One of the most popular apps for navigating Costa Rica on Android and iOS is Google Maps. It's ideal for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more. But it is not suitable at all for off-road or mountainous terrain. Because the current location, the construction of routes in it is tied to the roads. But there are many other apps for navigation in Costa Rica, which cope with this task is much better.
If you focus on the reviews of advanced visitors, you can select the following apps as recommended for use when traveling in Costa Rica:
Gaia GPS (Topo Maps)
One of the most advanced apps for navigating in Costa Rica. The project uses its own maps, with the most detailed features of the terrain and also allows users to share routes. It is suitable for:
- visiting ski slopes;
- finding routes for sailing boats (boats, kayaks).
Gaia GPS allows you to determine the exact coordinates, there is a built-in compass and elevation sensor (determined by both the available smartphone sensor, and by a point on the map). Attractions - marked, you can also upload custom points to visit in Costa Rica.
- minimum of paid features;
- user-friendly interface with coordinates in Costa Rica, the current altitude;
- supports cloud saving data (routes, points).
- high battery consumption when using the app.
Developers describe it as a universal app for positioning on the ground in Costa Rica. It is not only a navigator, but also a compass, route manager (own, third-party), compass.
One of the main features is the support of maps from different suppliers: Google, NASA, USGS, Topo and so on. All of them are available for the offline mode. Therefore, you can choose the best set for your current location. For example, in the U.S. the most detailed maps from NASA, in Europe - from Google, and so on.
Polaris GPS is most suitable for hiking in Costa Rica and for water routes. But in theory, it can also be used for off-road driving.
- wide functionality;
- support for maps from different vendors;
- maps can be stored in the internal memory.
- No online library with routes in Costa Rica;
- Some of the features are paid (e.g., nautical map).
The first thing to focus on is the availability of a PC app. And the data will be synchronized with the program installed on your smartphone. Because this navigator requires mandatory authorization and, accordingly, supports cloud synchronization.
In terms of functionality the program is very similar to Gaia Maps, but the interface is more "presentable" and less crowded. Offline maps for the Costa Rica are available, but you need to download the sections (noting on the map itself) and be sure to activate this feature in the app settings. Allows you to find out the exact coordinates (longitude, latitude, altitude).
If you connect to the Internet, you can also download data about the weather in Costa Rica. Suitable both for driving and for biking and hiking routes. There are general landmarks in Costa Rica, but you can also download third-party custom points from a shared list.
- automatic synchronization;
- one of the most detailed maps of attractions in Costa Rica;
- user-friendly interface.
- Most of the features require an active internet connection to work properly;
- inconvenient system for offline maps saving and management.
The project also uses its own maps of Costa Rica, created on the basis of projects OSM and Google Maps. All of them can be downloaded to the internal memory. They are as detailed as possible for both cities and off-road. But they are more focused on creating routes by POI (mostly from third-party users). And they can also be downloaded with support for 3D objects, but in this case they take up a lot of space.
It is impossible to get detailed coordinate data in the app. There is support for layers. Sightseeing and routes in Costa Rica are uploaded both from public libraries (e.g., from Google, including the possibility to view photos), and from third-party users. Suitable for both auto, hiking, and nautical routes, depending on the POIs uploaded.
- You can save maps with 3D objects;
- High performance;
- Cloud-based saving of points and routes.
- The app is not particularly popular in the former CIS countries, so in these countries there are very few user routes, points of interest.
AllTrails: Hike, Bike & Run
This navigator app is best suited for hiking in Costa Rica as well as biking routes (or bike for off-roading). A distinctive feature is the support of various sensors and physical activity trackers (fitness bracelets, smart watches, heart rate sensors, blood oxygen saturation level and so on). Therefore, it is best suited for supporters of a healthy lifestyle. The interface is still English (there are also French, German, Italian).
Getting the detailed coordinates is not provided, but on the map there are marks of the current altitude. You can share user routes (all of them are automatically uploaded to the cloud). There is a map of places of interest in Costa Rica, the data for which are taken from Google Maps and points left by the users (for this they are rewarded with a rating).
Offline maps are available, but only in the PRO-version (paid, by subscription). For cars - not the best option, although you can also use, because such routes are also actively loaded by users.
- User-friendly interface;
- Very large database of custom routes on the Costa Rica;
- Offline maps are available.
- Significantly limited functionality in the trial version;
- Persistent and frequent offers to subscribe to PRO.
To summarize, there is no universal navigation app that will meet the needs of absolutely all tourists Costa Rica. The above will suit most users for off-road or hiking trips. But which one is the best depends on the requirements of each individual user. Some people will be satisfied with the Polaris, while others won't even be satisfied with the Gaia's functionality.
Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.