Should I tip? Who do I tip? How much do I tip?
At Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated we often receive requests from clients asking us to provide them with our recommendations for tipping in Costa Rica. This is difficult for us to do with confidence, as the deciding factor in determining whether one should or should not tip (and furthermore, the amount one should tip if they decide to do so) should be the degree of service provided by the guide, driver, waiter, and/or other individual potentially deserving of your reward. Since levels of service vary, so too should the guidelines travellers follow in regards to tipping. This being said, we have done our best to compile a few general recommendations for tipping throughout your Costa Rica vacation while trusting that each traveller will adjust his or her tips according to their own personal experience and level of comfort.
FOR TOUR GUIDES
The general rule (if you decide you would like to tip) is to tip the guide you have. This may sound obvious, however for a few tours you may interact with a number of guides leaving you to question whether it is best to tip one guide or give a little to everyone. Some tours offer a tip jar at the end of the tour (answering this question for you), in which case any fund you contribute to the jar will be divided amongst the guides. In cases where a tip jar is not provided, the general rule is to tip the specific guide you have. If in doubt (often two or more guides share guiding responsibilities), you can divide your tip amount amongst the group and tip each guide. As for a specific amount to tip, this is an important question and one that should be answered based on how each travellers feels. The general rule for tipping is usually higher in the US/Canada (a standard 15-20% or so), as Costa Ricans are regularly satisfied with anywhere from 10-15%. As a group of 2 or more people (if you are travelling with others), not all travellers in the group would be expected to tip this percentage of the tour price as this would add up to a rather large amount. We typically suggest pooling the individuals’ tips together and giving an amount that the group would feel comfortable awarding the guide with according to the service(s) rendered
FOR TOUR DRIVERS, SHUTTLE SERVICE DRIVERS, AND/OR PRIVATE TRANSFER SERVICE DRIVERS
Although tips are not required we generally recommend giving a few dollars to each if he/she performs their service(s) well.
For TAXI DRIVERS
Tips are also not required, although it is kind to show your appreciation by offering a few dollars (for longer transportation services) and/or rounding up the total shown on the meter (for shorter transportation services)
FOR RESTAURANT STAFF
Tipping is also appreciated although it is not expected as much as it is in the US/Canada. We advise clients to check their bill at each restaurant they choose to eat at, since many restaurants will already add a 10% tip to the bill (this might appear as a 10% service tax or service fee). If this appears on your bill you can then choose to leave more for the waiter in order to bring the overall tip total up to a 15-20% gratuity if you would like to do so (again, according to the level of service you received throughout your meal). Otherwise, for those restaurants that do not automatically include a tip in the overall dining cost, you can provide what you wish to the waiter (typically 10-15% is the norm).
Note: tips can be offered in USD or local Costa Rican colones.
Of course, for those travellers who visit Costa Rica from countries where tipping is not practiced, by no means is it a requirement to engage in such an act while on vacation. Conversely, for those who are accustomed to tipping at home, it is a kind offering to continue performing this act throughout your trip to Costa Rica. Your generosity will surely be appreciated.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What are your tipping suggestions and/or recommendations for Costa Rica travel?