You carry your phone everywhere, so why not make it work for you during your trip to Costa Rica? Yep, we’re talking about a few hard-working apps that will make your travels a little easier, a little more enjoyable and, sometimes, even a little more enlightened.
In order of priority (maybe), from the app that everyone should download to apps for specific (albeit broad) interests, we present five apps we think almost everyone should download before their trip to Costa Rica:
Can’t Miss: Waze
Did you know there are no standard addresses in Costa Rica? That’s right – the restaurant everyone said you had to try? Well, it’s located “100 meters east, 200 meters north, and 25 meters west of the old surf sign [that no longer exists].” Enter Waze.
If you’re renting a car in Costa Rica – and even if you aren’t – you need Waze. This free GPS map navigates Costa Rican roads even better than Google Maps, thanks to plenty of user-generated content (including current traffic conditions, accidents, etc.). The app also works well if you’re walking around town, so we can’t recommend it highly enough. Note: You’ll need to purchase an economical pre-paid SIM card to use Waze but if you begin navigation while on WiFi, the app won’t use much data while en route.
Wondering how much that ¢38.285 restaurant bill converts to? (It’s about $67.50, by the way.) Then, look no further than a currency conversion app, which does conversions on the fly for your bills, souvenir costs, and any other colones purchase. Your favorite app will do – just be sure it includes conversion to Costa Rican colones (CRC) – but if you don’t have one already, it doesn’t get much better than XE Currency.
If you’re not fluent in Spanish, you will be with Google Translate’s app! Not only does it do instantaneous voice translation – record what someone says and the app will translate to English, or speak in English and have the app translate to Spanish – but you can also snap photos of signs for immediate translation. Note: You’ll need a data connection for this app to work so again, be sure you purchase a SIM card at the airport.
If Tamarindo surfing is on your to-do list, then you’re going to love the Magic Seaweed app. Not only does it deliver long-range surf forecasts, but the app also features user input and almost up-to-the-minute surf reports and ocean conditions. (Example: See current conditions in Tamarindo.) Beginners, find the perfect easy waves and advanced surfers, hightail it to the biggest waves in the area!
If you’re headed into the rainforest, the dry forest, the cloud forest, the river, the mangrove, the waterfall, the… okay, literally anywhere in Costa Rica, you’re almost certainly going to spot exotic birds. And that’s why we love this free app (with paid upgrade), which help you identify the birds you can hear, not see.
The free version comes with 136 tracks of 30 common species, while the full version (currently $19.99) includes more than 2000 tracks for 765 bird species. Bonus: Once you download the app, you won’t need an internet connection to listen to bird calls and song.
Now you tell us: What other kinds of apps do you download before travel?