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Best GPS apps for Costa Rica navigation - 2023


Google Maps is one of the most popular apps for navigating Costa Rica on Android and iOS. 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 of the current location, the construction of routes in it is tied to the roads.

There are many apps for navigation in Costa Rica, which cope with this task much better than Google Maps. If you focus on the reviews of advanced visitors, just select the following apps as recommended for use when traveling in Costa Rica:

Table of Contents

Gaia GPS (Topo Maps)

One of the most advanced phone apps for navigating in Costa Rica (The regions of Guanacaste, Heredia, Puntarenas, Cartago and San Jose are available.)

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 driving; hiking; 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.

For those who enjoy hiking, the Gaia GPS app will also be useful. There are about 40 routes to choose from in Costa Rica, including Puente Loop, Playa Manuel Antonio Loop via Calle Parque Nacional, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Loop via Quebrada Cuecha and other routes.

Each route has its own difficulty, also you can see the rating. To pass the routes, you must have GPS and an Internet connection.


  • 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.

Download for: Android | iOS

Polaris GPS

Developers describe it as a universal app for using GPS in Costa Rica. It is not only a navigation app, but also a digital compass and route manager.

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 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).

Download for: Android | iOS

Avenza Maps

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 app is very similar to Gaia Maps, but the interface is more "presentable" and less crowded. Offline maps for Costa Rica are available, but you need to download the sections 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 for cities such as Puntarenas, San Vicente, Barranca, Curridabat, Paraíso, etc. The phone app is 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 to use GPS feature.

By the way, you can also purchase AdventureMap ($11.99 USD) and Costa Rica National Geographic maps ($9.99 USD) from the Avenza Maps website. The maps contain information about the West and East sides of Costa Rica.

These maps provide access to many attractions such as Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, Tamarindo, etc. Perhaps this will help you make a trip to this country more exciting.


  • 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 offline maps saving and management.

Download for: Android | iOS


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 and focused on creating routes by POI (mostly from third-party users).

The maps can also be downloaded with support for 3D objects, but in this case they take up a lot of space. Some cities you can use GPS app for:

  • San Isidro de El General
  • San José de Alajuela
  • Purral
  • San Pedro
  • Ipís
  • San Miguel

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 sources (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.

Download for: Android | iOS

AllTrails: Hike, Bike & Run

This GPS navigation 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 it is 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.

Download for: Android | iOS

Using GPS in Costa Rica via Google Maps

Google Maps is a good choice if you use GPS in Costa Rica (for example, in San José). You can download offline maps to your phone and then use them to navigate around the country. Cities you can download maps for:

  • San José
  • Limón (Puerto Limón)
  • Alajuela
  • San Francisco
  • Cinco Esquinas
  • Desamparados
  • Liberia, etc.

Google Maps also allows you to plot routes on offline maps without downloading mobile data.

How to use GPS on Costa Rica:

Step 1. Open Maps app by tapping the icon.

Step 2. Turn on your GPS to calculate your current location in Costa Rica.

Step 3. On the map, select the desired location you want to get to or enter details in the search.

Step 4. Tap the Directions button at the bottom of the screen

Step 5. Specify the method of travel: by car, public transport, or on foot.

Step 6. The map will display a list of routes, time, and distance to your destination in San José or another city in Costa Rica.

Step 7. You can choose an alternative route in Costa Rica by tapping on it.

Step 8. In order to build another route, mark the destination on Google Maps. Time and distance will be updated.

Which app is the best choice for Costa Rica navigation?

Navigation apps are essential for travelers to Costa Rica, and there are three popular apps available: Avenza, Tracky, and AllTrails.

  • Avenza is focused on creating detailed maps with 3D objects, while - Tracky is more focused on creating routes by POI.
  • AllTrails is suitable for hiking and biking in Costa Rica, as it supports various sensors and physical activity trackers.

Each app has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as support for different types of maps, the ability to create personal routes, the ability to share routes with other users, support for offline maps in Costa Rica, and more.

To summarize, there is no universal navigation app that will meet the needs of absolutely all tourists in 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.