A Guide to Spending the Winter in Costa Rica as a Canadian Snowbird

For years, Canadian snowbirds have been choosing Costa Rica as their go-to destination

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Travel insurance snowbirds Costa Rica

For years, Canadian snowbirds have been choosing Costa Rica as their go-to destination to escape the cold winter weather. And it’s no wonder why! The safety of living in Costa Rica, the fantastic weather, and the supportive snowbird communities make this Central American country the perfect place to spend the winter.

If you're a Canadian snowbird considering spending the winter in Costa Rica, this guide is for you! It will cover everything from the best communities to live in, to the local cuisine you must try. You will learn about some of the most famous attractions in Costa Rica and how to stay active while enjoying your winter down south.

So if you’re looking for a sunny winter getaway, be sure to add Costa Rica to your list!

Why is Costa Rica a perfect destination for Canadian snowbirds?

Costa Rica is known for being one of the safest countries in Central America. In 2020, the Gallup Global Law and Order report ranked it as the 3rd safest country in Latin America. Canadian snowbirds can rest assured that they will be safe while living in Costa Rica.

Another reason why Costa Rica is such a popular destination for Canadian snowbirds is the weather. The average temperature in December and January is a comfortable 27 degrees Celcius, with lows dipping to around 15 degrees at night. Although it does rain more during the winter, the showers tend to be short and refreshing. There are also very minimal incidences of hurricanes or tropical storms, making Costa Rica the perfect place to escape the cold winter weather.

One of the best things about spending your winters in Costa Rica is being able to meet other like-minded individuals from all over the world who are also looking to escape the cold weather. Several established snowbird communities in Costa Rica offer social events and activities, so you can easily meet new people and make friends. Golf courses, swimming pools, and tennis courts are just some of the amenities that can be found in these communities.

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Language and currency in Costa Rica

Many visitors are surprised to learn that Costa Rica has its own currency, the colón, named after Christopher Columbus, whose Spanish name was Cristóbal Colón. The exchange rate fluctuates, but it should be roughly 1 CAD for about 500 colones.

It's also worth noting that although English is widely spoken in tourism-related businesses such as hotels and tour operators. In Costa Rica's major cities and beach towns, you'll have a better experience if you know some basic Spanish phrases.

Greet people with a warm Buenos días (good morning), gracias (thank you), por favor (please), discúlpe (excuse me), and adiós (goodbye). Not only will locals appreciate your efforts, but you're likely to get better service—and maybe even a discount.

What are the best communities to live in Costa Rica for Canadian snowbirds?

Costa Rica should be at the top of your list if you're looking for sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and an active community of fellow Canadians. Here are 10 of the most popular places to live in Costa Rica for Canadian snowbirds.


Ojochal is the most popular place for snowbirds. This small town located in Costa Rica's Southern Zone is way more affordable than other parts of Costa Rica. It's known for its views of the Pacific Ocean as well as its restaurants and cafes. Ojochal is also a great place to go hiking, as several trails are nearby.


Tamarindo is a beach town located on Costa Rica's northwest Pacific coast. It's known for its surfing, fishing, and diving, as well as its restaurants and nightlife. Tamarindo is also a great place for shopping, with plenty of stores selling everything from souvenirs to surf gear.

Las Catalinas

Las Catalinas is the place for you if you're looking for a luxurious setting. This community is located on Costa Rica's north Pacific coast and features high-end residences and resort-style amenities. In addition to its stunning beaches, Las Catalinas also has a wealth of shops and restaurants.

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is another great option for surfers, as it's home to some of the best surfing in Costa Rica. This small town is located on the Nicoya Peninsula and is known for its laid-back atmosphere. Santa Teresa is also within easy reach of several other popular beaches, including Playa Hermosa, Playa Nauyaca, and Malpaís.

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular snowbird destinations in Costa Rica, offering a wide variety of housing choices. It's known for its national park, home to hiking trails, beaches, and abundant wildlife. Manuel Antonio is also a great place to go snorkeling or scuba diving, as several reefs are located just offshore.


Arenal is a town located in Costa Rica's Alajuela province. It's home to Arenal Volcano National Park, which offers hiking trails and views of the area's volcanic activity. Arenal is also known for its hot springs, which are heated by the nearby volcano and provide a relaxing experience for visitors.

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San José  

San Jose is Costa Rica's largest city and capital. Located in the Central Valley region, this metropolitan city boasts many museums, theaters, parks, and exemplary restaurants. If you’re looking to live in Central America’s most civilized metropolis, look no further than San José!  

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Located on the Caribbean Coast near the Panama border, this former pirate hideaway turned artsy surfer town oasis will make you feel right at home! With many expats calling PV their second home, this vibrant, culturally diverse town will have you staying longer than expected!    


One of the most famous beach communities in Costa Rica is Jaco. Just an hour from San Jose, this central Pacific Coast town has activities for everyone. Playa Hermosa, a secluded beach town just 10 minutes south of Jaco, is the perfect place to go if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle. With its black sand beaches and relaxed atmosphere, Playa Hermosa is a great place to relax and enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle.


Limón, on the Caribbean coast, is Costa Rica’s main port city. It is home to a large Afro-Caribbean community and is known for its laid-back atmosphere. Limón is also a great place to try some of Costa Rica's traditional dishes, such as rice and beans, plantains, and seafood.

There are many great places to live in Costa Rica for Canadian snowbirds seeking sunny weather and beautiful beaches. Each of them has its own unique offerings, so it's important to find one that matches your specific needs and preferences.

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What to do in Costa Rica for Canadian snowbirds?

As a Canadian snowbird, you're probably looking for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here are some of the best things to do in Costa Rica as a Canadian snowbird.

Embrace the Pura Vida

One of the best things about Costa Rica is its people and their friendly laid-back vibe. The country’s mantra is “Pura Vida '' which translates to “simple life" or “pure life”. However, it's more than just a phrase, it is a way of life! Be sure to visit some of the local markets and try some of the delicious fruits and vegetables. You can also check out some traditional dances like the Guanacaste Fandango or the Limon Merengue. You won't be disappointed!

Discover wildlife viewing

Costa Rica is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including sloths, monkeys, toucans, and iguanas. Plenty of tours will take you into the heart of the rainforest so you can get up close and personal with some of these amazing creatures. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can even go swimming with dolphins!

Explore the beaches

No trip to Costa Rica would be complete without spending some time on its stunning beaches. Relax on the sand, take a dip in the crystal-clear water, or go for a swim with the turtles. With so many beautiful beaches to choose from, you'll be spoilt for choice!

Try a new hobby

Costa Rica is the perfect place to take up a new hobby like golfing, hiking, or surfing. Not only will you experience something new, but you'll also get some exercise in as well. And who knows, maybe you'll find a new hobby you can take home with you.

Things to see in Costa Rica

From exploring the rainforests to visiting volcanoes, here are some of the top things to see in Costa Rica.

● Tortuguero National Park: This national park is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and is known for its turtle nesting grounds. Visitors can take boat tours through the canals to see turtles, monkeys, and other wildlife.

● Corcovado National Park: This national park is located in the southwestern part of Costa Rica and is home to various plant and animal life. Visitors can hike through the rainforest, swim in waterfalls, and spot wildlife such as sloths and macaws.

● Arenal Volcano: This active volcano is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica. Visitors can take hikes around the volcano, go white-water rafting in the nearby rivers, or relax in one of the many hot springs.

● Irazu Volcano: This inactive volcano is located in the central part of Costa Rica and is the country's highest peak. Visitors can hike to the top of the volcano for stunning views or take a jeep tour through the nearby rainforest.

● Monteverde Cloud Forest: This cloud forest is located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. Visitors can take guided tours through the forest, go zip-lining, or take a ride on the sky tram.

● The mysterious stone spheres: These spheres are found in the southeastern part of Costa Rica and are thought to have been created by the region's indigenous people.

These are just a few things to see in Costa Rica. With so much to offer, it's no wonder this country is a popular destination for Canadian snowbirds.

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Local food to try in Costa Rica

You're in for a treat. Not only is Costa Rica one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it's also home to some pretty delicious food. Here are some local dishes you definitely don't want to miss.

● Casado is a traditional Costa Rican dish that usually includes rice, beans, meat (usually chicken, fish, or pork), and some sort of salad. It's a hearty meal that will undoubtedly leave you feeling satisfied.

● Gallo Pinto is another classic Costa Rican dish made with rice and beans. The difference between Gallo Pinto and other rice and bean dishes is that the rice and beans are cooked together rather than served separately. This dish is usually served with eggs and/or cheese.

● Ceviche is a seafood dish with raw fish (usually tuna or Mahi Mahi) marinated in lime juice, onions, salt, and pepper. It's a refreshing dish that's perfect for a hot day.

● Plantain chips are exactly what they sound like: chips made from plantains! They can be fried or baked, and they're often served as an appetizer or side dish.

● Papaya shake is a delicious drink made with fresh papaya, milk, ice cream, and honey.

Enjoy la Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a wonderland of natural beauty and adventure, making it the perfect place for snowbirds looking to escape the cold northern winters. From its stunning beaches to its lush rainforests, there’s something for everyone in Costa Rica. And with plenty of activities available and a welcoming community, you’ll feel right at home in this Central American paradise.

If you’re considering spending the winter in Costa Rica, be sure to contact a soNomad agent who can help you find the best travel insurance plan for your needs.

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