Solo women traveling in Costa Rica, whether in groups or alone, are not uncommon: many visit the country without any problems and leave full of memories and smiles. But, even though Costa Rica is a fantastic country, it is important to keep in mind some things so that these don’t turn into issues… or even trouble.
Costa Rica is an amazing country to travel around, with its rainforests touching the oceans, the gorgeous beaches, rambunctious jungles, and infinite adventures. Solo women traveling in Costa Rica, whether in groups or alone, are not uncommon: Mostly all visit the country without any problems and leave full of memories and smiles.
But, even though Costa Rica is a fantastic country, it is important to keep in mind some things so that these don’t turn into issues… or even trouble.
Remember you are traveling with Camino Travel. We do have a 24/7 emergency phone, and whatever issues come up we are there for you. Ask as many questions as you need. The dumbest question, ever, is the one we don’t dare to ask! Ask everything! We are here to support you!
The idea of Camino Travel is to combine our local expertise with your wishes and dreams! And to support you at all times!
Light is the word!
Jeans are not the most comfortable or appropriate piece when you are in the rainforest… If it’s hot they are awful, if they are wet, they turn heavy (And hard to dry) if it’s chilly, they turn cold. Much better to go to an adventure store and find
Much better to go to an adventure store and find some waterproof breathable fabric shirts and pants… And even easy to dry underwear!
Bring two pairs of socks for each day! Cheap and ready to be thrown away, if you go hiking or in any adventure tour, they will get wet and dirty.
Hiking boots, tennis shoes and strap sandals. You may also find useful to have water shoes and a couple of nice high heels… just in case! 😉
The skin, makeup, and necessary accessories:
Lip balm, moisturizer, Aloe Vera after sun lotion, hand sanitizer, dry shampoo. Ponytails are important to bring if you have long hair (There are some adventures that need the hair to be tied).
Makeup: Yes, but not indispensable. Better waterproof (You may sweat a lot!)
Repellent in cream (Better than the spray)
Hair Dryers and Irons:
There are some rainforest lodges where if you put on your hair dryer it may cause a black out. As well as and many hotels have them Always ask! Irons are not a problem.
Forget about the umbrellas, rain ponchos are much more convenient, and they do not get stuck on the branches.
Sweaters and jackets
It is always better to have a windbreaker in hand and a light jacket even if you are going to warmer areas. And definitely, if you are staying for a night or two in the Central Valley.
Ask your travel agent about the weather of the places you are going to… There are places in Costa Rica that can go down to 30° F (0° C).
Repellent: There are some soft on the skin repellents on the market. Try them first so that you don’t have any allergic reactions once here!
Social Issues regarding clothes
Common Sense: On the beach is not a problem, but if you are in the city don’t show too much skin, longer shorts, and higher collars are better.
Although Costa Rican culture is quite open minded (Much more than several Latin American countries) and there are very strong reactions against street harassment, if you look for trouble, you may find it.
You might experience harassment on the street or the beach from men, usually in the form of hisses, whispering or even gestures. The best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Don’t hesitate to look for a police officer (Tourist Police (Policia Turistica) is in the main destinations) or bystander if you’re being harassed.
Even when you are traveling in a group, take extra care when dealing with local men and even male travelers:
Pay attention to your drinks at the bar, never go to a strange man’s house or room for any reason, and don’t reveal where you are staying. Common sense is a must!
Tour Guides, drivers, and waiters
In the movie “After Words” they show the female character having an affair with her tour guide while traveling through Costa Rica. And actually yes, you may find tour guides (And drivers, and waiters!) to be extremely nice and funny and every now and then, yes, flirty. Especially if they see a woman traveling alone. Remember that any flirt back can easily be taken as an actual provocation.
If flirting comes around, you talk about your husband, boyfriend or similar… Lie without hesitation. Carry a fake picture is necessary. That will scare them off, usually.
If you are harassed by any tourism staff, please let our operations department know about it at once (Remember we have a 24/7 line). You may be helping to avoid future incidents.
Costa Rica is not a cheap country. And much less in the touristy areas.
However, you can find good deals in the towns and cities. Go where the locals go in terms of food… prices are usually much better!.
In terms of currency, in tourist areas, they take U.S. Dollars (Euros are much harder to change or pay with), and all usual credit cards. In terms of colones, they will always give you back the change in colones.
The airport currency exchange offices usually make big commissions… Better if you change at a bank… And changing $50 will be enough. Again… they take U.S. Dollars everywhere!
Visa and MasterCard are taken almost everywhere and there are ATMs in all big towns. However, always carry at least 10,000 colones ($20) just in case.
One of the most common worries for female travelers to Costa Rica is safety.
It is unlikely to have violent crime… but as it may happen in any of the big countries, petty thievery can happen.
And the advice is the same as anywhere else regarding safety: Avoid carrying your passport, large sums of cash, showing off jewelry or big photographic equipment.
Pay attention to your luggage in public places such as bus stations and if you are at the beach don’t take anything expensive with you, so you can get in and out of the water without any second thoughts.
Use the hotel safes for the expensive stuff and for your passport.
In general, Costa Rica is safe for women traveling alone, but it is still prudent to be careful.
If you are touring the country, be aware of your surroundings and be thoughtful of your stuff.
Solo female travelers in Costa Rica should avoid being caught alone in unfamiliar or deserted places.
Never walk on the beach alone after dark, do not go to bars alone, and keep in mind that even casual flirting might be seen as a proposition by local men.
Never do hitchhiking! No matter what!
Use your common sense… at all times.
Written by Olga Saenz-Carbonell for Camino Travel