Safety tips for safe trips when traveling Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a beautiful country and, for the most part, very safe. Nonetheless, regardless of where you are in the world, when traveling it’s always important to be prepared.
In no special order, here are some safety tips specific to vacation activities in Costa Rica:
- Use sunscreen, sunglasses and hats! Remember, Costa Rica is very close to the equator. It’s a huge bummer to spend a few days of your vacation feeling like a boiled lobster because you didn’t use sunscreen; don’t worry, you will get a tan no matter what.
- Stay hydrated. It can get pretty hot in the beaches and its no fun having a headache or ending up in the clinic or hospital because of heat stroke.
- Be sure to keep your valuables on your person when traveling by taxi or in the trunk when traveling by rental car. Petty theft, as well as pick pocketing, is a common crime in Costa Rica. It’s best to leave most of your valuables in the safe in your hotel room, vacation villa or condo. Do carry a small amount of money, one card, an ID, and a copy of your passport.
- Ladies, it’s best to ignore catcalls. It’s not uncommon to hear overtures, whistles and comments from men on the streets, but it usually will not amount to more than an annoyance. Just the same, it is best to discourage the behavior by ignoring it. Yelling back at them in an attempt to stop or refute them may only exacerbate the problem.
- Be sure to note the location of the authorities when you arrive. It is better to know where to get help before a potential problem arises.
- If a smooth-talking stranger attempts to strike up a conversation with you on the street it is likely best to ignore them. When you are not familiar with an environment it is best to discourage such advancements with a simple “No thank you”, or just by looking the other way.
- When visiting a bar, stay with a companion.
- Never leave your drink sitting on the table and never accept an open drink from a stranger.
- Be aware of cultural and individual differences in perception of verbal and body language. Interactions that may seem innocent to you may appear to be an invitation to someone else.
- Avoid behavior that could make you vulnerable, unaware, or less perceptive of your surroundings. Abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to such a state and make you more susceptible to perpetrators.
- Play it safe in the light. Stay away from darkened areas.
- Go with your gut. If something or someone just doesn’t feel right, walk away. Don’t stay in a situation that feels wrong to you.
- When going swimming, be sure to leave the valuables you need to take with you in a locker or leave someone in the group with them. Belongings left out alone on the beach may seem fair game to petty thieves and remember, people are not the only thieves to be aware of! Raccoons are terrific bandits and they’ll go right into your bags for food.
- Keep in mind that many beaches in Costa Rica are NOT swimming beaches and can be very dangerous without a surfboard or some other floatation device. Ask your hotel or resort concierge about the beaches nearby.The ocean’s rip tides can be fatal when underestimated. Be aware of the current state of the swimming areas. Get accurate information concerning the swimming safety levels.
- Snorkeling, jet-skiing, riding ATV’s or horses, even kayaking and canoeing can be potentially dangerous if you do not follow the rules and use safety gear such as helmets and life-jackets. If you are on a guided tour, be sure to pay attention and follow your guide’s directions. Observe the instructions while operating machinery such as jet-skis and ATVs as well.
- If you get a flat tire on your rental car, do not stop where you are to fix it. Keep driving to the nearest public or lighted area and then fix it. That flat tire may not have occurred on its own…
Paying attention and following these safety tips will leave you well on your way to a wonderful Costa Rican vacation.