Costa Rica is a wonderful place to go for a vacation, honeymoon, elopement, or wedding. It is uniquely beautiful thanks to its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and breathtaking volcanoes. Costa Rica offers up a wide range of activities that cater to a variety of interests from sunset horseback riding to whizzing through the forest canopy on a zipline to surfing some legendary waves. But beyond its beauty, excitement, and romance, Costa Rica is a safe place to visit. It is the most politically and economically stable country in Central America. Violent crime is almost non-existent here, a country that does not even have a military. Compared to its neighbors, Costa Rica is a wealthy nation and home to some high-quality private hospitals. This is a country that you can feel safe bringing your loved ones. But, like any country – including the United States – there are some safety precautions that everyone should take to avoid ruining their visit.
Tips for Avoiding Crime
Violent crime is rare in Costa Rica, but pick pocketing can be a problem in some areas. San Jose is particularly known for its petty thieves. One of the best ways to avoid being pickpocketed is to blend in as much as possible with the locals. For the tall blue-eyed blondes out there, this is a bit trickier, but your wardrobe can do a lot. Men and women should stick to jeans, even if it’s hot outside, because this is what the ticos wear. Women can wear sleeveless and short-sleeved shirts, but try to avoid anything too tight or revealing. This is not only good for escaping the attention of pickpockets, but also for escaping the attention of local men who are sure to express their admiration loudly and without restraint. Do not wear any jewelry that looks expensive and make sure that your bag or purse has a zip closure. Men can wear whatever they want on top, but should try to look as neat as possible. Although it may feel funny at first, men should keep their wallets in a front pocket instead of the back pocket. Better yet, keep your wallet in an inside zippered pocket of a zippered backpack.
Another favorite spot for pickpockets is on public transportation and in bus terminals. The Coca-Cola Bus Station in San Jose is in a pretty sketchy area, so try to spend as little time there as possible. Always keep a hand on your bags. Never leave them unattended or under the supervision of someone who may not pay close enough attention. When on the bus, always hold your bag in your lap or put it in the compartment underneath the bus. Never put your bag in the overhead areas.
Tips for Staying Healthy
Before going to any foreign country, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about any vaccinations or medications you should bring. Most doctors will tell you, however, that Costa Rica is a pretty disease-free place. The two exceptions are malaria and dengue fever, mosquito-spread diseases that have become common in coastal areas all over the world. While it is a good idea to take precautions no matter what part of Costa Rica you visit, the majority of serious reported cases have been on the Caribbean Coast.
The best way to avoid getting dengue or malaria is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Wear good insect repellent at all times, but especially at dawn and dusk. Wearing light-colored, loose clothing is also recommended. Stay in rooms with air conditioning or with mosquito nets.
At the end of the day, the vast majority of tourists visiting Costa Rica do not get pickpocketed or contract dengue fever or malaria. Take these simple precautions and then focus all of your attention on having an incredible trip. Fear should never get in the way of enjoying your vacation, especially if you’re visiting Costa Rica!