Current Time in Costa Rica
Costa Rica only has one time zone. It is in the UTC—06:00 zone. It does not have daylight savings time. Costa Rica is just 9 degrees north of the equator so the length of days stays pretty constant year-round, it gets light rather early, around 5:30a.m. and dark around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m, depending on the time of year. During the rainy season (May-November) the sun rises and sets about 30-34 minutes earlier than the dry season (December-April).
When you visit Costa Rica, you might come across a term known as “tico time.” It is related to the “pura vida” way of life that dominates Costa Rican culture. It often means that Ticos are not always the most punctual in their personal lives. For example, if you are meeting a friend for lunch, you may agree to meet at 12:00pm, but you might not actually meet until 12:30 or later. If you are throwing a party that starts at 8:00pm, expect people to show up between 8:00pm and 12:00am. It also refers to the pace at which Ticos tend to work. When you need to do errands, like go to the bank or get a haircut, you can often expect to wait in line for quite a while.
Tico time is a double-edged sword
On the one hand, Tico Time reflects a wonderful part of the Costa Rican culture and way of life. People tend not to stress or sweat over a bad situation and are generally very respectful of each other. This contributes to how happy of a country this is and to the Pura Vida spirit many of us come to love.
On the other hand, it can be a bit frustrating for foreigners, and even Ticos themselves. If you are used to everything running on time and/or on a strict schedule, you might find Tico time very frustrating. In the capital city, San Jose in the Central Valley, you won't experience Tico Time as much because of the business culture and US influences, but if you travel to the coast it is a different story. The people who live near the beach tend to be very laid-back, very “pura vida” and very happy to run on Tico time.
If you are a foreigner visiting or living in Costa Rica, it’s best to embrace Tico time as a way of life. Otherwise you might find yourself unnecessarily stressed out or frustrated.