Mixed opinions on the safety level in Costa Rica - what do you think?

Hi everyone,

I did a bit of research about Costa Rica and got my feelings all mixed up. I know that it is considered safe in comparison with the rest of SA but how safe is it? I read on a forum that you cannot walk with your backpack every day as you will probably get mugged (gunpoint included). Is this true?
I am a solo female traveler and pretty easy target I’d guess. The other topics here on Costa Rica contain very little info. Your feedback would be much appreciated. :slightly_smiling:

Most of it is no more dangerous than anywhere else. You just have to make sure to not make a target of yourself.

It depends. What backpack you have, what you carry in it, how big you look, where do you walk, at what time, how you behave with strangers etc. etc. I didn’t feel safe in Costa Rica. I didn’t feel safe in Panama or Argentina. It’s barbed wire everywhere, steel bars on every window. It’s just part of their culture. Did it stop me from going there? Not at all. In fact, there are many wonderful people there which will make you feel good : )

My experience with Latin America: month in Argentina, 2 weeks in Panama, 2 weeks in Costa Rica. Got back pack stolen on a beach in Manuel Antonio.

UPD So, I’d avoid big towns at night / with backpack like San Jose or San Carlos. Stick to smaller places: Manuel Antonio, La Fortuna, Monte Verde, Puerto Viejo etc., preferably when other folks around.

I spent about 4 months total in Costa Rica last year. It’s pretty safe for a solo female traveler, but it’s got its problem spots. There is theft and on rare occasions, with guns, and targeting tourists, but you just don’t want to be on isolated roads, I’d say, for long. Unless you’re wandering in national parks during daylight, stay around people, don’t leave belongings lying on beaches without asking someone to watch them. That’s pretty much the rule I follow anywhere though. I lived in San Jose a bit, walked through some sketch neighborhoods… no problems. But mostly I was just south of Puerto Viejo… walking alone at night along isolated roads in the Puerto Viejo area is a NO-NO – there have been incidents, but only in the isolated parts. If I was traveling from PV town to my bungalow in Cocles alone at night I’d take a cab or sometimes a bike with a light, for a short distance. I had no problems and would go back. I wouldn’t advise Cahuita or Limón though, personally.

Thank you so much, guys. I just have to be extra careful I guess. I also talked to the The Beach Office manager in Tamarindo - Leona and she basically confirmed the above adding though the positive points like nice international community, yoga, art and other activities classes. She also offered to introduce me to her friends and other nomads around. :slight_smile: She was extremely nice, I must say.

Yes, there are many lovely people in CR. That area will have a lot of expats, and more modern condos, if you like that kind of thing… safety level is probably fine. I haven’t been myself so have no idea about the vibe except it’s supposed to be quite busy, hot and dry until April. The natural, open-air bungalow-style living on the Caribbean side attracted me more, though the prevalence of creepy-crawlies is not for everyone. :slightly_smiling: Loved waking to howler monkeys in the morning though - magical.

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I spent a year in Costa Rica, and I think it is very safe. It is like anywhere, there are places you should go and places to stay away from. Not looking like a lost rich tourist will help you. My girlfriend at the time and myself walked/bussed everywhere with our backpacks. Most all people there are friendly and helpful. In my opinon, San Jose is not the place to hang out, but most other places are great. I do know a few gringos who got robbed. One group of friends slept with their windows open which is fine but there were no bars on the windows. So, don’t rent a place without bars on the windows. The thieves snuck in when they were asleep. The other incident was when a couple of female friends had their house broken into and their computers stolen. The third incident was when the same female friend whom had her computer stolen was walking alone at night and someone came up and ripped her gold chain off her neck. Each of these incidents can easily be avoided I believe. First off, the friends whom had their houses broken into lived in an area I wouldn’t live. It was cheap and decent living, but in a crappy area of Quepos. And as a female, never walk alone late at night. As for guns, they are few and far between in CR. Almost non-existent in CR from my experience. It is good for you to know there are TONS of female solo backpackers going through CR every year. Find some others and latch onto each other for support. Use the hostel networks and recommendations of people you trust. If you have a bad feeling about somewhere or someone, get out ASAP. It is not a bad idea to carry pepper spray. There is about a 99% chance you will NOT use it, but couldn’t hurt. Costa Rica is an amazing country and a great place for digital nomads and backpackers, so have fun, enjoy yourself and soak it up. PS. CR was my first place living abroad and my family and friends had me worried to death about getting robbed. After two months of constant worry, I realized I was making myself miserable and being ridiculous, so I quit and spent another 11 months enjoying the heck out of the country. I never got robbed and loved my time there…Enjoy!!!

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for sharing! It doesn´t sound very comforting, though :). I think I will wait a while or gather up a bit more experience first as a solo traveler and then try it out.
Safe travels!

It’s okay if you stay in more resort-ey places, but it gets grimey outside there, especially at night. I was near Puerto Viejo.

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