Safety Tips for Your Next Trip to Costa Rica

Many people visiting Costa Rica are uneasy about safety. They have heard about violence in other areas of Central America and are unsure of what to expect. Rest assured that Costa Rica is generally a very safe and peaceful place to visit. As long as you exercise some precautions, you shouldn’t have any problems on your trip. Below we share some general tips and also specific guidance for different situations.


Safety Tips for Traveling to Costa Rica

General Precautions

The majority of crimes against tourists in Costa Rica involve petty theft. Most often, they are opportunistic in nature and non-aggressive. While Costa Rica does have more serious crimes like armed robberies and home invasions, these occur much less frequently. During all of our years traveling in Costa Rica and during the almost three years that we have lived here, we have been the victim of a crime only once. On one of our first visits to the Manuel Antonio area, Matt was getting our bags from the luggage compartment of the public bus at the bus station in Quepos. As he was reaching under to retrieve our bag, a guy took his wallet from the outside pocket of his cargo shorts. Matt didn’t notice at first because of all the commotion of everyone trying to get their bags. Later, his wallet turned up on the ground nearby. The $20 that was inside was gone, but his license and all of his credit cards were still there. This was one of those typical petty theft crimes that occur here every day. It easily could have been prevented if he had his wallet in a more secure location. Luckily, we had the rest of our money safely stored away in a bag that Jenn was carrying.

Here are some ways to prevent crime from happening to you.

Carrying Valuables

Don’t carry a lot of money on you. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as ATMs are easy to find in most areas of Costa Rica and credit cards are widely accepted. If you are traveling to a destination where you’ll need to be carrying cash due to a lack of banks (e.g., Drake Bay, Tortuguero), keep it in a money belt, neck wallet, or a secure place in a bag with a zipper. Also be careful when taking money out of your wallet not to flash it around. If you’re carrying a lot of cash, you don’t want people to know that. When we traveled as tourists and took the bus to get around, we hid money in plastic bags under the soles of our sneakers!

When you don’t need your passport, keep it in a safe place like a hotel safe. Here’s another easy thing to do, which is recommended by the US Embassy. Photocopy the first page of your passport (with your name, photo, etc.) and the page with your stamp allowing entry into Costa Rica, and carry that with you instead.

Leave any cards, like credit cards, that you’re not planning to use at home so that if you have your wallet stolen, you don’t lose everything. And make sure to write down the account and support phone numbers for your cards and keep them separate from your wallet, in case something does happen.  

Never hang a purse or bag on the back of your chair at a restaurant. We have seen a few security camera videos where people causing a little commotion on the other side of a restaurant distract everyone while another person comes from behind and snags the belongings.

It is also a good idea to leave flashy jewelry at home to avoid looking like you have a lot of money.

For electronics, people walk around all the time with their expensive SLR cameras hanging around their necks. This is fine for the most part. Costa Rica is a very touristy country and the locals are used to this. A few places where it’s a good idea to keep your camera in a bag is the city of San Jose, in remote areas, and at bus stations and other public areas where people congregate. One example we know of someone having their camera stolen in an unexpected place was on a beach path near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The person was walking by himself back from the beach on one of the small paths in the middle of the day. There weren’t any people around, and a guy came out of nowhere and grabbed his camera.

If you’re traveling with a laptop, tablet, phone, etc. keep it locked in the hotel safe when you’re not using it and you should be fine. As a precaution, we like to have tracking software like the Prey Project installed on our devices. This would help us track and hopefully get our stuff back if it was ever stolen. The software uses your device to take pictures of the thief, track them with GPS, and follow what websites they go to such as their email and Facebook account so you can find out who they are. 

Renting a Car

Rental cars are targets in Costa Rica. The main car companies all use the same handful of models so thieves know which cars on the road are rentals. Don’t let that stop you from renting, though. Most of these crimes are easily preventable. The most important security measure is to never leave anything, even a pair of cheap sunglasses, inside the car. This goes for things in sight and out of sight. If you are traveling between destinations and need to make a stop, bring your bags with you if possible, leave one person to watch the car, or find a lot that is guarded. A lot of restaurants in Costa Rica have attendants who will watch your car in exchange for tips. You’ll also see them along the street in cities and at some attractions.

Also be aware of scams. One we’ve heard of involves giving you a flat tire by putting nails, etc. on the road or under your tire in a parking lot. After you get a flat and pull over, someone comes to the “rescue” to help while another person steals your belongings. This isn’t too common but is good to be aware of. If you do get a flat, try to make it to the nearest gas station or pull over at a local business if that’s not possible and call the rental car company for help.

If you have a cell phone, bring it so that you don’t have to rely on anyone else in case of an accident or problem with the car.

Taking the Bus

We traveled by bus almost exclusively when visiting the country as tourists. We loved taking the bus because it was a great chance to interact with the locals, and we seldom ran into problems. A couple of tips are to keep any valuables you have on you or in a small bag at your seat. Buses have an overhead compartment that is fine to use for most things, but you wouldn’t want to keep anything valuable up there as someone could easily grab the bag and then exit the bus. The same goes for the luggage compartment under the bus. The bus driver or someone helping usually helps take the bags from under the bus when it stops, but this isn’t always the case.

Avoid people trying to “help” you at the bus station. We’ve been harassed by these types of people before. Once we were traveling from San Jose and had to switch buses in Limon before heading on to Cahuita. As we were waiting for the bus continuing south, a friendly guy approached us, insisting on helping us get our tickets. Even though we told him that we didn’t need any help, he kept following us around. Later, he asked for a tip for his help and wouldn’t go away so eventually we gave him some money just to get rid of him. Try to avoid these situations by taking direct buses or looking busy at the bus station while you wait for a connection.

Taking a Taxi

Costa Rica has pirate taxis, which are cars manned by unlicensed taxi drivers. For safety reasons, it is best to avoid these and use only official taxis. Taxis that have been licensed by the Costa Rican government are uniformly red or orange (for airport taxis) and have either a yellow triangular medallion or airport taxi symbol on the door.


Safety Tips Costa Rica- Take an official taxi | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Airport Taxi

Staying at a Hotel or Vacation Rental

For the most part, you don’t have to worry about crime at hotels. If you’re staying in an area that has problems with theft, the hotel will most likely have a guard on duty 24 hours a day and may have one as a precaution, even in areas without much crime. Many hotels, especially in San Jose, also have security gates that close at night and require that you beep to be let in. Even with security measures, it is always good to be vigilant and keep your belongings locked in the hotel safe.

Vacation rentals present a unique problem. They usually don’t have the same level of security, and thieves often know which houses are vacation rentals. They also know that tourists don’t always take the necessary precautions. If you are concerned about crime in the area you’ll be visiting, pick a vacation rental that has security measures in place. A guard, security system, gate, deadbolt, safe, etc. all go a long way towards keeping a property secure. Even when you are home, don’t leave valuables in sight from windows and especially within arm’s reach of screened windows since they can be easily torn or cut. Whenever you leave or are sleeping, always be sure to lock the house’s windows and doors.

Going to the Beach

One of the most common crimes that occurs in Costa Rica is bags being stolen from the beach. We are always amazed at the number of tourists who leave their bag on the beach while they go swimming. Never do this, as thieves are often not far away, and will grab your bag then run off on a nearby beach trail. If you’re traveling with more than one person, take turns swimming and be sure that someone stays up on the sand with the bags. One way to avoid this problem altogether is not to bring anything valuable with you. If you only have a towel, sunscreen, and flip-flops, there is nothing of value for anyone to take.

Going Out at Night

If you’re planning to go to the bars and clubs at night, stay in a group. Take a cab home or drive yourself, don’t walk, especially at night. We have heard of assaults on women happening late at night as they walk back to their hotel from a bar.

What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Crime

If you’ve had something stolen or been the victim of another type of crime, it’s important to report the details to the police immediately. Sometimes quick action can get you your stuff back and catch the perpetrators. Costa Rica has several different branches of police, which can be confusing. If there is an emergency or a crime has just happened, you should call 911 as they will help dispatch the correct officers.

Most likely the Fuerza Publica (National Police) will arrive. This is the branch of police that is in charge of crime prevention and general public safety. Hopefully, they will arrive soon after your call, but sometimes it can take a while. If the incident was related to a traffic accident or violation, the Transit Police will likely arrive. Transit Police have jurisdiction only over Costa Rica’s roads and vehicles.

The Policia Turistica (Tourist Police) could also respond. They are on patrol at many popular tourist destinations, and are usually bilingual (English). Their job is to reduce crimes against tourists and provide outreach to travelers to help them stay safe.


Safety Tips for Traveling in Costa Rica
Tourist Police in Manuel Antonio


Whichever type of officer responds, a report of the crime must be made at an entirely different branch of the police called OIJ (Organismo de Investigación Judicial). OIJ investigates crimes and brings charges against suspects. Sometimes the closest OIJ office is a good distance away, but it is important to go there to report the crime or else nothing will ever happen. A recent pilot project in towns such as Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca hopes to make this a bit easier by allowing the Tourist Police to file criminal reports in addition to OIJ.


Those are our tips for staying safe on your next trip to Costa Rica. They are intended to be preventative and not to scare you. Keep in mind that most Costa Ricans really are honest and kind, but just like anywhere in the world, the people are not all good. It is always prudent to be aware of the most common scenarios for crimes so that they don’t ruin your vacation or worse.

If you’re interested in more information about crime and safety in Costa Rica, check out these links:

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  1. We will be in Costa Rica from Feb 5-12. This will be our first time there and we really haven’t traveled much. We are flying into Liberia, renting a car, driving to Arenal, spending 3 nights there, driving to Manuel Antonio, spending 4 nights there, and then leaving very early in the morning to drive back to Liberia for our return flight (our flight is at 2:30 and we plan to be on the road as soon as there is daylight). I am most concerned about the 3 long drives with our belongings in the car. On 2 of the drives we will have a time crunch so will probably only stop for a bathroom break. We would like to get out and explore a bit on the drive between Arenal and Manuel Antonio, but I worry about all of our things being stolen from the SUV? Is our only option to tip a guard? Is that even reliable? How much do we tip?If I stay with the vehicle in order to guard our things while my husband uses the restroom am I safe? Really, if anyone tried to steal our things I would just have to give it to them anyway so is a female sitting in the car that much of a deterrent? I just found your blog today and have really enjoyed it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Pam, You don’t have to worry about anyone trying to steal from you when you’re in the car by yourself. Theft is not like that here. It is opportunistic, not confrontational. That’s why you can’t leave your stuff in the car unattended. It’s best not to make stops between destinations if you can’t keep an eye on the car, but if you have to, guards are an option. We have never had any problems with them but I would still not leave my super valuable items behind (passport, cash, phone, laptop/tablet, etc.). You could just put them in a small bag to bring with you. A small tip for the guard is fine, like 500 colones ($1) unless it’s for a long time. Try not to worry- most of the locals are very nice, honest people. Hope you enjoy CR!

      1. Hi
        I am going to be travelling get to costa rica by myself this summer. Gourmet get to be there for 2 weeks on an organized tour.
        My only concern,is how to get from the airport to the hotel where I will be meeting get the rest of the tour.
        Thanks for your advice.

        1. Hi Jolene, Assuming the hotel is near the airport, you can take a taxi for a reasonable price. As you are exiting the airport, there will be someone helping to arrange airport taxis. Official airport taxis are best to take – they are always orange with a triangular medallion on the door and will use the meter so that you get charged correctly.

    2. We will be traveling to Costa Rica this Dec flying into San Jose and going to Manoas Resort. It is a 3 1/2 hr drive from the airport and I’m looking for the best transportation. We do not want to drive ourselves as we are unfamiliar with the area

        1. I am also looking for reliable transportation. I will be traveling alone in Feb and will be bouncing around a bit so every time I move I will have everything with me.

  2. Hi! I love your site. It has been so helpful in planning a quick trip to Costa Rica for me and my husband. Because we will just be there for three nights, we are planning on just staying in Tamarindo for convenience. How concerned should I be about safety? We are staying at Captain Suzio, and after reading about the increase in crime in Tamarindo, I am worried that we have to be on guard constantly. Is the walk from Suzio to town unsafe?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Grace, We haven’t heard about a recent increase in crime in Tamarindo. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been one, but we haven’t heard anything in the local news outlets we follow. We live quite far from that area of the country so aren’t as involved in the day to day happenings there. Last time we visited, we felt perfectly comfortable doing the walk from Langosta to the main area of Tamarindo, but ask your hotel if you have concerns. They will have the most current information. It’s not a long walk from Captain Suizo but you could always take a cab to avoid walking after dark.

  3. We’re going to be camping and driving (4×4) around CR in April. We’re planning on spending a few days in Drake Bay. If we want to go do some day hiking is there somewhere in town near we can leave our vehicle and pay a watchman? Do we just ask at a restaurant or hotel where if we can park at their lot or how can find a local watchman for a few hours? I obviously wouldn’t ask random person on the street to watch my car. Don’t want to come back and find I paid them to break in and steal my camping gear. Any help on how to find a watchman would be appreciated.

    What’s a good price/tip for a few hours of having them watch our vehicle?

    1. Hi Shane, I think you have the right idea with asking a hotel. Maybe try to find one with a lot that’s more off the main road and close to the reception area. Since they have to watch their guests’ cars anyway, I don’t see why they couldn’t watch yours. You will have to work out the price when you get there, but I would think 4,000 colones ($8) would be more than enough for a few hours.

  4. Hello, I have read your article about safety and would like to get some advice from an “insider”. 😉 I have read some unsettling reports aoout increasing violent crime rates in Costa Rica during the last three years. I have been backpacking twice in Costa Rica for a month in 2014 and 2015. With general safety precautions in mind I felt very safe, to be honest. So I would like to ask you: Has the situation changed so much since 2015? Is it that much more dangerous to travel in Costa Rica and has the probability to get into a violent situation increased so much as can be read everywhere? Any answer is very appreciated. Thank you,


    1. Hi Stephan, We personally don’t feel any less safe living here than we did in 2015. Although there has been an increase in homicide rates it seems, that has been linked to organized crime so not something that tourists would normally encounter. There have been incidents of crime in San José of course (it’s a large city), and in some smaller towns, that have made the papers, but it doesn’t seem to be more than what is normal for Costa Rica or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The biggest thing for tourists to be aware of is still opportunist theft (valuables left in rental cars, bags left unattended on the beach, etc.). As long as you follow the usual precautions as you say, we don’t think you will notice a difference from when you were here last. It’s still a great place to visit! Hope that helps with your question.

      1. Hi,

        I just came across this thread and noticed, I haven’t answered last time. So, I wanted to thank you for your helpful and detailed answer. Does your assessment still stand? Because I read another report recently of an all time height in homicide rates right now.
        I wasn’t able to travel to Costa Rica last year. But it might work out in a few months. 🙂



  5. Hi,

    I have been reading all of your articles on travel in CR and can’t thank you enough for the wide variety of topics you have covered. I have two questions regarding safety of our belongings. First, we will be using private transportation for our transfers from one location to another and on two of the transfers we are stopping to see a waterfall. Is it generally safe to leave our luggage in the car with the driver? Also, you mention the theft of bags on the beaches, are you referring to smaller secluded beaches or does this also occur at the resorts? We will be staying at the Four Seasons, that should be safe on the beach. Please advise.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Arlene, As long as you are using a reputable shuttle company, it is completely safe to leave your belongings in the van with the driver while you make stops. (Let us know if you still need help finding a company – we work with a good one.)

      Theft of bags from the beach can happen anywhere and not just in secluded beaches. Resorts usually have some kind of guard or place to store your belongings, though, so you should be fine. Those beaches up on the Papagayo Peninsula are also very isolated without much else around so random people are unlikely to be there anyway.

  6. Hi Jenn and Matt!
    My boyfriend and I are traveling to CR via LIR airport in December. Our flights gets in early in the morning and we are driving to Tamarindo. Our hotel checkin isn’t until the afternoon so we have time to kill but I am concerned about leaving our baggage in the rental while we eat/explore before hotel check in. I’ve been reading and it sounds like guards are an option for watching our rental car if we stop at a restaurant? Is that common enough?

    1. Hi Kate, Yes, a lot of times there are unofficial guys who will watch your car in exchange for a tip so that is an option. We have never had any problems with these guys and have always returned to all of our belongings still in the car. It’s still always a good idea to take your most valuable items with you in a small bag just to be extra careful. Another option, and what we usually do, is to pick a restaurant where we can pull the car right up and keep an eye on it ourselves when we’re eating.

  7. Hi my husband and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica in the near future. I was wondering what do people do with their luggage when going from one hotel to another that is in another are but it is not check-in time yet and they have planned an excursion. We are planning to take a shuttle bus from one place to another.

    1. Hi Kathy, You have to be a little extra cautions with AirBnbs because you are the only people staying there, there is no front desk or security, etc. Make sure that the house locks securely (including all windows- places that are open with screens can be problematic) and has a place to put your valuables (it should have some kind of bodega that locks). Some destinations that don’t have much crime you don’t have to worry about this as much, but in general, that’s our advice. You could also ask the homeowner specifically if they have had any problems with break-ins and what they have done to ameliorate the situation.

  8. Hi Jen and Matt. My wife and I will be visiting Jaco area for 11 days. First time in Costa Rica. How would you recommend we get from the airport to Jaco? What should we expect to pay?

    1. Hi Mark, You could rent a car if you’re comfortable driving and do the 1.5 hour drive from SJO Airport (see our Rental Car Discount) or take a shuttle. Shared shuttles are available for around $50 per person – this is the cheapest option. For these, you have to take a taxi to a designated pick up location about 5 min. away. They leave at set times so you have to see if the schedule makes sense with your flight. We work one of the major shuttle companies and offer a discount if you wanted to book the arrival and return trip through us (see our Costa Rica Discounts page). Another option is a private shuttle. The private vans we recommend have air conditioning, WiFi, and a professional driver. They include a stop along the way to use the restroom, grab a snack, or see a quick attraction. These are nice because you decide the pick up time and it would be for only you and your wife. Shared shuttles are slower because they make stops for other passengers. If you’d like any help booking your transportation, just reply to this thread and we can email you with more information.

  9. Hello Jenn & Matt,
    My Husband and I are looking to visit CR in September and are thinking of a few nights in Monteverde and then head down to Jaco. Any recommendations on where to stay that’s safe and we’d also like to rent a 4×4 suv the entire time. What would you recommend?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Heather, Monteverde is a very safe destination. You can read our Monteverde Hotel Guide for our recommendations for where to stay. Jaco has a party scene and a little more crime but it is still safe too. Just pick a reputable hotel (we have some ideas in our Jaco post) or be very selective if you go with a vacation rental or Airbnb. Make sure that it has good security.

      For a rental car, we like Adobe Rent a Car. They’re a good company with great customer service and they have reliable, new cars. Here’s a link to the page on our site that talks about renting a car in Costa Rica. It also has information on our 10% discount.

  10. Hi – I we will be making at stop at Llanos de Cortes waterfall and would all like to enjoy this stop all together, but I am worried about leaving our luggage in the car, and a few valuables like phones on the shore while in the water (may take turns watching them). I heard some ticos offer to watch your car in the parking lot for a few $ – will this possibly prevent or increase changes of theft of items in car? Any advise is greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Tania, The parking guys that watch cars (you will find this throughout the country) are usually pretty good and we have never had any problems ourselves. But a lot of times, they are supposed to be watching many many cars so they might not be 100% effective. We would still bring our valuables down to the waterfall and then take turns swimming so that someone stays with the bags.

  11. Hello! This is such a helpful page! My family is traveling to CR so that my husband can get some dental work done. That leaves his recovering at the hotel and me doing some touristy outings with our two boys, ages 9 and 6. I am usually not nervous about traveling and have been comfortable in places like Lima, Peru and Belize City, Belize using buses, taxis, and the like. However, my mommy anxieties are rising as our trip gets closer. What should I keep in mind while traveling alone with my boys outside of the usual? Should I stick to organized tours? Take a bus? Rent a car? Use a taxi? It doesn’t sound like kidnapping is really a problem in CR – and the possibility usually wouldn’t cross my mind – but my parent anxiety is bringing it up. Is it safe for me to travel alone with them? We are staying in San Jose and would like to go to the rainforests and volcanoes, which look to be within a 90 minute drive (yes?). Any input you have is welcome! Thanks – Katie

    1. Hi Katie, As long as you follow the usual precautions, you should fine doing activities during the day with your boys. From a safety perspective, you would be fine renting a car, taking a taxi, or doing organized tours. Tours are nice because you don’t have to worry about navigating and getting lost. A car would be fine too though, we just recommend getting an early start so you’re not driving after dark (this is due to poor lighting, mountain roads, etc.). Kidnapping is not an issue in CR.

      For activities, you should definitely check out the Children’s Museum in downtown and Zoo Ave. For rainforest, Braulio Carrillo is a close option. For volcanoes, Irazu is fairly close and Poas if it reopens in time for your trip. Arenal Volcano is probably too far. Your kids would also probably like La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Catarata del Toro. Hope that helps. Try not to worry, we think you will have a great time!

  12. Hello,
    This is our first visit to CR we will be there for four nights. Debating on going to Puerto Viejo or Tamarindo? Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Jen, You should read our posts about each of those destinations -/ Tamarindo: Where Paradise Meets Convenience and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: Caribbean Cool in Costa Rica. They’re both great beach towns but very different. Puerto Viejo is more laid back and less built up. Many of the beaches are good for swimming and it has some of the most beautiful in the country. Puerto Viejo has more wildlife. The beaches around Tamarindo have bigger waves and are also very pretty. Both have a good selection of restaurants. Hope that helps you decide!

  13. Hello,

    My fiance and I are getting married in October and hoping to honeymoon in CR. Due to the time of year, it seems like Puerto Viejo is our best option. While doing my research, I’ve been getting pretty anxious about safety. I keep reading accounts of armed robbery in this area. Would you say that Puerto Viejo has more of this than destinations on the pacific coast? This will be my first time traveling outside the US or Canada, and if PV is considered to be more dangerous than other areas then I might consider putting off our honeymoon for a few months and visiting the pacific side. Which areas of CR would you say have the lowest crime? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sara, Puerto Viejo does have more crime than other areas but most of it is petty theft. We feel comfortable visiting there ourselves with our 2 year old son and recommending it to our clients as long as we know that the hotel/vacation rental we’re staying at has decent security. A lot of the lodging in this part of the country is open air and doesn’t close up securely. Try to find places that close securely (windows with glass are better than with screens), have safes, a nightguard, etc. A couple of good options are La Costa de Papito or Banana Azul but there are many others.

  14. Hi Jen and Matt,

    I’m thinking about taking a week-long trip to CR; a day in San Jose, two days in Monteverde or Arenal, and then the rest in Manuel Arena.

    I really want to do this trip, but I’m a woman and I’ll be by myself. I’m pretty travel savvy, I’ve been all over Europe and Thailand, but I’ve been reading a lot of forums about safety in CR and I’m starting to get nervous. Is my trip a good idea? Do you think I’ll be ok?

    Cheers and thank you!

    1. Hi Kams, Lots of solo female travelers come to Costa Rica. As long as you follow the usual precautions, you should be totally fine. Most of the crime here is petty theft that can be avoided. So if you take the bus, be careful about your bags. In San Jose, take a taxi instead of walking after dark…things like that. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  15. Hello Jen and Matt
    We are planning our first trip to Costs Rica in the new year . We were looking at Jaco but after reading some negative post online we are now a bit nervous.
    We are looking at Punta Leona and Herradura. We have now decided to stay on a secured compound for our 6 week stay. Will this area be a good choice for day trips, guided jungle tour and accessibility to markets and restaurants? Thank you for all the valuable information.

    1. Hi Colette, A secure rental would be fine, although Jaco isn’t as bad as a lot of what you read online. We enjoy going there. If you stay in Punta Leona, you will need a rental car to get to markets and restaurants. Herradura has a little more close by but you will probably still want a car.

  16. Hello Jenn and Matt.
    Your post is great, thank you very much!
    Is it safe to drive from Rio Celeste to Tamarindo? I have been warned by a local (from Turrialba) saying that area/route is dangerous due to Nicaragua foreiners.
    I apologize for my english, but I am not a native speaker.
    Thank you for the post. Great job!
    Big hug from Argentina

    1. Hi Enrique, We aren’t aware of any safety concerns, and in any event, you don’t have to drive near the Nicaragua border to get from the Rio Celeste to Tamarindo. From Bijagua, you’ll take Route 6 to Highway 1 to Route 21. That’s a major route that tourists commonly take so we wouldn’t worry about it. Hope you have a great trip!

  17. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    I’ll be doing a solo trip to CR in November, and I’m wondering about vaccinations.. what are your thoughts on all of the vaccinations recommended by the CDC?

    Thank you in advance!


    1. Hi Isabel, Most people do not get all the vaccinations recommended by the CDC when traveling to Costa Rica. Just make sure you are up to date on the normal vaccines. We did get the Typhoid and Hep A vaccines before moving here, but that was more because we were going to be traveling to remote areas of Panama where it’s recommended.

  18. Hi Jenn and Matt, thank you for great article. I am arriving to CR with my wife soon and we plan to travel by local buses. Are the buses in CR reliable? If we want to travel longer distances (Sj – Cahuita) do we have to buy the tickets in advance? Last but not least i have read some information that bus terminals in San jose can be quite dangerous. In case will be there during a day, should we be worried? In overall, would you say that San jose is safe during a day? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Jan, Yes, the buses in Costa Rica are very reliable but can sometimes be delayed so just be patient. For longer trips, it’s good to buy tickets in advance if you can be usually not necessary unless you are traveling during a busy time of year. We traveled by bus quite often when we used to visit the country as tourists and never had any problems ourselves other than people trying to “help” us get tickets, etc. in exchange for a tip. We’ll caveat that with we were pickpocketed once at the Quepos bus station but the people who did it gave us back our wallet and only the money was missing! Just try to look like you have a purpose and know what you’re doing when you’re waiting around for the next bus. San Jose does have some crime but most areas are safe, especially during the day. Follow the usual precautions like keeping a close eye on your belongings and you should be fine.

  19. Hello!!

    I am a solo female travelling in CR this month. I will mainly be in Manuel Antonio and Quepos area. I have booked an air bnb for myself. I recently read about the American tourist that went missing in CR last week. It has gotten me really nervous.

    1. Hi Yachna, That was an isolated incident so we wouldn’t be too worried. But in general, we don’t recommend Airbnbs for solo female travel just because often these rentals don’t have the same security measures in place as a hotel would. You’re more on your own. That said, Manuel Antonio is a fairly safe destination. Quepos (near the city center) is a little rougher. Maybe check with your host to see where exactly the rental is located if you aren’t sure and what kind of security they have.

  20. For an American college student staying in San José for a three months’ long study abroad experience, between January and the end of March 2019, some safety questions have been answered, but I’d like to know the safest and most reliable way to get to the airport for a early flight on the way home. Any thoughts on the subject or resources to check out? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sandy, We’d recommend arranging either a taxi (ask your host for a good recommendation) or a reputable private driver. We work with a great one in the city so feel free to contact us through our Shuttle Booking page if you would like help with the arrangements.

  21. Hey Jenn and Matt, Your blog has been very helpful for planning my trip to CR with my wife in February.

    Our first week will be on the Caribbean coast renting an air bnb. I wasn’t too worried about crime when I first started planning, but after recently reading about the photog that was killed for his camera and the women that were attacked in tortuguero, I’m feeling a bit apprehensive. I understand that despite these incidences, crime is fairly rare but it’s still a little worrisome.

    Am I being too dramatic?

    1. Hi Andrew, There is some crime on the Caribbean side so it’s good to be careful, even though nothing will probably happen. Not sure exactly where you are staying, but Puerto Viejo does have more break-ins than some areas so it’s a good idea to make sure your Airbnb has security measures in place. Make sure the windows close up and lock (open air accommodations are common here and aren’t that secure). And a safe would be nice too. Airbnbs can be tough because often they don’t have the same security measures in place that a hotel would, like a night guard. Hope that gives you some insight. It’s also a good idea to not carry your valuables around town with you, but you probably already know that.

  22. Hi Jen & Matt,
    Coming to Manuel Antonio and Jaco for an early Christmas. What additional precautions should we take these days? I heard unemployment is running high.

    1. Hi Jeff, We can’t think of any additional precautions. The big ones are not leaving anything inside your car, not leaving your belongings unattended at the beach, and security at vacation rentals. Vacation rentals are less secure overall because they have less of a presence than hotels to deter thieves. Some have decent security, though, so you would just have to check with the host to see what precautions they are taking and if they have ever had problems in the past.

  23. In the La Fortuna area, we are planning to visit a hot springs for a day trip. Between Tabacon Hot Springs and Paradise Hot Springs which would you suggest. There is a significant cost difference.

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