Deciding what to eat and drink in Costa Rica is a bit like jumping off the ledge of a rock-cliff into a dark and unfamiliar swimming hole one hundred meters below. If you’ve never done it before, you are half excited, half terrified, and wholeheartedly curious. The experience is foreign and unnerving, but it could also be a refreshing change and well worth the plunge.

If you have never been to Costa Rica, and especially if you do not speak Spanish, the plethora of unknown menu items you will encounter during your trip may overwhelm you. You may not have a clue what to eat and drink in Costa Rica, but don’t let yourself be intimidated. With a little help and a handy cheat-sheet (like the one we have put together for you below) you can cut out the confusion, appease your curiosity, and take a culinary leap without fear. Whoever said trying something new had to be so daunting anyway?

If you plan to be active during your vacation, you will come across a number of the food and beverage offerings listed below via meals provided by your hotel(s), organized tours, and local restaurants. The best way to eliminate the element of surprise during travel (if your travel style is more plan and predict than go with the flow) is to prepare for your trip as much as you can in advance. For this reason, we recommend browsing through our “what to eat and drink in Costa Rica” food and beverage list below (complete with Spanish word pronunciation help) before you leave home. This way, you can identify a handful of orders that you think your taste buds and digestive system will agree with (star these dishes as comfortable go-to orders on days when you are feeling shy), as well as orders you would like to try for the first time (highlight these dishes for days when you are feeling extra adventurous).