A trip to Costa Rica offers breathtaking views, sparkling seas (on both coasts!), misty mountains, tropical forests, breezy warm weather, and beautiful flora and fauna. A vacation schedule full of surfing, beach lounging, hiking in the mountains, and soaking in the tropical weather leaves little time for shopping.
You won’t want to forget your incredible time spent here, however, so souvenirs are a must for yourself and expectant friends and family back home! We’ve compiled a list of the best Costa Rica souvenirs that will remind you of the culturally rich country so you don’t have to take time away from your sight seeing to spend hours shopping.
The perfect sauce to top your casado, Lizano is the most famous Costa Rica condiment. A family recipe from 1920, Salsa Lizano is found on every restaurant table in Costa Rica. Particularly delicious with gallo pinto, once you try this sauce you won’t be able to have another meal without it. Bring the authentic flavor of Costa Rica cuisine home to family and friends (and don’t forget a bottle for yourself)!
Costa Rica is the land of coffee. Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s number one exports and it plays a large role in the country’s economy. Costa Rica’s coffee is widely considered some of the best in the world, specifically the coffee from Tarrazú, a stunning valley near the capitol San Jose. To enjoy the deep, rich flavors of the country’s famous drink from the comfort of your own home, don’t forget to bring a few bags back with you.
If you happen to spend some time in Playa Jaco, stop into Cafe Bohio for a taste of this exquisite Tarrazú coffee blended with creamy coconut milk. Cafe Bohio brings beans from Tarrazú to their home roastery and roasts on site – you can pick your favorite roast from the coffee filled shelves in the cafe.
Costa Rica Coffee Maker – Chorreador
If you are bringing home a bag of Costa Rica coffee, it only makes sense to bring the proper tools to make the coffee. A chorreador is the traditional way coffee is made in Costa Rica. A simple (or elaborately carved) wooden structure holds a coffee “sock” (or cloth filter), and hot water is poured through, flowing through freshly ground coffee into a ready waiting mug (or large pot for multiple cups of coffee).
Costa Rica coffee undoubtedly tastes better when it is made the traditional way. Bring one home to your coffee obsessed friend to teach them a bit about the tradition of Costa Rica coffee.
“Pura Vida” T-shirt
Whether you speak Spanish or not, there is one phrase that you will be more than familiar with if you spend anytime in Costa Rica, and that is “Pura Vida.” Used to say hello, goodbye, and anything in between, pura vida is the motto of Costa Rica. Translated literally, it means “pure life,” but what it represents is the relaxed, laid back, everything is alright, no worries attitude and atmosphere of Costa Rica. Found hanging in almost any souvenir shop, a “Pura Vida” t-shirt is a stylish way to remember your trip.
If there are any nights of your trip that you don’t remember, chiliguaro is most likely to blame. Costa Rica’s most famous shot, like a little bloody mary, chiliguaro is a combination of tomato juice, speciality hot sauces, and Guaro, the country’s most famous liquor.
Made from cane sugar, Guaro is a slightly sweet, but relatively neutral tasting clear liquor, that makes it perfect for mixed drinks (or chiliguaros). Although many Central American countries produce a bootleg version of the liquor, Costa Rica Cacique Guaro is the nationally recognized brand. Bring a bottle to family and friends to get the fiesta started back home.
Cafe Britt Chocolate
Another famous coffee producer, Cafe Britt also makes delicious chocolates. Dark chocolate covered almonds, cashews, cranberries, passion fruit, bananas, pineapple – the list goes on and on. The chocolate covered coffee beans are the perfect blend of Costa Rica flavors that will please anyone’s taste buds.
As there is a large Cafe Britt located inside the San Jose or Liberia airports, Cafe Britt chocolate is a great last minute souvenir option! You will also find cute stuffed sloths and monkeys here for any children at home expecting gifts.
Handmade Coconut Bowls
Palm trees, the hallmark of tropical paradise, are found all over Costa Rica, from the coast to the city. If you spend anytime on the beach during your trip, you will see plenty of men selling “pipa fria,” or cold coconut water, the perfect drink to quench your thirst on a hot day. Coconut milk also plays a large part in Costa Rica cuisine, especially on the Caribbean coast. If you’re lucky, you’ll find craftsmen selling handmade coconut bowls. These beautiful works of art are great for the eco conscious person on your list. Each unique, they are beautifully recycled statement pieces for any kitchen.
Hand Carved Wood Mask
While you won’t find as many colorful textiles in Costa Rica as in other central american countries, there are many other beautifully unique artisanal crafts. Bright, colorful wood carved masks can be found in almost any souvenir shop or art studio. Featuring the faces of men or animals, fangs, and fierce teeth, these masks are incredibly detailed, showing off skilled craftsmanship. A great art hanging for the kitchen, living room, or bedroom, the art fan in your family will love one of these unique gifts.
VIDA Blue Clay
For the beauty conscious friend on your list, bring home one of the handcrafted VIDA Blue Clay beauty products. Offered in 2oz., 4oz., or 12oz. sizes, VIDA Blue Clay is rainforest clay sourced from one location in Costa Rica. Found near pure, fresh spring water, this powdered clay contains no sulfur, additives, or preservatives. It is full of natural minerals and is known to purify, disinfect, and eliminate toxins from the skin. It is used in many cosmetics and purported to promote healthy, youthful skin.
For the beach lover, consider bringing home one of the fun printed towels found in any souvenir shop. Featuring colorful pictures of sloths, scarlet macaws, white face monkeys, the different Costa Rica colones bills, or “Pura Vida” printed large, these fun towels will keep you dry, make you stand out on the beach, and remind you of the beautiful coasts of Costa Rica.
If you happen to have more room in your suitcase, consider one of the hand knitted hammocks that are also hanging from every souvenir shop. These hammocks come in a variety of colors and are the perfect gift for the chill guy at home!
Wooden Rocking Chair
For the ultimate souvenir, an artisanal, handmade leather and wooden rocking chair will add some “pura vida” style to your home. These chairs can be found around the country in furniture stores (especially the “Sarchi” stores) and sometimes in larger souvenir stores.
The chairs are beautifully detailed works of art and are very comfortable. You can choose one that is already designed or ask an artisan to customize one for you and have your name carved into the leather backing.
As these chairs are quite large, they will require a bit of extra planning than a typical souvenir. Most airlines will let you check it as an extra piece of baggage, or you can choose to have the chair shipped directly to your house!
No matter where you go, whenever you travel there are always expectant friends and family back home, hoping to share in your experience with a small souvenir. When you’re in Costa Rica, however, you may be enjoying yourself so much that you forget about everyone at home!
This list was made so you don’t have to think too much about what to buy for your friends and family. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the “pura vida” way of life – we’ve got the souvenirs covered for you here. Just don’t forget to bring something back for yourself as well!