Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. From breathtaking waterfalls, volcanoes, national parks, hot springs, mesmerizing beaches, to rich biodiversity, Costa Rica is a piece of heaven on earth.
Yet, tourists always wonder if Costa Rica is safe to travel to! Especially when the neighbors, i.e. other Central American countries, are notoriously famous for crime, trafficking, money laundering, drug dealing, etc. But, we can proudly say that Costa Rica is one of the safest countries to travel to in Central America.
Having said that, it is always best to exercise caution when in Costa Rica. In this post, we will share some tips and advice for safe and stress-free travel in Costa Rica.
8 Tips for Traveling in Costa Rica
1. Keep your guard UP at all times
This rule applies not only to Costa Rica but to every place you go in the world. A tourist should never let his/her guard down. It is easy to get scammed when you are not a local. Use common sense, be smart, and take the same safety measures you would take back at home.
Petty theft like mugging and bag snatching is the most common type of crime in Costa Rica. Staying vigilant and not flashing your valuables will protect you from getting robbed.
2. Stay alert when using public transportation
Be extra cautious of your belongings when getting in or getting off a bus. Never ask anyone to watch your stuff at a bus station. When inside the bus, keep your valuables with you, and not in the overhead compartment or luggage compartment under the bus.
When taking a taxi, always look for official taxis or Uber taxis. Don’t agree to ride with a random person who claims to be a taxi driver. Official taxis in Costa Rica are red colored with a yellow triangle on the side. When inside an official taxi, ask them to turn on the meter, and pay close attention to it.
3. Always check the weather forecast
It’s always better to check the weather forecast and conditions before you take a tour. This will help prevent you from getting stranded in unfamiliar places. Help may not always be available in remote or isolated areas.
When getting inside the water at a beach, check for surf currents, and wave and sea conditions. This will help you know the level of caution you have to exercise. Avoid swimming during rip currents and during & after rains.
4. Do not carry too many valuables
It’s always best to keep unnecessary valuables, jewelry, and credit cards at home or hotel. If you absolutely need to carry some, do not show them off in public. Keep your wallet, phone, and camera inside when not in use. Try not to become a target of pickpockets.
If you are planning to hit the beach, take as little as possible as there are chances you might have to leave your belongings unattended.
5. Never leave your belongings unattended
If you are at a restaurant, never hang your backpack or handbag at the back of the chair or keep it under the table. Always keep your bag in a place where you can keep an eye on it.
If you are at a tourist place, it is advisable to keep your bag on your lap. Do not leave your belongings unattended when going inside the water at a beach or a waterfall. If you have someone accompanying you, it is better that one of you stay while the other takes a dip.
6. Do not leave your credit card out of your sight
While paying at a restaurant, supermarket, gas station, or at a tourist spot, make sure you don’t take your eyes off the credit card. Watch the person charge it and check the receipt for any irregularities before leaving. Make sure you keep the credit card back in a safe place.
7. Never go to isolated areas in the dark
If you are in an isolated place and that too in the dark, you will be at a greater risk of getting robbed. Never walk alone where there are no people, and never park your car in poorly lit or isolated areas. Stay where the crowds are. This is the best way to avoid being singled out by muggers.
If you are under the influence of alcohol, it’s best to not venture out alone on the beach at night. You don’t want to become an easy target. Stay with your group.
8. Always roll up the windows & lock the doors of your car
This seems common sense, but it is easy to forget to roll the windows up or lock the car’s doors while stepping out of the car. Always double-check the windows and doors of your car before stepping out, especially at a tourist place or an isolated parking lot. Also, never leave your backpack or any other belongings in the backseat of the car, as it will be easily visible to the thief who might decide to break the window to get to the item. If you HAVE to leave something, hide it at a place where no one can see it from outside.