How to Tip in Costa Rica
Tipping and Gratuities in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a very different approach to tipping than the U.S. However, while there are no hard and fast rules about gratuities in Costa Rica, some general customs should be observed when traveling.
Tipping in Costa Rica Restaurants
Like in the United States, restaurants are the most likely place you'll encounter a situation where you could be left scratching your head over the tip. Unlike the U.S., all Costa Rican restaurants will automatically add a 10 percent gratuity to your bill before it's given to you, in addition to the 13 percent tax. In Costa Rican eateries, tipping is optional. However, offering an additional sum is polite if you feel your server exceeded your expectations or went the extra mile to ensure you were happy with your meal.
Although some Americans might feel that 10 percent is a little low for a tip, Ticos generally don't bother to add any extra onto the existing tip. Of course, it's by no means expected that you do so. However, if you want to give your server a little more, they will likely be most grateful for your generosity.
With all that said, places that do get a lot of visitors from the US are accustomed to their servers getting a larger percentage for their tip. The restaurants will often have a footnote on their menus stating that tips or taxes are not included, pay attention to that so as not to be surprised at the end of your meal.
Tipping the Staff in the Hotels
Another place where tipping can get a little confusing in Costa Rica is hotels. Depending on the accommodation you're staying in, cultural etiquette regarding tips can change.
If you're staying at a high-end resort, it's customary to offer a tip of around $1 per bag. Similarly, many people leave the housekeeper a tip of about $2 per day for the duration of their stay. It's worth remembering that if you leave the maid a little more, do so on your first day, as this will likely result in even better service for the rest of your trip. Finally, if you have a few drinks at the hotel bar, it's generally considered good manners to tip around $1 per drink.
Remote jungle resorts and lodges also have different ways for you to support local communities—the staff often live in this area because of the service they provide to you as a guest. The tip is usually collective, so the ‘behind-the-scenes’ workers get their share too. Each place has their own recommendations on what is customary, so ask your travel consultant about it!
Tipping drivers and other people who help you see the sights can get a little more complicated.
If you're taking a cab a short distance, a large tip isn't necessary, but rounding the fare up to the nearest dollar is usually the norm. For longer cab rides, a tip of between $1 and $5 is sufficient, but if you're going a long way, giving a little extra might be a good idea. Tipping tour bus drivers will cost you a bit more. A tip of around $10 is appropriate for an all-day (8-12 hours) tour. Sometimes it’s shared between the guides that accompany the activity.
Drivers of water taxis usually get around $2 per journey.
Private transfers, getting you from and to the airport and in between the places you’re visiting is not necessary, however some of them really go above and beyond in their service, teaching you Spanish, explaining local culture, stopping for photo opportunities, taking you to famous local eateries—whatever is that you prefer doing (or not doing).
So, while tips are not expected, they are welcomed with much gratitude.
Regarding the tour guides, a tip between $5 and $15 is considered polite, depending on how many people are in your group. If you go on a scuba diving tour, a tip of about $10 is acceptable.
If you are heading out on a dolphin tour, it is customary to tip your crew. Iit is usually the boat driver and the guide that are on board. Most of these tours will provide beverages and a snack during the time.
If you are heading out to see the turtles, we recommend tipping the guides that take you out on the beaches. A lot of this work is on a volunteer basis or with very little pay. The guide greatly appreciates any gesture.
Tipping on Fishing Charters in Costa Rica
When heading out on a sports fishing trip, it's customary to tip the crew! The standard tip is 15% to 20% of the charter cost. Please ask your travel consultant for an exact amount, and they can provide the charter cost.
These guidelines are just that—rough estimates. Costa Rica welcomes millions of tourists annually, and Ticos will usually go above and beyond to ensure you have an unforgettable trip. If you feel the people deserve a little extra, then, by all means, tip generously.
FAQs of Tipping in Costa Rica
Is it customary to tip in Costa Rica?
It depends on what you would be tipping on. If it's in a restaurant, the tips are included, but if you are doing a specific tour such as a fishing tour or a dolphin tour, a tip is not customary, but it sure is nice to get a little extra.
How much do I tip in Costa Rica?
It depends, of course, on what type of service you are using. The restaurants already have the tip included. If someone is cleaning your room, then maybe $2/a day. Grabbing your luggage, we would suggest about $1/luggage. If you are doing an Uber or another transportation service, then $1 - $5 is plenty. Once again, go by feel, and if it was exceptional, add a little extra. It is noticed and appreciated.
Do you tip servers at all-inclusive?
It isn't necessary, and the Costa Rican culture doesn't expect it since this is their job, but if someone goes out of the way and you feel the need to, we encourage it.
How much do you tip a resort staff?
We feel you should tip what you think is fair and what they did for you. But, if the resort staff went above and beyond for you, maybe a little extra.
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