. Beginning in August, the borders were reopened to tourists from Canada, the European Union, and the U.K. who had tested negative for the virus and had insurance. The same opportunity was given to tourists from selected states in the U.S. effective September 1. Beaches have reopened but you can only stay until 2:30 p.m.

The reopening of Costa Rica’s airports to tourists from some countries and states has moved many to ask, “Is it safe to visit Costa Rica now? What has happened to the pandemic in recent months?” Sadly, the transmission rate has increased dramatically since June. On June 19, 119 new cases were reported. It was the first time more than 100 persons were infected in a day. By July, the number of daily new cases was in the hundreds, and since September started the daily average has been more than a thousand. While those nationwide numbers are concerning, other factors should also be considered. The great majority of the infections have occurred in the Central Valley. Most outlying areas have had very few cases. For example, the Sardinal District–home to Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama–reports just 9 active cases at present and the entire county of Carrillo has had only 103 cases, most already recuperated. Another factor to analyze is that a recent study reveals that of the thousands of cases in Costa Rica, more than half can be traced to social gatherings. The second most common place to contract the virus is the workplace. So for tourists who won’t be engaging in either of those activities, the risk is greatly reduced.

While there are no guarantees, there are ways to minimize your chances of getting coronavirus. Costa Rica has enacted a mask mandate that requires that a mouth covering be worn when inside a public building or while using public transportation. That protects all of us. In addition, the Papagayo region has so many beautiful places you can enjoy outdoors without a mask. I recently visited the gorgeous, uncrowded beaches in the area, and Covid was the last thing on my mind.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit

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Costa Rican Oxcarts

Brightly painted Costa Rican OxcartFew objects are as iconic as a Costa Rican Oxcart. With its brightly painted wooden wheels and matching ox yoke, “la Carreta” is the quintessential symbol of Costa Rica’s past. It played an important role in Costa Rica’s history since it made the of export of coffee and other goods possible. Fittingly the Oxcart is considered one of the country’s national symbols.

Two bulls pulling a Costa Rican OxcartThe idea of the oxcart was bought to Costa Rica by the Spanish colonizers, but the original design had  spoke wheels that kept getting stuck and breaking on the country’s rough terrain and muddy roads. During the 19th century the oxcart, as we know it, was born. The spoke wheels were replaced by solid wood wheels bound by a metal ring that held up much better on rutted, muddy roads. The side and back panels were made removable in order to accommodate different types of cargo–walls for coffee and corn, none for sugar cane. Some carts had a front bench where the driver and a passenger could sit, but usually there was just the cargo area and the driver and his passengers rode in the box when empty, or walked alongside when loaded. The oxcart was the only means of transportation for many families and became a vital part of their lives.

Oxcart loaded with coffee in Costa RicaThe first exports of coffee were transported from coffee plantations in the Central Valley to the ports by oxcarts in the mid-1800’s, and this continued for almost 100 years, making the oxcart a key player in the economic development of Costa Rica.

Traditional Oxcart on a mountain path in Costa RicaThe first oxcarts were plain and functional. Painting and decorating the oxcarts started early in the 20th century, predominantly by Joaquin Chaverri, founder of his namesake Oxcart Factory in Sarchi. He first painted his family’s cart orange, and then painted decorations on it for family outings. To this day, orange and red are the traditional backgound colors. As time went on, each region developed its own unique design allowing for identification from afar and in crowded markets. Soon, each farmer created designs distinctive to his family. They used bright colors, geometric designs, stars, flowers, birds, animals and even portraits and landscapes to decorate the entire cart–including the wheels. The quality and intricacy of the painting indicated the social and economic status of a family.

Painted oxcart wheel, a national symbol of Costa RicaNo two oxcarts are painted the same, and, in time, contests were held to reward the most creative and inspiring designs. Some oxcarts even had their own song–a chime created when a metal ring struck the hub nut of the wheel as it turned. Though oxcarts are used all over Central America, only Costa Rica decorated their carts, making them unique.

Closeup of a painted oxcart wheel in Costa RicaSince oxcart painting originated in Sarchi, it is the cultural home of the oxcart. There is a museum, and in the town’s central park you can see the “World’s Largest Oxcart” built in 2006.




Replaced by trucks and tractors, nowadays the colorful oxcart is mostly seen in parades and festivals and on display as a work of art. But in rural areas, it is not uncommon to see an old farmer walking alongside his loaded cart, prodding along his pair of oxen. There are still muddy, rutted roads barely wider than a path that only an oxcart and its team can navigate.

In his book La Carreta Pintada (The Painted Oxcart), Michael Sims wrote: “It is not an exaggeration to say that the Republic of Costa Rica was built on the strong tenacity of the oxcart. In each aspect of agricultural labor, the countrymen relied on the strength of their oxen, plowing the earth, hauling harvests, and bringing sugar cane to the mills. As a mode of transportation. it took products to and from the market, transported travelers, was an ambulance for the sick and a hearse for the dead.”

In fact, in 1988, the vibrantly painted, traditional oxcart was designated the National Labor Symbol for Costa Rica, and UNESCO declared it an Intangible World Cultural Heritage in 2005.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here


In case you haven’t heard yet, let me be the first to tell you – and put your mind at ease – RE/MAX Tres Amigos along with RE/MAX Prestige Properties and RE/MAX Ocean Village have all merged together to become TRES AMIGOS REALTY GROUP. The ownership along with all the agents had agreed that it was time to move in a new direction.

Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors Logo (CRGAR)What is important for you to know is that I am still with the same group of seasoned professionals as always. Although we are not flying the “Balloon” we are still the same group of over 15 people that you have known for the last 17 years.

National Association of Realtors LogoOur three offices will remain open and staffed with same agents and support folks to always take care of your real estate and other needs while you enjoy owning your own property and living in Costa Rica. We are committed to bring you honest, dependable and reliable service with your best interest in heart, as we always have and will continue to do.

Over the past 17 years the group has dominated the region of Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal and the surrounding areas.  We have more transactions thank all of the other agencies combined. Many of our agents, including me, have been RE/MAX top performers the entire time and will continue to meet or exceed that level of performance. You may be asking yourself: “how without the Balloon?” Well, let me tell you real estates is a people business.  You don’t list or buy a property because of a logo; it is the people you meet and trust that will put your best interests first.
Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist

TRES AMIGOS REALTY GROUP holds the most NAR designations of any real estate group in the area. Personally, I hold the following NAR Real Estate Designations: Certified International Property Specialist, Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, International Real Estate Specialist, Resort Second Home Property Specialist. As well as being a legal certified SUGEF realtor and member of the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors.

Certified International Property SpecialistResort and Second-Home Property Specialist logo






For those that have listed property with us, rest assured, the reality  is that we will actually be doing even more heavy marketing than before. We still have all our websites that are top rated, along with our worldwide network of buyers and real estate agents, with whom we have built strong relationships over the years.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at, call me on my direct number 011-506-8385 or 1-877-661-6074 or visit my personal website often to keep up with the latest news and details of what is happening with Tres Amigos Realty and the Playa Hermosa region of Costa Rica.

As always, I am looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you in person here in Playa Hermosa.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica?  Checkout some great options here.