A guide for Costa Rica Cell Phone Bandwidth, Services, and Staying Connected as a Tourist

The Easy Way To Use Your (Unlocked) Phone - Get an Airalo eSIM!

If you have an unlocked phone, we highly recommend getting an eSIM through Airalo. You can do so by following this link to Airalo's website.

💖  New Customers Promotion

Use the code DEC15 to offer New Customers an additional 15% discount on all Airalo eSIMs. 

💗 Existing Customers Promotion

Use the code DEC10 to offer Existing Customers an additional 10% discount on all Airalo eSIMs.

Terms and conditions may apply. Validity Period: Until December 31, 2023

Airalo Info

Airalo, established in 2019, is the pioneering eSIM marketplace dedicated to revolutionizing travel connectivity. Our mission is to simplify and economize connectivity for travelers like you. We understand the hassles of buying local SIM cards, experiencing service disruptions abroad, and dealing with costly roaming fees because we've been there too. Airalo offers eSIMs (digital SIMs) for over 200 countries and regions worldwide, making it effortless to stay connected when you travel. With an Airalo eSIM, you can conveniently download a data plan for your destination and instantly connect to a local mobile network upon arrival. Ready to learn more? Let's dive into how it all works.

What is an eSIM?

What's an eSIM? It's short for "embedded SIM card," a digital chip within your phone's hardware. Similar to a physical SIM card, it links you to a carrier's network, but it's entirely digital. Think of it as a downloadable SIM card. You can purchase, download, and activate eSIM plans on-the-go. Most devices support multiple eSIM plans, stored as "profiles," making it easy to switch between networks when you travel or for different purposes.

eSIM vs. SIM Card: What Sets Them Apart?

  • eSIMs are embedded within your device, so they're not removable or swappable.

  • eSIMs are carrier-independent, meaning they're not tied to a specific carrier, allowing you to choose from various carriers if your phone is unlocked and eSIM-compatible.

  • eSIMs are secure; they can't be lost or stolen as they can't be physically removed from your device, enhancing security.

  • eSIMs are durable; since they're not removable, they're less prone to physical damage unless your device itself is compromised.

Is My Phone eSIM-Ready?

Most flagship devices from 2018 onwards support eSIM technology, but compatibility may vary based on your mobile provider and the purchase location. To simplify, we've compiled a list of eSIM-compatible devices for your convenience. If your device is on the list and isn't restricted, you're good to proceed!

Keep in mind, your phone must be carrier-unlocked to use an Airalo eSIM. An unlocked phone isn't tied to a carrier contract, granting you the freedom to use any carrier's SIM or activate an eSIM. Typically, a device is unlocked if you bought it outright (not as part of a mobile plan). Confirm its status with your carrier for certainty.

There you have it! If you have an unlocked phone, you're ready for easy-peasy communication and use of your own phone with the Airalo eSIM. If not, read on...

More Info & Other Ways To Do It...

Cell Phone Services in Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts a well-developed cell phone network that covers most of the country, including many remote areas. The country's major cell phone service providers include:

1. ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) - Kolbi:

ICE is the state-owned telecommunications company in Costa Rica and offers extensive coverage. Kolbi is their commercial brand and provides prepaid and postpaid plans.

2. Claro:

Claro is a popular choice among tourists due to its widespread coverage and the availability of prepaid SIM cards.

3. Movistar:

Movistar, a subsidiary of Telefónica, is another reliable option for cell phone services in Costa Rica.

Getting a Local SIM Card

If you're traveling with an unlocked cell phone, getting a local SIM card is a cost-effective way to stay connected in Costa Rica. Here's how to do it:

Bring an Unlocked Phone: Ensure your phone is unlocked before arriving in Costa Rica. Unlocked phones allow you to use SIM cards from different carriers.

Purchase a SIM Card: SIM cards are readily available at the airport, official carrier stores, and various retail outlets. You'll need to present your passport for registration.

Choose a Plan: Select a prepaid plan that suits your needs, whether it's for calls, text messages, or data. Carriers offer various data packages to cater to tourists.

Insert the SIM Card: Insert the new SIM card into your phone and restart it. Your phone should automatically detect the local network.

Top-Up Your Plan: You can usually top up your plan at convenience stores, supermarkets, or online through the carrier's website or mobile app.

Cell Phone Bandwidth and Internet Speed

Costa Rica's cell phone network offers 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE coverage in most urban areas. However, internet speed and network reliability may vary in remote or mountainous regions. Here are some tips for optimizing your internet experience:

Use Wi-Fi: Many hotels, restaurants, and cafes in popular tourist destinations offer free Wi-Fi. Take advantage of these connections for data-intensive tasks like video calls.

Download Offline Maps: Before venturing into areas with limited signal, download offline maps through apps like Google Maps. This allows you to navigate without an internet connection.

Purchase Data Packages: If you plan to use mobile data extensively, consider purchasing a local SIM card with a data package. This provides a more reliable and cost-effective solution than international roaming.

Internet Access for Tourists

Costa Rica offers internet access to tourists through various means:

Wi-Fi: As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels, restaurants, and public areas. It's a convenient way to stay connected without using mobile data.

Cybercafes: Many towns and cities have cybercafes where you can access the internet for a small fee.

Hotspots: Some tourist hubs, especially in larger cities, have public Wi-Fi hotspots. Look for signs or ask locals for information.

Cellular Data: Prepaid SIM cards with data packages provide reliable internet access across the country.

Internet Cafes: In addition to cybercafes, you can find internet cafes that offer computer rentals and internet access for a reasonable price.

Internet Safety and Security

While using public Wi-Fi or local SIM cards, it's essential to prioritize your online security. Here are a few tips:

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN encrypts your internet connection, safeguarding your data from potential threats on public networks.

Keep Software Updated: Ensure your phone's operating system and apps are up to date to patch any known vulnerabilities.

Avoid Public Computers: If possible, avoid using public computers for sensitive tasks like online banking, as they may not be secure.

With a local SIM card and a few precautions, you can enjoy reliable internet access during your visit to Costa Rica, ensuring you stay connected while exploring this beautiful country's wonders. Whether you're sharing stunning photos of your adventures or navigating the rainforest with GPS, a Costa Rican SIM card or Wi-Fi connection will keep you in touch with both the digital and natural worlds of this remarkable destination.

Unsure of what to do? Let us make you a free custom trip plan!