In the inland capital San Jose, buildings swayed for a couple of minutes.
The quake was originally measured at 6.1 magnitude but was later downgraded to 5.8, the USGS said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami alert. "It's been years since we felt such a strong one".
However, the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica said the natural disaster measured 6.9.
Evy Rodrigues told Daily Star Online that she felt the quake in La Fortuna - some 80m away.
Media in neighboring Panama and Nicaragua said the natural disaster was felt on their territories too, but no damage was detected.
"The floor, glasses, chairs, lamps - everything for about six to eight seconds".