Are you considering a vacation to the beautiful country of Costa Rica? Check out some of their customs and etiquette and you will blend right in!
Costa Rica is a country in Central America bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Neighboring countries include Nicaragua and Panama. Costa Rica has coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes.
It is common to say hello and goodbye to friends and acquaintances with a light kiss on the cheek or an “air kiss” accompanied by a kissing sound.
Women kiss women and men. However, men do not kiss men. Instead, they either shake hands or give each other a one-armed hug.
Costa Ricans are famous for observing Tico time, known locally as “la hora tica.” Costa Ricans habitually arrive late, often by 30 minutes or more, to dinner, appointments, and get-togethers.
Many Costa Ricans do not view late arrivals as rude or offensive. Expect late arrivals as the cultural normal.
The word “ahora,” which is Spanish for “now,” means “later” or “tomorrow” in Costa Rica. It is best to clarify the exact day and time when someone uses the phrase “ahora” or “ahora mas tarde”.
Costa Rican culture is very courteous. Confrontational tones are usually considered impolite, even rude.
It’s uncommon for a Costa Rican to get angry in public, even when the reason is valid.
Most locals are not inclined to say “no,” but instead say “maybe.” It’s simply the Costa Rican way of not hurting someone’s feelings. Adjust your expectations and interpret “puede ser” or “maybe” the way a Costa Rican would.
Costa Ricans take pride in their appearance and dress nicely.
In general, men and women dress informally, although casual dress in Costa Rica is somewhat more upscale than one might expect. For example, men rarely wear shorts except at the beach, and women’s jeans are often accompanied by stiletto heels.
Costa Rica is a Roman Catholic country with religious values being respected. Therefore, controversial topics are generally avoided.
Costa Ricans are very polite so always say please (“por favor”) and thank you (“gracias”). Do not raise your voice in anger, especially in public.