Costa Rica is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Its main attractions are adventure trips, tropical beaches, cultural attractions, and its natural features. Regardless of what you will be doing in this beautiful land, you will definitely be using up a lot of their services, so it is useful to read up on the tipping etiquette in Costa Rica.
Here are some great tips you need to know about tipping in Costa Rica.
Basic Tipping Info
The Spanish word for “tip” is “propina.” It is synonymous to “reward” and originates from the term “propiare,” a Latin word that means to give something. Costa Rica differs from many countries in that their restaurants already include gratuities in the bill.
With other service staff that you will likely be working with, the practice resembles that in many other countries. Tipping is not mandatory, but it would be nice if you gave. Sometimes, you would see envelopes for chambermaids on hotel room nightstands or tip jars on ice cream parlor counters.
Tipping etiquette in hotels in Costa Rica can differ by the kind of hotel you are staying in. If it is a high-end hotel or resort, the common tip amount is about $1 to $1.50 for each bag, upon check-in and check-out.
For housekeepers, the typical amount is around $2 for each night. It is advised that you give the maid a little extra as early as the first day to ensure great service the rest of your stay there.
Meanwhile, in hotel bars, the commonly tipped amount is around $1 per drink. Also, do not forget to hand the doorman around $1 for hailing you a cab.
Like in hotels in other countries, the concierge is generally not tipped, but you can give around $1 to $2 if you are particularly satisfied with their service, recommendation, or hard-to-book seats they got you.
As mentioned, restaurants in Costa Rica already charge gratuities, as mandated by law. That percentage, 10%, is already added to your bill and considered the standard (but minimum).
Costa Ricans generally no longer tip on top of what is already charged to them, but that is slowly changing. As a tourist, feel free to tip, especially when the restaurant staff has been exceptionally kind, helpful, friendly, and/or accommodating.
For scuba diving guides, the typical amount is around $10. This category includes the crew you’re riding with when sport fishing. The standard amount for them is between 15% and 20% of the cost of the charter, which your travel consultant can tell you.
Private naturalist guides, on average, receive $15 to $20 per day for each person in the tour group (all-day tour). If you are a small group, that is, with less than 10 persons, it is always polite to give more.
Local guides for half-day tours are generally tipped $10 to $15, but that can also change according to the size of your group.
Transfer guides typically receive $3 for each person. Again, you want to top that up a little bit if your group is quite small.
Guachimans, those guys who guide you as you back into or out of a parking space, are usually tipped $1 or so.
A driver designated to your group is tipped between $5 and $7.50 for each person each day. You want to give a bit more if your group is small, that is, three persons or less.
For short taxi rides, tourists commonly just round up their fare to the nearest dollar. For long rides, you can give $1 to $5. However, if your trip is very long, it is polite to give a little more.
Airport shuttle drivers are not tipped in general, but you can give around $1 per bag if they help you out.
For water taxi drivers, a $2 tip for one ride should be sufficient. Meanwhile, for tour bus drivers, you can give around $10 if it is an all-day tour.
You can give your service provider at a spa around 15% for good service. Meanwhile, hairstylists are generally given 15% of the total bill for a job well done.
Calculating tips in Costa Rica’s establishments can be tricky, what with the government-mandated tax and tip already incorporated in restaurant bills and the different practices of many other service-based places. The key is to know the standard and reward great employees always.