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Costa Rica Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Costa Rica? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in Costa Rica

For an introduction to shooting in Costa Rica see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

Costa Rica Film Locations

Costa Rica is famous for its pristine national parks and abundance of wildlife. The beauty of its diverse forests, volcanoes, mountain ranges, turquoise blue waterfalls, rivers, lakes, hot springs, beaches, and islands has long attracted visiting productions. Located on both the Caribbean and Pacific, Costa Rica offers a variety of coastal looks including palm-lined white and dark sand beaches, as well as world renowned surf breaks and a wealth of underwater photography locations. Costa Rica is a small country where most locations are accessible within 2-4 hours drive from the capital, San Jose.

Costa Rica has a long growing season with farms offering a vast variety of produce all year round including coffee, pineapples, melons, bananas, sugarcane, corn, rice, palm oil, oranges, mangos, macadamia nuts, cut flowers, and cattle. The country manufactures high-tech products such as microprocessors and medical instruments. Costa Rica mines gold, manganese, and copper. Energy locations include hydroelectric dams as well as solar and wind power plants.

Costa Rica has hosted films such as Suicide Squad (2016), Paddington (2014), After Earth (2013), Monsters (2010), The Amazing Race 8 (2005), and 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992).

Locations can be divided into the following provinces:

San José

Located in the centre of the country, San José is the capital and largest city. It is the main entry point by air and main production centre where most crew and equipment are based. San José film locations of note include the National Museum, National Theatre, Museo del Jade, Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Museum of Costa Rican Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Metropolitan Cathedral, and La Sabana Metropolitan Park.


Cartago province is located in the mountainous centre of the country.

Cartago city is known for Our Lady of the Angels Basilica, Ruins of Ujarras, Santiago Apóstol Parish Ruins, and Lankester Botanical Garden. Sanatorio Durán is an abandoned sanitarium.

Irazú Volcano National Park is best known for Irazu Volcano.

Turrialba Volcano National Park is best known for Turrialba Volcano.

Tapantí National Park is known for tapirs, kinkajous, monkeys, pacas, ocelots, jaguarundi, and a diversity of colourful birdlife such as resplendent quetzals, emerald toucanets, and violaceous trogons.

Cerro Chirripó, located in Chirripó National Park, is the country’s highest peak.

Angostura dam is located in Turrialba.


Puntarenas province is located on the Pacific coast.

Corcovado National Park has a diverse landscape of lowland rainforest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, mangrove swamps, and coastal marine habitats. Wildlife of note includes scarlet macaws, tapirs, coatis, giant anteaters, jaguars, ocelots, margays, jaguarundis, pumas, sloths, monkeys, poison dart frogs, crocodiles, bull sharks, sea turtles, and a diversity of butterflies and birdlife.

Piedras Blancas National Park is a landscape of rainforests and beaches. The park is home to a diversity of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Manuel Antonio National Park is known for its lush mountain forests and white-sand beaches. Wildlife of note includes whales, sloths, monkeys, iguanas, coatis, as well as a diversity of snakes, bats, and birds.

Marino Ballena National Park is known for its humpback whale migration from August to November, and December to April.

Caño Island National Park is an important breeding site for humpback whales.

Nauyaca Waterfalls, and Bijagual Waterfall are beautiful film locations.

Also part of Puntarenas province, Cocos Island is located 550km (340 mi) off the Pacific coast.

The province is known for its surf beaches such as Espadilla Beach, Jaco Beach, Hermosa Beach, Dominical Beach, Uvita Beach, Espadilla Beach, Naranjo Beach, and Playa Pavones.

727 Fuselage Home, and El Avion Restaurant and Bar, are two unusual airplane locations.


Guanacaste is located in the northwest of the country on the Pacific coast. The province is known for its remote fishing villages, beautiful secluded beaches, savannah, deciduous forest, marshlands, mangrove woodlands, waterfalls, rivers, volcanoes, and national parks.

Beaches of note include Playa Carrillo, Playa Sámara, Playas del Coco, Playa Negra, Playa Conchal, Playa Guiones, Playa Avellana, Playa Ocotal, Playa Junquillal, Playa Ventanas, and Roca Bruja.

Rincón de la Vieja National Park includes the active Rincón de la Vieja and Santa María volcanoes, as well as the dormant Cerro Von Seebach volcano. Wildlife of note includes cougars, monkeys, kinkajous, jaguars, and a diversity of birdlife.

Tenorio Volcano National Park is known for the spectacular Celeste Waterfall and Celeste River which flows a turquoise blue colour. The park is also known for the inactive Tenorio Volcano, as well as several hot spring locations.

Santa Rosa National Park landscapes include savannah, deciduous forest, marshlands, and mangrove woodlands. Wildlife of note includes sea turtles, monkeys, tapirs, coyotes, jaguarundis, ocelots, cougars, jaguars, and a diversity of birdlife.

Las Baulas National Marine Park is known for its white sand beaches and forests. The park is an important nesting site for leatherback turtles.

Palo Verde National Park has a diverse landscape ranging from evergreen forests to mangrove swamps. The park is known for its birdlife including great curassows, scarlet macaws, white ibis, roseate spoonbills, anhingas, jabirus, and wood storks.

Carara National Park is known for its dense rainforests. The park has one of the largest remaining populations of wild scarlet macaws in the country.

Barra Honda National Park is known for its caves.

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, and Oropendola Waterfall are beautiful film locations.


Located in the north-centre of the country, Alajuela is known for its volcanoes, national parks, wetlands, waterfalls, cattle ranches, and cowboy culture.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a virgin forest that is home to thousands of species. It is said to have the most orchid species in any single place. Paddington (2014) doubled Monteverde Cloud Forest for darkest Peru.

Arenal Volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Arenal Volcano National Park featured in After Earth (2013). Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges are located in this area.

Juan Castro Blanco National Park is known for the active Platanar Volcano, dormant Porvenir Volcano, and inactive El Viejo Volcano. The park is home to a diversity of hot springs, orchids, bats and birdlife.

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful wetland area that’s home to a diversity migratory birds.

Poás Volcano National Park is known for the crater lakes of Lake Botos and Laguna Caliente.

La Fortuna Waterfall, La Paz Waterfall, and Bajos del Toro Waterfall are paradise locations.

Parque Francisco Alvarado is a surreal topiary park located in Zarcero.

Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes church is located in Grecia.

Tabacón Hot Springs is another film location of note in this province.


Heredia is located in the north-centre of the country. The agriculture-rich northern plains are known for their plantations, cattle ranches, and cowboy culture.

Braulio Carrillo National Park is located in the Cordillera Central mountain range. Its landscape ranges from high-altitude cloud forests to lowlands tropical rainforest. Volcanoes of note include Cerro Chompipe, Cerro Cacho Negro, and Cerros las Tres Marias.


Limón province is located on the Caribbean coast.

Tortuguero National Park is a landscape of coastal rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Wildlife of note includes jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis, pumas, tapirs, sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, manatees, and a diversity of birdlife such as the great green macaw.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and Manzanillo are pretty beach towns.

Cahuita National Park is known for its lowland forests, coral reefs, and turtle nesting grounds. The park is home to sloths, monkeys, and a diversity of marine life and birdlife. The nearby town of Cahuita is home to the Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary.

Jairo Mora Sandoval Gandoca-Manzanillo Mixed Wildlife Refuge protects tropical forest, mangroves, estuaries, seagrass, inundated forests, coral reefs, sea turtle nesting beaches. Wildlife of note includes manatees, turtles, crocodiles, tapirs, monkeys, and butterflies.

Reventazón Dam is located in Siquirres.

Costa Rica Film Location Permits

Permitting in Costa Rica is a very straightforward process. Shutting down a street or filming at the airport can usually be organized within a week. Special permits are required for filming in national parks. Costs and processing periods depend on the scope and nature of the shoot. Each nature reserve needs to be permitted separately. A small production might take a day to permit whereas a large production might take up to a month. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Costa Rica has a tropical climate with a diversity of microclimates. The dry season runs from December to April. The rainy season lasts from May to November, with the heaviest rains falling in September and October. The rainy season is characterized by sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. The Caribbean coast has its dry season in September and October making that the best time to shoot beaches, jungle and island-style locations. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

• Limón carnival takes place in October.
• Humpback whales migrate north to Costa Rica’s waters from August to November, and migrate south to the waters from December to April.

Many Costa Ricans are non-religious. Costa Rica is a predominately Christian country, so those holidays are observed.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Costa Rica.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Latin America. That said, it is still a cost efficient option compared to other countries that offer a similarly impressive level of film infrastructure, pristine locations and safe conditions. Our Costa Rican fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign feature films or commercials shooting in Costa Rica.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Costa Rica has a small pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Key crew are of a good standard and speak fluent English and Spanish. If need be, bringing in specialist crews from the US or Mexico is an easy process.

Contact us if you are looking for a San Jose based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Costa Rica.

Talent in Costa Rica is non-union. Day rates and buyouts are very reasonable.

Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken.

Most Costa Ricans are of Spanish European descent. Minorities include mestizos, mulattos, and indigenous peoples. As such Costa Rica offers mainly International Latin talent similar to what you would find in Brazil or Cuba. There are a couple of good casting agencies in Costa Rica. If required, bringing in foreign talent is easy. Miami is only a 3hr flight away.

Costa Rica Film Equipment

Equipment. All the standard camera, lighting and grip equipment is available locally in Costa Rica. More sophisticated equipment such as Steadicams, Tyler mounts, Panavision cameras, Arri master lenses and underwater housing needs to be brought in from abroad. Bringing in gear is easy, be it a container of equipment, or a suitcase.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department key crew can usually be found locally. For instance, Costa Rica has a very good internationally experienced food stylist, greens man, and a body paint artist. Set construction crews are inexpensive and capable.

Studios do exist but are not Costa Rica’s strong point. Local facilities are sufficient for small shoots.

Post Production. Most post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Crews travelling on Western passports can enter Costa Rica to film without a visa for up to 90 days. For more information contact your local Costa Rican embassy / representative.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Costa Rica has an extensive network of roads. Our Costa Rican fixer / producer organizes safe and reliable 4WD transport for shoots in national parks and more remote areas. Several international airlines service flights to San Jose.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Costa Rica include:

Hotels in San Jose:
San Jose Marriott
Intercontinental Real
The Alta Hotel

Hotels at the beach:
Four Seasons
Los Sueños Marriott

There are many hotel options in Costa Rica. Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. Costa Rica boasts a high standard of living and no standing army. For decades, Costa Rica has stood out as one of the safest production centers in the region. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Explore Costa Rica’s magnificent biodiversity.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Costa Rica, please see below:

Hire Costa Rica Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Costa Rica, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Costa Rica, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.