health tourism costa rica

Brief Introduction to the Country and its Reputation in Medical Tourism

Costa Rica, a small Central American country known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and rich biodiversity, has also become a hotspot for medical tourism in recent years. The nation has invested heavily in healthcare infrastructure and education, leading to high-quality medical services that are often available at a fraction of the cost in the United States, Canada, and some European countries. The combination of highly-trained professionals, cutting-edge medical technology, and the natural beauty of the country make Costa Rica a sought-after destination for medical tourism.

Historical and Cultural Significance in Medicine

While Costa Rica may not have an ancient tradition of medicine like some other countries, its modern healthcare system has taken strides to incorporate both traditional and contemporary practices. Over the years, Costa Rica has made healthcare a national priority, often ranking higher than many of its neighboring countries in healthcare metrics. This commitment to quality healthcare makes it a reliable choice for medical tourists seeking various treatments.

Reputation and Global Standing

According to various metrics and international healthcare standards, Costa Rica's healthcare system is often ranked among the top in Latin America. It also competes favorably on a global scale, attracting international patients not only for the affordability of its medical services but also for its high quality of care. Many of the country’s medical professionals have been trained in the United States or Europe, and it's not uncommon for them to hold international certifications.

Ideal Destination for Holistic Healing

What sets Costa Rica apart in the realm of medical tourism is its holistic approach to healthcare. Many medical tourists choose to extend their stay beyond their medical treatment to take advantage of wellness services like spa treatments, yoga retreats, and natural excursions that the country has to offer. This focus on holistic well-being enhances the appeal of Costa Rica as a medical tourism destination.

Popular Medical Procedures

List and brief descriptions of procedures.

Costa Rica is most popular for cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, orthopedic treatments, and bariatric surgeries. Additionally, the country has been making strides in specialized fields like cardiology and oncology.

Specializations or Pioneering Treatments

Costa Rica is well-known for its expertise in dental implants and cosmetic dentistry, with state-of-the-art facilities that rival those in more developed countries. Some clinics even offer pioneering treatments in stem cell therapy, albeit these are often subject to ongoing research and regulatory approvals.

Top Hospitals & Clinics

A list of renowned hospitals, clinics, and medical institutions.

Costa Rica is home to several top-notch hospitals and clinics that cater to medical tourists. Some of these include the Clinica Biblica in San Jose, the Hospital CIMA in Escazu, and the Hospital La Catolica, among others.

Accreditation and Affiliation Details

Many of these hospitals are accredited by international healthcare organizations, ensuring they meet global standards. While the specific accreditations may vary, they usually imply a rigorous quality control process that these institutions undergo regularly.

Special Features, Awards, or Recognitions

Some of the hospitals in Costa Rica are multi-speciality centers that offer a range of services, from general medicine to highly specialized surgeries. They have received awards for patient care and innovative medical practices, although specific accolades can differ from one institution to another.

Cost Comparison

Comparative data.

Medical procedures in Costa Rica can cost between 40-70% less than in the United States. For instance, a dental implant that might cost upwards of $3,000 in the U.S. could be available for around $900 in Costa Rica.

Price Ranges

The cost of medical treatments varies depending on the procedure, the hospital, and the expertise of the medical professionals involved. However, even high-end facilities generally offer services at much lower prices than their counterparts in other countries.

Quality & Safety

Medical standards and practices.

Costa Rica has a robust healthcare system, backed by state-of-the-art technology and highly qualified professionals. The country follows international best practices in medicine, ensuring that the healthcare services provided are of the highest standard.

Accreditation Systems, Regulatory Bodies, and Quality Checks

Costa Rica has a rigorous accreditation process for its medical institutions. While the specifics may vary, these accreditations are a testament to the quality and safety standards that the hospitals maintain. Regulatory bodies oversee the functioning of these healthcare institutions, ensuring compliance with both local and international healthcare norms.

Patient Safety Protocols and Patient Rights

Patient safety is a priority in Costa Rica's medical community. Medical facilities often have strict protocols for infection control, surgical safety, and patient confidentiality. Patients' rights are clearly defined and protected by law, ensuring a respectful and dignified treatment experience.

Medical Visa Information

Guidelines and requirements for obtaining a medical visa.

Most nationals from the United States, Canada, and the European Union do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. However, for extended medical treatments, it is advisable to check the latest visa regulations, which may require documentation from the medical facility where the treatment is scheduled.

Duration, Documentation Required, and Application Process

For those who require a medical visa, the process generally involves submitting an application form along with necessary supporting documents, including medical records and treatment plans. The duration of the visa usually depends on the length of the treatment, and extensions can be applied for if necessary.

Other Travel-Related Advisories or Restrictions

Travelers are advised to stay updated on any travel advisories related to health and safety, as these can change periodically.

Cultural Considerations

Local customs and etiquette.

Costa Ricans, or "Ticos," are known for their warm and friendly nature. However, being mindful of local customs and etiquette, like respectful greetings and dress codes, is advisable.

Language and Communication

Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, but English is widely spoken in medical facilities catering to international patients.

Dietary Considerations or Restrictions

Costa Rican cuisine is generally a mix of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. It is advisable to inform medical facilities in advance if you have specific dietary restrictions.

Travel & Accommodation

Popular and recommended areas to stay.

San José, the capital, offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Areas like Escazú are also popular, especially for those looking for proximity to top medical facilities.

Proximity to Medical Facilities

Most top-rated medical facilities are situated within or near major cities, making travel between accommodation and treatment centers convenient.

Transportation Facilities and Infrastructure

Costa Rica has a well-developed public transportation system, and taxis are readily available. However, private transport options can also be arranged by most medical facilities.

Recommendations for Post-Procedure Relaxation and Recuperation Spots

Costa Rica offers a variety of post-procedure relaxation options, including beach resorts, mountain retreats, and wellness centers, making it an ideal location for recovery.

Legal & Ethical Considerations

Legal rights of patients.

In Costa Rica, patients have the right to informed consent, privacy, and quality medical care. These rights are protected by local laws and healthcare protocols.

Medical Malpractice Laws and Patient Recourse

Medical malpractice laws in Costa Rica are stringent, ensuring that patients have avenues for legal recourse in the event of negligence or malpractice.

Benefits & Risks

The main benefits of choosing Costa Rica for medical tourism include cost savings, high-quality healthcare, and the opportunity for a relaxing recovery in a beautiful setting.

Potential risks could include communication barriers and differences in medical practices. However, most top medical facilities in Costa Rica mitigate these risks by adhering to international standards.

Post-procedure Care

Details about post-operative care.

Aftercare is an essential part of the medical journey, and Costa Rica offers excellent post-operative care services, including follow-up consultations and rehabilitative services.

Availability and Quality of Rehabilitation Centers

Several rehabilitation centers are available, particularly in the areas surrounding major hospitals, providing comprehensive services to aid in recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Do Costa Rican medical facilities accept international insurance?
  • Some facilities do accept international insurance, but it’s advisable to confirm beforehand and understand the specifics of your coverage.
  • What currency is accepted in Costa Rica?
  • The Costa Rican Colón is the local currency, although many places also accept U.S. dollars.
  • Is Costa Rica safe for travel?
  • Costa Rica is generally considered safe for travel, but it's always advisable to take standard precautions and consult current travel advisories.
  • Do I need vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica?
  • Standard vaccinations are generally advised, but it’s best to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Located between Panama (to the south) and Nicaragua (to the north), and nestled between the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the North Pacific Ocean (to the west), Costa Rica is a short 2.5 hours flight from Miami, Florida and is a convenient location for eco and medical tourism. It is slightly smaller than West Virginia, so exploring the country is not a terribly daunting task. Costa Rica boasts a long history of peaceful democratic rule, as well as a high standard of living compared to its Central American neighbors. With 802 miles (1,290 km) of coastline, Costa Rica offers a range of maritime leisure activities, including sunbathing, boating, surfing, scuba diving, and parasailing.

Global Provider Members

health tourism costa rica

Colon (CRC)

Costa Rica is a tropical country, which means that much of what you imagine about a Costa Rican vacation is true: dense rainforests, palm tree-lined beaches, warm weather, and comfortable waters. There are two distinct seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in May and lasts until November, while the dry season begins at the end of November and ends in April. However, in spite of the two generally distinct seasons, Costa Rica’s varied topography makes for a wide variety of microclimates.


health tourism costa rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

San José, Costa Rica

Featured Treatments

health tourism costa rica is a free, confidential, independent resource for patients and industry providers. Our mission is to provide a central portal where patients, medical tourism providers, hospitals, clinics, employers, and insurance companies can all find the information they need. Our site focuses on patients looking for specific knowledge in the fields of medical tourism, dental tourism, and health tourism.

You are using an outdated browser. Upgrade your browser today or install Google Chrome Frame to better experience this site.

Costa Rica Traveler View

Travel health notices, vaccines and medicines, non-vaccine-preventable diseases, stay healthy and safe.

  • Packing List

After Your Trip

Map - Costa Rica

Be aware of current health issues in Costa Rica. Learn how to protect yourself.

Level 1 Practice Usual Precautions

  • Dengue in the Americas May 16, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to the Americas can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Destination List: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands, French Guiana (France), Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Martinique (France), Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay

⇧ Top

Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor at least a month before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. If you or your doctor need help finding a location that provides certain vaccines or medicines, visit the Find a Clinic page.

Routine vaccines


Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Some of these vaccines include

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

Immunization schedules

All eligible travelers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Please see  Your COVID-19 Vaccination  for more information. 

COVID-19 vaccine


There has been evidence of chikungunya virus transmission in Costa Rica within the last 5 years. Chikungunya vaccination may be considered for the following travelers:

  • People aged 65 years or older, especially those with underlying medical conditions, who may spend at least 2 weeks (cumulative time) in indoor or outdoor areas where mosquitoes are present in Costa Rica, OR
  • People planning to stay in Costa Rica for a cumulative period of 6 months or more

Chikungunya - CDC Yellow Book

Hepatitis A

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers one year old or older going to Costa Rica.

Infants 6 to 11 months old should also be vaccinated against Hepatitis A. The dose does not count toward the routine 2-dose series.

Travelers allergic to a vaccine component or who are younger than 6 months should receive a single dose of immune globulin, which provides effective protection for up to 2 months depending on dosage given.

Unvaccinated travelers who are over 40 years old, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions planning to depart to a risk area in less than 2 weeks should get the initial dose of vaccine and at the same appointment receive immune globulin.

Hepatitis A - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep A

Hepatitis B

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers younger than 60 years old traveling to Costa Rica. Unvaccinated travelers 60 years and older may get vaccinated before traveling to Costa Rica.

Hepatitis B - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep B

CDC recommends that travelers going to certain areas of Costa Rica take prescription medicine to prevent malaria. Depending on the medicine you take, you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip, as well as during and after your trip. Talk to your doctor about which malaria medication you should take.

Find  country-specific information  about malaria.

Malaria - CDC Yellow Book

Considerations when choosing a drug for malaria prophylaxis (CDC Yellow Book)

Malaria information for Costa Rica.

Cases of measles are on the rise worldwide. Travelers are at risk of measles if they have not been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure, or have not had measles in the past, and travel internationally to areas where measles is spreading.

All international travelers should be fully vaccinated against measles with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, including an early dose for infants 6–11 months, according to  CDC’s measles vaccination recommendations for international travel .

Measles (Rubeola) - CDC Yellow Book

Dogs infected with rabies are not commonly found in Costa Rica.

Rabies is present in bats.

If rabies exposures occur while in Costa Rica, rabies vaccines may only be available in larger suburban/urban medical facilities.

Rabies pre-exposure vaccination considerations include whether travelers 1) will be performing occupational or recreational activities that increase risk for exposure to potentially rabid animals and 2) might have difficulty getting prompt access to safe post-exposure prophylaxis.

Please consult with a healthcare provider to determine whether you should receive pre-exposure vaccination before travel.

For more information, see country rabies status assessments .

Rabies - CDC Yellow Book

Recommended for most travelers, especially those staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas.

Typhoid - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Typhoid

Yellow Fever

Required for travelers ≥9 months old arriving from countries with risk for YF virus transmission. 1 Included in this requirement are travelers arriving from Tanzania and Zambia, and designated areas of: Colombia (the entire country, except the cities of Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, and Medellín, and the archipelago department, San Andrés and Providencia); Ecuador (the provinces of Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbíos, and Zamora-Chinchipe, and excluding the rest of the country); Paraguay (the entire country, except the city of Asunción); Peru (the entire country, except the cities of Cusco and Lima, the regions of Cajamarca, Lambayeque, Piura, and Tumbes, and the highland tourist areas of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail); Trinidad & Tobago (the entire country, except the urban areas of Port of Spain; travelers with itineraries limited to the island of Tobago, and travelers with airport transits or layovers are also exempt from this requirement). Travelers arriving from Argentina and Panama are exempt from this requirement.

Yellow Fever - CDC Yellow Book

Avoid contaminated water


How most people get sick (most common modes of transmission)

  • Touching urine or other body fluids from an animal infected with leptospirosis
  • Swimming or wading in urine-contaminated fresh water, or contact with urine-contaminated mud
  • Drinking water or eating food contaminated with animal urine
  • Avoid contaminated water and soil

Clinical Guidance

Avoid bug bites, chagas disease (american trypanosomiasis).

  • Accidentally rub feces (poop) of the triatomine bug into the bug bite, other breaks in the skin, your eyes, or mouth
  • From pregnant woman to her baby, contaminated blood products (transfusions), or contaminated food or drink.
  • Avoid Bug Bites

Chagas disease

  • Mosquito bite


  • Sand fly bite
  • An infected pregnant woman can spread it to her unborn baby

Airborne & droplet

  • Breathing in air or accidentally eating food contaminated with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents
  • Bite from an infected rodent
  • Less commonly, being around someone sick with hantavirus (only occurs with Andes virus)
  • Avoid rodents and areas where they live
  • Avoid sick people

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Breathe in TB bacteria that is in the air from an infected and contagious person coughing, speaking, or singing.

Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in Costa Rica, so your behaviors are important.

Eat and drink safely

Food and water standards around the world vary based on the destination. Standards may also differ within a country and risk may change depending on activity type (e.g., hiking versus business trip). You can learn more about safe food and drink choices when traveling by accessing the resources below.

  • Choose Safe Food and Drinks When Traveling
  • Water Treatment Options When Hiking, Camping or Traveling
  • Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene | Healthy Water
  • Avoid Contaminated Water During Travel

You can also visit the  Department of State Country Information Pages  for additional information about food and water safety.

Prevent bug bites

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in Costa Rica. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

What can I do to prevent bug bites?

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

What type of insect repellent should I use?

  • FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone
  • Always use insect repellent as directed.

What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?

  • Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
  • Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks properly.

What can I do to avoid bed bugs?

Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance. See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them. For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs .

For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites .

Stay safe outdoors

If your travel plans in Costa Rica include outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.

  • Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
  • Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
  • If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation : use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
  • Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
  • Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.

Stay safe around water

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
  • Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
  • Do not dive into shallow water.
  • Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
  • To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.

Keep away from animals

Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies.

Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
  • Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
  • Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
  • If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.

All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:

  • Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
  • Go to a doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.

Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.

Reduce your exposure to germs

Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.

Avoid sharing body fluids

Diseases can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen.

Protect yourself:

  • Use latex condoms correctly.
  • Do not inject drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
  • Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
  • If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.

Know how to get medical care while traveling

Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:

  • Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
  • Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
  • Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
  • Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call Costa Rica’s embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
  • Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.

Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website ( ).

In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.

Select safe transportation

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.

In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.

Be smart when you are traveling on foot.

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
  • Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.


Choose a safe vehicle.

  • Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
  • Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
  • Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
  • Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
  • Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.

Think about the driver.

  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
  • Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
  • Arrange payment before departing.

Follow basic safety tips.

  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
  • When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
  • Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of Costa Rica may be poor.
  • Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
  • Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
  • If you choose to drive a vehicle in Costa Rica, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
  • Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver's license at all times.
  • Check with your auto insurance policy's international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.
  • Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
  • If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
  • Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.

Helpful Resources

Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources.

The Association for International Road Travel has country-specific Road Travel Reports available for most countries for a minimal fee.

For information traffic safety and road conditions in Costa Rica, see Travel and Transportation on US Department of State's country-specific information for Costa Rica .

Maintain personal security

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Before you leave

  • Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
  • Monitor travel advisories and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) .
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
  • Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.

While at your destination(s)

  • Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate .
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
  • Follow all local laws and social customs.
  • Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
  • Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
  • If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.

Healthy Travel Packing List

Use the Healthy Travel Packing List for Costa Rica for a list of health-related items to consider packing for your trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.

Why does CDC recommend packing these health-related items?

It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries. Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.

If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic . Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.

If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.

Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.

For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel .

Map Disclaimer - The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on maps do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement are generally marked.

Other Destinations

If you need help finding travel information:

Message & data rates may apply. CDC Privacy Policy

File Formats Help:

  • Adobe PDF file
  • Microsoft PowerPoint file
  • Microsoft Word file
  • Microsoft Excel file
  • Audio/Video file
  • Apple Quicktime file
  • RealPlayer file
  • Zip Archive file

Exit Notification / Disclaimer Policy

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
  • Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
  • You will be subject to the destination website's privacy policy when you follow the link.
  • CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on other federal or private website.

Medical Tour Agency

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica: A Complete Guide

Costa Rica – Follows a national motto, “Pura Vida!”, meaning “Pure Life,” which will be very prominent once you visit the country. Exquisite and earthy food; luscious tropical fruits; great weather; outstandingly friendly people – these are the factors alluring millions into the country every year. Due to its geographical location and extreme biodiversity, Costa Rica is considered a mainstream ecotourism destination. It hosts more than  500,000  species. That’s around 4% of the earth’s biodiversity in a small country. The healthcare system of the country also surpasses the US. This makes medical tourism in Costa Rica a more preferred option for many Americans.

Costa Rica is ranked 7th in the global healthcare index ( Source ). That’s primarily because most of their doctors are US-trained and offer specialized treatment dedicated to foreign tourists. Their climate and expat-friendly infrastructure also make for an excellent destination for medical vacation. 

Table of Contents

How much can i expect to save in costa rica, is costa rica safe for healthcare tourism, is the healthcare quality in costa rica same as back home, common treatments done by medical tourists in costa rica, cost of medical treatment in costa rica, popular hospitals for medical treatment, distances and flying times:, when is the best time to visit, palma real hotel & casino, holiday inn express san jose, radisson hotel.

  • Things to Know Before You Travel – Frequently Asked Questions

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula

Manuel antonio national park, rio celeste waterfall, visit beaches and resorts, go shopping & test local food in san jose, why choose costa rica for medical tourism.

Costa Rica’s infrastructure is fully developed to take in medical tourists from all over the world. The country offers one of the safest and most reliable medical care that’s currently available. Costa Rica has hundreds of board-certified medical practitioners across the country. To be more precise, Hospital CIMA alone offers over 300 credentialed doctors at service.

People come here to enjoy ecotourism holidays combined with high-standard healthcare. The majority of the tourists come from the US and Canada. That’s merely due to its proximity to the US.

Medical services here are not just of a high standard but are also comparatively very affordable. You can expect to save anywhere from 30 to 40% of the costs you would pay in the US. Practitioners usually charge a fixed price for the treatment, so there are almost no price gouging options. Also, depending on the procedure, you may need to get the tests beforehand. This will help you make a reasonable estimate of how much it might cost for your medical services.

Costa Rica is one of the very few countries without any military presence, yet, ranked 32th in the  2020 global peace index . In general, medical tourism in Costa Rica is very safe, and most travelers don’t face any problems. Still, there are safety concerns, especially for those traveling alone. It is better to travel within tourist-heavy places. The government has a strong emphasis on tourist safety. Thus, it is easy to find coast guards, public forces, and other ground security in most popular places. 

Yes, in fact, better than most places. WHO frequently places Costa Rica’s medical care to be one of the best in the world. Medical standards are similar to the US and mostly uses equipment made in the US.

Costa Rica offers free medical services but is only available to citizens with financial difficulties. Expats will need to pay for their treatments. Any surgeon willing to open a clinic needs to be board certified. You can also enjoy healthcare services from three of the prestigious accredited hospitals present in San José.

Healthcare System in Costa Rica

Both public and private hospitals are well developed and are deemed suitable for tourists. Costa Rica follows a universal healthcare system with coverage for those that cannot afford quality medical care. To qualify for operation, a clinic needs to have at least a general practitioner, nurse, clerk, pharmacist, and health technician.

Public clinics may have waiting periods. To avoid it, you can consider a private alternative. Private hospitals are usually more developed and are more focused on foreign patients. Besides, most surgeons acquire their training from the US or other top European countries.

Medical tourism in Costa Rica is mostly popular for services related to dental and cosmetic surgeries. However, patients also come here for treatments that are notoriously expensive in their country. Sought-after procedures include:

  • General medical treatments
  • Dental surgery
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Fertility treatment
  • Addiction treatment

The list below is an estimate of how much each surgery might cost. Depending on the hospital and the location, these may vary.

Costa Rica is home to hundreds of hospitals and clinics that are scattered across the country. Most of them offer high-quality services, but for foreign patients, there are a few dedicated ones. Three of the best hospitals are Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Hospital CIMA, and Clinica Catolica. All of them are in San Jose and have received international accreditation.

Hospital CIMA

Hospital CIMA San Jose has earned JCI accreditation five consecutive times. They are one of the country’s biggest private hospitals and offer most of the sought-after treatments by foreign tourists.

CIMA also offers NICU for maternal care, which that many hospitals in the country don’t provide. They have proper English-speaking staff that is very friendly and available for support 24/7. And more importantly, you can get to choose the doctor for your treatment. Their website offers a find a doctor section from where you will get their detailed bio, including phone number and email.

  • Address : Autopista Próspero Fernández, San José, San Rafael, Costa Rica.
  • Phone : (506) 2208-1000

Hospital Clínica Bíblica

Hospital Clínica Bíblica started its operation in 1929. They are certainly one of the oldest hospitals in Costa Rica. It will take around 30 minutes from the San Jose airport. Starting from general checkups to complex surgeries, Clínica Bíblica offers all. They also host excellent English-speaking staff. Their website provides all the information you will require. Starting from appointments to insurance details, medical specialties to surgeons, everything is available on their website.

  • Address : Av. 14, Laberinto, San José, Costa Rica
  • Phone : +506 2522 1000

Hospital La Católica

Hospital La Católica is very well-known for its friendly and responsive staff service. You can visit the hospital directly from the airport. It will take around 20 minutes, and transportation around the area is very accessible. Same as our previous recommendations, La Católica is accredited and offers all of the in-demand treatments. In addition, they also provide dedicated services for medical tourists. Waiting time isn’t an issue here. Doctors will be ready for you as per the appointment schedule.

  • Address : Frente a los Tribunales del 2do circuito judicial San José Guadalupe, 10801, Costa Rica
  • Phone : (506) 2246-3000

Traveling to Costa Rica for Medical Travel

Costa Rica is a tourist country, so traveling there won’t be any pain. Air travels are available to and from Costa Rica all year round. Even within the country, airports are easily accessible. Soon after landing, medical patients can also request transport service directly from their hospital.

  • New York : 2204 miles, 4hr 40min.
  • Las Vegas : 2643 miles, 5hr 30min.
  • Toronto : 2334 miles, 4hr 55min.
  • London : 5414miles, 10 h 45 min.

In Costa Rica, the cost of travel by air will vary depending on the time, distance, and the airline you choose. But here are some estimates on how much you can expect to pay.

  • New York to San Jose: $265
  • Los Angeles to San Jose: $324
  • Toronto to San Jose: $392
  • London to San Jose: $661

If you have medical urgency, travel as soon as possible. If not, you are in for a treat. Your experience will vary depending on when and where you visit. From December to April, the climate will be arid, and from May to November, rain showers are apparent. Plus, in the rainy season, lands will be bustling with greenery, and flower blossoms will be tangible throughout the country.

Peak tourist hours are usually during the summertime. Most people prefer to enjoy spending time lounging on beaches, exploring dry rainforests, or hiking with groups. Also, note that dry seasons will be costly. You will want to book reservations at least three months prior to travel. If you don’t mind getting wet, the rainy season will be the best choice for a cheaper and accessible medical tourism in Costa Rica.

Where to Stay in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is centered around beautiful volcanoes, beaches, and protected forests. It is hard not to find a place that doesn’t let you enjoy at least some of the country’s beautiful nature. Starting from small lodging facilities to luxurious resorts, you will find everything at varying budgets.

We will be suggesting accommodations in San Jose as most of the accredited private hospitals are present there. Besides, San Jose is the cultural hub of Costa Rica and offers a plethora of options and ease of access for medical tourists.

Love casinos? Palma Real Hotel & Casino is the one for you. It has everything from spas, massage services, gym, sauna, currency exchange, non-smoker floor, and much more. Children are allowed, but you will need to pay an additional charge. San Jose airport is just 14km apart from the hotel. You can pay the hotel to arrange their airport shuttle service if you don’t know the direction. They also offer a free buffet breakfast for all guests regardless of the package.

Whether you are traveling alone or with a large business group, Holiday Inn Express is a suitable place for most people. Children’s playground, conference hall, bars, restaurant, etc., all are present there. Leisure traveling is very convenient from Holiday Inn. You have access to shopping malls within walking distance. Plus, you could visit nearby tourist spots like the national theatre, cathedral, and the gold museum using the hotel’s transport facility. If you want to combine business and medical vacation, then this hotel might be perfect for you.

Radisson Hotel is in a very tourist-friendly location. You can quickly drive to the Gulf of Nicoya, Arenal Volcano, Jade museum, or La Sabana Park from the hotel. They offer 24 hours secure car parking facility. Restaurants and pools are decorated with serene natural backdrops, making them suitable for anyone spending their medical recovery. Radisson hotel is just 25 minutes apart from Juan Santamaría International Airport. One caveat that might bug some people is that they don’t allow pets.

Things to Know Before You Travel – Frequently Asked Questions

Traveling to Costa Rica for the first time? You will get travel guides all over the internet. However, for medical travels, you will need to keep certain things in mind. We have answered some important questions asked by most medical tourists. Consider keeping them in check while planning your travel.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

For Hospitals that cater to tourists, you don’t need to speak Spanish. Practitioners will have sufficient command of English. Besides, most hospitals train their staff to support English-speaking patients. In local unpopular public hospitals, you might face language issues. In terms of vacation, popular destinations will be easy to navigate. Even in lesser-known destinations, it should be fine. The country relies heavily on tourism, so locals in large numbers have adapted to the language. But for those risk-takers going on unchartered territories will require a guide for translation and navigation.

Is there any malpractice and liability laws for medical tourism in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is deemed safe in most cases. However, malpractices and liability issues are not uncommon for the country. And how the government deals with these issues is also different than the US. Lesser-known public hospitals might have inadequate equipment or may lack sufficient expertise. You will be already saving a lot of expenses by traveling to Costa Rica. Instead of thinking to curtail the cost more, consider getting treated from the reputed hospitals and clinics.

What is the lawsuit and compensation system for medical tourism in Costa Rica?

Fighting for a lawsuit in Costa Rica can often be a very lengthy process. And you may not receive the same compensation amount that you would get from a US law system. Plus, it can take around 5 to 10 years until the final decisions are made. Private hospitals are far safer in such scenarios, as the most popular ones are US-owned hospital chains. Consider getting treated from JCI accredited hospitals. They are certified for offering US-standard treatments and facilities.

What payment methods are accepted?

MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are the popular ones in Costa Rica. US dollars are also accepted.

Do I need to get money converted before visiting?

Most places will accept Credit Cards and US dollars. However, it would be ideal to have some local cash in case if needed. When you go sightseeing, there will be places that may not take foreign currency. So staying prepared for those scenarios is always recommended.

How to access emergency services?

Costa Rica offers some of the most pristine nature preserved places that you would crave to explore. You will find places crowded with tourists and places hardly anyone ventures into. It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a useful guide on the journey. So having emergency access will be essential. Luckily, there is a 911 service in place. You should be able to get an English-speaking operator. If that doesn’t work, contact your country’s embassy. They will be able to help you with any assistance. U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica : Telephone : (506) 2519-2000 or when calling from the US: 011-506-2519-2000 Email address : [email protected]

Is insurance coverage accepted for procedure or surgery?

You can opt for either the National Insurance Institution (N.I.S) or any other private insurance policy. The Costa Rican government directly supports N.I.S. Medical services and insurance policies here, in general, are known to be excellent. Still, if you are concerned, then finding a private insurance provider isn’t a big issue. We do recommend you get insurance before visiting or performing any procedure. This will help you get coverage in case if anything goes wrong. Private insurance should also ease your upfront payment and waiting time.

Do I need auto insurance?

Car insurance for medical tourism in Costa Rica isn’t mandatory, but most travelers choose to insure their vehicles. Insurance costs will vary depending on the type of car. Insurance coverage is very minimal and can only be done through the government’s mandated insurer N.I.S. We recommend getting full insurance coverage as it covers hospital visits in the event of an accident with the car.

Is wheelchair access available in hospitals and vacation destinations?

Wheelchair access is no issue in Costa Rica. Wheelchair access is not only available in hospitals but is also prominent in most vacation destinations. Costa Rica is a tourism-focused country, so they need to cater to every kind of tourist to maximize their business. As long as you are visiting touristy sites, everything should be sorted out.

Things to do in Costa Rica

Wondering what to put on your bucket list? Costa Rica’s diversity is spread all across the country. Whether you are a wild-life enthusiast or just a simple beach seeker, there’s a ton of activities you can do in Costa Rican terrains.

Want to enjoy a complete ecotourism experience? Visit Drake Bay in Osa Penisula. Because of its remoteness, lesser tourists tend to visit here. Drake Bay is very well preserved and has the most amount of biodiversity in all of Costa Rica. Hotels and resorts in the area offer various tours that will help you get the best chances of spotting exotic animals. Restaurants there offers locally sourced tropical fruits, fresh seafood, coffees, smoothies, etc. Many hotels are strategically placed to give tourists the best possible outdoor views that Osa Penisula has to offer.

If you want to experience all of Costa Rica in one place, Manuel Antonio National Park should be on top of the list. The main features of the mark are the impressive landscapes, beaches, and biodiversity. It is the smallest park in Costa Rica but is home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of wild birds. While touring around the park, you will likely come across sloths, iguanas, monkeys, and many wild birds. Manuel Antonio receives 150,000 visitors annually. This park also got featured in  Forbes  as one of the most beautiful national parks. Manuel Antonio is definitely a must-visit destination for any tourist. 

Waterfalls are quite common for tourism-focused destinations. But what separates Rio Celeste from others is its distinctive color. Because of a chemical reaction from volcanic minerals, the color turns turquoise. The colors again shift to varying shades of blue when other streams merge. Plus, it is surrounded by dense forest. Because of its unparalleled naturally preserved beauty, thousands of tourists come here to relax and take a glance at the wild-life around. Moreover, the Arenal volcano is in the same region; therefore, you can enjoy both sights on one tour.

Visiting beaches are the most touristy thing you can do in Costa Rica. There are around 300 beaches throughout the country. You get to enjoy beaches from both the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast. Each has its own attractions and cultural influence. If you love turtles, go to Tortuguero National Park; for surfing, visit Playa Negra in Guanacaste Province. Want to see the largest flocks of wild flamingos? Visit Playa Flamingo, which is also in Guanacaste. For island adventurers, Tortuga Island will be perfect. There you can go scuba diving in the crystal clear blue water and get to see stingrays, dolphins, angelfish right before your eyes.

Want something you can relate to? If you are not into wildlife and want a more typical urban experience, go shopping. You will find amazing deals on native products that will match your flair. Costa Rican artists create fabulous recyclable and environmentally-friendly handbags. They have hand-crafted shoes for both men and women. You can also get 100% certified organic beauty products made from local ingredients. Plus, you can take home the finest coffee that Costa Rica is very well known for. If you love alcohol, localities are filled with supermarkets and liquor stores, where you can get bottles for as cheap as $3.

Final Verdict

Medical vacation can bring in tons of delightful experiences if done right. Medical tourism in Costa Rica is not as inexpensive as some other countries. However, patients don’t come here merely to save costs. Rather, most come to enjoy ecotourism while facilitating their recovery after treatment. Here’s a condensed list of the pros and cons of traveling to Costa Rica for medical vacations. Anyways, if you want to explore more options, then consider reading our article on Top 11 Best Countries for Medical Tourism .

  • Healthcare quality and equipment are US-standard
  • Best place for ecotourism
  • Accredited hospitals are easily reachable from the airport
  • Most hospitals offer English-speaking staffs
  • Wide variety of affordable vacation destinations
  • US currency will work in most places
  • Supports 911 service for emergency events
  • Prices go up during summertime
  • Passport thefts and money exchange scams are common
  • Medical malpractice laws may not be as strong as compared to the US

You may consider other countries for medical tourism, such as Mexico , Israel , Panama etc., and more. We have details guide as Popular Destinations for Medical Tourism .

  • Find Your Trip
  • Vacation Ideas
  • Travel Tips

Customized Costa Rica Vacations, since 1999.

Medical Tourism

Hospitals and clinics for medical tourism.

  • Clínica Bíblica 
  • Hospital CIMA 
  • Hospital La Católica 
  • Hospital Metropolitano (besides their multiple locations in San José, Hospital Metropolitano also serves Guanacaste and Quepos , near Manuel Antonio )

We live, work & travel in Costa Rica.

Every trip is designed for you.

5,000+ reviews from dazzled guests.



  • Planning Your Trip
  • Entry Requirements

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Requirements to enter the country.

Entry to Costa Rica has been opened to tourists from all countries.

All tourists must comply with the immigration processes established in the General Immigration and Aliens Act (Ley General de Migración y Extrangería).

During your visit in Costa Rica, you are required to comply with the health protocols put in place by private companies when participating in any tourism activities in the country.

In accordance with Article 42 of the General Law on Immigration and Aliens (No. 8764) and Article 30 of the Immigration Control Regulation (Executive Decree No. 36769-G), foreign nationals intending to enter Costa Rica must provide:

  • A valid passport or travel document. Passports and travel documents will only be accepted if they can be read electronically in line with the guidelines established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and must be valid for the period set forth in these guidelines.
  • Visa, if required under these guidelines.
  • Proof of economic means, with a minimum of US$100.00 (one hundred US dollars) per month or partial month of legal stay in the country.
  • Return ticket to the country of origin or plan of onward travel that includes the next destination.
  • No impediment to entering Costa Rican territory.


The maximum legal stay for foreign nationals will be determined by the immigration agent upon their entry into the country.

Countries in the first group: UP TO 180 CALENDAR DAYS, NON-EXTENDABLE 

Countries in the second group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS

Countries in the third group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS, EXTENDABLE

Countries in the fourth group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS, EXTENDABLE

Please remember:

  • In order to enter Costa Rica, you will need a ticket for a return flight, which the immigration official will ask to see when you arrive. It is recommended that you make a photocopy of your passport with the entry stamp, which you should carry with you at all times during your stay.
  • The number of days you are permitted to stay in Costa Rica will depend on the group your country of origin belongs to.
  • The immigration official may ask you to demonstrate that you have the funds needed for your stay in the country.
  • The immigration official may indicate in your passport that your permitted stay will be for a different amount of time.
  • Visitors to Costa Rica must have a valid passport and proof that they will be leaving the country before their visa or entry stamp expires.

All travelers must therefore have a ticket for return or onward travel.

Non-residents must have a ticket for return or onward travel if they:

Are arriving on a one-way ticket.

Are entering the country with a return ticket that is more than 90 days after their date of arrival.

Are flying to Costa Rica and flying out of a different country.

By law, a return or onward travel ticket may be on one of the following means of approved commercial transportation:

  • A pre-purchased bus ticket out of the country.
  • A pre-purchased flight out of the country.
  • Proof of passage on a cruise ship.

Obligatory declarations when entering or leaving Costa Rica:

When entering or leaving a port of entry to Costa Rica, if you are carrying an amount equal to or greater than US$10,000 in cash or securities, or its equivalent in other currencies, you must request and complete the form designated for this purpose in the immigration checkpoint and present it to the Customs Authority for verification. The declaration must be made before finalizing the corresponding immigration procedures.

Failure to follow the provisions of Costa Rican law (No. 8204, Article 35) will result in the immediate forfeiture of the money.

What kind of vaccines do visitors to Costa Rica need?

As of July 30, 2007, Costa Rican authorities require all travelers from the following countries to have a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as the Republic of Guyana.

If you need more information, please click here

* By clicking on ‘ click here ’ you will leave and will be redirected to another website *

Planning your Trip to Costa Rica

Visit Costa Rica

Suggested itineraries

Visit Costa Rica


Visit Costa Rica


Visit Costa Rica

Other Activities

Visit Costa Rica

Local Travel Agencies

Visit Costa Rica

Travel Tips


Share your experience, ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌   .



Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Costa Rica Medical Tourism: Your Complete Guide to Quality Healthcare  

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Costa Rica Medical Tourism, where quality healthcare meets adventure in the heart of Central America. I am a full-time traveler and engage in medical tourism all around the world. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the one country I know best when it comes to medical tourism, and why Costa Rica is an ideal destination for medical travelers.

The steps that follow here can be applied to those engaging in medical tourism anywhere in the world. This blog post will talk about the steps to follow while looking for reputable medical tourism services. The medical tourism industry is growing all over the world, and countries like Costa Rica, Brazil, Turkey and India are making it to the top of the list for their affordable, high quality services.

What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to another country to receive medical treatment or services. This growing industry combines healthcare with tourism, allowing individuals to explore new destinations while benefiting from high-quality and often more affordable medical care than what is available in their home countries.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Is Costa Rica Good for Medical Tourism?

Absolutely! Costa Rica has emerged as a top-notch destination for medical tourism, attracting visitors from around the world. The country offers a winning combination of world-class healthcare facilities, highly qualified medical professionals, affordable prices and incredible scenery that will make the trip out here worth it.

Why is Healthcare So Good in Costa Rica?

  • -Quality Medical Facilities: Costa Rica boasts modern, state-of-the-art medical facilities that adhere to international standards. Many hospitals are accredited by prestigious organizations, ensuring top-notch services.
  •  Highly Skilled Medical Professionals: Costa Rican doctors and healthcare professionals are known for their expertise and proficiency. The public universities in the country are among the best in Latin America. Also, many have received training and certifications from renowned institutions in the United States and Europe.
  • Cost-Effective Services: Medical procedures and treatments in Costa Rica are often more affordable than in many Western countries. This cost-effectiveness doesn’t compromise the quality of care, making it an attractive option for medical tourists seeking value for their money.

health tourism costa rica

How easy is it to be in Costa Rica as a medical tourist?

  • English Proficiency: A significant advantage for international patients is the widespread fluency in English among healthcare professionals. This facilitates clear communication and a smooth experience for English-speaking visitors.
  •  Tourist-Friendly Environment: Beyond healthcare, Costa Rica’s natural beauty and diverse attractions make it a sought-after tourist destination. From pristine beaches to lush rainforests and thrilling adventure activities, patients can combine their medical journey with a memorable vacation.

What Medical Services are Offered in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica provides a wide range of medical services, including but not limited to:

  • Dental Care: Costa Rica is renowned for its high-quality dental treatments, including cosmetic dentistry and dental implants. This is where I got my braces
  • Cosmetic Surgery: From facelifts to breast augmentation, Costa Rica offers a variety of cosmetic procedures performed by skilled surgeons.
  • Orthopedic Procedures: The country is a hub for orthopedic surgeries, attracting individuals seeking joint replacements, sports medicine, and spinal procedures.
  • Wellness and Preventive Care: Costa Rica’s focus on holistic health includes wellness and preventive care services, such as health check-ups and rejuvenating retreats. I’m all about aging gracefully. I personally get non-invasive cosmetic procedures here every single year, as well as hair treatments.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu ! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel , scholarships , study/work and living abroad opportunities .  I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer. 

How to Find Reputable, Safe Medical Tourism Providers

Here are some of the steps I follow all around the world to choose the right provider for my healthcare and well-being.

Research Accredited Hospitals and Clinics

Start by researching and shortlisting healthcare facilities that are accredited and recognized for their excellence. Look for certifications from international organizations such as Joint Commission International (JCI). You can find a more comprehensive list here . These accreditations guarantee that the facility adheres to global standards of quality and safety.

Verify Credentials of Medical Professionals

Check the credentials and qualifications of the medical professionals who will be overseeing your care. Ensure that the doctors and staff are licensed and have received education and training from reputable institutions. Many healthcare providers in Costa Rica have affiliations with renowned medical schools and training programs.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Read Patient Reviews and Testimonials

This one is incredibly important. Seek out reviews and testimonials from previous medical tourists who have undergone similar procedures in Costa Rica. Platforms like Google, Yelp, or specialized medical tourism review sites can provide insights into the experiences of other patients. Positive feedback and success stories can be indicators of a trustworthy provider. If you’re looking for a specific procedure, going to pages like Reddit or Quora for recommendations might be useful.

Consult with Medical Tourism Facilitators

Consider engaging with reputable medical tourism facilitators who act as intermediaries between patients and healthcare providers. These facilitators can help coordinate your trip, arrange consultations, and provide valuable information about the medical facilities. Ensure that the facilitator has a proven track record and transparent processes. These are extremely common in countries like Turkey, which has a record of excellent medical tourism and is widely used by European citizens.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Check for Transparent Pricing

Transparent pricing is so important for avoiding hidden costs and unexpected expenses. Make sure you understand the complete financial picture before making any commitments. You should have an idea beforehand of what is included, and what isn’t. For some procedures, you might even require aftercare in the form of a nurse. Make sure to negotiate all of these beforehand.

Verify Insurance Coverage

Check if your health insurance covers medical treatments abroad or if you need additional coverage for your medical tourism journey. Some medical tourism providers collaborate with insurance companies to offer comprehensive coverage for international patients.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Communication and Language Accessibility

Effective communication is vital in a medical setting. Ensure that the medical provider has staff proficient in your language, especially English. Clear communication minimizes misunderstandings and ensures that you receive the necessary information and support throughout your medical journey.

I’m personally recommending Costa Rica because I visit it every year, and get things done whenever I come. Dental work, aesthetics, massages, laser treatment, you name it. It is affordable and services are excellent. However, I have also gotten treatments in Turkey, Poland, Zambia, Thailand and even Venezuela. This is just to show you that medical and aesthetic procedures of excellent quality are available all over the world. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look for them, as well as following these steps to find the best services.

What’s next?

Research. The best thing for you to do is to arrange everything online before arriving in the country. You can check out this list of reputable medical services in the country that cater to foreigners. If this is your first time going to the country, here are some things you should know beforehand. You can also check out this article for the most unique activities in the country. With its exceptional medical facilities, skilled professionals, and a tourist-friendly environment, Costa Rica stands out as an excellent destination for those seeking quality healthcare. Combine this with tourism, and you’ll still be saving money compared to doing this back home!

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Leading the Way in Medical Excellence.

MTCR Logo.png

Your Comprehensive Medical Travel Concierge

Inquire about a treatment plan

Taking care of your health.

Welcome to Medical Tours Costa Rica, your premier destination for comprehensive medical travel services. We specialize in providing a complete end-to-end solution that centralizes every aspect of your healthcare journey in Costa Rica, including our extensive network of hospitals, hotels, tourism activities, transportation, and more.

Our mission is not just to assist patients during the diagnostic and quotation phase but also to eliminate any potential barriers. Our team of seasoned industry professionals excels at connecting the dots, serving as a seamless interface with each Certified Provider to ensure a smooth and hassle-free medical travel experience.

Services Provided & Coordinated through MTCR:

Personalized Patient Coordinator: From the moment you reach out to us, a dedicated patient coordinator will be assigned to your case. They will guide you through every step of the process, from your initial inquiry to your safe return home. Your patient coordinator will accompany you to the hospital during the pre-op, admission, and post-op phases, ensuring your experience is stress-free.

Cost Estimates: We provide approximate costs for procedures, helping you plan your medical journey with transparency and confidence.

Case Management: Our team offers expert case management services, streamlining communication between patients, facilitators, and doctors.

Medical Information Transfer: We facilitate the secure transfer of medical information between you and your chosen doctor.

Surgery Scheduling: We take care of scheduling surgeries and pre-operative consultations, ensuring your treatment is well-coordinated.

Quick Price Quotes: Expect a rapid turnaround on price quotes from our extensive provider network.

Personalized Care: Enjoy personalized attention and support throughout your onsite experience to ensure an outstanding journey.

24/7 Support: We offer round-the-clock assistance, providing peace of mind at all times.

Comprehensive Procedure Packages: Our packages encompass medical team fees, hospital costs, implants and prostheses (when specified), pre-operative exams, rehabilitation therapy (when specified), personalized airport assistance, airport transfers, and transportation between your hotel and the hospital.

Hotel Arrangements: We handle hotel accommodations, ensuring you have a comfortable stay and recovery.

Nursing Visits: Certified nurses conduct daily visits to evaluate your progress and provide updates to your surgeon. 

Information and Support: We promptly respond to inquiries from patients, prospective patients, and interested companies, offering essential information such as price quotes and hospital details.

Complaint Resolution: If you have any concerns or issues, we are here to help resolve them promptly and efficiently.

Appointment Coordination: We assist in coordinating appointments, ensuring timely and convenient healthcare access.

Logistics Coordination: Our services extend to transportation, airport transfers, tours, and communication with your family members.

Travel Assistance: Count on us for comprehensive travel support throughout your medical journey.

Learn more about our services

Image by Etienne Delorieux

Costa Rica offers the ideal setting for surgery and recovery, combining world-class healthcare facilities with stunning natural beauty and a warm, healing atmosphere.

Recover in Costa Rica 


Discover our network of JCI-accredited hospitals, renowned for their excellence in healthcare, and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, ensuring you receive top-notch medical care.

Network Hospitals

Happy Patient

"Explore the inspiring stories of our patients, their journeys to wellness, and the life-changing experiences they've had with us

Patient Testimonials


Discover our exceptional surgical team, renowned for their expertise and compassionate care, ensuring your confidence and trust in every step of your medical journey.

Meet our Doctors 

health-tourism logo

  • Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism to Costa Rica

The healthcare system in costa rica.

  • The World Health Organization ranked Costa Rica's health system as one of the top three Latin America countries, ranked even higher than United States and New Zealand .
  • The World Bank ranked Costa Rica as having the highest life expectancy , at 80 years. This figure is the highest amongst all countries in Latin America, and is equivalent to the level in high level OECD countries and higher than the United States by a year.

Top Hospitals for Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

  • Hospital CIMA - San Jose, Costa Rica Accredited by the JCI on May 2008. CIMA is also certified by the ISO and was the first hospital to be certified for Quality Processes by the Ministry of Health in Costa Rica. Other CIMA hospitals can be found in other locations in Costa Rica, like the CIMA Hermosillo, CIMA Chihuahua and the CIMA Santa Engracia. However, the CIMA San Jose is the top destination for medical tourists.
  • Hospital Clinica Biblica - San Jose, Costa Rica Accredited by the JCI on October 2007. The largest private hospital in Costa Rica, it was founded in 1929 by evangelical missionaries and has grown into a high-quality medical facility with a capacity for 120 in-patients and 5000 out-patients per day. They have a dedicated Medical Tourism department, with fluent English and Spanish speaking staff and employees.

Common Treatments done by Medical Tourists in Costa Rica

  • General and cosmetic dentistry
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Aesthetic procedures (botox, skin resurfacing etc)
  • Bariatric and Laparoscopic surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Fertility treatments
  • Addiction treatment

Cost of Medical Treatment in Costa Rica

Malpractice and liability laws in costa rica, quality healthcare system, close to north america, english is spoken among doctors, tourism opportunities, strict visa policies, traveling to costa rica, entry and exit requirements to costa rica, statistics of medical tourism in costa rica, who is already here.

Hospital Clinica Biblica

Hospital Clinica Biblica

Accredited by the Joint Commission International

Clinica UNIBE

Hospital La Catolica

Hospital La Catolica

Clinica 20/20

Clinica 20/20

Bariatrics and Minimally Invasive Surgery Costa Rica

Bariatrics and Minimally Invasive Surgery

Centro Fecundar Costa Rica

Centro Fecundar Costa Rica

CIMA Hospital

CIMA Hospital

Dr. Luis Da Cruz

Dr. Luis Da Cruz

Universal Plastic Surgery

Universal Plastic Surgery

Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica

Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica

Browse by specialty - costa rica hospitals and clinics, quick links.

  • Advertising
  • How it Works
  • Destinations
  • Information
  • Terms of use

Featured Cities

  • Buenos Aires
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Petaling Jaya

Featured Specialties

  • Cancer Treatment
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Fertility Treatment
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • View More Specialties Protection Status

Copyright © 2008 - 2024, All Rights Reserved

  • Travel Guides

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

There is a current of change running through the global healthcare system. Technological advances that make communication easier are expanding beyond the social network into the medical network. People from around the world are now able to search for, review, and book medical procedures with doctors in other countries. Medical tourism, which combines high-quality, reliable healthcare with travel to a foreign country, is becoming increasingly common. In the process, patients are not only getting the procedures they need at a lower cost, but are also learning about the culture of a foreign country.

What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism (also known as medical travel or health tourism) involves traveling to a foreign country for a medical procedure. Historically, medical tourism was less tourism and more medical—patients from less developed nations traveled to Europe or the U.S. for medical procedures that were unavailable in their own country. These days, however, things are different. People from developed countries like the U.S. and Canada are increasingly traveling abroad for medical procedures.

Drawn by affordable prices, convenient travel options and short wait times, these people are getting the dental work, specialty surgeries, and check ups that they need. The doctors are high-quality (many have been trained in the U.S.) and the facilities are top-notch. There are many reasons why people travel for medical procedures. The following are the most common:

Due to inefficiencies in the healthcare system of their home country, there may be extensive wait times for a procedure. This is the case in Canada, where in 2012 the average wait time between referral and procedure was almost 18 weeks. Cost is another huge factor.

Often times, the cost of a procedure abroad is around half the price of the same procedure at home—even with the added expenses of travel, patients typically save a large sum of money.

Insurance factors into the equation as well. Some people may be uninsured or underinsured, or want elective surgeries that their insurance provider will not cover. In cases like this, people travel abroad to receive treatment that would be too expensive at home.

As the world becomes increasingly more connected, travel is getting easier and more affordable. The cost and duration of a flight to Central America is now comparable to domestic travel. This has made combining a vacation with medical treatment much more enticing and realistic.

Misconceptions About Medical Tourism

People often question the legitimacy of doctors and hospitals in other countries. This is, in fact, a good thing. You should be interested in the qualifications of the doctors who treat you and the type of equipment they use. Both can have a tremendous impact on your health.

There is an endless amount of information on the Internet about medical tourism. Appropriately, there are a great deal of misconceptions regarding medical tourism. The following are some of the most common.

The first misconception is that foreign doctors are less qualified than doctors in the U.S. or Canada. In some parts of the world, this may be true—the doctors, for example, in rural Africa are no doubt less qualified than doctors in the U.S. However, in places like Asia and Central America, this is simply not the case. Many physicians, dentists and doctors in developing nations are educated in American or western European medical schools. They undergo the same rigorous training as native citizens and must be fully accredited by their home country’s governing medical body. It’s common for these doctors to be part of a government program that requires them to return home and practice.

The second most common misconception is that foreign hospitals or clinics do not have proper medical facilities or equipment. International standards require these facilities to be safe and secure and many hospitals decide to become accredited by an international organization, such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) or the American Association for Accreditation for Ambulatory Surgery Facilities International (AAAASFI), to gain the confidence of foreign patients. Due to this, many of these hospitals/clinics have state-of-the-art equipment (much of which is imported from the U.S.) and offer the most up-to-date procedures. Most dentists in Costa Rica, for example, import their equipment from the U.S. and use the same products for crowns, implants and veneers that a dentist in the U.S. would use.

Many people assume that foreign doctors do not speak English. In most cases, this is not true. As previously stated, many foreign doctors train at universities in the U.S. or Europe where English is required. English is also often compulsory in some primary and secondary schools in Costa Rica. Because of this, these doctors speak excellent English and can communicate confidently and precisely.

A final misconception is that the cost of travel will more than account for the savings incurred from an affordable medical procedure. Although the amount you save depends on the type of procedure and the duration of your stay, most medical tourists end up saving money. As you will see in the next few pages, treatment abroad is significantly more economical—so much so that the savings more than cover the amount of money you will spend on airfare, hotels, and food along the way.

Rising healthcare costs in the 1980s and 1990s lead patients to look overseas for more affordable options. The close proximity and high standard of care in Costa Rica began to attract medical tourists, especially for dental work. During this period, Americans began traveling to Central America to get dental work that was not covered by their insurance or that they could not afford.

Costa Rica’s medical tourism industry continued to grow. Today, Costa Rica is one of the most reliable, affordable and efficient countries for medical procedures. In 2011, San José, the capital of Costa Rica, registered 46,474 foreign patients. The number of medical tourists in Costa Rica is expected to continue rising. Nearly one-quarter of Americans now have passports and flights to Central America are more affordable than ever.

Costa Rica has high-quality doctors and dentists, many of whom were trained in the U.S. and are fluent in English. Although there are dentists and doctors throughout Costa Rica, the majority of procedures are carried out in San José. San José has the country’s best clinics and hospitals, including the CIMA, Católica and Bíblica hospitals.

Types of Procedures

From dental work to cosmetic surgery, there is a wide range of medical procedures offered in Costa Rica. We’ve boiled down some of the most common and listed them here.

The specialties most sought by medical tourists include dentistry (42%), gynecology (22%), preventive medicine (16%), plastic surgery (10%), orthopedics, and bariatrics. Other specialties include general surgery and dermatology.

For in-depth information on any individual procedure, please visit HuliHealth’s website. The waiting time, cost, and recovery for each procedure is different. If you are thinking of traveling to Costa Rica for a medical procedure, research the specifics of what is involved.

The following list compiles the most common specialties and procedures.

Dentists : implants, crowns, veneers, bridges, dentures

Plastic surgeons : plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery

General surgeons : gastric bypass, gastric sleeve

Orthopedic surgeons : hip, knee, and shoulder replacements

Dermatologists : laser removals, Botox

Savings and Costs

One of the best things about traveling to Costa Rica for medical care is that you save money without cutting quality. On average, medical tourists save 40-70 percent by getting a procedure done in Costa Rica. For example, a dental crown in the U.S. typically costs around $1,000, while in Costa Rica it is $500; a dental implant runs around $3,000 in the U.S. and is $900 in Costa Rica. With more serious medical work, the price goes up and the savings are larger.

The following list will give you an idea of how much some procedures cost.

Cost in United States

Cost in Costa Rica

Porcelain crown/bridge

Dental implant

Teeth whitening

$1,000 + per tooth

Breast augmentation



Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)


In addition to the cost of the procedure, there are other costs that should be considered. Flights from the U.S. or Canada to San José typically run around $400-$700 (flying from Canada is usually more expensive). A mid-range hotel for two people will cost around $115–$140 a night.

In-country transportation costs are extremely variable and depend on if (and where) you plan to travel after your procedure. If you plan to spend a week in Costa Rica and visit popular destinations like Arenal, Monteverde or Manuel Antonio, a shared shuttle will cost around $40 per person. Private transportation is a bit more expensive and is around $150 for your own van and driver.

Food expenses are usually around $30–$50 per person each day. Taking a few tours will also increase the cost of a trip.

All that said, in most cases it is still more economical to travel to Costa Rica for medical procedures than it is to have them done at home. In fact, many travelers save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Travelers often come to Costa Rica for more than one procedure – for example, your dental work might require four dental implants, which can include crowns, a sinus lift and a bone graft. Some people combine a tummy tuck with a breast lift, or liposuction with breast implants. The list of potential combinations is huge.

In addition to saving money, there are other advantages that medical tourists should consider.

The second word in the phrase “medical tourism” is important. Traveling to Costa Rica for a medical procedure also allows you to explore a foreign land. Costa Rica is a vibrant country that draws people from around the world. They come to hike in its rainforests, lounge along its beaches, and relax in its hot springs. It is also a place with more biodiversity than most everywhere on Earth—during your time here, you may spot monkeys hanging from trees or herons walking through estuaries.

Costa Ricans, known locally as ticos, are friendly and approachable. They welcome visitors with a smile and are keenly interested in showing travelers their country. If you’ve never practiced Spanish outside a classroom, this is a good place to start. The people are patient and helpful with those who attempt to speak their language.

Aside from the natural and cultural attractions of Costa Rica, the country has top-notch recovery facilities and spas. These places offer a comfortable and supportive environment for patients to recover after a procedure. Many have 24-hour nursing services, all-inclusive meal plans, and massage parlors.

The waiting time for medical procedures in Costa Rica is minimal. As opposed to places like Canada where you may have to wait several months for surgery, procedures in Costa Rica can be arranged to fit your schedule. The doctors and clinicians are flexible and are sometimes willing to adjust their schedule to see a foreign patient. HuliHealth has a convenient feature that allows patients to compare the availability of various doctors and dentists.

Costa Rica also benefits from medical tourism. In 2011, the average medical tourist to Costa Rica spent $7,000—in total, the industry brought in $337.7 million USD in revenue that year. Needless to say, this is a huge boon to the Costa Rican economy. Considering the country’s small size, medical tourism can have a widespread impact. The added revenue helps build better medical facilities and increases the funding for public services like schools and hospitals.

Another benefit of medical tourism for Costa Rica is a phenomenon that some have termed the “reverse brain drain.” This phrase refers to doctors and dentists who are trained at universities in the U.S. or Canada and return home to open a practice and educate their peers. By doing so, these doctors are helping set a higher standard of care in their country.

As with all medical procedures, there are risks associated with medical tourism in Costa Rica. Some of these risks include malpractice, operational risks, and miscommunication with the doctor.

A notable risk in Costa Rica is doctors or dentists who market a product, surgery or service that they are not legally allowed to perform. In these cases, the doctor or dentist may not have experience or training in the procedure they are advertising. An good example is a dental assistant who starts their own clinic and markets inexpensive dental work that is well beneath the dental board’s minimum price. Other dentists may claim to have specialty degrees, but have only completed a weekend course or internship. For this reason it is extremely important to thoroughly research the doctor or dentist you plan on visiting.

A specialty program typically lasts 2–3 years. The American Dental Association (ADA) currently recognizes nine specialties: endodontics, prosthodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral and maxillofacial radiology, dental public health, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics. Cosmetic dentistry, dental aesthetics, and implantology are not recognized by the ADA as specialties, but make great marketing terms for some dentists. Beware any dentist that uses these phrases.

Although general dentists are legally allowed to perform any dental procedure, the ADA states that a dentist should only perform procedures in which they have substantial training and experience.

One other complication of medical tourism is the follow-up visit. It can be costly and complicated to arrange a follow-up visit in Costa Rica. If this is the case, patients can see a doctor at home. If you schedule a follow-up visit with your regular doctor, your medical records can be transferred to the appropriate hospital or clinic.

Choosing Good Doctors

Given these risks, it’s recommended to use a service to verify the doctor’s/dentist’s education. You can check the board of dentists (Colegio Dentistas Organization) or the board of doctors, known as Colegio do Medicos y Cirujanos Republica de Costa Rica (Medicos Costa Rica) to make sure that the practitioner is registered, active, and has the specialty they claim.

You can also use the [HuliHealth Doctor Directory][Directory]. HuliHealth verifies the qualifications, education, board certifications, and specializations of each doctor on their website. The vetting process is rigorous and involves regular screenings. As a result, only the top doctors in Costa Rica are offered on the site—these are the doctors, it so happens, that are recommended repeatedly by various medical associations and specialists. Patients can also write reviews of doctors after (and only after) they’ve booked an appointment on the site. And if a doctor receives bad reviews, they are pulled from the directory.

Once you have lined up a few doctors/dentists, feel free to contact them individually and ask questions. Ask about the procedure, their qualifications, or the recovery process. The more information you have, the better. Hospitals and clinics can usually be reached by phone and email.

The Procedure

Once you have found a doctor or dentist, booked a flight, and traveled to Costa Rica, it’s time to have the procedure.

There is no standard protocol for procedures, but most begin with a visit to your doctor or dentist. At the clinic or hospital, you’ll fill out necessary paperwork and be given a rundown of the procedure by the doctor or an aid. Paperwork and other pre-procedural exams (such as X-rays and CT scans) can sometimes be completed prior to traveling. Ask your doctor or dentist about this before you leave home.

In some cases, your procedure will be the same day as your initial visit. For more serious surgeries (especially those that involve anesthesia), your procedure may be scheduled a day or two later. Your doctor or dentist will tell you what to expect and advise you about any dietary or medical restrictions that may apply.

Following the procedure, you will be given instructions for recovery and care—these usually involve rest, dietary suggestions, and pain medication. In most cases, you will be transported to your hotel (driving after anesthesia is dangerous and not advised) and may schedule a follow-up visit. More serious surgeries may require you to stay overnight in the hospital or a post-care facility. The follow-up visit is typically included in the overall medical package.

More involved surgeries will require downtime after the procedure. Depending on the severity of the surgery, your recovery can take place on a beach, in a hotel, or at a recovery center.

There is a wide range of recovery centers in Costa Rica. These centers cater to medical tourists by mixing traditional hotel facilities with medical amenities. Many centers are set in the hillsides above San José. This area is peaceful and beautiful, but is also close to the city’s hospitals and clinics.

Most recovery centers include transportation to and from the airport, as well as transportation to and from all medical appointments. This is especially important after the procedure, when you may be unable to drive. The centers typically offer 24-hour nursing care, with monitoring and supervision of the patient’s condition; some even have an onsite doctor. Recovery centers may have spas or massage parlors, and those that don’t can usually arrange for massage therapists to visit your room. Physical therapy can also be arranged. All meals are included at the recovery center, which saves patients the need to worry about where (or what) to eat. Cable TV and wireless Internet is common and can be crucial during bouts of boredom.

In addition to post-surgery centers, there are also recovery centers for drug and alcohol addiction. These offer various treatment plans and range in length from 30 to 90 days. Services include intervention services, individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings, recreational activities, art therapy, educational lectures, and medication management. Some rehabilitation centers favor a medical approach, while others approach healing through holistic and spiritual means. Many of these centers are set in naturally beautiful areas that encourage rest and reflection.

A final option for medical tourists includes health and wellness retreats. Guests of these centers may or may not have received medical care in Costa Rica. These places typically offer a range of services aimed at physical and mental health. These include yoga and meditation classes, acupuncture, massage, Reiki, naturopathy, floral therapy, detoxification programs/cleanses, and stress and weight management techniques. Many have swimming pools and saunas, as well as restaurants that serve healthy organic food.

A big question for most people is whether their insurance provider will cover procedures abroad. This is a big and complicated question. Every company has different policies and it’s impossible to generalize about any of them.

Ten years ago, most insurers would have scoffed at the idea of covering medical procedures performed abroad. These days, things are slowly changing – companies like Blue Cross & Blue Shield are signing contracts with overseas hospitals, and others insurers may soon follow suit.

That said, most insurance companies still don’t cover the trips, despite the fact that they can save money by doing so. One reason involves the credentials of doctors. Insurance companies need to ensure that overseas providers are safe and provide reliable, high-quality care. The Joint Commission International (JCI) is an American nonprofit that accredits U.S. hospitals and is beginning to accredit hospitals overseas. A hospital with this accreditation has a much better chance of being covered by your insurance.

There are also other issues, such as claims processing and continued care, that insurance companies must consider.

Before booking a medical procedure in Costa Rica, check with your insurance provider to see what they will cover. Ask if and what procedures are reimbursable, how much they reimburse, and what doctors or hospitals are covered. The reimbursement process for many insurance companies involves bringing a reimbursement form to the Costa Rica, having the doctor fill it out, submitting the paperwork when you return home, and awaiting the company’s response on reimbursement.

The insurance issue is complex and important. Do the research and find out exactly what is and what is not covered. In some cases, patients may choose to pay for the procedures out of their pocket rather than deal with an insurance provider.

Ask A Doctor

We asked the doctors in the HuliHealth network for thoughts and advice on traveling to Costa Rica for a medical procedure. We covered a range of topics, including how to build trust with patients, misconceptions about medical tourism, and what activities they recommend for visitors.

What do you recommend for travelers to Costa Rica? It might be a favorite beach, volcano or activity.

“Tamarindo and Flamingo are some of the country’s best beaches, and the Arenal Volcano is my favorite volcano. As for activities, canopy tours and ATV rides are some of the best.” – Dr. Jorge Badilla, Plastic Surgeon “It depends on what travelers like. If they enjoy the mountains, I recommend San Carlos and the Arenal area—there are hot springs and the mountains are great. If they like the beach, I recommend Playa Conchal in Guanacaste. It is a beautiful beach with a wonderfully clear ocean.” – Dr. Chun Chen Lin Yan, Opthalmologist

What are your most common procedures for medical tourists?

“Tummy tuck, facelift, breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, and mastopexy with implants.” – Dr. Jorge Badilla, Plastic Surgeon “One of my most popular procedures is eyelid surgery (upper biepharoplasty or lower eyelid biepharoplasty), which consists of removing the “bags” beneath your lower eyelids. Botox and dermal fillers are popular as well.” – Dr. Chun Chen Lin Yan, Opthalmologist “In dentistry, the most common procedures are dental implants and dental crowns.” – Dr. Eugenio Brenes, Prosthodontist

What practices do you and your administrative team use to prepare a patient for a procedure?

“Before every procedure, we do a check up on the patient that involves education, recommendations, and possible complications. Then we do pre-op exams (ECG or X-rays, for example), take pictures, and have the patient sign an informed consent waiver. We also give them pre-op antibiotics if necessary.” – Dr. Jorge Badilla, Plastic Surgeon “I have a comprehensive consultation with my patients. After a careful examination I give them recommendations and they decide what they would like to do. Finally, we discuss the risks and benefits of surgery. The best practice is to have a great channel of communication and work with a top surgical team, which I do.” – Dr. Chun Chen Lin Yan, Opthalmologist

In your experience, what is the most common concern that patients have prior to their trip?

“Patients are often concerned about recovery time, communication (i.e. the language barrier), the qualifications of the surgeon, and the facility where the surgery or treatment will be done.” – Dr. Chun Chen Lin Yan, Opthalmologist “Patients generally ask questions about price and predictability. Other concerns include the timeframe and sequencing of treatments.” – Dr. Eugenio Brenes, Prosthodontist

Travel can be stressful and medical procedures can cause anxiety. Many of your patients may be dealing with these emotions when they arrive at your clinic. What strategies do you employ to help visiting patients feel confident in your medical abilities and also feel relaxed during their time in Costa Rica?

“We establish a very clear line of communication with the patient. Before they step foot in my office, they will have already talked to us several times on the phone. We establish a link of confidence. Patients that are satisfied with our service also sometimes speak with people that are considering treatment, which can be very helpful.” – Dr. Eugenio Brenes, Prosthodontist “We have a friendly and caring environment at our office and we try to make our patients feel at home. Our doctors are always willing to answer questions that patients may have during the treatment process. There is also a section of our website that lists each dentist’s credentials and resume, which helps reassure patients of our medical abilities.” – Dr. Vinicio Prada, Prosthodontist

What is the biggest misconception that patients have (i.e. time, total cost, etc.)?

“The most serious misconception is that we are an underdeveloped nation and our medical procedures are unsafe and inexpensive. The truth is that we have highly qualified professionals in Costa Rica. The costs for medical procedures are much lower than the U.S., but are still are not a fraction of the cost, like some people think.” – Dr. Chun Chen Lin Yan, Opthalmologist “That a treatment can be done in two or three days. To help with this, we teach the patient about laboratory and healing times. Patients also need help differentiating dentists in Costa Rica. Not all professionals have the same training and not all of the offices use the same equipment.” – Dr. Eugenio Brenes, Prosthodontist

How do you build trust with a foreign patient?

“Each of our dentists builds trust individually with their patient. Our dentist almost act as advisors, offering each patient solutions according to their specific needs and possibilities. Everyone in our office works together to achieve the health, wellness and comfort of our patients.” – Dr. Vinicio Prada, Prosthodontist “Trust is built with honesty. It is gained by showing up on time, having clear communication, and taking the time to explain details or changes.” – Dr. Eugenio Brenes, Prosthodontist

In Conclusion

With rising healthcare costs in the U.S. and Canada, excessive wait times and thorny insurance issues, medical tourism is becoming a safe and viable alternative for many people. Costa Rica’s reputable hospitals and close proximity to North America have helped position it as a leader in medical tourism. Examine your insurance policies and consider combining travel with your procedure. If you do decide to undergo a medical procedure in Costa Rica, you may return home healthier and happier.

P.S. Need to learn more about basic travel insurance and why it's important? Read " Going Abroad? This is Why Travel Insurance is A MUST! " Then, get your personalized quote here .

Don't see what you're looking for?

Trustpilot 5 of 5 rated service

Logo Medical Tourism Resource Guide

Medical Tourism Resource Guide

Affordable Healthcare Worldwide

Medical Tourism Costa Rica

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica - Affordable Medical Procedures in Costa Rica

Located in Central America, and in between North and South America, Costa Rica , known as the “Rich Coast”, is a country with many beautiful beaches and an explosive medical tourism industry.

Costa Rica Flag - Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Their flag has the colors blue, white, and red. The blue represents the oceans, white for peace, and red for the blood fought for their freedom.

Medical tourism in Costa Rica is home to some of the most affordable and reliable medical procedures in the world. In recent years, it has been increasing in popularity due to its low cost and high quality. The top-rated hotels and hospitals in Costa Rica make it a top destination for medical tourism.

Affordable Healthcare in Costa Rica

Not only are the public healthcare facilities equipped with high tech and advanced medical technology, but the costs are also very low compared to what you pay in most countries. The cost of healthcare is about 30% to 40% of what you’d expect to pay in the United States .

The same goes for medicine and prescription as well. You can also expect most of the doctors and medical staff in Costa Rica have proficiency in speaking fluent English.

As for private healthcare in Costa Rica, the cost is a bit more expensive. Some private medical facilities allows you to pay with cash or insurance. For a doctor’s visit, it is about $60 and a specialist ranges from $80 to $100. This might seem like a lot, but this is still a quarter of the average price you pay in the U.S.

Common Medical Tourism Procedures in Costa Rica

Pura Vida , the Spanish word “Pure Life,” is the Costa Rican way of life – similar to Hakuna Matata meaning “no worries”. People in Costa Rica appreciate life and have a positive attitude toward life.

From bariatric surgery to dentistry, there are tons of medical procedures offered in Costa Rica.

  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery
  • Aesthetic procedures (Botox, etc)

Benefits of Costa Rica for Medical Tourists

Costa Rica also benefits from medical tourism due to the influx of tourists, travel, and of course money. According to the Costa Rican Health Chamber, Costa Rica Medical Tourism had over 70,000 tourists in 2016. This brought in an estimated 485 million in revenue, averaging $6,930 per tourist. Here are statistics of the rise of medical tourism in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Medical Tourism Revenue vs. Year

There are many benefits for medical tourists who travel world wide, mainly for the lower cost.

Note : An added bonus of medical tourism in Costa Rica, is most doctors and specialists have had top training and education from the United States and other first world countries. This phenomenon is known as reverse brain drain. From learning and practicing in highly developed countries, it sets a standard of quality that is higher than most medical tourism destinations.

Cost of Medical Procedures in Costa Rica

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica is involved mostly with plastic surgery , as the country has talented, surgeons capable of giving patients an aesthetically pleasing makeover. Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Procedures are also an option for overweight and obese patients, however, the cost of the procedures is higher than destinations like Mexico.

Most medical tourists will fly directly into San Jose, Costa Rica, to explore the beautiful lush lands and the modern city. The following are comparative costs of general, cosmetic and surgical procedures between US hospitals with those of Costa Rica.

Safety Standards and Technology

Clinica Biblica - JCI Hospital in San Jose

Just 2.5 hours flight from Miami, Costa Rica is an ideal location for medical tourism for U.S. patients seeking services abroad. There are also frequent flights from cities in Canada and European countries.

Popular procedures such as bariatric, plastic, and dental are about half price with no wait time. Top physicians and JCI accredited (Joint Commission International) private hospitals make this destination a prime choice for medical tourists.


One of the more popular hospital is Clinica Biblica , a facility located in San Jose. The hospital has a beautiful nature surrounding and is accredited by the JCI (Joint Commission International) . The Hospital Clínica Bíblica provides over 80 types of specialized medical procedures and services.

Hospital Cima San José, Costa Rica - JCI Accredited Hospital - Costa Rica Medical Tourism

Hospital Cima San José is another top-tier hospital that is JCI accredited in Costa Rica. This facility specializes in;

  • Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Dental Procedures
  • Traveling Distance : The traveling distance from the United States and Canada to Costa Rica is close that is why many people choose Costa Rica for medical tourism.
  • Medical Quality : According to the World Health Organization Costa Rician hospitals are similar in quality and care or even equal to those in the United States. Even the medical equipment is as advanced as the United States.
  • Low and Affordable Costs : The prices in Costa Rica is about 20% to 30% of the cost in the United States.
  • Language : In Costa Rica, many top-rated surgeons are proficient english speakers.
  • Insurance Coverage : There are many medical tourism insurance coverage online available. They offer things such as protection from hidden cost, last minute trip cancellations, and many more.
  • Waiting Times : Waiting times in Costa Rica for surgeons is never as complicated as the United States or Canada. It takes only about 2 months of checkup and background check and you are on with your surgery. In the United States or Canada, you have to undergo a really strict background check and the process may take up to a year.
  • Lack of standardization : Costa Rica medical tourism doesn’t really have a standard system or measurement of how good a hospital or surgeon is compared to the Untied States.
  • Lack of liability : Because this is in Costa Rica, the law isn’t the same as in America when things go wrong.

Costa Rica Provinces

  • Alajuela (9,757 km2) is becoming the second biggest city after San Jose. Juan Santamaria International airport (SJO), the primary airport serving San Jose, is in Alajuela.
  • Cartago 3,124 km2
  • Guanacaste 10,141 km2
  • Heredia 2,657 km2
  • Limón 9,189 km2
  • Puntarenas 11,266 km2
  • San Jose (4,966 km2) is the capital and the biggest city in Costa Rica.

National Football Stadium - la Sabana, San Jose

Costa Rica medical tourism offers low and affordable surgery with the same quality as the United States. The best part is that it is also close, making travel easier. Costa Rica is politically stable and has a stable economy.

Costa Ricans are happy people and are very friendly towards visitors from other countries. The country also has a special police force (in white uniform) for tourists called, Policía Turistica.

health tourism costa rica

Exploring Medical Tourism in Costa Rica Benefits

Exploring Medical Tourism in Costa Rica Benefits

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful nature and rich biodiversity. Now, it’s also famous for healthcare. It’s praised by the United Nations for its excellent public healthcare system. This system is among the top 20 worldwide, making it the best in Latin America.

Costa Rica is a leading medical tourism destination . People live to nearly 80 years old here, showing the high quality of healthcare . The country offers affordable medical services . About 30% of residents have private health insurance. Everyone can get care, even with pre-existing conditions. Costa Rica warmly welcomes international patients , changing the way we see global healthcare.

Key Takeaways

  • Costa Rica ranks very high among global healthcare systems. It’s the top in Latin America, earning a high status in international healthcare .
  • With a life expectancy near 80, Costa Rica shows the strength of its Costa Rica healthcare system.
  • About one-third of Costa Ricans also have private health insurance. This makes medical services affordable and widespread .
  • Expats often use both public and private healthcare. They personalize their coverage for quick and specialized care.
  • Costa Rica is not just for nature lovers. It’s also a top choice for medical tourism destination . People come here for effective and high-quality treatments.
  • In Costa Rica healthcare , private hospitals like Clínica Bíblica and CIMA Hospital offer fast and personal care.

Costa Rica’s Emergence as a Medical Tourism Destination

Costa Rica is at the heart of Central American healthcare . It has grown as a key player in medical tourism. It combines international healthcare standards with a strong focus on holistic wellness in Costa Rica . This blend of high-quality and affordable care attracts people from all over the world.

Costa Rica’s healthcare professionals are world-class, with many trained in the US and Europe. This international training meets the high international healthcare standards people expect. Patients can find top-notch care and experience the peace of holistic wellness in Costa Rica .

World rankings consistently praise Costa Rican healthcare. It’s seen as the best in Latin America. People come here for various medical services and find wellness. The beautiful surroundings offer a perfect place for healing and recovery.

Visitors come for the excellent medical care but stay for the holistic healthcare . Costa Rican clinics offer more than just treatments. They follow a belief in treating the whole person. This means combining standard medical care with innovative approaches for holistic wellness in Costa Rica .

Costa Rica leads in Central American healthcare . It offers advanced medical treatments in a healing environment. This balance has made it a top choice for people seeking health and rejuvenation. Costa Rica is a beautiful place to heal both the body and mind.

High-Quality Healthcare at Affordable Prices

Healthcare costs are rising worldwide. This has led many to look at places like Costa Rica for affordable healthcare and cost-effective medical procedures . This country is known for its stunning nature and wildlife. It offers high-quality medical treatments at much lower prices than the United States and Europe.

Affordable Healthcare Facilities

Comparative Cost Analysis

Costa Rica is a great option for expensive medical procedures. Think about the savings on dental implants and bariatric surgery . Here’s a breakdown of the costs to show how much you can save:

Financial Incentives for International Patients

Costa Rica isn’t just about saving money. Green Health Care (GHC) teams up with hospitals to help patients save even more. These hospitals are well-respected and safe. Medical tourism is growing because of these cost benefits. GHC is committed to keeping patients safe, even with today’s travel challenges.

Leading Hospitals and Medical Facilities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a famous destination for medical tourism. It has top medical institutions known for their care and modern facilities. Clinica Biblica and Hospital CIMA Escazu are key players in Costa Rica’s healthcare. They serve local and international patients looking for quality medical treatments.

About 40% of Clinica Biblica’s patients come from other countries. This shows the clinic’s high status as one of Latin America’s top Joint Commission-accredited hospitals. With over 60 specialties, Clinica Biblica attracts roughly 20,000 medical tourists to Costa Rica every year.

Hospital CIMA Escazu is known for excellent care with a personal touch. The private healthcare it offers makes up about 25.60% of Costa Rica’s total health spending. This balance between private and public healthcare ensures services are available to everyone.

Global Healthcare Connections says medical costs can be 40-70% lower, showing great value without losing quality. Facilities like Clinica Biblica and Hospital CIMA Escazu make safety a priority, especially with COVID-19. Their efforts keep patients safe during the global pandemic.

Costa Rica is praised for its healthcare system by the World Health Organization, ranking it above the United States.

The collaboration between CAJA Costarricense de Seguro Social and the private sector means Costa Rica has 15 public and 4 private hospitals. This is great for immediate and specialized treatments. This partnership leads to 348 major projects from 2021-2030, showing a commitment to better healthcare infrastructure.

Costa Rica offers an all-around medical experience. Its renowned healthcare services, natural beauty, and hospitality make Clinica Biblica and Hospital CIMA Escazu top medical facilities. They provide a place where healing happens naturally in a tropical setting.

Accredited Medical Institutions and International Standards

Costa Rica is becoming a top spot for medical tourism. This is because of its focus on global healthcare accreditation . The country is proud of its JCI-accredited hospitals . These hospitals meet international medical standards , ensuring safety and quality care.

JCI-Accredited Hospital in Costa Rica

Emphasis on Accreditation by Global Organizations

For Costa Rica, accreditation is like a worldwide nod of approval. It comes from the Joint Commission International (JCI). This is a big deal in healthcare. CIMA Hospital and Clinica Bibilica are among those with JCI certification. They meet international healthcare standards .

Commitment to International Healthcare Protocols

Costa Rica’s hospitals are serious about meeting certification standards. It’s not just for show. They adhere to the highest safety, cleanliness, and care protocols. This commitment ensures a top-notch health tourism experience, by global healthcare accreditation benchmarks.

Medical Tourism in Costa Rica: Popular Procedures and Treatments

Costa Rica is a hotspot for medical tourism , drawing people from everywhere. Cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica is getting more popular, making up 12% of medical visits. Meanwhile, advanced dentistry is the top reason people visit, with 36% looking for dental care.

Advanced dentistry in Costa Rica boasts modern facilities and technology. Treatments like dental implants and cosmetic dentistry are led by top dental specialists. This gives people trust in their care.

Bariatric treatment and cardiology services are also popular among visitors. Costa Rica offers a range of treatments, from weight loss surgeries to heart procedures. This is thanks to its excellent medical care system.

  • 36% of medical tourists receive dental procedures annually
  • 22% opt for elective surgeries, including cosmetic surgeries
  • 14% are drawn by other medical treatments, such as cardiology
  • Orthopedic surgeries top the lists of medical treatments

In 2009, around 30,000 medical tourists came to Costa Rica. This number was expected to rise by 10% the next year. Costa Rica is becoming a top choice in medical tourism. The lower costs compared to the U.S. are a major reason why people choose Costa Rica for medical care.

Costa Rica offers high-quality cosmetic surgery , advanced dentistry , bariatric treatment , and cardiology services . Its beautiful nature makes it a perfect place to recover. This makes it a favorite spot for medical tourists worldwide.

The Holistic Approach to Healing in Costa Rica

Wellness tourism in Costa Rica combines traditional medical care with nature and alternative therapies. Patients enjoy the lush environment after treatment. This promotes recovery and showcases the vibrant biodiversity.

Yoga retreats are a key part of this wellness journey. They provide a place for both physical and spiritual healing. These retreats and spa treatments with local ingredients blend modern wellness with traditions.

Holistic Healing Excursions in Costa Rica

Incorporating Nature and Wellness into Recovery

Wellness tourism believes in the healing power of Costa Rica’s serene landscapes. This tranquility helps reduce stress. It makes well-being and recovery after spa treatments better.

Integrative Medicine and Alternative Therapies

Costa Rica is embracing integrative medicine by combining alternative therapies with standard care. Acupuncture and aromatherapy are now part of healthcare. This shows a move towards a holistic approach to healing.

Patient Experience and Satisfaction in Costa Rican Healthcare

In Costa Rica, improving patient care quality is key. This country is a big player in global health. They see a clear link between healthcare satisfaction and the success of treatments. So, they combine top-notch healthcare with a personal touch.

People coming to Costa Rica for healthcare feel very well taken care of. This high level of international patient experience isn’t by chance. It’s because Costa Rica’s healthcare system works hard to make every patient feel important and cared for.

International Patient Care

Costa Rica is working on projects to improve health and infrastructure. These efforts show how much they care about their people and those coming for medical help:

Investments like the DPL loans of USD 500 million highlight Costa Rica’s dedication to healthcare. This ensures great care for both locals and international visitors.

By investing in health and infrastructure, Costa Rica is setting a new standard. It’s showing how to merge patient care quality , international patient experience , and healthcare satisfaction . This approach is changing global healthcare for the better.

Language and Communication: Catering to an International Clientele

Costa Rica is becoming a top destination for medical tourism because it tackles language issues head-on. This makes communication in medical tourism much better. Having English-speaking doctors in Costa Rica and multilingual healthcare staff is key to providing great medical care to people from other countries.

Multilingual Medical Personnel

Costa Rica knows talking well with patients is critical in healthcare. So, they have medical teams that can speak many languages. This multilingual healthcare staff builds trust with patients and makes sure everyone understands their medical care.

Overcoming Language Barriers in Healthcare

Healthcare places in Costa Rica work hard to welcome everyone. They make sure to have English-speaking doctors ready to help. This reduces worry for English-speaking patients and places Costa Rica at the forefront of industry trends , making it a favorite among medical tourists.

Communication in Medical Tourism

Legal Framework and Patient Rights in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a top choice for medical tourism because of its strong legal protections for patients. These laws ensure international patients are well-protected and promote clear healthcare practices. The country takes great care to respect and protect the rights of all patients.

Understanding the Legal Protections for Patients

In Costa Rica, patients have comprehensive rights including informed consent and strict privacy. These rights help build trust with the healthcare system. They show that good care and patient safety are key priorities.

Navigating Medical Malpractice and Liability Laws

The country’s medical malpractice laws are central to its healthcare system, offering a way for patients to respond to negligence. These laws stress the responsibility of healthcare providers and protect patient interests. They help patients feel safe about choosing healthcare services in Costa Rica.

International Patient Legal Protection

At Clínica Bíblica, about 40% of patients come from abroad, many from the US. These patients are covered by strict medical malpractice laws . This ensures high- quality healthcare . Below, there’s a table with facts that explain why Costa Rica is a popular spot for medical tourists:

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Green Health Care (GHC) is focusing on care and safety for international patients. They’re working hard to keep Costa Rica a top choice for safe healthcare.

Costa Rica remains dedicated to promoting patient safety and legal standards. This commitment makes it a preferred healthcare destination worldwide.

Recovery and Recuperation in a Tropical Paradise

The healthcare scene is changing worldwide. Medical tourism is becoming a part of it. Places like Costa Rica are now peaceful spots for post-procedure recovery . This change is making patient care better. It also changes what we think a recuperation environment should be. Tropical wellness and advanced medical treatments are a perfect mix. This combo attracts those looking to heal both physically and mentally.

In Costa Rica, you’ll find beautiful beaches and lush rainforests. This makes for a unique healing experience. The beauty of this place helps in the recovery process. Being in such a calming place helps heal the mind and body. Costa Rica takes health care further than just medical skills. It includes the climate and the natural surroundings in the healing process.

The medical tourism sector in this quiet place is growing. This is because more people around the world want these health services. The industry had a value of USD 10.1 billion back in 2020. It’s expected to grow fast, by 12.1% from 2021 to 2027. The reasons for this growth are many. They include the cost, quality of healthcare, and the chance to enjoy a vacation in a tropical place. In fact, 74% of patients prefer using a medical tourism facilitator. They like having help planning their healthcare journey.

Costa Rica’s healthcare is top-notch. It’s often rated higher than the US and Canada. The quality and lower cost attract many medical tourists. Canadians are drawn by shorter wait times. They also like that some services not covered at home are available here.

But, the medical tourism field has its challenges. One issue is the lack of research on its impact in OECD countries. There’s also a need for more data on trade in health services. These challenges are important. We need to understand them to see how medical tourism really affects the world.

Costa Rica offers the best of both worlds. It has excellent medical services and a beautiful place to recover. It’s a top choice for those seeking good care, affordability, and natural beauty. This makes it the perfect spot for recovering after surgery.

Tropical Wellness Recuperation Environment

Strategic Geographic Location and Ease of Travel

Travel to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is now an accessible medical tourism destination . It is known for its easy access and friendly experience for people needing healthcare away from home. Its location and well-developed travel networks make the trip easy, especially for those coming from North America .

Proximity to North America and Key Destinations

Being close to North America, travel to Costa Rica is easy for medical treatments. There are many direct flights and the travel time is short. This makes Costa Rica a great place for a medical visit plus enjoying a tropical vacation.

Travel Infrastructure Supporting Medical Tourism

Costa Rica works hard to be a top place for medical tourism. Visitors give it great reviews. They praise its efforts to offer good service and experiences.

  • Customers love the excellent service, showing Costa Rica’s focus on personalized travel planning and happiness.
  • The easy transportation and helpful local support make visitors feel comfortable and at ease throughout their stay.
  • Medical centers in Costa Rica work with travelers’ schedules. This flexible approach meets the various needs of international visitors.

The Government’s policies also help make Costa Rica a welcoming place for health service investments. This focus on welcoming foreign investment and healthcare innovation means visitors enjoy top-notch services. The main goal is to offer healthcare that’s both excellent and easy to access.

Costa Rica is a top spot for medical tourism. It offers excellent post-treatment relaxation and top-notch healthcare. Important elements like financial support and sustainable energy are key. These efforts show the country’s focus on health and the environment.

With an investment over USD 1300 million, including a recent USD 500 million for eco-friendly improvements, Costa Rica is serious about its role. The country wants to be known for both health and environmental care.

People come to Costa Rica for high-quality, yet affordable medical care. They combine treatments like dental work and surgery with a peaceful recovery. The country’s use of beautiful landscapes helps in healing.

Costa Rica’s healthcare meets global standards, shown by Joint Commission International accreditations. This tells international visitors they’re getting the best care.

In Costa Rica, affordable costs meet world-class healthcare. The country is forward-thinking, especially in environmental and health initiatives. This approach puts Costa Rica at the forefront of medical tourism.

The rise in medical tourism sees Costa Rica leading with its mix of value and quality. Their efforts in maintaining high standards are talked about worldwide. This makes Costa Rica a go-to for people needing healthcare abroad.

What are some benefits of exploring medical tourism in Costa Rica?

How has costa rica emerged as a medical tourism destination, can you provide a cost comparison for medical procedures in costa rica versus the united states, are there financial incentives for international patients in costa rica, what are some top medical institutions for medical tourists in costa rica, what is the importance of global accreditation for costa rican medical facilities, what are some of the popular procedures and treatments in costa rican medical tourism, how does costa rica incorporate nature and wellness into the recovery process, how do costa rican medical facilities ensure quality patient experience and satisfaction, what measures are in place in costa rican healthcare to assist patients who don’t speak spanish, what legal protections are available for patients in costa rica, how does costa rica ensure easy travel and accessibility for medical tourists, source links.

  • FDI to Costa Rica.pdf

Article by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap)

See If You Qualify For Residency Today!

health tourism costa rica

USA/Costa Rica

8am-6pm (CST)

+1 877-304-5806

Medical Tourism Logo


Speak to a professional now., we are with you every step of the way, solutions for every budget, all in savings up to 60%, the best doctors chosen by patients/clients, we provide aftercare making sure you are never alone.

ecg icon

Connecting Premium Services to you


Experience Medical Tourism Costa Rica team of cardiologists providing top-notch care for heart-related conditions.



Whether you’re dealing with arthritis, fractures, sports injuries, or joint replacements, we have the expertise.


Weight Loss

Achieve your weight loss goals with our personalized programs, guiding you through your weight loss journey.


Discover the Art of Dentistry from our highly skilled dentists dedicated to  the highest level of dental care.


Our expert team is here to guide you on your personal  journey to parenthood to start a family or expand it.


Cosmetic Surgery

Experience the transformative power of cosmetic surgery from a wide range of enhancing cosmetic procedures.

Personalized Attention

Educated professionals, free consultations, premium low cost services, we speak english & spanish, located in the central valley.

kisspng park avenue property management business human res black woman 5abd43dc3f9726.9035119215223531162605

Medical Tourism Costa Rica Stats

Us cost comparison, saving an average of 60%, 36th ranked globally according to who (above the usa), 6-8% (average) of all visits to costa rica are medical tourists, medical tourists are coming to costa rica each year, types of medical professionals we work with.

Whether you’re seeking the skills of renowned cardiologists, proficient orthopedic specialists, compassionate weight loss experts, talented dentists, experienced fertility specialists, or skilled cosmetic surgeons, our dedicated Medical Tourism Costa Rica team is here to provide you with unparalleled care. With personalized attention and meticulous guidance, we prioritize your well-being above all else.

Screenshot 2023 12 27 at 14.13.11


Screenshot 2023 12 27 at 14.14.22


Screenshot 2023 12 27 at 14.15.44


Screenshot 2023 12 27 at 14.01.45


Screenshot 2023 12 27 at 14.09.46


Professional health care services, skilled teams of doctors, first class facilities & equipment.


Search our Growing Community

Discover the myriad benefits of Medical Tourism Costa Rica as you become a valued member of our ever-growing community. Our world-class doctors, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting-edge equipment await you. Stay up to date with the latest industry news through our informative blog and explore our chat, live streams and more to kickstart your healthcare journey effectively.

Thank you Medical Tourism CR

I have been amazed by the quality of care and attention I received as a patient. The medical professionals here truly understand the importance of providing personalized and compassionate treatment. I felt completely at ease knowing that I was in capable hands. I can confidently say that this medical facility is top-notch and I highly recommend it to anyone in need of exceptional healthcare. ( Susan Davis, New York)

Thankyou Medical Tourism CR

Latest News From Our Blog

Top 5 Amazing Facts about Dental Implants Costa Rica: Enhance Your Smile and Pave the Way for a Healthier You!

Top 5 Amazing Facts about Dental Implants Costa Rica: Enhance Your Smile and Pave the Way for a Healthier You!

Jan 10, 2024

Indeed, the San José-based Meza Dental Care clinic, for instance, features a team of specialists, all of whom are accredited by the prestigious American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Fact 3: The Convenience of Dental Treatment in Costa Rica Beyond cost and quality,...

Ultimate Medical Tourism Destinations: The Top 10 Countries for Medical Tourism in 2024!

Ultimate Medical Tourism Destinations: The Top 10 Countries for Medical Tourism in 2024!

Embracing the Future of Healthcare: A Deep Dive into Medical Tourism in 2024 Tucked away in the crossroads of globalization and healthcare, we find an ever-growing industry — medical tourism. Unknown to many, this isn't just about vacationing abroad; it's about...

Medical Tourism Guide in Costa Rica

Medical Tourism Guide in Costa Rica

Jan 8, 2024

Here is a glimpse into the journeys of individuals who traveled across borders, entrusting their health and wellbeing to Costa Rica, and left with nothing but immense satisfaction and gratitude. Janet's Story: Cosmetic Surgery in Costa Rica Janet, a 45-year-old woman...

Cookies on GOV.UK

We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.

We also use cookies set by other sites to help us deliver content from their services.

You have accepted additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

health tourism costa rica

Register to vote Register by 18 June to vote in the General Election on 4 July.

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
  • Foreign travel advice

Before you travel check that: 

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need 
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation 

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number 

Call 911 and ask for an ambulance. 

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip check: 

  • the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Costa Rica guide  
  • where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page


Prescriptions from the UK cannot be used locally. To find a pharmacy (‘farmacia’) look for one of the big national chains such as Farmacia Fischel, Farmacia Sucre, FarmaValue, Farmacia Saba, or Farmacia Santa Lucia, among others; a quick search online should help you to identify the nearest one open. 

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro . 

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad .

Healthcare facilities in Costa Rica  

Medical care in Costa Rica is of a generally high standard. Ambulance services in remote areas may vary. Only initial emergency medical treatment is available without charge for visitors. Subsequent treatment will be charged. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Costa Rica .

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health . There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro . 

Related content

Is this page useful.

  • Yes this page is useful
  • No this page is not useful

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. Please fill in this survey (opens in a new tab) .

  • All Destinations
  • National Parks
  • The Pacific


  • Cost of Living
  • Costa Rica Education
  • Health Care
  • Work in Costa Rica
  • Residency Overview
  • Restaurants
  • 15 Day Weather Forecast
  • Weather Regions
  • Dry Season vs Wet Season
  • Holiday & Festivals
  • National Flag
  • Customs & Etiquette

Real Estate

  • Featured Properties
  • Local Real Estate
  • Before you buy
  • Real Estate FAQs
  • Find my Property
  • Find my Rental
  • Tres Leches
  • Rice with Chicken
  • Cheese Beans Turnover
  • Gallo Pinto
  • Costa Rican Food
  • Before Doing Business in Costa Rica
  • Setting up a Corporation
  • Demographics
  • Economic Indicators
  • Jun. 29-Jun. 29 Saints Peter and Paul Day

Travel Blog

  • My First Cup of Coffee
  • Top Six Extra Things to Pack on Your Next Trip Abroad
  • Ten Things to do on the beach in Manuel Antonio
  • Eating Alone in Costa Rica
  • Nosara Yoga: Switching the Channel
  • Riding a bus to Sierpe in Costa Rica
  • High speeds, high waves, high in the air over Manuel Antonio
  • In-shore fishing off the coast of Manuel Antonio
  • Enjoying Puerto Viejo on $28 a day
  • How conservation saved Tortuguero

Living in Costa Rica Blog

  • Protecting the kinkajous in Manuel Antonio
  • Learning Spanish at Rancho Margot
  • Backyard Surf Series on Hermosa Beach
  • Life in the Monteverde Countryside
  • Border Crossing: Nicaragua by Boat
  • The Top 5 Reasons I love living in Tamarindo
  • A Look Back: Tamarindo, Six Months Later
  • Fruit of the Month: Cas
  • E-Voting Info for American Expats
  • Naturalized Costa Rican Citizenship by Marriage
  • Red Eyed Tree Frogs
  • White-faced Monkeys
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Leatherback Sea Turtles


  • 6 Day Best of Activities
  • 10 Day Nature Lovers
  • 15 Day Best of Destinations
  • 12 Day Honeymoon
  • 5 Best Waterfalls
  • Spectacular Beaches
  • Best of Activities
  • Best Kept Secrets
  • Best of Destinations
  • Sky Trek Canopy Tour
  • Celeste River Waterfall
  • Superman Canopy Tour
  • Tortuguero Canal Tour
  • Journey to Cocos Island

Medical Tourism

  • Dental Care
  • Book a Medical Vacation with Us
  • Cosmetic Surgery

health tourism costa rica

Costa Rica is internationally recognized as a top-notch medical tourism destination.

Quality Health Care at a Price You Can Afford

Now you can finally get that procedure you’ve always dreamed of at an exceptionally reasonable price. With a wealth of skilled surgeons and state-of-the-art medical facilities, Costa Rica is internationally recognized as a top-notch medical tourism destination. Find out how you can benefit from some of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world, without breaking the bank. 

Why Costa Rica?

With its beautiful scenery, friendly locals and temperate climate, Costa Rica has long attracted travelers in search of adventure and relaxation. What many are quickly realizing is that Costa Rica is much more than an eco-tourism destination. It is also home to highly trained physicians that provide quality health care at a fraction of the cost compared to the United States and Canada.

Each year a growing number of tourists visit Costa Rica to receive cosmetic surgery on what have been dubbed "medical vacations." In an era of rising health care costs and decreased medical coverage, the concept of combining surgery with travel has taken off.

The last decade has seen a boom in the health tourism sector in Costa Rica, especially in the area of plastic surgery. The country’s excellent reputation is directly linked to the professionalism of its internationally-trained doctors and array of cost-effective procedures. In fact, cosmetic surgery is so affordable that the total cost of a medical vacation in Costa Rica including airfare, accommodations and a few days of sightseeing is often far less than the procedure alone would cost in the United States. Plastic surgeries cost a third or even a fourth of what they do in the U.S., without compromising quality or results.

Modern Hospitals & High Standards of Care

Over a million Americans partake in medical vacations every year, and thousands are drawn to Costa Rica’s modern hospitals and private clinics which have Board Certified surgeons, many professionally trained in North America or Europe. They offer patients a variety of cosmetic surgery procedures using the latest technology, at affordable prices.

A face lift in Costa Rica costs around $3, 000 while the same procedure in the States costs anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000. International hospitals are staffed with fully certified bilingual surgeons that cater to foreigners seeking superior medical care. Additionally, the Costa Rica Board of Plastic Surgery offers prospective clients a list of certified and credentialed physicians who are members of the association.

Board Certified Surgeons

Our cosmetic surgeons are recognized for their commitment to cutting-edge techniques in all cosmetic surgery procedures. They have received extensive training in Costa Rica, North America and Europe. Most have been in practice for over a decade and specialize in procedures ranging from body contouring and breast reconstruction to brow and face lifts. Our doctors were some of the first to practice the SmartLipo procedure in Central America, beginning in 2005. They offer personalized follow-up care, visiting patients regularly after surgery to review progress and address any concerns. The surgery center has top-of-the-line facilities, including modern recovery rooms, a spa and wonderful post-operative care. 

Best Hotel Deals in Costa Rica!

Book medical packages.

Please provide the following information so we can assist you. (*) denotes required information.

Estimated Arrival Date

Procedures you are interested in ...

  • Contact Info
  • Testimonials & Reviews
  • Advertise with Us!

Signup for our newsletter

Stay in touch and get the inside scoop.

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions

© 1996-2024, Inc. All rights reserved.

Our Response to COVID-19 →

Medical Tourism

The allure of costa rican dental care: unveiling the top treatments and procedures for dental tourists.

health tourism costa rica

The Allure of Costa Rican Dental Care: Top Treatments and Procedures for Dental Tourists

Costa Rica: A Dental Tourism Haven

Costa Rica has emerged as a leading destination for dental tourism, attracting thousands of patients from across the globe seeking high-quality dental care at affordable prices. The country's dental clinics and professionals have garnered international attention for their exceptional skills, advanced technology, and adherence to stringent safety and quality standards. In addition, the natural beauty and cultural charm of Costa Rica make it an ideal destination for those looking to combine dental care with an unforgettable vacation.

Top Dental Treatments and Procedures in Costa Rica

The following are some of the most popular dental treatments and procedures sought by dental tourists in Costa Rica:

  • Dental Implants: Dental implants are a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth. Costa Rican dental clinics offer a wide range of implant options, including traditional implants, mini dental implants, and All-on-4 implants. With state-of-the-art technology and experienced dental professionals, patients can expect excellent results at a fraction of the cost of treatment in their home countries.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry: Costa Rica is well-known for its high-quality cosmetic dentistry services, including porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, and dental bonding. These procedures help patients achieve a more attractive and confident smile, often at significantly lower prices compared to North America and Europe.
  • Full Mouth Restorations: Full mouth restorations, also known as full mouth reconstructions, involve multiple dental procedures to restore the function and aesthetics of a patient's teeth and gums. This comprehensive treatment approach may include dental implants, crowns, bridges, and periodontal treatments, depending on the patient's specific needs.
  • Crowns and Bridges: Dental crowns and bridges are prosthetic devices used to restore damaged or missing teeth. Costa Rican dental clinics offer a variety of materials for crowns and bridges, such as porcelain, zirconia, and metal alloys, ensuring patients have access to the best options for their unique requirements.
  • Root Canal Treatments: Root canal treatments, or endodontic therapy, are necessary when the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed. Costa Rican dental professionals are skilled in performing this procedure, utilizing advanced technology and techniques to minimize patient discomfort and ensure successful outcomes.
  • Orthodontics: Orthodontic treatments in Costa Rica, including traditional braces and clear aligners, are popular among dental tourists due to their affordability and high-quality care. With a range of options available, patients can achieve a straighter, more attractive smile without breaking the bank.
  • Periodontal Treatments: Periodontal treatments address issues related to the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Costa Rican dental clinics offer a range of treatments from non-surgical procedures such as scaling and root planning to surgical treatments like gum grafting and guided tissue regeneration. These services help patients maintain optimal oral health and prevent further complications.
  • Dentures: Costa Rican dental clinics provide a variety of denture options, including full and partial dentures, as well as implant-supported dentures. Patients can expect high-quality, custom-made dentures that offer enhanced comfort, function, and aesthetics at a more affordable price than in their home countries.
  • Oral Surgery: Oral surgery procedures, such as wisdom tooth extractions, dental implants, and corrective jaw surgery, are performed by highly skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Costa Rica. Patients can expect excellent care, advanced surgical techniques, and state-of-the-art facilities when undergoing oral surgery in the country.

The Role of Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) in Costa Rica's Dental Tourism Industry

The Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) program is instrumental in supporting the growth and success of Costa Rica's dental tourism industry by ensuring that dental clinics and hospitals adhere to high standards of care and cater to the unique needs of international patients. The GHA offers gap analysis for hospitals, as well as training and accreditation services, which can help hospitals and dental clinics develop their international patient departments.

Dental tourists can look for GHA-accredited facilities as a sign of a clinic's commitment to patient safety, quality care, and continuous improvement. The GHA accreditation provides dental tourists with the assurance they need when selecting a dental provider abroad, fostering trust and confidence in Costa Rica's dental care offerings.

Costa Rica's dental care offerings have become increasingly popular among dental tourists, thanks to the country's skilled dental professionals, advanced technology, and adherence to international safety and quality standards. The wide range of top treatments and procedures available at affordable prices makes Costa Rica an attractive destination for those seeking high-quality dental care combined with a tropical vacation.

Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) plays a crucial role in maintaining high standards of care and building trust among international patients seeking dental treatment in Costa Rica. The GHA's gap analysis for hospitals, along with training and accreditation services, can help dental clinics and hospitals develop international patient departments that cater to the unique needs of dental tourists.

To receive a free quote please click on the link: Patients are advised to seek hospitals that are accredited by Global Healthcare and only work with medical tourism facilitators who are certified by Global Healthcare Accreditation or who have undergone certification from the Certified Medical Travel Professionals (CMTP). This ensures that the highest standards in the industry are met. Click the link to check out hospitals accredited by the Global Healthcare Accreditation:

It is recommended that consumers do not share their personal and confidential information on random medical tourism platforms as they may not be secure. Consumers must be cautious when disclosing their private information as some organizations may not protect their privacy and could misuse their information. Additionally, there are agencies that may prioritize their commissions over the well-being of the patients. Consumers should avoid choosing the cheapest price and instead make a thorough comparison across multiple facilitators to make an informed decision.

Unveiling the Power of Social Media Marketing in Medical Tourism

Korea: turning the focus to an emerging global leader in medical tourism, exploring the surge of cosmetic tourism: trends and considerations in aesthetic procedures abroad, holistic healing: exploring integrative medicine and wellness retreats, meeting the surge: the growing demand for knee replacement surgeries and advances in the field, south korea, a medical tourism leader pioneering the future of medicine  , surgical solutions for obesity and weight management ~ a team effort, south korea ~ stepping into the spotlight in global healthcare, south africa ~ making great strides in healthcare, continue reading, best countries for stomach cancer treatment: a global perspective, ponderas academic hospital: elevating medical tourism with jci accreditation and personalized care, featured reading, guide to choosing korea for medical travel, transforming healthcare through innovation: ceo spotlight interview with matthew a. love, medical tourism magazine.

The Medical Tourism Magazine (MTM), known as the “voice” of the medical tourism industry, provides members and key industry experts with the opportunity to share important developments, initiatives, themes, topics and trends that make the medical tourism industry the booming market it is today.

health tourism costa rica

Is Costa Rica Safe To Visit?

C osta Rica is a quaint country within Central America that borders Nicaragua and Panama. Although many travelers mistake it for one, Costa Rica is technically not an island. On the west side of the country is the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea is located on the east. Costa Rica is an ideal location with a tropical climate and incredible natural beauty, alongside thriving biodiversity and vast landscapes that are quite impressive. This mountainous country is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

Travelers visiting the country will not have a dull moment. There is plenty for travelers to do in Costa Rica. Some of the top tourist attractions in the country include the Nicoya Peninsula, Ecotermales Hot Springs, Manuel Antonio National Park and Arenal Volcano. There are countless other natural attractions that travelers enjoy exploring. Although a lot of Costa Rica’s most popular attractions are naturally made, the country has metropolitan areas as well. Safety in metro areas can be somewhat questionable. This is especially true in situations where travelers face unfamiliar environments abroad. To establish whether or not Costa Rica is safe , we compiled all the important information on the country for potential visitors.

Best Travel Advisories

An important factor of traveling abroad safely is having information on the status of a potential travel destination. Travelers that are unsure about the safety level of their upcoming trip location should do their research. Seeking out reputable resources is wise so that travelers stay well informed. These are the top organizations that provide up to date safety information on travel destinations.

Crime Safety

The U.S. Department of State provides a well updated travel advisory. It has important information regarding the general safety of different countries and their regions. Costa Rica, for example, is categorized by the department of state as a level two destination. This means that travelers should exercise increased caution when traveling there. This caution is due to crime in the country. The types of crime are described in the safety and security portion of the travel advisory. Costa Rica’s tourism website is a good place to start for travelers with concerns for their safety. There travelers will find information about tourism and safety. To access the most secure information, online platforms like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are appropriate. The World Factbook on the CIA’s website describes the country’s history, U.S. Embassy contact info , local customs and travel safety tips. These pieces of information could offer travelers an opportunity to secure a safer environment while traveling.

Health Safety

Health safety is just one part of a travel destination’s overall safety level. But personal health is incredibly important for all travelers. This is especially true when tourists are traveling to a particular destination for the first time. It is important for travelers to stay informed about their potential travel destination and prepare accordingly. There are different online platforms that provide helpful information concerning the health status of locations abroad.

One of the top resources for travelers is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s traveler’s health page presents travel health notices, available medications, preventable illnesses and specialized travel tips for particular countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) is another reputable resource that will help travelers assess the health safety of their potential travel destination. On Costa Rica’s official country webpage, travelers can find a profile for the destination, location specific travel advice and health statistics. There is even contact information for the WHO offices in Costa Rica.

Is Costa Rica Safe for Tourists and Solo Travelers?

Yes, Costa Rica is a relatively safe destination for travelers. It is pretty well known by the tourism community as a safe country for solo and family travel. The country is considered secure. Technically Costa Rica is among the few countries in the world without an active army. The money that does not go to the military is for public healthcare and education. This serves as a testament to the safety level of Costa Rica. But that does not mean that crime does not occur in the Central American country.

Costa Rica does experience some crime, even though the majority of tourists feel safe there. Tourists are not disproportionately impacted by crimes in the country, but crimes do occur mostly in populated areas. Some of these may include areas frequented by tourists. The most common crimes in Costa Rica impacting tourists are petty. These include pickpocketing and theft. Generally, travelers that exercise basic travel precautions avoid being targeted by criminals.

How to Stay Safe in Costa Rica

Exercising a baseline of travel safety precautions is a wise way for travelers to secure their safety. Some of the basic precautions include staying alert in crowded areas, never leaving valuables unattended, maintaining awareness and avoiding isolated or poorly lit areas. It is also important for travelers to know the contact information of local emergency services. This ensures that they are well informed of precautionary and preventive measures that may impact their overall safety abroad.

Travelers often rely on public transportation while abroad. In Costa Rica, the bus system is the most common way that both locals and visitors get around. So, it is important to know the best ways to stay safe on public transport while in unfamiliar surroundings. Travelers should at the very least be sure to stay alert while in public spaces, secure their personal belongings at their accommodation and avoid flaunting valuables or expensive things. Additional security measures while riding public transportation in Costa Rica include verifying driver’s certifications and confirming fares before entering vehicles.

Where to Stay

Costa Rica is quite vast and overall safe, so travelers have plenty of options for where to stay . But there are some options that stand out as the top selections for travelers. Tamarindo, Drake Bay and Atenas are some of the safest places for travelers to stay in. Tamarindo is located on the Pacific coast and is a popular destination in Costa Rica. Despite its popularity, Tamarindo does not have swarms of tourists in the area. The town is popular for water-sports, nightlife and culinary experiences. Drake Bay is a southwestern coastal area that offers travelers a family friendly environment. The slight privacy and peaceful ambiance of Drake Bay make it one of the safest areas of Costa Rica. Atenas is another option for travelers that stands out due to its tranquility. This small town is considered to be one of the safest areas for families or travelers that prefer to be out of all the hustle and bustle.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Costa Rica is dependent on the preferences of travelers but should be considerate of the weather conditions. The weather varies by region, but travelers can premeditate the weather conditions with forecasts before their trip. The dry season is the most popular season due to the pleasant weather. From around December to April travelers can enjoy the most ideal amount of sunshine. The characteristics of the dry season also mean that travelers should expect crowds and higher prices. If travelers do not mind rain or warmer temperatures, visiting in the rainy season or during summer may be best. The rainy season is between May and November and the highest temperatures occur during June and July.

People Also Ask

Is Costa Rica safe to live in? Yes, Costa Rica is actually one of the safest countries in Central America to live in.

Are tourists safe in Costa Rica? Tourists are perfectly safe while in Costa Rica as long as they exercise some basic travel safety precautions.

Costa Rica is a safe destination with plenty to offer travelers. Learn more about the extraordinary destination. pictured: an aerial view of the lush lands of Costa Rica during sunset

Regenerative Tourism and Mental Health: The Clean Wave Foundation, Costa Rica

  • Conference paper
  • Open Access
  • First Online: 01 June 2024
  • Cite this conference paper

You have full access to this open access conference paper

health tourism costa rica

  • Michele Thornton   ORCID: 4 , 4 ,
  • Marty Bhatia 5 &
  • Carin Silkaitis 6  

Part of the book series: Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics ((SPBE))

Included in the following conference series:

  • The International Conference on Strategic Innovative Marketing and Tourism

Rising mental health needs combined with barriers in access to care has individuals seeking new approaches to accessing care and improving their overall sense of well-being. Intentional forms of tourism, particularly nature-based, and regenerative tourism may have a role to play as an opportunity to address this growing need in a way that traditional efforts to address mental health may be lacking. While studies have begun to document the physical health, mental health and perceptions of well-being impacts of nature-based, sustainable or ecotourism they are just beginning to explore this with regards to regenerative tourism. Regenerative tourism, is slightly more nuanced, and is described as “leaving the place behind better than before.” A hallmark of a sound regenerative tourism model, is that it emerges from within the community, and is often tied to a local community organization doing the ongoing work that spearheads the practice. This paper employs grounded theory to proposes a new model linking regenerative tourism to well-being and documents a qualitative study conducted in the Spring of 2023 with a regenerative based organization (The Clean Wave Foundation)—that connects individuals with beach and underwater clean-up events across Costa Rica. Key participants (n = 12) discuss their experiences, personal well-being and community impacts in a semi-structured interview format. Community organizations, economic development agencies, the tourism industry and scholars in marketing and public health will all find benefit in this work.

You have full access to this open access chapter,  Download conference paper PDF

  • Regenerative tourism
  • Mental health tourism

1 Introduction

During and following the COVID-19 pandemic, the share of adults reporting symptoms related to anxiety and/or depressive disorder has been on the rise [ 1 ]. With incidence increasing and growing barriers in access to care, including demand exceeding provider supply—individuals are seeking new approaches to address their mental health needs and improve their general well-being. Intentional forms of tourism, particularly nature-based, and regenerative tourism may have a role to play as an opportunity to address this rising need in a way that traditional efforts to address mental health may be lacking [ 2 ]. While studies have begun to document the physical health, mental health and perceptions of well-being impacts of nature-based, sustainable or ecotourism [ 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ], they are just beginning to explore this with regards to regenerative tourism. Regenerative tourism, is slightly more nuanced, and is described as “leaving the place behind better than before [ 7 ].

Regenerative Tourism is an innovative approach that proactively improves local economies and enriches visitor experiences while simultaneously safeguarding the natural environment and being responsive to residents’ concerns and desires. This approach integrates tourism practices within local communities and addresses multifaceted issues such as climate change, pollution, marine debris, urbanization, justice, and inequality. Regenerative Tourism specifically evolves from Indigenous perspectives and known ecological knowledge (as well as Western science), and in this way has emerged as a practice aiming to improve both the visitor experience and the social/ecological systems in areas where tourism is an economic driver [ 8 ]. A key feature of a robust Regenerative Tourism model, is its organic development within the community, often facilitated by local community organizations committed to guiding the practice.

This paper proposes a new model linking regenerative tourism to well-being and documents a qualitative study conducted in the Spring of 2023 with a regenerative based organization (The Clean Wave Foundation)—that connects individuals with clean-up events across Costa Rica. While The Clean Wave’s main base of volunteers are locally based, participation from tourists, students, and expats has expanded their reach and allowed the organization to evolve.

1.1 Setting

Costa Rica, long seen as a “green republic,” known for ecotourism, sustainable practices, is an optimal setting in which to explore the impacts of regenerative tourism [ 9 ]. Further, Costa Rica ranks within the top 10 destinations for medical tourism in the world for individuals seeking healing in a beautiful, tropical setting. Medical tourists who traveled to Costa Rica were also found to be more likely to maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts, than those who traveled elsewhere [ 10 ]. The Clean Wave was started in 2017, by a small group of local volunteers committed to cleaning up plastic and debris along the beaches of Tamarindo in Costa Rica. Tamarindo is known as a top travel destination for surfing, beautiful beaches and a focus on eco-tourism. Today, The Clean Wave has the ambitious goal of cleaning all 600 beaches in Costa Rica every week. The scope of The Clean Wave has grown rapidly, with weekly activities drawing locals and visitors alike to participate in upbeat experiences that connect people to nature, provide community and leave a positive impact on the environment they live in or have called home temporarily. In addition to cleaning beaches, The Clean Wave also brings people together in urban settings, for underwater clean-up dives, and mangrove restoration.

1.2 Theoretical Framework

Recent models of creating healthy individuals and communities focus on the social determinants of health including environmental conditions, economic policies, and societal barriers and structures. While these models understand that health extends beyond medical and genetic factors, they fall short in effectively describing the dynamic relationship that exists between them, when individuals are empowered and engaged to participate in activities to positively revive the community. Particularly thinking about the context of travel we are called to return to its original purpose “as a journey of purpose, meaning, adventure and exploration… the nurturing bedrock for human health rather than a commercial commodity [ 11 ]. We propose a model of Active Regeneration of Health describes the interconnectedness of the relationship between individuals, their community, and the world. We connect with nature, promote nurturing behaviors that improve our global environment, and simultaneously impact one’s health and the health of their community. We suggest that this is achieved through the mechanisms of connection, belonging, and purpose–driven by attention, action, and agency.

2 Data and Methods

This project sought to address the following objectives: (a) to differentiate traditional ecotourism/eco-impact models of volunteerism from regenerative tourism and (b) to explore the impact at the individual and community level. The interview guide that was created included five open ended questions, and a series of closed questions. Table 1 has a selection of the questions used.

Following the interview guide, and the expected areas of application from the theoretical framework a codebook was developed. Each interview transcript was uploaded, coded, and analyzed was conducted using DeDoose online software, a password protected qualitative research tool [ 12 ]. Grounded theory and content analysis were employed to identify emergent themes and quotes were highlighted to illustrate important findings, taking the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of these human subjects into account [ 13 ]. Then, theory could be presented based on respondents’ ideas and thoughts.

Subjects were recruited through a snowball sampling methodology via the local partner organization, The Clean Wave. The Clean Wave identified key volunteers and community stakeholders to participate in the interview process (n = 12). The study was submitted to and approved by the SUNY Oswego Human Subjects Committee on May 30, 2023. Table 2 showcases their gender, age, country of origin and residence, and role with the organization. The gender makeup is balanced and ages of the sample range from 24 to 48. The majority (67%) are currently living in Costa Rica, and the remaining in the U.S.

This project captured the impressions and stories of a sample of The Clean Wave founders, organizers and volunteers. All report a variety of positive influences that The Clean Wave has had on them personally. Here we document the impact of these types of regenerative activities through The Clean Wave.

3.1 Individual Impacts

In the Active Regeneration of Health model, we examine three fundamental drivers of change: Connection, Belonging and Purpose with selected examples below.

Connection . Participants recognize the need for community and connectedness and the challenge in finding it, particularly if you aren’t originally local to the region. “Community is really hard to gain when you’re traveling all over the place. So volunteering is a direct access to community.” This is especially accessible if the events appear exciting and well attended… “people want to be a part of that community, because there’s such a strong connection there and connection for a purpose.”

“And there’s so much drive in there and immediate action, that being part of something that is growing and healthy, isn’t amazing for you… it’s expanding, and everybody wants to join, because it’s, it makes so much sense.”

For travelers to the region, the opportunity to plug into fun events with a purpose, allows visitors to experience the country and community in a deeper, “more real” way. A vacation becomes “less touristy, more meaningful and gives you the ability to grow global friendships and build lasting connections over time.”

Belonging . While the initial step focuses on connecting to a community, finding belonging is a deeper bond within that group and work. Belonging connects to shared values and aligned world views… “people who were looking to live their values create meaning and coming from different and interesting backgrounds.”

“I love how The Clean Wave is really… clear <with its> mission and purpose. So, the entry level activity is do the beach cleanup, it takes takes two hours, we’ll feed you water and fruit afterwards, with a group photo.”

Participants are clear that this experience of belonging has had an impact on their lives—helping them to become healthier.

“Yeah, 100%, my entire life has changed. I mean, I changed my address. I changed my immediate circle of friends. I changed my work. I have changed a lot of habits, personal habits, you know, unhealthy habits.” “Time is the most precious thing that we have. And to do something good for the environment says a lot about the person… you make really healthy connections.”

Purpose . Once participants experience the belonging, their sense of purpose and ownership in the efforts is further enhanced with broader alignment of the mission into other areas of their life, and deepening of their commitment to the lifestyle and mission where “everybody kind of takes their own agency and action and whatever they’re doing”.

“Everywhere I go …I like to also just pick up the trash of the mountains, or whatever I go is just something in me that wants to help them the world to make it a better place. And I feel like it belongs to everyone…It’s just like, if you can make it better, why not to and doesn’t take that much time.”

Travelers leave these activities and trips with a modified, uplifted sense of self. The power of the events and activities extend beyond the moment during the travel or vacation. The participation is “healing and regenerative, not just to the beach or the local area… but to the spirit and deeper sense of well-being.”

3.2 Community Impacts

Impacts of regenerative activities impact the community in both tangible and intangible ways. Tangibly, communities benefit from cleaner beaches, waterways and urban areas. “What we do is to create the opportunity to have this clean environment where we enjoy all this stuff.” However, participants in this study tended to focus on the more intangible, such as the influence on economic development and policy-making.

“All these other activities are weaved into an incredibly cool network. If I’m gonna start this new business idea where <will I > find the people who process coffee grounds into mushroom so that when you have your new beach gig going on in your pop-up restaurant, you have all the resources, you need to just pull it off.” “On a higher level, that will be political influence, and things like having a sit down with the President and then coming out with negotiated that all the beaches of Costa Rica will be enforced smoking-free Right?”

Beyond large scale change, it’s also a built a model for a foundation of inclusiveness, which will have further downstream impacts. “Everyone is included, like no stakeholders are left out in the conversation. Whether they’re a kid, or a gangbanger or a policymaker, older retiree or a Tico, it’s like you’re in this town, your stakeholders you belong in this community to work together.”

4 Discussion and Recommendations

There is preliminary evidence that regenerative approaches to health, and related tourism has the ability to impact the planet and our environment, but also the communities and individuals that are connected to them. For organizations or groups of individuals that are seeking to employ this model, we propose the following set of key takeaways:

1. Many people are active and desire to do something, but they lack clear channels of action. To harness the activated members of a community you must get their attention with events coordinated around meaningful actions. Those actions need to be clear and simple to execute. These activated members help build a critical mass that becomes more attractive to those in the community that may need to be activated by others in the community demonstrating those actions consistently. 2. Spend time and get help crafting a clear and action-oriented narrative. The narrative should position the volunteers and participating community members as the hero of their healing journey. Be value centered and demonstrate those values through examples of the impacts the community member is contributing to. 3. Consistent communication is key to build trust. Set expectations, meet or exceed expectations, be procedural to create a consistent experience. Leverage technology and consistently send your community updates, opportunities to participate, and clear instructions on how to have a meaningful experience. As seen in other cases, an online social presence can help communities build robust tourism networks [ 14 ]. 4. Local community organizations need to prioritize cooperation over competition. 5. Regenerate community by making sure events build connection, have purposeful and impactful actions with real time feedback loops (they can feel the meaning in the actions), be inclusive, non-discriminatory, and safety and belonging.

Connection, purpose, and belonging are commonly lacking as community is more separate and divided. Creating events that consistently bring together, mix, and have something meaningful to do together creates the conditions that help heal people’s connections to their environment, to themselves, to each other, and to the community at large. There are a few important limitations of this study, beginning with its’ generalizability. It should be considered exploratory in nature. We are concerned with first-person narratives that may have modified their answers in response to the awareness of being observed. Due to our non-random sampling approach, there may be bias. Additional research is needed to document and further the phenomenon observed here within The Clean Wave in Costa Rica to more broadly understand the impacts of Regenerative Tourism. We encourage scholars and practitioners to evaluate other similar projects through the lens of the Active Regeneration of Health model.

5 Conclusion

Regenerative tourism has the ability to build lasting, sustainable, healthy impacts when communities are empowered and engaged. In a short period of time, The Clean Wave has demonstrated this in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and beyond. When you harness the power of connection, belonging and purpose, local communities and travelers may find the collective healing and well-being they are seeking. Investments in organizations and destinations that prioritize this approach can yield a compounding effect that builds a legacy for a healthier future.

Panchal N, Saunders H, Rudowitz R, Cox C (2023) The implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from

Buckley R (2020) Nature tourism and mental health: parks, happiness, and causation. Journal of Sustainable Tourism,28:1409–1424.

Buckley R, Westaway D (2020) Mental health rescue effects of women's outdoor tourism: A role in COVID-19 recovery. Annals of tourism research, 85, 103041.

Đorċević N, Dimitrovski D, Leković M, Weeden C (2022) Linking residents’ perceptions of pandemic quality of life with their support for sustainable tourism development in the post-COVID-19 era. Menadzment u Hotelijerstvu i Turizmu, 10: 55–69.

Major J, Clarke D (2022) Regenerative tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand—A new paradigm for the VUCA world. Journal of Tourism Futures, 8:194–199.

Mathisen L, Søreng S U, Lyrek T (2022) The reciprocity of soil, soul and society: the heart of developing regenerative tourism activities. Journal of Tourism Futures, 8: 330–341.

Zaman U, Aktan M, Agrusa, J, Khwaja M G (2023) Linking regenerative travel and residents’ support for tourism development in Kaua’i island (Hawaii): moderating-mediating effects of travel-shaming and foreign tourist attractiveness. Journal of Travel Research, 62: 782-801.

Bellato L, Frantzeskaki N, Nygaard C A (2022) Regenerative tourism: a conceptual framework leveraging theory and practice. Tourism Geographies, 1-21.

Evans S (2010) The green republic: A conservation history of Costa Rica. University of Texas Press

Google Scholar  

Bristow RS, Yang WT, Lu M T (2011) Sustainable medical tourism in Costa Rica. Tourism Review, 66:107–117.

Ateljevic I (2020) Transforming the (tourism) world for good and (re) generating the potential ‘new normal’. Tourism Geographies, 22:467–475.

Dedoose Version 9.0.17, cloud application for managing, analyzing, and presenting qualitative and mixed method research data (2021). Los Angeles, CA: SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC

Ellingston LL (2011) Analysis and presentation across the continuum. In N. K. Denzin, Lincoln YS (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research: 595–610. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc

Kavoura A, Kefallonitis E (2019) The Effect of Social Media Networking in the Travel Industry: the Connected Passenger. Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology. M. Khosrow-Pour (4 th  Ed.). Hershey: IGI Global, (pp.4052–4063). Doi:

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

SUNY Oswego, 7060 NY 104, Oswego, NY, 13126, USA

Michele Thornton & Michele Thornton

Imaginal, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Marty Bhatia

University of Alaska Southeast, 11066 Auke Lake Way, Juneau, AK, 99801, USA

Carin Silkaitis

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michele Thornton .

Editor information

Editors and affiliations.

University of West Attica, Athens, Greece

Androniki Kavoura

University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Teresa Borges-Tiago

Flavio Tiago

Rights and permissions

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( ), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2024 The Author(s)

About this paper

Cite this paper.

Thornton, M., Bhatia, M., Silkaitis, C. (2024). Regenerative Tourism and Mental Health: The Clean Wave Foundation, Costa Rica. In: Kavoura, A., Borges-Tiago, T., Tiago, F. (eds) Strategic Innovative Marketing and Tourism. ICSIMAT 2023. Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics. Springer, Cham.

Download citation


Published : 01 June 2024

Publisher Name : Springer, Cham

Print ISBN : 978-3-031-51037-3

Online ISBN : 978-3-031-51038-0

eBook Packages : Business and Management Business and Management (R0)

Share this paper

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Publish with us

Policies and ethics

  • Find a journal
  • Track your research
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage & Loss
  • Pre-Pregnancy Shopping Guides
  • Diapering Essentials
  • Bedtime & Bathtime
  • Baby Clothing
  • Health & Safety
  • First Trimester
  • Second Trimester
  • Third Trimester
  • Pregnancy Products
  • Baby Names By Month
  • Popular Baby Names
  • Unique Baby Names
  • Labor & Delivery
  • Birth Stories
  • Fourth Trimester
  • Parental Leave
  • Postpartum Products
  • Sleep Guides & Schedules
  • Feeding Guides & Schedules
  • Milestone Guides
  • Learn & Play
  • Beauty & Style Shopping Guides
  • Meal Planning & Shopping
  • Entertaining
  • Personal Essays
  • Home Shopping Guides
  • Work & Motherhood
  • Family Finances & Budgeting
  • State of Motherhood
  • Viral & Trending
  • Celebrity News
  • Women’s Health
  • Children’s Health
  • It’s Science
  • Mental Health
  • Health & Wellness Shopping Guide
  • What To Read
  • What To Watch
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Summer prep
  • Single Parenting
  • Blended Families
  • Community & Friendship
  • Marriage & Partnerships
  • Grandparents & Extended Families
  • Stretch Mark Cream
  • Pregnancy Pillows
  • Maternity Pajamas
  • Maternity Workout Clothes
  • Compression Socks
  • All Pregnancy Products
  • Pikler Triangles
  • Toddler Sleep Sacks
  • Toddler Scooters
  • Water Tables
  • All Toddler Products
  • Breastmilk Coolers
  • Postpartum Pajamas
  • Postpartum Underwear
  • Postpartum Shapewear
  • All Postpartum Products
  • Kid Pajamas
  • Play Couches
  • Kids’ Backpacks
  • Kids’ Bikes
  • Kids’ Travel Gear
  • All Child Products
  • Baby Swaddles
  • Eco-Friendly Diapers
  • Baby Bathtubs
  • All Baby Products
  • Pregnancy-safe Skincare
  • Diaper Bags
  • Maternity Jeans
  • Matching Family Swimwear
  • Mama Necklaces
  • All Beauty and Style Products
  • All Classes
  • Free Classes By Motherly
  • Parenting & Family Topics
  • Toddler Topics
  • TTC & Pregnancy
  • Wellness & Fitness


  • Please wait..

I traveled to a ‘Blue Zone’: Here’s how it changed my daily routines

woman meditating on beach in costa rica


The foods, teas and kindness I discovered in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, will stay with me forever.

By Jenny Altman May 31, 2024

As a mom in my 40s, I love to travel for work and family vacations . The best of those trips involve warm weather, ocean water and great food. This year, the family trip involved all of those things—but was very unique—as it marked my first visit to a Blue Zone.

I had seen “ Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones ” on Netflix, and wondered what these people know about living life the longest—in the happiest and most healthful ways. Booking a trip to Guanacaste, Costa Rica was easy (thanks to a direct flight from most large US cities!). And opening my heart and mind to learn what they’ve known for centuries was a beautiful journey.

Starting at Liberia airport, we had a 2+ hour bumpy car ride to our first destination, Punta Islita , in the Nicoya Peninsula. As the experience manager of the hotel said, “bad roads bring good people”, which is so true. You always have to go farther to find the most beautiful places (off the beaten path). We were tired, hot and very hungry on the ride (especially our tween daughter, who was officially over all the traveling by hour eight). When we asked the driver to make a stop en route, we were blown away by the gem we uncovered. It was a side-of-the-road fruit stand—no different than many others in Central and South America—but wonderful. As I watched my daughter thrill over the machete-trimmed coconut and the ready-to-eat slices of pineapple, mango and papaya, I knew we had been transported to a new kind of place. One where $5 for fresh fruit delivered happiness unlike any American grocery store ever would. As she sipped fresh OJ (seriously, from-the-tree fresh) from the corner of a baggie, I watched her enjoy juice as she never had before. It was so nice to see that, within a day, small transformations were already beginning. 

Related: How traveling with kids can reshape your view on motherhood

I had seen pictures of Punta Islita, a secluded jungle hideaway, but I was overtaken at our arrival. The lush greenery and stunning views opened wide after driving through canopies of trees with fresh mangoes and white-faced monkeys. We were met with cold hibiscus tea (something integral to the region) and the standard ‘rican’ greeting of “pura vida”; something we heard a lot while visiting. I will keep that with me—the saying and the sincerity that goes along with it—pure life. Pure life. Pure life. It truly embodies the simple, happy, humble culture and lifestyle that Costa Rica offers.

We experienced many special, unique moments at Punta Islita and their sister property, El Mangroove , but what was most special was watching the elements of the Blue Zone unfold around us and seeing my daughter naturally mold into each of the experiences. She snorkeled in open waters surrounded by octopus and dolphins, rode horseback on the beach, read in a hammock (screen-free!), tried so many fruits she had never tasted before, and spoke in Spanish with love to every person we encountered. That is the true lesson of the Blue Zone. Eat fresh food, stay active, live as close to your family as possible (many families live multi-generationally) and understand that it’s not money that makes you happier or helps you live longer, but rather appreciating all that nature offers us.

Related: 4 reasons to travel with your kids—even if you think they won’t remember it

10 health-focused habits that stayed with me from the Blue Zone in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

1. eat fresh, whole food.

I once asked our server “is it organic?” and the response was a laugh. You don’t need to ask if it’s organic in Costa Rica: it just is. The rich, colorful, plant-based food was so REAL. Buying tropical fruits like mango and papaya is pricey at home, but the taste and health benefits are worth it, in my opinion. At Punta Islita, they proudly created a Permaculture Project, which follows traditional indigenous farming practices. The food from the Permaculture farm showed up as incredible fresh juices each morning at breakfast (combos like pineapple/mango/cucumber and pineapple/basil/tamarind) and in meals like breakfast ice cream (a very cold spirulina with granola, coconut and almond butter). Back at home, we’ve already pulled the juicer out from the garage and are putting it to use in a much more imaginative way than before.

A seafood meal at Punta Islita, Autograph Collection

2. Savor your coffee

The darker the roast, the less caffeine—that was a lesson I learned from coffee growers in Costa Rica. They use a traditional method called the “Grandma method” which is basically a pour-over coffee using a wooden chorreador and a fabric filter/sock. If you want to make authentic Costa Rican coffee once you’re home, this is the typical method. It’s a slow, simple process that reminds us to take our time enjoying our coffee. For me, it’s a reminder that we only need one delicious cup (not a whole pot!) focusing on the ritual rather than the rush.

Related: Transitioning kids to a different time zone can be hard—here’s how to get over jet lag

3. Sip hibiscus tea

Served cold, and at most meals, the hibiscus tea was sweet, cinnamony and refreshing. But more than that, it’s a native drink with healing powers. The hibiscus plant is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and anthocyanin. It’s known to support everything from fighting inflammation to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s refreshing and light (and my daughter loved it!). We’re already preparing it at home with a cinnamon stick (another plant used as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties)—both hot and cold.

Hibiscus tea at Punta Islita, Autograph Collection

4. Carve out time for self-care

At the Nanku Wellbeing Spa , I was able to experience century-old healing traditions, using the Nicoyan people’s secrets of holistic healing. Shirodhara is their most meditative and relaxing treatment, part of ancient Ayurvedic medicine. They poured a steady flow of coconut oil and hot honey over my forehead and the sixth chakra (the third eye and the intuition energy center). During this healing experience, I had a whole-body massage with passion fruit oil. The smell was so sweet and delicious and lingered on my skin for a good 2 to 3 days. I will forever associate that scent with this trip. The massage was followed up with a soak in the tub (also infused with passion fruit oil). I forgot how nice it was to take an uninterrupted soak. It’s high on my list of things I need to continue to do back at home—carving out the time for the quiet and relaxation of a hot bath.

Related: How to get the whole family to help with vacation prep

5. Learn from the macaws

These endangered animals mate for life. They also split the family duties! At sanctuaries throughout Costa Rica, ongoing efforts are working to replenish the species almost completely lost to deforestation for pineapple and other farms. Through their revival we can watch and learn from these prehistoric birds. Stay close to family. Pick a solid partner. Work together. Mating for life works when we split the family work and raise children together. Why should humans do it differently?

Macaws at Punta Islita, Autograph Collection

6. Surround yourself with greenery

The variety of plants in the Nicoya region is astounding, especially considering that dry season is DRY. Yet somehow you’re surrounded by lush, tropical, large-leafed plants everywhere you turn. The native trees and fruit in Costa Rica have been used in local healing for generations. While you may not be able to find fresh lemongrass and guanabana back at home, any type of plant can have a positive impact. Plants are actually known to improve air quality in enclosed spaces— and let’s face it, plants make us all happier.

Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Punta Islita, Autograph Collection

Related: 20 tried-and-true products that make travel with kids seamless (and even fun!)

7. Honor “Earth Hour”

At Punta Islita, and many resorts in Costa Rica, they’ve adopted Earth Hour. Each month, for one hour after dinner, they turn off all of the lights in the public spaces. It’s Earth Hour. A time for us all to be with each other, device-free, to acknowledge and give thanks for our time here. I have a memory of local students coming to dance by candlelight. It’s a good reminder to take time to unplug in the evening hours, and a way to teach kids how to enjoy down-time—a huge lesson itself.

8. Enjoy the soothing sounds of nature

Sadly, I can’t bring back the natural jungle sounds, where the cacophony of macaws is loud and vibrant, but I can ask Google to play soothing music when I need a moment to de-stress. I will remember the sounds of the birds in the morning which turned to howler monkeys in the afternoon—loud, yet so peaceful. It’s a reminder that work is not more important, and sometimes taking it all in gives you the clarity to see things differently, from a bigger perspective.

Related: This amazing TikTok travel hack makes traveling with kids SO much easier

9. Move slowly in the mornings

The heat can be brutal in Costa Rica (95-100 most days in early spring) with the blazing sun, but the mornings are pure pleasure. Even if you’re not a meditation person—sit, enjoy, relax. Take in the views and the sounds. Savor the beauty of nature. The crash of the waves, the pair of bright green squawking parakeets passing by. The lush greenery. The black sand. Breathe it in. At home, this has turned into taking a few minutes each morning to myself before or after the morning rush. It’s a new day. Every day.

10. Embrace pura vida

Ricans end every conversation with it—and they mean it. It’s not just for surfers and travelers. It’s a recommendation for life. Do your best. Love the moments. Appreciate your health. Relish your children. Pura vida.

health tourism costa rica

This is your sign to book a summer weekend at LEGOLAND New York

Our partners, 10 tips for planning a multigenerational family trip to florida, the biggest family travel trends for 2024 start in florida, 7 tips for flying solo with a nursing toddler or preschooler, our editors also recommend....

Posted on May 30, 2024 by gracebrewster

Everyone knows that climate change is a hard-hitting topic in today’s social landscape, but many are still skeptical about its effects. Through my time in Costa Rica, I learned the values of sustainability and simplicity in the ever-changing climate, both from the professors and the host family that I spent two nights with. I left off in Tortuguero where we shifted from living in the jungle at La Selva to being ecotourists in a gorgeous resort by the ocean. After our short stay there, we arrived at the Arenal volcano resort called The Observatory. This sustainable hotel was situated right next to the gorgeous Arenal volcano that could be seen from the dining area at every meal. During our stay in Arenal, we visited the hanging bridges, which were gorgeous, but it was ultimately another activity with loads of tourists that seemed a little too superficial to be considered ecotourism. My favorite part of Arenal was probably the food. While I had grown accustomed to eating the usual rice and beans, their menu was mainly American food which had me missing home. While it was a nice vacation from the hiking that we did in La Selva, I was ready to be active again and the hike up the volcano did not disappoint. It was steep, but also absolutely gorgeous. 

health tourism costa rica

We learned about Arenal’s history and how it has four different craters with one that almost constantly produces a flow of steam that can be seen when the clouds dissipate. One of the most famous stories about the volcano has to do with the town of La Fortuna. The last time it erupted, the town was spared and everyone thought it was good fortune, so they renamed the town La Fortuna. After the volcano hike, we ventured to one of La Fortuna’s most famous tourist attractions: the waterfall. The descent of 500 steps was absolutely grueling after a hike, but the reward was worth it. Swimming in the waterfall felt like you could drown any second, but it was breathtaking. While sitting by the waterfall watching everyone swim, I thought about how grateful I was to be able to come to a country as gorgeous as Costa Rica. It also made me think about how climate change could potentially affect the climate of this country and start a domino effect that disrupts the ecotourism essential for their economy and their large species richness that is important for the health of Earth. 

health tourism costa rica

After the climb back up the 500 stairs which had my calves hurting the next day, we went back to the hotel and prepared for the day of travel. As we traveled to our next stop, Monte Verde field station, we passed by some of the wind turbines that sat right beside a gorgeous lake that also supplied hydroelectric power to the country. It was amazing to see a country wanting to stop the use of fossil fuels by switching to more renewable energy sources on a large scale. We finally arrived at the Monte Verde field station after the bumpiest bus ride known to man. If I am being honest, it was kind of nice to be at a field station again instead of a hotel, it felt more homey and representative of Costa Rica. The room I was staying in held some great memories for Dr. Wasserman and it was nice to see him so happy about us staying in the same place he did 20 years ago. We finished the academic section of the trip during our stay at Monte Verde, with our final research presentations, a UN debate over climate change, and a discussion about the different effects of climate change. My topic was the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet, which would cause a drastic sea level rise and flood major cities like London and New York where millions of people live. It was disheartening to hear about the drastic effects that climate change would have on the world as it progresses, but I am still hopeful that countries will change. Costa Rica is one of the reasons I am still hopeful because they are a wonderful example of sustainability and changing to renewable energy. The people of Costa Rica are what make the place so amazing, and our homestay exemplified how kind and welcoming they are. While our host mom spoke little english, and Mira and I both spoke little spanish, we all took it in stride and used google translate when necessary. It was one of my favorite experiences of the trip, as we got to help prepare a meal, and she had many dogs and cats that wandered around the property. It was eye opening to see how people do little things to help the environment in their everyday lives. For example, she cooked her own bread and other necessary food items instead of buying them from the store. She also put all food scraps into a little bucket to compost and prevent food waste. This made me realize I can also be doing more of these small things to help the environment, as it really took no more effort. While at the homestay, we also had the opportunity to give back to the Life Monte Verde farm. My group got to help make the fertilizer they used to grow the coffee and dig a trench for irrigation. The tasks seemed laborious at first, but the staff really did seem appreciative of our help, and I felt like I was genuinely giving back to a good cause. 

health tourism costa rica

The last dinner was bittersweet and I did not want to leave the new friends that I made while on this trip. Reflecting back on my experience in Costa Rica, I would say my favorite part of the trip was La Selva. I feel like I truly got to experience the country with the least amount of negative ecological impact compared to the rest of the resorts we visited. This trip has truly helped change my perspective on climate change and how I can become more sustainable when I return home.

health tourism costa rica

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.


  1. Tourisme médical

    health tourism costa rica

  2. 8 Top Costa Rica Wellness Resorts & Retreats

    health tourism costa rica

  3. Costa Rica

    health tourism costa rica

  4. Health Tourism in Costa Rica Making Significant Advancements ⋆

    health tourism costa rica

  5. Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

    health tourism costa rica

  6. Health Tourism in Costa Rica

    health tourism costa rica


  1. Did tourism ruin Costa Rica's Culture? #travel #costarica #expat #culturalimmersion #family

  2. 10 Sitios Que Ver en COSTA RICA (2024)

  3. Costa Rica

  4. presents: Quepoa Restaurant in Quepos, Costa Rica

  5. Costa Rica's Stunning National Parks: A 30-Second Tour! 🌳🇨🇷 #travel #nature #fyp #bucketlist

  6. Experiences from Costa Rica: The Evolution of the Social Progress Index


  1. Costa Rica

    Costa Rica, a small Central American country known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and rich biodiversity, has also become a hotspot for medical tourism in recent years. The nation has invested heavily in healthcare infrastructure and education, leading to high-quality medical services that are often available at a fraction of the ...

  2. Costa Rica

    Be aware of current health issues in Costa Rica. Learn how to protect yourself. Level 1 Practice Usual Precautions. Dengue in the Americas May 16, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease.

  3. Medical Tourism in Costa Rica: A Complete Guide

    And more importantly, you can get to choose the doctor for your treatment. Their website offers a find a doctor section from where you will get their detailed bio, including phone number and email. Address: Autopista Próspero Fernández, San José, San Rafael, Costa Rica. Phone: (506) 2208-1000.

  4. Costa Rica Medical Tourism Guide: Hospitals, Clinics & Procedures

    Costa Rica has become a top destination for medical tourism, drawing thousands of visitors annually for procedures like dentistry and plastic surgery. This trend is fueled by the country's exceptional healthcare and education systems, positioning Costa Rica as a leader in quality healthcare within Central America.

  5. Medical Tourism Costa Rica

    The Medical Tourism Corporation of Costa Rica has made special arrangements with the private clinics and hospitals. All to provide the patients and their guests with top-notch suites designed especially for comfort and luxury. The Hospital La Cima, The Hospital Clinica La Biblica, and the Hospital Clinica Catholica.

  6. Entry

    During your visit in Costa Rica, you are required to comply with the health protocols put in place by private companies when participating in any tourism activities in the country. In accordance with Article 42 of the General Law on Immigration and Aliens (No. 8764) and Article 30 of the Immigration Control Regulation (Executive Decree No ...

  7. Costa Rica Medical Tourism: A Complete Guide

    Absolutely! Costa Rica has emerged as a top-notch destination for medical tourism, attracting visitors from around the world. The country offers a winning combination of world-class healthcare facilities, highly qualified medical professionals, affordable prices and incredible scenery that will make the trip out here worth it.

  8. Medical Tourism

    more >Medical TourismCosta Rica is internationally recognized as a top-notch medical tourism destination. more >Neck LiftLoose skin, deep band lines, and excess fat all contribute to a sagging "turkey neck" - a problem for people of all ... more >OtoplastyEar surgery, also known as otoplasty, is typically performed to set prominent ears ...

  9. Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

    Welcome to Medical Tours Costa Rica, your premier destination for comprehensive medical travel services. We specialize in providing a complete end-to-end solution that centralizes every aspect of your healthcare journey in Costa Rica, including our extensive network of hospitals, hotels, tourism activities, transportation, and more.

  10. Costa Rica's Medical Tourism

    Affordable healthcare, Board Certified surgeons, and highly trained medical professionals have made Costa Rica one of the world's top destinations for medical tourism. Moreover, Costa Rica's proximity to the States - most major cities are a five hour flight or less - makes it an accessible and convenient choice for the one million Americans who take medical vacations every year.

  11. Medical Tourism to Costa Rica

    According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, approximately 48,000 medical tourists visited Costa Rica in 2011 for medical procedures. Over 80% of the tourists come from the U.S., seeking affordable medical services including dental, orthopedic, cosmetic, infertility treatments and more. Medical tourism to Costa Rica: hospitals, clinics ...

  12. Medical Tourism Guide for Costa Rica

    In 2011, the average medical tourist to Costa Rica spent $7,000—in total, the industry brought in $337.7 million USD in revenue that year. Needless to say, this is a huge boon to the Costa Rican economy. Considering the country's small size, medical tourism can have a widespread impact.

  13. Medical Tourism Costa Rica

    Benefits of Costa Rica for Medical Tourists. Costa Rica also benefits from medical tourism due to the influx of tourists, travel, and of course money. According to the Costa Rican Health Chamber, Costa Rica Medical Tourism had over 70,000 tourists in 2016. This brought in an estimated 485 million in revenue, averaging $6,930 per tourist.

  14. Exploring Medical Tourism in Costa Rica Benefits

    Costa Rica is a hotspot for medical tourism, drawing people from everywhere.Cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica is getting more popular, making up 12% of medical visits. Meanwhile, advanced dentistry is the top reason people visit, with 36% looking for dental care. Advanced dentistry in Costa Rica boasts modern facilities and technology. Treatments like dental implants and cosmetic dentistry are ...

  15. What Makes Costa Rica Unique?

    The perfect combination and mix of nature, technology and medical infrastructure makes Costa Rica a top destination for medical travels. More than 30.000 patients with their companions and some of the most renowned multinational corporations have chosen Costa Rica as their first choice for medical and dental treatments.

  16. Redefining Women's Health in Costa Rica with Dr. Laly

    Redefining women's health in Costa Rica, led by professionals like Dr. Laly, signifies a new era in medical tourism. By focusing on comprehensive care, patient-centric approaches, and the integration of technology and cultural sensitivity, Costa Rica is setting a global standard in women's health.

  17. Medical Tourism Costa Rica

    Discover the myriad benefits of Medical Tourism Costa Rica as you become a valued member of our ever-growing community. Our world-class doctors, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting-edge equipment await you. Stay up to date with the latest industry news through our informative blog and explore our chat, live streams and more to kickstart ...

  18. Health

    Vaccinations and health risks. At least 8 weeks before your trip check: the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro's Costa Rica guide. where to get vaccines and ...

  19. Costa Rica: From Ecotourism Leader to World Class Healthcare Provider

    According to Costa Rica's Tourism Bureau, the number of visitors to the country coming in search of medical treatment has doubled since 2003 1. Although exact numbers are hard to come by, (a 1991 study by the University of Costa Rica suggested that nearly 14% of visitors came for medical purposes; other surveys put this number much lower ...

  20. Costa Rica

    Costa Rica Country Overview | World Health Organization. Global; Regions. WHO Regional websites. Africa; Americas; South-East Asia; ... Country Office Website Travel Advice. This map is an approximation of actual country borders. ... Costa Rica. Email [email protected]. Telephone +506 2521-7045. Fax +506 2258 5830.

  21. Marketing Insights: Winning Strategies for Costa Rican Medical Tourism

    Costa Rica has established itself as a premier destination for medical tourism, attracting patients from around the world seeking high-quality healthcare services in a beautiful tropical setting. Healthcare providers looking to tap into the Costa Rican market can leverage unique strategies to successfully attract and cater to Costa Rican ...

  22. Medical Tourism

    An expert recommends booking travel now (04/11/2024) Now you can finally get that procedure you've always dreamed of at an exceptionally reasonable price. With a wealth of skilled surgeons and state-of-the-art medical facilities, Costa Rica is internationally recognized as a top-notch medical tourism destination.

  23. The Allure of Costa Rican Dental Care: Unveiling the ...

    The Allure of Costa Rican Dental Care: Top Treatments and Procedures for Dental Tourists. Costa Rica: A Dental Tourism Haven. Costa Rica has emerged as a leading destination for dental tourism, attracting thousands of patients from across the globe seeking high-quality dental care at affordable prices.

  24. Is Costa Rica Safe To Visit?

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is another reputable resource that will help travelers assess the health safety of their potential travel destination. On Costa Rica's official country ...

  25. Regenerative Tourism and Mental Health: The Clean Wave ...

    Costa Rica, long seen as a "green republic," known for ecotourism, sustainable practices, is an optimal setting in which to explore the impacts of regenerative tourism . Further, Costa Rica ranks within the top 10 destinations for medical tourism in the world for individuals seeking healing in a beautiful, tropical setting.

  26. I traveled to a 'Blue Zone': Here's how it changed my daily routines

    10 health-focused habits that stayed with me from the Blue Zone in Guanacaste, Costa Rica 1. Eat fresh, whole food. I once asked our server "is it organic?" and the response was a laugh. You don't need to ask if it's organic in Costa Rica: it just is. The rich, colorful, plant-based food was so REAL.

  27. Top 13 Dental Tourism Destinations in the World in 2024

    1. Costa Rica. If you're eyeing a dental vacation, Costa Rica should be at the top of your list. It's not hard to see why. This Central American gem is politically and economically stable, and incredibly welcoming. Plus, it's just a direct flight away from the U.S. Dental care in Costa Rica costs a fraction of what you'd pay back home.

  28. Pura Vida

    Planetary Health in Costa Rica Indiana University Bloomington. Pura Vida. Posted on May 30, 2024 by gracebrewster. Everyone knows that climate change is a hard-hitting topic in today's social landscape, but many are still skeptical about its effects. Through my time in Costa Rica, I learned the values of sustainability and simplicity in the ...