Costa Rica is a beautiful country and with plenty to see and do it’s no wonder that many travellers make their way there, and sometimes even settle there.
The problem is, cybercrime is on the rise and your data is their target.
Along with government legislation (which I'll cover later on in the article) that could land you in a spot of trouble with the law, and the inability to access some online streaming websites such as Disney+, you will want to use a VPN.
But, which VPN should you choose?
In this article, I will be rounding up seven of the best of them, telling you what's good and bad and while I've ranked them in my favourite order, it will help you make the ultimate decision of which you choose.
ExpressVPN is my number 1 VPN recommendation for Costa Rica.
ExpressVPN offers some of the fastest download speeds, which are great for everyday browsing, streaming video content and other high-intensity internet tasks.
With over 3,000 servers worldwide that you can connect to, several of which are located in Costa Rica and also many in nearby locations such as Mexico, Panama, Columbia, and the United States (Remember that the closer the server, the faster your connection will be).
With dedicated apps for most devices out there such as Apple, Android, Mac OS, Windows OS, Linux, FireTV, and even routers, you will have no trouble connecting on any device to keep secure.
ExpressVPN also states they keep no logs of what you do while connected and they've had this audited by a third party company to prove its authenticity.
Plus, if in the improbable circumstance that you don’t like their service they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Our #1 VPN for Costa Rica
30-day money back guarantee
2. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN offers a HUGE 6,200+ servers that you can connect to, which is the largest amount to date. They have spent a considerable amount of time in the cybersecurity space and have earned an outstanding reputation in that time.
Servers are available in Costa Rica and many surrounding regions.
With the ability to connect up to 7 devices simultaneously to your VPN, you will be able to ensure that all of your devices are protected, and your data is kept safe.
I like the streaming-friendly servers which are highlighted for specific services. Want to stream Netflix, connect to their dedicated Netflix server, Disney+? Their Disney+ server and so on.
Along with a 45-day money-back guarantee, you will have a month and a half to test the service.
3. Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN not only offers exceptionally low subscription prices (I recommend the 1-year plan), but they have one of the most exciting VPNs on the market.
Do you have a lot of devices that need a VPN?
If so, then Surfshark has you covered, they offer you the ability to connect an unlimited amount of devices to your VPN, which is perfect if you've got a large family or many gadgets you want to secure.
Surfshark does offer the ability to appear in Costa Rica but you should be aware it's not a physical server located in the country.
They also have some great features such as a built-in Adblock that blocks ads and malware before they even load up, a camouflage feature that stops your ISP from seeing you are using a VPN, and the ability to unlock 15 regions of Netflix.
This is the VPN you have probably heard of. They sponsor everything from YouTubers to in the past, large football teams.
NordVPN has some brilliant features that they offer as part of their VPN service.
Your privacy is essential and NordVPN knows that. Features such as double VPN protection means your connection is run through an extra layer of security, connecting through not just one, but two servers.
Not only will NordVPN do the above, but they also offer you the ability to use a dedicated IP address which will only be used by you, meaning nobody else will be given the same IP address as you at that time.
There's a total of 4 servers available in Costa Rica and many locations nearby.
Do you want a reliable VPN that you can use on ALL of your devices?
Then IPVanish is the VPN for you with their unmetered connection policy meaning you can use your VPN on unlimited devices.
There are not a lot of services that offer unlimited concurrent connections.
They also offer a free secure cloud storage as part of the service named SugarSync that you can use to back up and encrypt all of your device's files such as videos and photographs. Very useful if you are like me and have thousands of media files on your phone/tablets.
With over 40,000 shared IPs available on 1,500+ servers, finding a connection will be the least of your worries.
VyprVPN is one of the oldest VPN services around backed by one of the oldest internet companies in the United States.
Over the years we've found them to offer the most reliable service, which is excellent as you're unlikely to suffer connection drops or speed issues.
VyprVPN owns and operates all of their hardware which not every VPN service does and they offer servers in San José, Costa Rica, which is another bonus.
Their no-log policy ensures that your personal data isn’t kept by VyprVPN, meaning your data can’t be stolen, bought, or sold by unsavoury characters.
After ten years in the VPN industry, PrivateInternetAccess is a fast and reliable VPN with approximately 2,000 servers, and keeps your information private and has a strict no-log policy.
Their no-log policy has never been audited. However, they have been featured in several court cases that goes some way to prove that their no-log policy is trustworthy.
One of PrivateInternetAccess’s stand out features is the ability to pay for your subscription using gift cards.
By doing so, you will be able to stay mostly anonymous without the need to give over your payment details, which is a nice touch and one of the many reasons that this VPN is popular.
How we made our selection
It's tough to weed out the good services from the bad and select ones specifically for use in Costa Rica.
It's why our experts have devised a multi-point checklist.
We've ranked the following features as the highest priority. Find out what we measured the services against to make our selection.
1. Server Locations
Nobody likes a painfully slow internet connection that makes you feel like you have stepped back into the 90s. So when we compiled this list, we looked at what local servers are nearby, ensuring that you will get the fastest speeds.
However, I also checked out what servers are available in nearby regions for when you want to hop onto another server outside of your local jurisdiction.
A general rule of thumb the closer the server is, the faster your connection will be.
With nearby servers in countries like Mexico and the United States, not only will you get incredible speeds but also be able to access vast libraries of additional content.
2. No log policy
The purpose of a VPN is to keep you and your data out of the hands of others. This includes 3rd party businesses, advertising companies, and even the government.
We thoroughly checked each of the VPN providers in the list above to ensure that they fit the criteria to place on the list.
Some of the services such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN have been audited to prove that their no-log policy is precisely what they say it is, and I’m happy to say they have passed with flying colours, which is why they are so high on the list.
As mentioned earlier, PrivateInternetAccess hasn’t been audited as of yet but has many court cases that prove their no-log policy to be true.
3. Speed tests
We have run speed tests by connecting to several of the most popular servers located nearest to our location testing the overall quality of the provider's networks.
Connection speed is paramount when selecting a VPN service as it ensures that you will be able to access the internet similarly to when not using a VPN.
If entertainment is your usage, then you'll be able to stream high definition video from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc. without having to wait a lifetime for it to buffer.
Why you need a VPN in Costa Rica
Using a VPN has become essential no matter which country you reside in and while Costa Rica has one of the most open internet services in the world, there are some specific usage scenarios.
Below are our top reasons.
When it comes to your privacy, you can never be too careful. Nowadays, your data and information is a valuable commodity that companies will collect and use in their targeted marketing.
The problem is your data is kept on servers that can be targeted by criminals such as hackers who want to use your information for malicious purposes.
Another reason to use a VPN is to stay off of the government's radar, the controversial Costa Rican law 9048 is very loosely worded. It may land you in a spot of trouble with the authorities if you are deemed as sharing “false news”.
2. Unblock TV content
When it comes to unblocking video content, VPNs are the ultimate tool that you can use.
For example, streaming services like Netflix offer different libraries of content to each region. Using a VPN will let you access most of this.
The United States has nearly 4600 movies available and over 1150 TV shows, compared to Costa Rica’s 2400 films and 540 TV shows, which is a significant difference. So if you want to gain access to even more content, a VPN is the way to go.
Other services that are geo-restricted such as Disney+ which isn’t currently available in Costa Rica can be accessed by using a VPN, and also the British online demand service BBC iPlayer.
3. Public Wi-Fi
When you connect to public Wi-Fi, you are opening yourself up to problems such as identity theft and fraud.
You see, when you enter your address, card details, passwords, etc. while connected to a public Wi-Fi, you can become a target for hackers who will love every minute of stealing your unencrypted information.
This has become less of an issue in recent years as more websites use the secure ‘HTTPS' protocol, but it's still a consideration when sending emails and carrying out other insecure tasks.
We’ve all been there drinking our coffee in the local cafe while connecting to their free Wi-Fi, but the bottom line is that it’s not as safe as we think.
While there aren’t any real censorship issues in Costa Rica, their law 9048 (as mentioned earlier) is a worrying matter.
Mainly because the wording of the law is very poorly written and is open to interpretation. As it stands, any person caught breaking this law can be punished with a 3-6 year prison sentence.
Which I’m sure you will want to avoid.
Can I use a free VPN in Costa Rica?
We often associate the word free as a good thing. After all, we all love it when we manage to get something for free.
However, when it comes to VPNs, this is not the case and you should steer clear of any VPN service that touts itself as “free”.
There are many reasons why, but here are the most important reasons:
- They are often extremely slow and terrible for streaming video content.
- Sometimes they will install malicious software onto your device, which will steal your data.
- Often understaffed services and your data can be breached by 3rd parties looking to capitalise on the “free” VPNs shortcomings.
- Most of the services/geo-restricted content you want to access won’t be unlocked using a free service.
- Your data isn’t as safe as you thought it would be, a few years back, a study showed that 18% of “free” VPNs failed to encrypt the user's data. This is a huge problem and defeats the purpose of using a VPN (Source: CSIRO).
Whether you are travelling or merely living in Costa Rica, it is recommended that you use a VPN.
This is mainly due to a rise in cybercrime where hackers and unsavoury individuals seek to access your data and use it with malicious intent.
A VPN will help prevent this from happening.
However, you may also wish to access geo-restricted content from other regions that would otherwise be inaccessible to you in Costa Rica or stop your ISP, the government or companies trying to monitor your online actions.
Out of the VPNs I have listed above, my number 1 recommendation is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is ideal for a multitude of purposes and offers the best overall service…
Their dedication to your privacy and a proven track record over the past 11 years sets the VPN apart from the rest.
Don't forget they offer a 30-day money back guarantee so there's no risk to try and if you disagree with our assessment then you can get a full refund.