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 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.
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.
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.