I have been coming to Costa Rica since I was 6 years old. My family is Costa Rican and so I have a lot of ties and history here!
There are only a handful of times I have ever felt unsafe here, and I have noticed it is a question many travelers have when they plan their trip.
I am a solo female traveler, and so I try to be very cautious. There are some areas in Costa Rica where it's important to take extra care!
Which areas in Costa Rica could be dangerous?
San José & Bus Stops
Petty crime is something travelers complain about often—phones, items left on tables or in cars, and laptops might be taken. This is more common in busy city areas like the San José bus stop. Watch your possessions and avoid leaving anything on a table or in a car, even for a moment. Overwhelmingly, this kind of petty crime is what travelers are told to look out for.
In Costa Rica, taxis are RED. Trust red official taxis with the meter running. As of December 2021, Uber and ride-share programs are not completely legal, although the apps still work in the country. However, the police can and do pull over Uber drivers and issue tickets and fines.
When I go out in Costa Rica, I usually bring ID, cash, and maybe one card, and leave the rest in my hotel in a safe spot. I typically try not to bring all of my cards or money with me to one place, just to make sure. It's also wise to have copies of your IDs saved or printed out...like copies of your passport, vaccine cards, and anything else you wouldn't want to lose.
The Beach & Jungle
Walking through the beach and the jungle can be extremely fun! However, at nighttime, these can be places where one can get easily lost. There are also dangerous animals that can live in some of these protected natural areas.
If you're walking back, take well-lit roads and try not to go alone. Do not walk on the dark beach or in the jungle alone at night.
Be careful around crocodiles, bulls, and venomous snakes, which are some of the dangerous animals here in Costa Rica.
Remember—If you see an animal that could be dangerous, be sure to warn others around you, as a common courtesy!
People often assume "dangerous" means "crime." However, in Costa Rica, the ocean is a dangerous place. Rip tides, rocks, and powerful waves can be more dangerous than petty crime. It is prudent to take care in the ocean and swim with a partner during the daytime. Surfing instructors will tell you to make sure the board does not come between you and the wave...because the wave can plunge the board into you.
Make sure you bring good shoes for hikes! Pointy and slippery rocks can cut up your feet, cause you to fall, and ruin your whole excursion. For waterfalls and hikes, flip-flops are usually not stable enough. Make sure to bring shoes with traction, and if they're waterproof, even better.
If you watch your possessions, keep extra copies of important documents, protect your money, and watch out for wild animals and dangerous currents, you'll have a safe and fun time in Costa Rica!
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