Viator in Costa Rica: Book Excursions Through the Platform?

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Are you debating if you should book excursions for your trip to Costa Rica on Viator?

Costa Rica is a playground of nature, wildlife, and adventure. Whether you’re ziplining through the rainforest or exploring vibrant coral reefs, there is something for everyone.  However, planning your activities is key to enjoying every bit of Pura Vida vibes this country has to offer. 

That is where the excursion booking platform Viator comes in. 

We have been using Viator in Costa Rica to arrange fun things to do for several years now. We know the ins and the outs of the platform and can give you all the details on if it is a good option for you. 

So, let’s dive into Viator in Costa Rica and see if it can help plan the best activities during your vacation. Your trip deserves to be filled with amazing memories!

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What is Viator?

Viator is like your savvy friend who knows all the cool spots and helps you skip the line.

It’s a trip-planning platform, that allows users to book fun excursions, multi day trips, and shuttles from local Costa Rican companies. 

In Costa Rica, some popular excursions include hiking with a wildlife guide at popular national parks, zip lining over dense jungles, sunset catamaran tours with snorkeling, white water rafting down beautiful river, etc.

Really, there is something for everyone. 

The perk of booking through Viator is that you will have the backing of this large platform, ease of booking, and usually good cancellation policies.

Viator is part of the TripAdvisor family, so it is a well-known and stable company.

Should You Use Viator in Costa Rica?

So, you’re in Costa Rica, surrounded by jaw-dropping landscapes and eager for adventure. 

But should you use Viator?

We think yes. And here is why:

Variety of Options

From white-water rafting to serene bird-watching tours, Viator offers tons of day trips. You’re bound to find something that fits exactly what you are looking for.

Verified Reviews

We all want the real deal, and Viator’s verified reviews ensure you get just that! These reviews help you make informed decisions, letting you choose experiences that other travelers have loved.

We like that typically people leave very detailed reviews and can even include pictures.

This is helpful because when you book directly through a tour operator you don’t always know how good the tour is, unless you can find Google reviews. 

Secure Booking and Payment

Viator’s got your back! The platform offers a secure and straightforward booking process, letting you focus on the fun stuff. 

We find this to be super helpful because sometimes it is questionable how secure some tour operator’s sites are. 

Viator in Costa Rica: Book Excursions Through the Platform?

Cancellation Policy

We get it, plans change. Viator’s flexible cancellation policies mean you can book with peace of mind, knowing you’re not locked in. 

Just double-check every booking. Some excursions have different cancellation policies.

Potential Downsides of Viator

While we love Viator, it’s only fair to discuss some aspects that might be considered downsides:

1. Price Mark-ups:

Viator’s prices can sometimes be higher compared to booking directly with local operators. However, the convenience, reliability, and wealth of choices might justify the extra bucks for many travelers.

2. Overcrowded Tours:

Some tours can get packed, especially the popular ones. Check each listing because they often state the maximum group size so you can ensure it will be a small tour. 

3. Limited Customization:

Viator’s tours are packaged deals, which means customization options might be limited. If you prefer crafting your itinerary down to the last detail, this might not be best for you.

4. Variability in Quality

While Viator strives to offer quality experiences, the nature of the platform means there can be variability in tour quality.

This makes it crucial to scrutinize those reviews and ratings before hitting the ‘book’ button!

Our Experience with Viator in Costa Rica

We were against using Viator for the first few years that we lived in Costa Rica. The main reason for that is because the platform takes a cut of the profits (like any third-party booking website) and we wanted to book directly through tour operators.

But, then we had a few instances when we wanted to pre-book tours and couldn’t. 

See, a lot of websites for companies in Costa Rica are not the best. They will either say “Contact us for pricing” or have a somewhat sketchy-looking booking platform that we didn’t necessarily feel comfortable entering our credit card info in. 

Some companies have great sites, but I would say it’s not common.

So, I thought about it and decided to try booking through Viator. I realized I use Booking.com to book hotels and VRBO to book vacation rentals, and Viator is basically the same thing for activities.

The first tour we booked had free cancellation, which we always like. After booking, I received an email straight away saying that my reservation had been approved. I then received an email from the tour operator with some info about the tour and confirming our pick-up location.

On the day of the tour, everything went smoothly and we had such a good time! Overall, it was 10/10 experience.

We now use Viator often for day trips, mostly for the ease of finding activities and the peace of mind that goes along with booking from a large platform. 

Thomas uses Viator often to book fishing trips in Costa Rica. He finds it is usually the best way to find local guides easily. 

Just note, we are now affiliates of Viator. That means we get a small percentage of any tours which are booked on Viator from clicks on the Costa Rica Vibes website.

However, we actually really do think highly of Viator and use the platform almost exclusively when we travel around the world for excursions. 

How to Book on Viator

Booking on Viator is really simple! Here’s how you can get started:

a. Search & Explore:

We find that the best way to search is by typing in the name of the town in Costa Rica that you are visiting. From here, you can sort by travelers ratings, price low to high, price high to low, or duration. 

b. Select Your Tour:

Once you have found a tour that speaks to you, you will need to create an account to complete your booking. It is free and easy to create an account.  Viator will guide you through every step, ensuring a smooth ride.

c. Confirmation & Details:

Once booked, you’ll receive a confirmation and all the details about your trip.

Things to Look Out For When Booking a Tour on Viator

Booking a tour is exciting, but there are a few things to consider to make the experience smooth and enjoyable. 

Here are some things to look out for when booking a tour on Viator:

1. Read the Reviews:

Dive deep into those reviews. They’re golden nuggets of info from fellow travelers. They will give you the lowdown on what to expect. 

Also, look for patterns in the reviews. If multiple people mention a specific pro or con, it’s worth considering!

2. Check the Cancellation Policy:

We get it, plans can change. Take a look at the cancellation policy to know your options if you need to make any adjustments.

3. Verify the Inclusions and Exclusions:

Check what’s included in the tour and what’s not.

For example, sometimes you might hire a guide for a park, but the admission to the park is not included in the price. Knowing this upfront helps in avoiding any surprise expenses on the day.

This especially applies to transportation. If you will not have a rental car, make sure that the tour can pick you up from your hotel. 

4. Confirm the Meeting Point:

No one wants to start their day in a panic. Double-check the meeting point details and plan your route there. Better to be early and relaxed than late and stressed!

5. Look for Special Requirements:

Some tours have specific requirements like age, physical ability, or clothing. Ensure you meet them to avoid any last-minute hiccups.

6. Consider the Duration:

Take note of how long the tour is. If you have evening plans or another tour booked on the same day, you don’t want any clashes.

7. Keep an Eye on the Price:

Price is a biggie! While Viator offers value, it’s good to compare the price of the tour with the value it provides. And hey, watch out for those sweet deals and discounts!

8. Contact the Tour Operator:

If you have any questions or specific needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to the tour operator directly. They’re usually prompt and happy to help!

Popular Excursions in Costa Rica on Viator

Here are the 3 most popular day tours in Costa Rica on Viator:

Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 2,000 Reviews ⭐️

Location: Day trip from San Jose to La Fortuna and back

Entails:

  • A scenic drive to Arenal
  • A stop at La Casa del Café for a briefing and tasting of Costa Rican coffee.
  • A stop at La Paz Waterfall to view the fall and take pictures
  • A stop at Cinchona – San Fernando Waterfall to view an exotic bird’s gallery including several species of hummingbirds. Here you will also have freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee with traditional local snacks.
  • Go Adventure Arenal Park: Here you will zip line on 9 cables and a 150 feet high rappel line over the Arenal River. You will also learn about the culture and traditions of the Maleku people.
  • Paradise Hot Springs: Here you will relax for a couple of hours in the thermal mineral waters and gardens.

Includes:

  • Transportation:
    • Air-conditioned vehicle.
    • Hotel pickup and drop-off (most San Jose area hotels).
  • Meals:
    • Hearty lunch of authentic Costa Rican cuisine.
    • Delicious dinner in a Costa Rican typical restaurant.
    • Coffee or Tea with traditional local snacks.
  • Admission Tickets:
    • La Casa del Café: Coffee plantation visit.
    • La Paz Waterfall: View and photograph the waterfall and its pristine Rainforest environment.
    • Centro Turístico Las Iguanas: Iguanas Center visit.
    • Go Adventure Arenal Park: Two-hour zip-lining adventure and indigenous tribe presentation.
    • Paradise Hot Springs: Access to thermal mineral waters and gardens.
  • Guidance:
    • Professional bilingual guide.

Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks Coffe Tour

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 1,900 Reviews ⭐️

Hacienda Alsacia is the only Starbucks coffee farm in the world, and you can actually tour it!

On this tour you will wander through the lush farm with a guide. You will get to explore the tree nursery and the bustling wet mill to the drying patio and the aromatic roasting machine. It’s a 90-minute experience of learning and savoring.

Get ready to walk, learn, and of course, indulge in some delicious coffee tastings!

Location: Hacienda Alsacia in Alajuela. It is located about 30 minutes away from the San Jose International Airport.

Surf Lessons in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 1,700 Reviews ⭐️

Dive into the vibrant waves of Tamarindo with a 2-hour surf lesson at an iconic beachside shop! Whether you’re hitting the surf for the first time, learning the ropes of paddling, popping up, and riding the friendly beach breaks, or a seasoned surfer looking to refine your skills, this experience has you covered.

Location: Tamarindo

Includes:

  • Surfing Equipment:
    • Rash guard (Surf Shirt).
    • Soft-Top surfboard
    • Locker
  • Facilities:
    • Use of changing rooms
    • Shower
  • Instruction:
    • 2-hour surf lesson
    • Professional bilingual instructor

Booking Multi-Day Tours on Viator

Viator also offers multi-day tours. 

These tours are well-structured, giving you a chance to explore multiple destinations and enjoy a range of activities, all while enjoying the comfort of pre-arranged accommodations and transport. 

It’s a vacation without the hassle of planning every single detail. 

However, remember to check the itinerary carefully and ensure that the tour aligns with your interests and travel style!

The best way to search for multi-day tours in Costa Rica is to type in “Costa Rica” as what you would like to search for. Then, filter by tours that are more than three days long.

Here are the top 3 multi-day tours in Costa Rica on Viator:

All-Inclusive Package 7 Nights 8 Days

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 50 Reviews ⭐️

Kick back and let the experts craft your eight-day Costa Rican adventure.

This tour allows you to explore the nation’s gems like lush national parks, aromatic coffee plantations, and majestic volcanoes!

Dive into a whirlwind of excitement with activities like river rafting and zip-lining, all while exploring the diverse beauty of Costa Rica.

It’s a journey packed with variety, suited for explorers with eclectic tastes. You will travel in style and comfort with your group, stay in plush four-star hotels, and savor most of your breakfasts and meals, all wrapped up in a private tour tailored just for you!

Week of Adventures

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 70 Reviews ⭐️

Unwind and immerse in the thrill as every detail of your eight-day Costa Rican trip is meticulously planned out for you!

From cozy accommodations and delicious meals to seamless transport and a medley of activities like whitewater rafting, ziplining, surfing, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting, all you need to do is dive in and live the adventure.

It’s a journey through the diverse landscapes of this rich, green country, tailored for those with a passion for action and a love for nature.

You will travel smoothly in a comfy, air-conditioned vehicle.

PADI Open Water Diver Course

⭐️  RATING: 5/5 Stars | Over 30 Reviews ⭐️

Dive into the art of underwater exploration with a three-day dive course set against the stunning backdrop of Costa Rica’s pristine beaches!

Kickstart your journey with theory lessons, progressively diving deeper with guided excursions, all leading up to the PADI exam.

It’s a small-group course, maxing out at four, ensuring you grab every bit of knowledge from your instructor.

Just note that this tour does not include accommodations. You can participate in this course in Tamarindo, Playa Potrero, or from Playa Flamingo.

Booking Transportation on Viator

The platform also offers a range of transportation options, from shared shuttles to private transfers. 

Whether you’re heading from the airport to your hotel or venturing out to explore, Viator makes it easy to book reliable and convenient transportation services. 

Just keep an eye on the details, like pick-up points and times, to avoid any travel issues!

Also, if you are looking for a private shuttle, we work exclusively with Adobe Transfers. You can get a quote from them here.

Last Pieces of Advice on Booking with Viator in Costa Rica

Travel Insurance

We always suggest purchasing travel insurance. This will help protect you if your plans change somewhat last minute if you get injured during an excursion and more! Our go-to travel insurance is HeyMondo.

You can get a travel insurance quote from HeyMondo here. 

How Early to Book

Typically, you can arrange things to do in Costa Rica somewhat last minute. However, during the dry season, things tend to book out fast. If you know your plans, I suggest arranging your excursions as early as possible. 

Tipping

In general, you should tip in Costa Rica if you have a good experience. This is not required, but we usually at least give a few dollars per person (or more) after a good day tour. 

Check Your Email

Make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox for any emails from your tour operator. They will let you know about any change of plans, things you should bring/ wear etc. 

Enter a Phone Number if Possible

You will likely be booking your tour before you actually enter Costa Rica. If there is a spot for a phone number, please include the phone number you will have access to while in Costa Rica. Don’t forget to include the country code.

This will make it easy for the tour operator to get in touch with you somewhat last minute if needed.

Also, just so you know, WhatsApp is the main communication method here. 

Leave a Review

Try to remember to leave a review at the end of your tour on the Viator platform. This helps future travelers and helps the company attract future tourists. 

There Are No Addresses

I know this sounds crazy, but it is true. There are no addresses in Costa Rica.

If you are booking a day tour with transportation you will need to enter your hotel name. 

If you are staying in a vacation rental, you can enter the name of the rental (if it is on Google Maps) or ask the property owner to provide you with the GPS coordinates.

Conclusion: Viator Costa Rica

In conclusion, Viator is. a great way to plan fun day trips, multi-day tours, and transportation in Costa Rica. It is helpful to have the backing of a large platform like Viator to ensure that your booking goes through smoothly, your payment is secure, and you can cancel if needed.

If you have any questions about planning your trip to Costa Rica with Viator, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you plan!

You Might Also Like:

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.