If you are heading to Costa Rica I’m sure your family and friends are probably all like, “bring me back some cool gifts from your travels.” No pressure or anything! Anyway, don’t worry. There are tons of amazing companies and places to get unique Costa Rica souvenirs that everybody will love.
If you are familiar with our site you know that we are huge fans of supporting other small startups and local Costa Rican businesses. This list has some conventional ideas but also includes some companies you’ve probably never heard of.
Now on to our guide to Costa Rica souvenirs!
Brands We Love
There are a whole lot of amazing souvenir companies in Costa Rica. In fact, I shouldn’t call them souvenirs, these are more Costa Rica gifts.
All these companies make beautiful, high-quality products that perfectly represent the country.
Hola Lola is an art print company that focuses on really encapsulating all the vibes of Costa Rica.
You can buy Hola Lola products online, but if you are flying out of the San Jose airport, the best place to buy their stuff is actually in the airport at the large gift shop just after you go through security to leave the country.
If you don’t see their products just ask someone that is working at the shop and they can direct you to where to go.
They make adorable t-shirts with sloths participating in various activities. I love their shirt with a sloth riding a bicycle, but you can also buy shirts with a sloth and his surfboard or a sloth meditating.
You can buy Sloth Toes t-shirts at most souvenir shops throughout the country or order online and have your items directly shipped. They offer very reasonable shipping rates around the world.
This brand produces the most stereotypical Costa Rica souvenir, and no, that is not a bad thing. I’m pretty sure almost every person in Costa Rica owns one of these shirts (I know we do).
The concept behind Arteria is that they make t-shirts and other types of cloth products with different Costa Rican phrases on them. Below the phrase is a definition of it in both Spanish and in English.
The most popular shirt is definitely the “Pura Vida” design. You can buy them at most souvenir shops including the gift shop in the airport after going through security.
Alternatively, it is possible to order their products online.
Dreamland is a company that produces sunglasses made from bamboo and wood. This is Thomas’s favorite sunglass company.
Anyway, if you would like to get yourself or your loved ones some ridiculously cool sunglasses, here is a list of stores that sell Dreamland sunglasses.
ITEMS WE LOVE
All the items on this list are things that we think perfectly represent Costa Rica. There is not a specific company that we recommend for these products.
Coffee is the quintessential Costa Rica gift to bring back to your friends and family. You really can’t go wrong with Costa Rica coffee!
If you happen upon a place that sells their own coffee, we suggest buying that. If not, Britt Coffee is always great. We like Britt because they have a wide variety of coffee types, you can buy whole beans or ground coffee, and their bags are really pretty.
You can buy Britt in any major grocery store. If you forget, you can also buy it at the large gift shop in the San Jose airport.
We like to buy it at the airport because they also have samples of every kind of coffee. Why not get total caffeine high before your flight?
However, I think (not positive) it might be cheaper to buy Britt products at the grocery stores.
Pro Tip: Britt Coffee is located near San Jose and actually has a really fun and informative coffee tour. You can then buy all the coffee you need in their gift shop. You can find out more on the Cafe Britt site.
Costa Rica is not the chocolate powerhouse it once was, but there are still some really nice chocolates that are produced here.
You can buy Britt at any large grocery store chain in Costa Rica.
Also, if you happen to take a cacao tour while traveling, you can usually buy chocolate on these tours as well.
At most grocery stores it is possible to buy local dried fruits. We suggest dried mango, coconut, and pineapple.
Sometimes on the beach someone will approach you asking if you would like to purchase a bowl made from a coconut. These can make a great gift and helps to support locals.
Do you know what a chorreador is?
If not, that’s OK! We didn’t know either when we moved to Costa Rica. Now we use one every day.
A chorreador is the traditional Costa Rican coffee machine. You can see what it looks like in the picture above.
How it works is a small bag (kind of similar to a cheesecloth) goes in the top part of the chorreador. You then put your coffee mug in the bottom part. When you would like to make coffee you just put ground coffee in the top bag and pour boiling water into it.
Your fresh coffee will then drip into the mug below.
We think this is the perfect gift because it is such a traditional Costa Rican item, it actually has a use, and some are beautifully made.
You can find chorreadors at most gift shops throughout the country.
This is a cheap and easy little gift that can be purchased at every grocery store.
Obviously, most jewelry does not actually represent Costa Rica but, there are so many wonderful jewelry designers living in this country that we felt we needed to include it here.
BUY COSTA RICA SOUVENIRS ONLINE
Sometimes it is just easier to order things online rather than bringing souvenirs back from Costa Rica with you. Your family and friends never have to know that you ordered these items online rather than actually buying them in Costa Rica.
COSTA RICA BOOK
We love this coffee table book because it has the most beautiful photos of Costa Rica from above. Plus, it is packed with tons of interesting Costa Rica info.
You can buy this book while in Costa Rica, but we suggest ordering it online instead because it is heavy! You might not want to bring it in your suitcase.
However, I did check last time we flew out of the San Jose airport and they do sell it in the gift shop after getting through security so you can always pick up a copy there to put in your carry-on.
I know it is not cheap, but we think it is a great gift for anyone who absolutely loves Costa Rica.
Etsy is always great for finding nice handmade items. We like to make sure we click “Costa Rica” for Shop Location to ensure that we find items that are specifically Costa Rican.
We have two favorite sellers at the moment…
They sell cute bags and pouches.
Forget Pura Vida bracelets. We like Costa Verde because, as always, we are all about supporting other people in Costa Rica. Plus they make some really cute things.
FAVORITE TOWNS TO BUY SOUVENIRS
We only included four towns in this section mainly because these are the places we have had the most luck finding amazing gifts in Costa Rica. However, almost every town and small town has good Costa Rica souvenir shops that you can check out.
The downtown area of Tamarindo has enough cute Costa Rica gift shops to keep you occupied for at least a full day. We like the shops here because you can buy a lot of cute surfer-y type clothes and accessories.
San Jose has tons of nice shops, but we definitely suggest checking out Mercado Central in downtown San Jose.
This is the central market in the city and it is the perfect place to buy every kind of souvenir here from tapestries to wooden mugs to hammocks.
Along the beach in Dominical is an entire street which is usually filled with street vendors selling their artistic products. You can find a wide variety of items here from t-shirts, to jewelry, to hammocks (there are some amazing hammocks), and more!
We like to come here because it feels like a long flea market with a beautiful backdrop.
Puerto Viejo has a lot of outdoor street vendors as well as some nice shops. The stores here have a more Caribbean feel and you can expect to find a lot of things with a more Rasta vibe.
OUR TIPS FOR BUYING COSTA RICA SOUVENIRS
– Don’t forget to check what you are allowed to bring back with you before buying any Costa Rican souvenirs. If you are from the US, you are allowed to bring most packaged things back into the country. Just don’t try to bring any produce, meat etc.
Also, keep in mind if you are planning on checking your bag or not. A friend recently bought a bottle of hot sauce as a souvenir and then remembered he wasn’t planning to check a bag and the hot sauce was over the allowed amount of liquid he could bring in his carry on.
– If you need a bigger gift, we always like to make a little gift basket. You could include coffee, chocolate, and Salsa Lizano for the perfect treat that has a Costa Rican flair.
– If you are not checking a bag and want to buy a souvenir that is liquid, check at the airport. The Costa Rica gift shop right after you get through security is actually really amazing for souvenirs.
– Along the same lines, keep in mind what you can fit in your suitcase before buying anything. Most of the items on this list are very small, but if you buy a bunch of things they can take up a lot of space.
– At normal stores, it is not acceptable to haggle, but feel free to try at Mercado Central in San Jose or at any street vendor.
Just keep in mind, Ticos don’t do well with confrontation. They are just such nice people that it tends to make them uncomfortable.
So if they say no to your suggested price, it is best not to push the subject.
– Keep in mind that it is illegal to take shells from the beaches as souvenirs. I have seen the security agents taking them out of people’s bags when scanning them at the airport.
Let us know if you have any questions about Costa Rica souvenirs. Also, if you know of some Costa Rica gifts that you think our readers will love, tell us about them! We love to find out about new amazing companies.