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Is Costa Rica Safe?

Everything you need to know in order to feel secure during your Costa Rica travels from natural disasters, to crime, to poisonous animals.

Safety is always a concern when traveling to a foreign country.

In general, we feel really safe in Costa Rica, but there are several things we do as safety precautions.

Safety is not limited to crime. You also need to protect yourself from nature, wildlife etc.

Let’s go through our tips to keep you feeling secure!

Crime in Costa Rica

Crime is probably your number one safety concern while traveling here. 

In our experience, Costa Rica is fairly safe. We have never been the victims of any type of crime here, but we have heard of friends dealing with safety issues.

Often, this is is limited to petty theft. 

We like to always take extra precautions to minimize our chances of being targeted. 

Some things we do are:

– Don’t dress too flashy with expensive jewelry

– Avoid carrying large amounts of cash

– If we do have a lot of cash we keep it in different places on us (shoe, pocket, bra etc.) so if we are robbed we can give them just a portion

– Carry a photocopy of your passport and keep your actual passport in a safe spot at your hotel.

For more tips check out our guide to crime in Costa Rica. We have a whole long list of safety tips that have worked for us so far. 

Common Scams

We want you to have the best vacation in Costa Rica possible and that includes avoiding any type of scams that can occur against tourists.

Usually these scams involve paying for goods or services that you do not actually receive.

To avoid this we like to always organize all of our plans through reputable companies. 

For example, we always book our car rentals through Adobe (you can do that here and get a 10% discount).

Recently we have been organizing a lot of activities through Viator. This gives us the security of a large company but all tours are done through local companies which allows us to still support local businesses. 

Check out our guide to common scams in Costa Rica for details on everything you need to watch out for. 

Safety from Wildlife

Welcome to Costa Rica where the wildlife can kill you. Yay!

Have you read Bill Bryson’s book about Australia called “In a Sunburned Country“?  He is one of my favorite travel writers and somebody I would love to have at a dinner party. He seems to be hysterically witty and crazy smart. 

Anyway, I’m getting off track. 

When I first read his book I remember thinking “damn, Australia is just filled with a million things that could kill you at any moment”

….Costa Rica is a bit like that.

Personally, my biggest wildlife fear is snakes and Costa Rica has the fer-de-lance which haunts my dreams.

In all seriousness though, we have never had any serious issues with wildlife. A few minor problems, but nothing totally terrifying.

If you would like to know more about what to expect and how to protect yourself, check out our guide to wildlife in Costa Rica

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Environmental safety

Can I drink the water?

Is it safe to swim in pools?

What is this weird rash I just developed?

These are all questions we have been asked (or have asked ourselves) while being in Costa Rica.

In short, you can drink the water, but we suggest buying bottled water instead. It’s just a bit safer.

Yes, you can swim in pools and hot springs, but use your best judgement if things look weird.

And strange rashes, well, let me say I’ve had my fair share of those here. 

When we first moved here I got horrible rash on my face and my eye swelled shut. Turned out that I had been picking mangoes and they have the same oil as poison ivy. Why knew?

Anyway, check out our guide to all environmental safety things you should be aware of here. 

Safety Gear we Love

Here is just some of our favorite gear to protect us from crime, the sun, mosquitos, and other environmental factors. 

Natural Disasters

Volcano eruptions, flooding, and earthquakes….oh my!

There are five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. That doesn’t mean that they are all actively erupting, but some are actually active at the moment.

Earthquakes occur pretty much every day. Again, that doesn’t mean that you will actually feel them. Usually they are so minor that you won’t even notice. 

And flooding, this is only a problem during rainy season. Particularly it is typically an issue between September and November. 

For more info on check out our natural disaster guide

Protection from the sun

Keep in mind that Costa Rica is not too far from the Equator. The UV index here is high!

I’m telling you this because in my experience (or at least from the email I get) the number one reason tourists end up at the doctors or hospital is too severe sun exposure.

I know, you are on a tropical vacation, you want to get a nice tan, but trust me. Wear a lot of sunscreen, wear UV shirts in the water, cover your head with a good hat.

For more info, check out our guide to the sun in Costa Rica

Protection from mosquitos

The mosquitos can get pretty bad here especially during rainy season along the beaches. 

It is important to always protect yourself from mosquitos because Zika and Dengue can be a problem here.

Check out our guide to mosquitos in Costa Rica for all our safety tips. 

Transportation safety

We try to always take reputable transportation when in Costa Rica (or anywhere). 

For example, please read our guide to taxis before getting anybody’s car. There are illegal taxi drivers here that will extort money from you.

And please read our guide to driving to know what to look out for to stay safe on the road. 

Rental car scam

When booking a rental car in Costa Rica please avoid the large booking sites. You know those sites where you can book a car, flight, hotel, etc in one spot?

I won’t name names, but you hopefully know what I’m talking about. 

Often these sites will advertise cars for sometimes as low as $2 per day but they do not mention the mandatory car rental insurance of other fees. This means when you arrive for your vacation you might be hot with excessive other fees that you were unaware of.

Please read our guide to car rental scams before booking anything. 

COVID Safety

Coronavirus safety is an ever evolving issue. I feel like most of us have started to move on with our lives and are taking more risks, but definitely keep in mind that you could still get COVID while traveling.

We maintain a COVID in Costa Rica guide that we update as any new info emerges. 

However, as of now, there are no travel restrictions for visiting Costa Rica. 

Solo Travel Safety

If you are traveling alone or backpacking through Costa Rica you may have other safety concerns.

As we have mentioned above, petty crime is the most common issue. 

However, we do suggest not walking around alone at night when possible.

If you are staying at a hostel, try to make a few friends that you can go out with.

Also, always tell someone where you will be. 

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Heymondo travel insurance offers comprehensive coverage for Costa Rica travelers. They offer 24/7 assistance, an easy claims process, and customization of plans. We like that Heymondo has an Adventure Sports add on which will cover you for things such as zip lining and white water rafting.  

entry requirements

When entering Costa Rica you need to show proof that you will be leaving the country within 90 days. This can come on the proof of roundtrip ticket or inward travel.

Entry requirements vary by where you are coming from and which country you are a citizen of. 

For all entry requirements check the Costa Rica entry guide.

apps to keep you safe

We suggest downloading the free app Waze for the best driving directions, Google Translate to communicate in Spanish, and XE Currency Exchange to know you are always getting the best exchange rate.

For more great apps, check out our Costa Rica essential apps guide

You Might Also Like

Complete Guide to Things to Do in Costa Rica

Beaches in Costa Rica: Complete Guide

Eating in Costa Rica: Guide to Food

….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Must Know Planning Info on Costa Rica for more trip-planning advice