Travelling in Costa Rica during a global pandemic

December 16, 2020



In November 2020, REMOTE Latin America Travel Designer Johnny Ogilvie, of London based Tour Operator South America Odyssey, spent a month traveling in Costa Rica – after a long lock down in the UK due to the pandemic. He looked at the different Covid-19 protocols that have been put in place to encourage the safe revival of international tourism.

Below, Johnny shares his main highlights for those planning to enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle in the close future.


What are the current entry requirements for Costa Rica?

Prior to arrival each tourist must complete a digital Health Pass and have valid travel insurance. From the 1st November 2020 it was no longer required to provide a negative PCR coronavirus test result to enter Costa Rica. More up to date information can be found here.

What protocols have been adopted to ensure travel is safe in Costa Rica?

During the month of November, I stayed at 18 hotels, visited the 7 provinces, explored various national parks and took part in excursions that the team at South America Odyssey would typically include in the holidays we design. Throughout my trip I was extremely impressed with all the protocols in place and how everyone was aware of their role. At no stage did I feel anxious, unsafe, or uneasy that I was travelling during a global pandemic such was the attention to detail and the professional approach I witnessed throughout Costa Rica.

The main protocols in place in Costa Rica are:

Masks: everybody must wear a mask whilst indoors
Hand sanitiser: is everywhere and you are encouraged to use it
Temperature checks: public places would check your temperature before entering
QR codes instead of menus: you download the menu to your tablet or mobile phone
Social distancing: restaurants, cafes and bars have spaced their tables to ensure everyone can enjoy themselves whilst socially distanced. Reservations are essential at some places
A la carte: most eateries have scrapped buffets and only offer a la carte table service
Cleaning services: luggage bags are cleaned upon entry into hotels, tables re-cleaned when sitting down at restaurants, regular deep cleaning of hotel rooms is now common practice and daily room service is optional for those who do not wish chambermaids to enter their rooms
Public awareness: there are multilingual posters illustrating the best way to wash your hands and how to cough in the least contagious way. Dotted around you can also find posters with information on the importance of social distancing together with symptoms to look out for and lots of other important Covid-19 related facts.


Were there any negatives of travelling to Costa Rica during a global pandemic?

Overall, the small inconveniences like remembering to wear a mask, bringing your phone to the restaurant to download menus, and having to social distance in bars did not take away from how quiet and beautiful Costa Rica was and how happy the locals were to see tourists returning.

Summary of my month in Costa Rica

After a month which involved driving from the Caribbean Coast, through the central regions, and then down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica where I spoke to hotel managers, tour guides, restaurant owners, different DMC’s and others involved professionally with tourism, I found myself feeling extremely positive for the future of tourism in Costa Rica. Undoubtedly 2020 has brought colossal challenges for most of us. We are not out of the woods yet, but my Scottish blood has absorbed a little of the Pura Vida mentality and I know that together, and with a can-do positive attitude such as I have seen in Costa Rica during the past month, we have lots to look forward to.
Thanks to Costa Rica Trails for putting together a comprehensive itinerary and a huge shout out to everyone that made the trip possible. If you have any questions, please do feel free to get in touch.

Have a wonderful festive period, bring on 2021, and Pura Vida!

Johnny Ogilvie
Head of Department, South America Odyssey
Instagram: @odyssey_travels


>> If you are also hitting back the road and want to share your experience in Latin America with the REMOTE Community, partners and friends, please send your story to

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