Dating in Costa Rica

With its lush rain forests, stunning beaches, and rich cultural heritage, Costa Rica is as renowned for its beauty as it is for its warm and friendly people. These characteristics extend to its dating culture, which is an intriguing blend of tradition, affectionate nature, and modern influences. As one of the many beautiful countries that makes up the greater Latin American region, Costa Rica is captivating world of natural beauty and passionate daters.

Like many other Central American countries, the dating culture in Costa Rica is deeply rooted in its traditional values, particularly the importance of family. Family bonds are strong, and respect for elders is paramount as is the case with its neighbors Panama and Honduras. Often, the approval of family members plays a significant role in the progression of relationships. In many cases, dates might be casual family gatherings or events where the couple can get to know each other in a familial setting.1

Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” are known for their “Pura Vida” lifestyle, which translates to “pure life.” This attitude manifests in their dating culture, where relationships are often relaxed and people express their affection openly. Public displays of affection are common and accepted in Costa Rican society. This affectionate and laid-back attitude helps create a dating culture that is warm, welcoming, and unpressured.

Costa Rican nature is a great first date location
Catarata del Toro waterfall in Costa Rica with surrounding mountains. Juan Castro Blanco National Park (90m high)

As Costa Rica continues to progress in terms of gender equality, the traditional dynamics of dating are evolving. Women are increasingly assertive in dating, and men are becoming more open to sharing traditional roles.

One of the challenges in the Costa Rican dating scene is the prevalence of “machismo,” a Latin American cultural construct that emphasizes male dominance and power. This attitude can influence the dynamics of dating, with men often expected to take the lead. However, Costa Rica has made significant strides in promoting gender equality, and attitudes are slowly changing, particularly among younger generations.3

Despite the strong influence of tradition, modern perspectives have begun to reshape the dating culture in Costa Rica. This change is evident in the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder and Badoo, which have gained popularity among young Costa Ricans.2 These platforms have opened new avenues for dating, introducing more flexibility and independence into the traditionally family-oriented Costa Rican dating scene.

The dating culture in Costa Rica is a vibrant blend of traditional values, relaxed attitudes, and evolving modern influences. From strong family ties to the affectionate “Pura Vida” lifestyle, and the changing dynamics brought about by online dating and gender equality, dating in Costa Rica offers a rich and varied experience. For those seeking to navigate this intriguing dating landscape, understanding these unique cultural nuances can lead to deeper connections and a truly immersive Costa Rican dating experience.

Interesting facts about dating in Costa Rica

  1. Family Approval: In Costa Rica, family plays a significant role in the dating process. It’s not uncommon for dates to take place at family events where the individual’s partner can get to know the family and vice versa.
  2. Arrival Times: In Costa Rica, it’s customary to arrive late to social events. This cultural norm, known as “Tico time,” also applies to dates, so don’t be surprised if your Costa Rican date is fashionably late.
  3. Traditional Gender Roles: Costa Rican society is traditionally patriarchal, and this is reflected in its dating culture. Men are often expected to be gentlemen, treating women with respect and courtesy, including paying for meals and transportation.
  4. Machismo Culture: “Machismo,” or male dominance, is a cultural aspect that can influence dating in Costa Rica. However, societal attitudes are changing, particularly among younger people, towards more equal and respectful gender dynamics in dating.
  5. Nature Dates: Costa Rica is known for its stunning natural landscapes, and these often form the backdrop of dates. Whether it’s a walk on the beach, a hike in the rainforest, or a visit to a national park, Costa Ricans love to incorporate nature into their dating activities.
  6. Affectionate Culture: Public displays of affection are common and accepted in Costa Rican culture. From holding hands to embracing, Costa Ricans aren’t shy about showing their feelings.
  7. LGBTQ+ Dating: Costa Rica is one of the more progressive countries in Central America when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. In 2020, it became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage, reflecting increasing acceptance and inclusivity in the Costa Rican dating scene.
  8. Marriage Customs: In Costa Rica, civil marriages are the norm, and religious ceremonies are not legally recognized. Also, Costa Ricans tend to marry later compared to global averages, with many choosing to live together before deciding to marry.

Most Romantic Day in Costa Rica

Dia del amor y la Amistad, one of the most romantic holidays in Latin America

In Costa Rica, Lover’s Day, or Día de los Enamorados, is generally considered to be the most romantic holiday. It is celebrated on February 14th and is similar to Valentine’s Day in the United States. Couples exchange gifts and go out for romantic dinners or other special activities. In some circles, the day is also as celebrated as Día de la Amistad (Friendship Day). This reflects the importance of friendship and platonic love in latino culture, and many people use the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate all types of love, not just romantic love.

Typical First Date in Costa Rica

The typical first date in Costa Rica will vary depending on a few factors such as couple dynamics, socioeconomic factors, location or city, however there are some common elements that many dates share. The main emphasis of a first date in Costa Rica should be on getting to know each other in a relaxed, informal setting. Whether it’s over a cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee, on the dance floor, or out in nature, the goal is to build a connection, check the vibe and see if there is potential for a deeper relationship.

Couple on hike in Costa Rica, dating in Costa Rica includes nature
  • Coffee or drinks: Costa Rica is renowned for its coffee production. Proud ticos might say its the best in the world. Many first dates in Costa Rica take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar.
  • Mall: In large cities, like San Jose, shopping malls or areas are common date spots. The reason is for safety and the idea that it is a public setting. This could be a restaurant, bar or coffee spot inside a mall, or just walking around.
  • Outdoor activities: In others parts of Costa Rica, particularly rural and beach areas, there are many beautiful natural landscapes, and outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, biking, or visiting a local park or playa. Natures dates are popular options for a first date, especially among active and holistic couples people.
  • Group dates: In some dynamics of culture in Costa Rica, group dates are more common than one-on-one dates, particularly in the early stages of a relationship. This can be a way to get to know each other in a more relaxed, social setting among friends.
  • Dancing: Dancing is an essential part of Latin American culture. Dancing can be a common activity on a first date. This can include anything from merengue to salsa, depending on what music is trending in Costa Rica and the couple’s interests.
  • Meeting the family: In some demographics and communities in Costa Rica, it is common for couples to meet each other’s families early on in the relationship. This may happen on the first date, or shortly thereafter. It doesn’t mean that its guaranteed but it might happen.

Dating etiquette

Latinos tend to be very passionate about dating and social life. When you are going on a date in Costa Rica, it is important to consider the dating etiquette and manners. Here are some general tips to keep in mind when dating in Costa Rica, they may also be applicable in other Latin American countries:

  • Punctuality: Latinos in general are known for their mañana (tomorrow) attitude. Costa Ricans especially, even have tico time. On average, punctuality is not a strength of Costa Ricans. Expect that a date time is relative. Though punctuality still may be important for your date in Costa Rica, good communication is key. It’s always a good idea to be on time for a date or at least keep in touch about your arrival time.
  • Dress to impress: Dressing well is important in Costa Rica. Make sure to put effort into your appearance for a date, and consider dressing up a little more than you might for a casual date in other cultures.
  • Family values: Family is often highly valued in Costa Rica. Be respectful of your date’s family and take an interest in getting to know them.
  • Public displays of affection: Public displays of affection can be more common in some Latin American cultures than in others. Pay attention to your date’s body language and cues to determine what is appropriate. When consensual attraction is in the air, touching and kissing is not uncommon in public settings.
  • Conversation topics: In some Latin American cultures, it is considered impolite to discuss certain topics such as religion or politics on a first date. Try to stick to more neutral topics and focus on getting to know each other.
  • Chivalry: Chivalry is often highly valued in Latin American cultures, and many men still practice traditional acts of chivalry such as opening doors or pulling out chairs for their dates. However, it’s important to respect your date’s independence and avoid being overly controlling or domineering.
  • Gifts: Bringing a small gift for your date, such as flowers or chocolates, can be a nice gesture in many Latin American cultures. However, it’s important to avoid going overboard or giving gifts that are too expensive or inappropriate for the level of your relationship.

The Importance of Spanish

With the exception of Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname, Spanish is the dominant language in Latin America. As such, Spanish is incredibly important for communication in Costa Rica, both in personal and professional contexts.

From a practical standpoint, being able to speak Spanish is also important for anyone dating in Costa Rica will greatly enhance their experience. While some people in Costa Rica may also speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in Spanish can help to build stronger relationships with locals and facilitate communication in a variety of contexts.

Is Costa Rica gay friendly?

Costa Rica has made significant strides in becoming a more gay-friendly destination in recent years. In 2020, same-sex marriage was legalized, making Costa Rica one of the few countries in Central America to do so. The decision was based on a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which recognized marriage equality as a fundamental human right.

Gay latino couple, central america

Costa Rica also has an active LGBTQ+ community, with various organizations and events advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. Pride parades and LGBTQ+ festivals are held annually in cities like San Jose, showcasing a growing acceptance and celebration of diversity.

While attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community have generally become more inclusive, it is important to note that conservative and traditional views still exist, particularly in more rural or conservative areas. As with any destination, it is advisable to exercise caution and be aware of the local customs and attitudes when expressing affection or discussing LGBTQ+ topics openly.

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in Costa Rica, please not only keep these tips in mind, but also check the latest regulations from an organization like the ILGA.

Types of people attracted to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is widely known as a tourist destination. Therefore, it’s just as common for locals to date one another as it might be for foreigners to date foreigners in the right areas. Like Guatemala or Colombia, Costa Rica tends to attract a few varieties of people.

Many couples love enjoying holidays in Costa Rica
  • Nature lovers unite: There are holistic and nature-loving types, some might say hippies-types. These free spirited people tend to gravitate towards the beach and nature areas such as Nicoya Peninsula and La Fortuna areas. These areas are often sold as spiritual areas or just places for relaxation and recuperation.
  • Romantic getaways: Couples often see Costa Rica as a romantic destination. Regionally, it is a weekend getaway from Canada, the United States, Mexico or other South American destinations.
  • Mainstream North American tourism: Many American tourists who travel in package groups or with tour agencies come in large groups to see Costa Rica’s natural wonders. These are often short stayers.
  • Backpacker focused: the last group is the backpacker types including a range from digital nomads to short term escapists. They’ll visit a range of places in Costa Rica. Fancy digital nomad hot spots like Santa Teresa have emerged in recent years.
  • Sex tourism: We don’t like to highlight this aspect, but there is a large amount of sex tourism in Costa Rica. This is largely because prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. Prostitutes, primarily young latina women between the ages of 18-30, see prostitution as a viable means to earn fast money, especially if they come from poverty or area students. Because it is legal and regulated, women can register as sex workers and undergo testing for STDs and STIs on a regular basis, so it is also ‘safer’. Reportedly, they will also always mandate the use of condoms, as you should when sleeping with an unfamiliar partner. The sex tourist types often visit beaches like Jaco.
    • Though we respect a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, we also want to mention that not all prostitutes are free. If you happen to engage in any sexual activities in Costa Rica, please be mindful of human trafficking. It is a disgusting industry and should not be supported in any way. If you aren’t part of the solution – you are part of the problem. The United Nations provides resources on this for you.

Keep in mind

If you are a single tourist in Costa Rica and plan to date, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

In some ways, mainstream tourism has had a negative impact on the Costa Rican environment as well as local culture. In short, the influx of tourists has led to increased pressure on delicate ecosystems, such as rainforests and coastal areas. Deforestation, habitat degradation, and pollution have become issues in some popular tourist destinations. Additionally, the construction of hotels and infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of visitors has encroached upon natural areas.

Further, the demand for tourist services and products has sometimes led to the commodification of local traditions, resulting in a loss of authenticity and cultural erosion. Additionally, the influx of tourists has led to rising costs of living and gentrification in some areas, making it challenging for locals to afford housing and maintain their way of life.

Lastly, the tourism industry’s focus on mass tourism and all-inclusive packages has created an imbalance in the distribution of benefits. Large international hotel chains often dominate the sector, while local businesses struggle to compete and reap the economic rewards.

It is important to be respectful to local culture in all cases. If you are a tourist and plan to date locals, understand that the impact tourism has had may influence the way your date views you as an outsider.

Social cues

Dating culture in Costa Rica can vary depending on the individual, but there are some common social cues to be aware of when on a date. Here are a few examples:

  • Physical touch: In many Costa Rica countries, physical touch is a common way of showing affection, even on a first date. This can include anything from holding hands to a light kiss on the cheek. However, it is important to be respectful of your partner’s boundaries and comfort level.
  • Dressing up: In Costa Rica, it is common to dress up for a date, particularly for a special occasion or a fancy restaurant. This shows that you are taking the date seriously and are making an effort to impress your partner.
  • Family and friends: Family and friends are often a central part of social life in Costa Rica, and this extends to dating as well. It is common for couples to introduce each other to their families early on in the relationship, and for family and friends to be involved in social events.
  • Conversation: In Costa Rica, conversation is often seen as a way of getting to know each other and building a connection. It is common to talk about a wide range of topics, from family and work to hobbies and interests.
  • Courting: In some Costa Rica cultures, particularly in more traditional settings, there is a strong emphasis on courtship and romantic gestures. This can include things like bringing flowers or chocolates, writing love letters, or serenading your partner.

Gender roles

Due to the historical nature and influences of Latin America, traditional latino gender roles are well known and documented. This is no different in Costa Rica. Though these roles are not universal and they are evolving rapidly, there are still stereotypes and common expectations.

  • Men are expected to be chivalrous but also take the lead: In Costa Rica, men are expected to be chivalrous, show respect and courtesy towards women, but also possess masculine characteristics. This is where the terms macho or machisimo come in to play. When it comes to dating, men are expected to take the lead. This can include making plans, choosing the location for a date, and initiating physical contact. Further, men should be polite and open doors, pay for meals, and offering to help with a woman’s coat.
  • Women are expected to be feminine and modest: Though many latinos are secular, there is a significant percentage of latinos who are religious with most practicing some form of Christianity. Coming from this historical influence is the ideal called marianismo. Marianismo, portrays an image of Mary, from the bible as being the ideal feminine way. Therefore within some traditional communities in Costa Rica and other parts of Latin American, there is an expectation that women will be feminine, take care of their appearance and be modest in public. This can include wearing makeup, dressing in a feminine style and practicing conservative attitudes in person.

Best way to meet singles in Costa Rica

Latinos are known for their warm personalities and being approachable. Meeting singles in Costa Rica can be a fun and rewarding experience. By trying out a variety of different methods, you can increase your chances of meeting someone special and potentially finding a romantic partner in Costa Rica or meeting a local tico.

Here are a few ways to meet new people and potentially meet partner or singles in Costa Rica:

  • Social events: Attending social events such as parties, festivals, or cultural events can be a great way to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. These events are often lively and fun, making it easier to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  • Through friends: Meeting potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances is a common way to connect with singles in Latin America. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people.
  • Beach: Costa Rica has many beaches. Beaches can be great places to meet singles in a casual setting. Find people playing volleyball or just groups hanging out and start a conversation. You never know where it will lead!
  • Joining clubs or groups: Joining a club or group centered around a shared interest, such as a book club, sports group, or language exchange group, can be a great way to meet new people and connect with potential partners who share similar interests.
  • Go shopping: In cities, malls and shopping centers are great places to meet singles in Costa Rica. If you are a big city it is likely that there will be at least one commercial center.
  • Volunteering: There are many volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to your community, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values and passions.
  • Online dating: If all else fails, there’s always online dating. Online dating has become increasingly popular in Costa Rica in recent years. These platforms allow you to connect with singles in Costa Rica who could share similar interests and values.

Is it safe to date people in Costa Rica?

Though dating life in Costa Rica is vibrant, Latin America is not known for its safety. In general, dating in Costa Rica can be a wonderful experience for you, latino or not, but it is important to take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Learn about the local culture: Learning about the local culture and customs, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Costa Rica and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas.
  • Meet in a public place: When meeting someone for the first time, always choose a public place such as a coffee shop, restaurant, or park. Avoid secluded areas or places that are unfamiliar to you.
  • Tell someone where you are going: Before your date, let a friend or family member know where you will be and who you will be with. Arrange to check in with them at certain times throughout the date.
  • Validate your date: If you are meeting someone online, then learn more about them before agreeing to meet. For example, do they have other profiles which help to legitimize them.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can impair your judgement and put you in potentially dangerous situations. Pace yourself and avoid drinking too much on a date, especially the first few times you meet.
  • Use protection: If you engage in sexual activity, always use protection to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and take steps to remove yourself from the situation. Don’t hesitate to leave if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Dating scams in Costa Rica

Unfortunately, dating scams are not uncommon in Costa Rica, much like many other places in the world. This can include both scams online and those which happen in person. In general, always be somewhat cautious when meeting new people until you have built trust with them.

  • Money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money, either by claiming to need financial assistance or by asking for funds to help cover travel expenses to meet in person.
  • Catfishing: Catfishing is when a person pretends to be someone else online in order to deceive their target. This can involve creating a fake identity or using someone else’s photos to create a false impression.
  • Romance scams: Romance scams involve building a false sense of trust and connection with a target in order to exploit them for money or other resources. Scammers may claim to be in love with their targets, and then ask for money or other favors under false pretenses.
  • Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.

Online dating in Costa Rica

The online dating industry in Costa Rica has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by a combination of factors including increased internet penetration, changing social attitudes towards online dating, and the rise of mobile technology. As a whole, Latin America has a growing population and a high proportion of young adults, the region presents a huge potential market for online dating companies.

One of the key factors driving the growth of the online dating industry in Costa Rica is the increasing popularity of mobile devices. As more people in Costa Rica gain access to smartphones and other mobile devices, they are increasingly using these devices to access online dating platforms. Many online dating apps and websites have responded to this trend by developing mobile-first platforms that are designed to work seamlessly on smartphones and other mobile devices. Further, among religious latinos, there are also Christian dating apps.

Another key factor driving the growth of the online dating industry in Costa Rica is changing social attitudes towards online dating. While online dating was once stigmatized as being only for desperate or socially awkward individuals, it has become increasingly normalized in recent years. In many communities of Costa Rica, online dating is now viewed as a viable and legitimate way to meet potential partners.

However, there are also challenges facing the online dating industry in Costa Rica. In addition to safety or security, one of the biggest challenges is the prevalence of fraudulent activity on some online dating platforms. In order to maintain user trust and safety, online dating companies must be vigilant in their efforts to detect and remove fake profiles and other fraudulent activity.

Despite these challenges, the online dating industry in Costa Rica is poised for continued growth in the coming years.

Top dating apps in Costa Rica

Across much of Costa Rica, well known international dating apps such as Tinder, Badoo, Happn and OkCupid are quite popular with the mainstream. By trying out different platforms and finding the one that works best for you, you can increase your chances of meeting someone special. There are also many dating apps or sites specifically for latinos, such as:

  • AmoLatina: AmoLatina is a dating website that is specifically geared towards connecting singles in Costa Rica. The site offers a variety of features, including chat and video chat, to help users connect with potential partners.
  • LatinAmericanCupid: LatinAmericanCupid is a dating site that is geared towards connecting singles throughout Latin America with a presence in Costa Rica. The site offers a variety of features, including chat and video chat, to help users connect with potential partners.
  • Chispa: Owned by Match Group, Chispa is a dating app that is designed specifically for Latino singles. The app allows users to create a profile, swipe through potential matches, and send messages to those who they are interested in. It is growing in popularity in Costa Rica.


1 Source: The Tico Times –

2 Source: App Annie –

3 (Source: Inter-American Institute of Human Rights –