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What to Know About Tipping in Costa Rica

Costa Rica News & Information – What amount to tip is always a consideration when traveling. Even at home, people disagree on what the appropriate amount is. Is it a set percentage? Is it based on the quality of service? Is it fair to tip a waiter less if the food is not so good? When you go abroad there will be a new set of questions and a new standard.

In Spanish speaking countries the word for tip is “propina.” If you are at a border crossing you will often havetipping in costa rica people running after you offering (often unnecessary) services and demanding a “propina.” Once in the country people are not so upfront about expecting a tip, though they will very much appreciate one.

Keep in mind that those working in tourism sectors may make an extremely low base salary. They feed their families on almost tips alone! Tipping is a personal choice, of course. Take into consideration that an extra dollar may be nothing to you but mean a world of difference to someone trying desperately to make a $5 per hour salary. The quality of service and your personal budget are other factors that will come into play when deciding who to tip and in what amounts. Here are some general guidelines to base your decisions on.

  • Drinks are so cheap (think $2 margarita) that you may want to add $1 per drink as a tip.
  • Anyone carrying your bags for you would expect at least $1 per bag.
  • At border crossings or any other outdoor area where they are carrying bags in the heat, give at least $5.
  • A nice tip for a fishing guide or captain would be $40 per full day.
  • Hairstylists, pool attendants, and boat drivers should get $2.
  • Leave a big tip for your maid on the first day to ensure good service throughout the stay.
  • $2 a day after that should be sufficient. Private drivers, room service attendants, waitresses, and massage therapists usually receive 15% of the service or meal cost.
  • Taxi drivers should get an extra dollar or two if they give you the correct change.
  • If they steal a tip don’t give any extra tip!
  • Tour guides and tour bus drivers would appreciate a few dollars extra per person. 

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