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Is Costa Rica Safe for a Vacation Destination

by Sean
is costa rica safe

Costa Rica is a haven of biodiversity offering incredible scenery, charming beach towns, and colorful wildlife. It’s also considered to be one of the safest countries in Latin America. Regardless, Costa Rica is a country just like any other country meaning there are some general safety measures you should maintain. Is Costa Rica safe? Read on for more information on how to make sure your trip there is safe. 

Costa Rica is dependent upon tourism and there are a lot of expatriates living there, so the country works hard to keep it a safe and comfortable experience for visitors. So, we’re answering, “Is Costa Rica safe?” and sharing some top tips so you have a safe and pleasant trip.

costa rica tourist

How safe is travel to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is known as one of the safest countries in Central America. With its abundance of expatriates, biodiversity, and ecotourism, the country takes safety seriously.

Costa Ricans are generally warm and welcoming, creating a friendly environment for visitors. Also, crime rates are low. The most common crimes in Costa Rica are petty thefts such as bag-snatching, car break-ins, and, less commonly, muggings do sometimes occur. If you’re in a larger city like San José, this type of crime is more likely than in smaller towns.

However, don’t let that fear you. No place is safe from thieves, so if you follow similar precautions that you would in your home country, you’ll be keeping yourself out of harm’s way.

Safety tips for San José, Costa Rica

San José is Costa Rica’s capital and largest city. It’s home to some amazing parks, museums, and restaurants. The city boasts a more pleasant, less humid climate than the rest of the country, making it a cooler escape from the tropical jungles. As it’s the largest city, there tends to be petty crimes that can often be targeted at tourists. Here’s how to stay safe in San José.

san jose costa rica

Keep your belongings safe

Keep your belongings with you at all times when you’re out. For example, don’t get up to use the bathroom and leave your purse sitting at the table because it might not be there when you get back. Keep your purses and backpacks zipped up and you can even invest in an Anti-Theft Bag for added security.

Stay in a quality hotel or hostel

Do your research and book a reputable hotel or hostel that’s in a good location and safer neighborhood. Before leaving at night, ask the reception about the safety of the area and be open to their suggestions.

Don’t walk home alone at night

It’s best to not walk home alone at night as you could be the target of a petty crime. If you’re with a group and the hostel or hotel is nearby, walk together.

If it’s more than a 15-minute walk back, it’s recommended to pay the few extra dollars to take a taxi.

Take the official red taxis in San José

Don’t just hop into any taxi in San José, use the official red taxis. You can find them on the streets, or you can call a phone number that your accommodation can give you. here is more information on taxi etiquette and tipping

The buses are safe

It might not be the most glamourous form of transportation, but taking the bus is a great, safe option. Just, as usual, keep an eye on your bags and be conscious when the bus stops for breaks during the journey.

Keep your passports tucked away

You don’t need to have your passport with you at all times. It’s best to keep it locked up in the safe in your hotel room or with the front desk if you’re staying in a hostel without locks and safes. Have some other form of ID on you just in case.

Don’t carry too much cash on you

This might be obvious, but don’t walk around with loads of cash in your wallet. If you have a lot of money on you, try not to expose it when making purchases. Keep it hidden.

Beyond that, in the incident of theft, don’t have all your debit or credit cards on you either. Leave one back at your hotel, so you can easily have an account to transfer money to, if need be.

Safety throughout Costa Rica

Once you leave the city, you’re at less risk of experiencing petty crimes, but there are some things you should still do to stay safe in Costa Rica. Take note of the San José safety tips above as well as these.

Be aware of your surroundings

Always know where you are, how to get back to your accommodation, and always have a sense of who is around you. Situational awareness is important to stay safe, no matter where you are in the world.

Don’t hang out on the beach past dark

Some Costa Rican towns don’t allow visitors on the beach at night because many come to drink, have bonfires, and litter. You don’t want to run into any trouble with police or locals as well.

It’s also a concern for your safety in the water. Swimming at night is not advisable because you can’t see as well as there could be deadly sea creatures lurking near the shore.

Carry a flashlight at night

Many smaller towns aren’t well-lit at night, so it’s a good idea to carry a flashlight for extra light. It will help you see potential threats and maintain your situational awareness.

Wildlife and safety in nature in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet meaning its full of beautiful creatures, fauna and flora, and gorgeous beaches. Be aware of your situation and make sure there are no wild animals around small children or animals. 

Be careful about riptides

Be careful swimming and surfing. Costa Rica experiences around 100 drownings a year; most are caused by riptides. If you are caught in a riptide, do not struggle as you can exhaust yourself to the point of drowning. Swim parallel to shore; eventually the riptide will calm. You can also continue to lay parallel and float until you get closer to the shore.

Remain calm are wildlife

If you stumble upon a snake or poisonous creature, the idea is to remain calm and quiet in order to not startle it. If you plan to go hiking during your trip to Costa Rica and are fearful of wildlife, it’s a good idea to book trips through guides who are experienced in dealing with these types of situations.

Familiarize yourself with Costa Rica’s poisonous animals

There’s a fair number of poisonous animals in the country such as snakes and frogs. Here’s a list of the deadliest animals in Costa Rica

Safety When Traveling to Costa Rica National Parks

costa rica safari national park

Costa Rica is known for its stunning national parks, which attract thousands of visitors each year. While these parks offer incredible natural beauty and opportunities for adventure, it is important to take safety precautions when traveling to them. Here are some tips for staying safe in Costa Rica’s national parks:

First, it is important to be aware of the potential hazards in the park you are visiting. Some parks have steep cliffs, strong currents, or dangerous wildlife, so it is important to research the park and its potential risks before you go. Make sure to follow any posted signs or warnings, and stay on designated trails to avoid getting lost or injured.

Second, it is important to bring the right gear and supplies for your trip. This may include sturdy hiking boots, a hat and sunscreen to protect against the sun, plenty of water and snacks, and a first aid kit in case of injury. It is also a good idea to bring a map or GPS device to help you navigate the park.

Third, it is important to respect the environment and wildlife in the park. Do not disturb or feed any animals, and avoid touching or removing any plants or rocks. Additionally, make sure to properly dispose of any trash or waste to help keep the park clean and beautiful for future visitors.

Finally, it is important to travel with a buddy or group when exploring the park. This can help ensure that you have someone to help you in case of emergency, and can also make the trip more enjoyable and memorable. By following these safety tips, you can enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s national parks while staying safe and responsible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I know before visiting Costa Rica?

Before visiting Costa Rica, it’s important to know that the country is generally safe for tourists. However, like any other country, there are certain areas where you should exercise caution. It’s also important to be aware of the local customs and laws, and to respect the culture and traditions of the people who live there.

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, national parks, and adventure tourism. Some popular tourist areas include the Pacific Coast, which is known for its surfing and beach resorts, and the Caribbean coast, which is home to lush rainforests and stunning beaches. There are also many national parks and nature reserves throughout the country that are popular with tourists.

How does Costa Rica compare to other countries in Latin America in terms of safety?

Costa Rica is generally considered to be one of the safest countries in Latin America. While there is some crime in certain areas, the overall crime rate is relatively low compared to other countries in the region. However, it’s still important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially in tourist areas.

What kind of safety precautions should I take when visiting Costa Rica?

When visiting Costa Rica, it’s important to exercise the same safety precautions that you would in any other country. This includes being aware of your surroundings, avoiding dangerous areas, and keeping your valuables safe. It’s also a good idea to research the areas you plan to visit and to follow the advice of locals and other travelers. Overall, with a little bit of common sense and caution, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable trip to Costa Rica.

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