Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit in 2023?

Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit

Is it safe to travel Costa Rica? YES! Costa Rica is very safe country without any army. It is one of my favorite countries in the world and a haven for nature sweethearts. It was the first place I ever visited and the place that gave me the travel bug.

The beaches resemble a tropical paradise, and there are many locations to escape the throngs of retired Americans that reside here. Whatever your interests, Costa Rica has a tone of free activities available.

Is it Safe to Travel to Costa Rica Right Now?

Costa Rica is one of the safest places

The nation was lucky to be spared the bloody gang violence and Cold War wars that plagued other Central American nations. However, in recent years, Costa Rica has been more involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and money laundering.

Fortunately, visitors can still feel secure in the nation. I mean, the country is so secure that there hasn’t been an army since 1948!

Even though Costa Rica is one of the safest places in Central America to travel and backpack, you shouldn’t relax your security measures. I’ll offer some guidance and ideas in this piece to make your trip safe and worry-free.

Here’s the foreign travel advisory for Costa Rica.

Safety and Security in Costa Rica

Safety and Security in Costa Rica

When deciding to travel or reside abroad, safety in Costa Rica is among the most crucial topics to research. 

Out of 163 nations, Costa Rica is ranked 38th in the 2022 Global Peace Index, making it the top nation in Latin America. 

This ranking is based on elements like terrorism, environmental risk, the ease of access to weapons, gun deaths, the protection of human rights, ties with nearby nations, effectiveness of the government, etc. 

Even though Costa Rica is regarded as a very peaceful country, there are still a few things to be on the lookout for.

Crime – Here are some do’s and don’ts that you as a traveler must adhere to – 

  • When on the bus, be cautious because thefts are widespread. Particularly vulnerable are bags in overhead bins. 
  • At the beach, be extra cautious with your belongings. Muggings and petty theft of personal items such as passports are major issues, particularly along the Atlantic coast.
  • Avoid taking ‘taxi piratas,’ or unofficial cabs. Tourists have reportedly been involved in violent encounters. 
  •  Hire taxis which have a triangle sticker and plastic box on the roof with the name and phone number of the taxi firm.
  • Use radio-dispatched cabs as much as possible. 
  • Never accept a ride from a total stranger.
  • Avoid dark or isolated regions. There have been gang muggings, carjackings, and armed robberies, even on crowded streets.
  • Never leave valuables in rental cars, even in the boot, and stay away from leaving items where they can be seen from the outside of the vehicle.
  • Auto theft and theft from cars are a typical occurrence. 
  • Never leave valuables in rental cars, even in the boot, and stay away from leaving items where they can be seen from the outside of the vehicle.
  • Always park at secure car parks with visible security personnel or in well-lit busy areas. 

Methanol Poisoning – Here’s what you need to know – 

  • Alcoholic beverages containing methanol contributed to a number of fatalities and incidents of severe sickness in Costa Rica in 2019. 
  • According to reports, criminal organizations produce adulterated spirits with significant levels of methanol in them. These included several inexpensive local booze brands like vodka and “guaro” (cane liquor).
  • In October 2020, several incidents involving a “Fiesta Blanca” brand spirit were reported. 

Please note – When purchasing any spirit-based beverage, you should exercise caution.

Local Travel – You should go with a professional local guide if you intend to visit jungle areas. You should go with a professional local guide if you intend to visit jungle areas. Keep a close eye out for restrictions on entry to dangerous regions if you visit a volcano. Visitors cannot enter the national park while there is a risk of an eruption until the threat has passed.

Here are some emergency contact numbers that you must take a note of to exercise the safety in Costa Rica – 

Emergency contacts in Costa RicaContact
Police Emergency911
Fire Service118
Women safety117
Police Investigative Service2221-5337

Air Travel – There have been 2 tragic events involving the domestic airlines Nature Flight in September 2017, despite the fact that air mishaps are uncommon in Costa Rica. 

Road Travel – Is Costa Rica safe to travel by road? If you’re hiring a self driven car, here are some necessary caution and information that you may require – 

Is Costa Rica safe to travel by road
  • Left-hand drive vehicle is most prevalent in Costa Rica
  • When visiting Costa Rica as a tourist, you are permitted to drive on either a UK/USA driving license or an international driving permit.
  • Road conditions on major routes are generally good, though there may be potholes owing to heavy rains during the rainy season. 
  • During the rainy season, landslides occasionally obstruct the road between San José and Guapiles on the way to Limón and the San Jose/Caldera Highway. 
  • Criminals may purposefully create collisions to stop automobiles in order to commit robberies or other crimes. 
  • If you believe that an accident was intentionally caused by another driver to force you to stop, you could continue traveling until you come to a safe place.

Swimming and water sports – Take extra precautions if you’re going on a tour that includes snorkeling or other comparable activities. In addition – 

  • While swimming from any beach in Costa Rica, keep in mind that rip currents are widespread, and lifeguards are not always present.
  • Drownings are the second most common cause of accidental death.
  •  In recent years, there have been an average of 50 to 60 drownings per year, with a third of the victims being tourists. 
  • There are frequent sightings of crocodiles along the Pacific Coast. There have been attacks in recent years.

Also Read: Things to do in Costa Rica

Safest Places in Costa Rica

The safest tourist destinations in Costa Rica all share one thing in common: they are popular with tourists. The people in many of these villages, which rely heavily on tourism for economic growth, work in the hospitality and ecotourism industries. They are welcoming destinations that are safe for everyone to enjoy.

There are, however, some places that are riskier than others. We’ve listed the best and worst places to stay in terms of safety in Costa Rica below.

  • Tamarindo – Tamarindo is a fantastic beach town in Costa Rica that features stunning beaches, a raucous nightlife, and is a major surfing hub. Tamarindo is undoubtedly a famous tourist destination, but since it doesn’t receive as many visitors as other cities, the degree of safety is still fairly good.
  • Nosara – Nosara is renowned for being a very safe area to travel to and a fantastic vacation spot for families. Numerous tourists and expats who spend the entire year in Costa Rica are drawn by the country’s stunning beaches and smooth sand. Additionally, Nosara offers a wide variety of stunning hotels, vacation rentals, and chic eateries.
  • Drake Bay – Drake Bay, commonly known as Baha Drake, is located on the southwest Costa Rican  It is one of the safest places in Costa Rica because it is a secluded community rather than a wild tourist hotspot.  Playa Colorada is Drake Bay’s primary beach, and it features a few restaurants as well as a nice, calm sea.
  • Samara  – Samara is a well-liked tourism destination and a secure area for female and single travelers. Beautiful beaches, a tonne of entertaining activities, and yoga lessons are all available. There are several hotels to select from and delectable local restaurants in this family-friendly location.
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – This place grabs the top spot in terms of Costa Rica safety ranking.  Located in the Southeast of Costa Rica, it is known for its amazing surf break at Salsa Brava and black sand beach. Additionally, there is a wildlife refuge center and even a jaguar rescue facility nearby that are both great to visit! 
  • Santa Teresa – Santa Teresa is an excellent choice if you want a place where you can enjoy both the nightlife and the beach without compromising your safety. Amazing surfing can be found in this town, which also attracts a younger demographic and a significant number of European visitors taking a gap year. Even though it is a small town, there are many taverns and eateries there, making it very vibrant. Although you could encounter petty crime .

Not every part of Costa Rica is a paradise, as we’ve already indicated. The following regions are best avoided than investigated, even if it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings.

  • San Jose – San Jose is the most visited tourist destination in Costa Rica, however there are several spots you should avoid. This includes all types of parks at night. Avoid the following areas as well: Cartago’s El Carmen neighborhood, Alajuela’s “El Infiernillo,” Los Guido, Desamparados, Pavas, La Carpio, Leon XIII.
  • Quepos – Quepos, a little hamlet that serves as the entrance to the Manuel Antonio National Park, has had a lot of robberies recently. If at all possible, try to avoid the situation or simply keep your eyes open.
  • Matina – Matina is a tiny rural settlement in Limón that is situated along the Matina River. The rate of violent crime is significantly higher here, and while it may only target locals, it may be best to avoid, especially if you’re traveling alone.
  • Jaco – Just a few hours’ drive from San Jose lies the well-known tourist resort of Jaco, which is on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Jaco has a lively nightlife in addition to its beachy charm. It draws hordes of vacationers looking to party. Although Jaco may be a lot of fun, it is a busier city, and the party/drug culture leads to greater crime.

Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit This Year?

We hope that after reading this article, you feel ready to start your trip in Costa Rica. Due to its small size, trustworthy infrastructure, welcoming citizens, and generally low crime rates, the little nation is among the safest destinations in Central America for travelers.

If you’re still unsure about Costa Rica’s safety, keep in mind that crime occurs anywhere in the globe. While it’s always advisable to exercise caution and common sense whenever traveling, Costa Rica is one of the safest places for visitors of all nationalities to visit.

Costa Rica Travel Safety – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is driving in Costa Rica safe?

In Costa Rica, the traffic can become a little chaotic. Overall, driving there is fairly safe. Just be sure to drive cautiously and within the speed limit. Likewise, you ought to refrain from driving after dark.

Is Costa Rica safe for Americans?

The highest level of safety according to the U.S. State Department’s classification is “level 1” for Costa Rica. You will be safer living and traveling in Costa Rica if you are observant and take the necessary safety precautions.

Is Costa Rica safe for female visitors traveling alone?

Costa Rica is fantastic for all types of lone travelers! Before arriving in Costa Rica, I had traveled to more than 50 different nations, and I had a wonderful time there. Having said that, I do believe that seasoned solo travelers would enjoy Costa Rica better if they strayed off the main tourist routes.

Avoiding the busiest tourist areas is strongly advised, especially Tamarindo. Additionally, you might want to stay away from locations like La Fortuna, Puerto Viejo, and Manuel Antonio National Park. In Costa Rica, venturing off the beaten road can be a reward in and of itself.

Is Costa Rica safe for families?

Families looking for adventure will find Costa Rica to be very safe; just keep a watch on the youngsters when they’re swimming or exploring the rainforest.

Is Costa Rica safe to live?

Both natives and visitors to Costa Rica can feel completely secure there. Living in Costa Rica is a popular choice for people from all over the world.

Are taxis safe in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, cabs are indeed secure. Verify that the taxi you are utilizing is a genuine, registered taxi. These are red in Costa Rica, and taxi stands are the safest place to purchase them. Having saying that, I advise taking Uber whenever you can.

Is Costa Rica’s public transportation safe?

Yes, Costa Rica’s public transportation system is trustworthy and safe. It is one of the safest methods of transportation and is utilized by both residents and visitors from all over the world. Even so, it is advisable to keep priceless objects close to you and to store luggage below your seat as opposed to in the overhead bin.Is Costa Ricas public transportation safe

Is Uber safe to use in Costa Rica?

Uber in Costa Rica are safe and dependable, although they are typically only available in larger towns and cities such as San Jose. When hiring an Uber, make careful to check the vehicle model and make, as well as the auto plate number, to ensure that you are paired with the correct driver.

Is booking Airbnb safe in Costa Rica?

Yes, Airbnb is safe in Costa Rica. There are occasionally fake listings, so check reviews and messages with your host before committing. Select a new hotel if something doesn’t feel right.

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