Understanding Costa Rica’s Drinking Culture

Welcome to the vibrant culture of Costa Rica, a country known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and friendly locals. But there’s one aspect of Costa Rican culture that often raises questions among tourists: the drinking age. So, what is Costa Rica’s drinking age? Let’s dive in and find out.

The Legal Drinking Age in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the legal drinking age is set at 18 years. This is quite similar to many countries in Europe and Latin America, but younger than the drinking age of 21 found in the United States.

Costa Rican laws and regulations are quite strict regarding underage drinking. Selling alcohol to minors is illegal and can result in hefty fines for businesses. Moreover, it’s also illegal for minors to consume alcohol in public places.

Drinking Culture in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its vibrant culture and tropical climate, which is perfectly complemented by a variety of popular local alcoholic beverages. Here are some of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Costa Rica:

  1. Guaro: Guaro is a clear liquor made from sugar cane. It’s a staple in Costa Rica and is often used in cocktails. The most popular cocktail made with guaro is the “Guaro Sour,” which includes guaro, lime juice, and a bit of sugar.
  2. Imperial Beer: This is the most popular beer in Costa Rica. It’s a light, refreshing lager that’s perfect for the country’s tropical climate.
  3. Pilsen Beer: This is another popular beer in Costa Rica. It’s a bit stronger and more flavorful than Imperial.
  4. Rum: Costa Rica produces some excellent rum, with Centenario and Ron Rico being two of the most popular brands. It’s often enjoyed straight or used in cocktails.
  5. Chiliguaro: This is a spicy shot made with guaro, hot sauce, lime juice, and sometimes tomato juice. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
  6. Cas: This is a traditional Costa Rican cocktail made with a local fruit called cas, sugar, water, and sometimes a bit of guaro.

These drinks are a significant part of Costa Rica’s social and cultural events. However, remember to enjoy them responsibly, especially if you’re not used to the local spirits.

The Impact of the Drinking Age on Tourism

The drinking age in Costa Rica can have a significant impact on tourism. Young adults from countries with higher drinking ages might be attracted to the freedom of being able to legally purchase and consume alcohol.

However, it’s crucial for tourists to take precautions when drinking in Costa Rica. This includes:

  • Always knowing your limits.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Avoid driving after drinking.

As a tourist, it’s important to respect local laws and customs. So, whether you’re sipping on a Guaro Sour at a beach bar or enjoying a cold Imperial Beer after a day of exploring, remember to drink responsibly.

Here are some more tips on how to stay safe while enjoying Costa Rica’s nightlife.

Responsible Drinking in Costa Rica

As we continue our exploration of Costa Rica’s drinking culture, it’s important to reiterate the significance of understanding the country’s drinking age. So, once again, what is Costa Rica’s drinking age? It’s 18 years. But knowing the legal age is just the first step. It’s equally crucial to understand and practice the concept of responsible drinking.

The Importance of Responsible Drinking

Responsible drinking is essential, especially for tourists. It’s not just about adhering to the legal drinking age but also about understanding your limits and ensuring your actions don’t negatively impact others or yourself.

Irresponsible drinking can lead to a myriad of problems, from health risks to legal troubles. For instance, driving under the influence can result in severe penalties, not to mention the potential risk of accidents.

Tips for Responsible Drinking in Costa Rica

Practicing responsible drinking in Costa Rica involves several practical steps. Here are some tips to help you enjoy Costa Rica’s nightlife safely:

  • Know your limits: Don’t drink more than you can handle.
  • Stay hydrated: Costa Rica’s tropical climate can intensify the effects of alcohol.
  • Don’t drink and drive: Use taxis or designated drivers instead.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Always keep an eye on your drink to prevent drink spiking.

For more detailed information on staying safe while enjoying Costa Rica’s nightlife, you can check out this resource.


Understanding Costa Rica’s drinking age and the importance of responsible drinking can significantly enhance your experience in this beautiful country. Whether you’re savoring a local beer by the beach or toasting with a glass of rum at a festival, remember to respect the legal drinking age of 18 and practice responsible drinking. After all, the goal is to create memorable experiences, not regrettable ones. So, here’s to enjoying Costa Rica’s drinking culture responsibly. Remember, what is Costa Rica’s drinking age? It’s 18. And with that knowledge, you’re well-equipped to enjoy your time in Costa Rica responsibly and respectfully. Cheers! We encourage all our readers to respect the legal drinking age in Costa Rica and to practice responsible drinking. Remember, the goal is to create memorable experiences, not regrettable ones. So, here’s to enjoying Costa Rica responsibly! Cheers!

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the legal drinking age in Costa Rica?

The legal drinking age in Costa Rica is 18 years old. This applies to both the consumption and purchase of alcohol.

Is public drinking allowed in Costa Rica?

While public drinking is not illegal at the national level in Costa Rica, many municipalities have local ordinances that prohibit it. It’s important to be aware of local laws when consuming alcohol in public places.

How strictly is the drinking age enforced in Costa Rica?

The enforcement of the drinking age in Costa Rica can vary, particularly in tourist areas. However, it’s always best to respect the local laws and customs, regardless of how strictly they’re enforced.

What types of alcoholic beverages are available in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers a variety of alcoholic beverages, with beer being the most popular. The country’s national beers, Imperial and Pilsen, are widely available. Costa Rica also has a traditional liquor called “guaro,” which is made from sugarcane and is a popular choice for cocktails.

Can a 16 year old drink in Costa Rica?

No, the legal drinking age in Costa Rica is 18 years old. This applies to both the consumption and purchase of alcohol. It’s important to respect these laws when visiting or living in Costa Rica.

Can you buy alcohol in Costa Rica at 18?

Yes, you can buy alcohol in Costa Rica if you are 18 years old or older. This is the legal age for both the purchase and consumption of alcohol in the country.

Do they check ID in Costa Rica?

While the enforcement of the drinking age can vary, establishments in Costa Rica have the right to check your ID to verify your age before selling alcohol. It’s always a good idea to carry a valid ID with you.

What is the legal age of consent in Costa Rica?

The legal age of consent in Costa Rica is 18 years old. This means that individuals must be at least 18 years old to legally consent to sexual activity. Please verify this from a reliable source, as laws can change.

What is considered a minor in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, a person is considered a minor if they are under 18 years old. This is the age of majority for most legal purposes, including the consumption and purchase of alcohol.

What is the youngest age allowed to drink?

The youngest age allowed to drink alcohol in Costa Rica is 18 years old. This is the legal drinking age, and it applies to both the consumption and purchase of alcohol. For more information on Costa Rican laws, you can consult with Costa Rica Immigration Experts (CRIE) on their website.

I’m planning to move to Costa Rica. How can CRIE assist me?

CRIE specializes in helping individuals with their residency and citizenship needs in Costa Rica. They can assist with paperwork, provide legal advice, and help you understand and navigate the various requirements for residency or citizenship. Whether you’re planning a temporary move or looking to establish long-term residency, CRIE can make the process smoother and less stressful. Visit their website to learn more about how they can assist you.



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