Costa Rica Wireless Internet

About Wireless Internet
Pay Wireless Service
Free Wireless Service

About Wireless

In Spanish, the word is inalámbrico or LAN inalámbrico. Inalámbrico (ee-na-LAHM-br-ee-co) means wireless.

By now, nearly everyone has seen some person busily typing away on their PC at a Starbucks some bookstore or perhaps a public park. Sometimes, they are sitting in the middle of a mall! What are they doing? They are using the Internet to surf, get their email, or do other work.

But... how are they connected?

Wireless Internet connections (also known as Hotspots, Hot Spots or WIFI for short) allow computers, (mostly, laptops or other portable computers), to connect to the Internet without the need for hard wired modem or network cables.

The connection to the Internet is by a small radio transmitter/receiver that is now built in to almost all newer laptop PC. Somewhere nearby is another radio transmitter/receiver (that you may or may not be able to see), that is providing the Internet connection.

Wireless is very convenient and a lot of fun! It is also dangerous and should be used with caution.

I urge my readers to read this post thoroughly.


Free Wireless Internet Costa Rica and see list below.

Many people, including me, enjoy working in a location where I can order coffee, a soft drink, lunch, whatever. It also allows business people to meet outside an office environment in order to transact business that before may have required them to be in an office location with Internet access.

Nearly always, these connections are FREE, and in my opinion are a great way for restaurants, hotels, and other service businesses to attract or retain business. I know it works for me! I won't stay in a hotel that does not offer free wireless, and I still make it over to Denny's for a Philly Melt, something I would (and probably should) forego, except Denny's offers free wireless here in CR.

WIFI is available in hundreds of thousands of location in the USA and probably more than a few hundred thousand locations world-wide.

Sadly, Costa Rica is a bit behind the times. Businesses here have yet to catch on that offering wireless attracts business.  Lots of business as many US firms have discovered.  Part of the problem is also that business owners here in Costa Rica do not seem particularly web or tech savvy and most have no idea they could add wireless to their business for about $200.

If traveling to Costa Rica for business or pleasure, check this page and with your hotel to see if they offer wireless. Outside the central valley, the answer will probably be no... not their fault... wireless requires a broadband connection and they is simply not available everywhere as yet, but things are changing here every day so keep asking.

Wireless note: The vast majority of wireless locations everywhere are NOT SECURE. What this means is that you can sit down, turn on your laptop, and your PC (if set up properly) will find the WIFI network and connect you to it automatically. It requires no login or password, and there is no encryption of the data.  It also means that whatever you type can be picked up by other people.

This is generally OK, as it makes using hotspots a real pleasure! But always remember that what you send or receive is not confidential and can be intercepted by anyone with the proper tools. For web browsing or picking up email, this is probably not a big deal, however, if you are logging into your bank account, credit card account, or some other web site that is extremely private, always be aware that someone could be recording your keystrokes and seeing any info that you sending.

There IS a way to make these connections secure.  It is called VPN, and you may consult a computer professional on how to safely use your wireless PC anywhere you wish.




Pay services WIFI in Costa Rica

While there are a fair number of free Wireless locations in Costa Rica with more coming every day, there is also at least one pay service. HotSpotExpress is located in a fairly large number of areas but mostly around the central valley. They also have locations in Nicaragua.

Their list of Pay Wireless is lengthy and as they are probably expanding, I will not attempt to keep their locations current.  To see where they are, click here.


$6.95 for one 24 hour period.. a total rip-off unless your really NEED access for 24 straight hours. This is NOT 24 hours that you can use at any time. After 24 hours, you are offline. Not sure who uses their PC that much at one time.

$24.95 for one month at any of their locations. This is a much better deal and great if you are visiting the San José area for business or pleasure.  This is 30 days of usage.  Be careful!  Their web site has many errors and the pricing is neither clear nor correct. See Below.  The site says $19.95 per month. 

$199.95 for a year. Financially a good deal I guess, but as there are a fair number of free locations here, it may not be the best for you if you live here permanently.  Better to go find a Denny's and order a Philly Melt and get your Internet fro free.

HotSpotExpress appears to be a pretty handy service, especially the monthly plan, and may be VERY good for students visiting the San José area,  but there are some caveats!

First, their web site, in addition to not being available in English, has some glaring and at least one dangerous error.

1.The “Secure Order Form on their web site is NOT secure at all.

“Esta es una forma segura. toda la información es transmitida en forma encriptada.”

This translates roughly to:

"This is a secure form. All the information transmitted is encrypted... blah blah blah".

This is nonsense. Probably a web design error. The page you are using is NOT secure, which is odd as they do have a secure certificate! However, until this error is fixed, I would not subscribe by using this web page. Call them or buy the subscription at retail where the services are offered.

2.The prices they quote are NOT what you end up paying if you order on line. The monthly price of $19.95, while offered on the web site, is not available anywhere I could find. You will pay $24.95, and while not a bad price, it still should be correct.

3.The annual plan for $199.95 is not mentioned on the web site, but IS available if you sign up on-line. Again, these all be just bad web design errors, not uncommon in Costa Rica, but use your judgment here. There are maybe 25 other design errors, but none worth mentioning here.




FREE Wireless Locations in Costa Rica (very incomplete list)

Wireless has really caught on now in Costa Rica,  I originally planned to update the list below, but now there are just too many locations.  Therefore, just check with the location you are planning to stay at and if they do not offer it, and wireless connect is important to you, just try another location. Also, consider using a Dongle plugged in to your PC/Mac. Cheap alternative, especially if using a pre-paid SIM. See Cell Phones Costa Rica


I will leave this list here, but remember it is NOT current nor complete.

Hotels and Aparthotels with free wireless connections in Costa Rica

Best Western Hotels in the Central Valley - Service is free in lobby.  Great place to meet and eat.

La Palma Real Hotel (close to ICE building in Sabana Norte). Service is free in lobby and dining area.  Nice place to eat and entertain.

Intercontinental Real Costa Rica, Prospero Fernandez Hwy San Jose, 1000 CR (Next to Multiplaza)

ApartHotel Cristina, La Sabana Costa Rica (right next door to the Palma Real Hotel).

Sleep Inn (San José, Costa Rica downtown)

Hotel Petit Victoria, San José  They may charge.  Not sure if non guests or everyone.

Aparthotel La Sabana - San José, Wireless is available in the rooms and the public areas such as balconies, pool areas, etc. NOTE: Not public. For aparthotel guests only. Rate is $10.00 additional per day.

Sportsmans Lodge - San José, Costa Rica- Wireless available throughout hotel.

Millenium II B & B, Rio Segundo, near San José airport.

La Terraza Guest House, Calle Salguero, San Roque Abajo Grecia, Costa Rica for guests.  Available in rooms.


Restaurants in Costa Rica

Denny's - Irazu and near the San José airport

Some Baglemans restaurants - Escazu for sure - Time limit.


Malls or Strip Malls

Plaza Colonial in Escazu. Most locations in this strip mall.



It has been announced that the airport in Liberia now has wireless connection. This are apparently available in the passenger waiting areas and is not accessible by the general public. I am fairly sure this information is correct, but I would appreciate verification.

Thank to contributor Roberta Robles, I can now verify that WIFI is available at the San José International Airport. While not at blazing speeds, it is apparently an easy set up with just OK speeds. 23 September, 2005.


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