None knows better about safety in Costa Rica than a Costa Rican. Read here some useful tips to keep safe on your trip here!One of the most usual questions you get in the travel industry is “How safe it is…?”. Wherever you are traveling to. And Costa Rica is not an exception to this rule.
Although some travelers think that not having an army, being small and having a high literacy rate makes the country a super-safe haven… And no… Not really. Costa Rica is not a problem-free country and travelers should act responsibly to this fact. In CR, as everywhere else in the World.
We are making a list here of some preventions you should have when traveling in Costa Rica, if you are renting a car, as much as if you are going on private transfers or with a group.
Take these into account.
At the Airport:
When you get out of the International Airport gates you will find a crowd of signs and people yelling names looking for their passengers.
It is confusing and can be threatening. Camino Travel usually has a person inside that grants you a safe passage through this chaos and into your driver/tour guide and car. However, it happens… Sometimes the person fails to find a passenger, sometimes the driver/tour guide delays and is not there… There might be human mistakes around an airport transfer (Not very usual, but important to prevent them).
If it is so, and you exit the airport and we are not there:
- Have our emergency number close by. That is a top priority.
- Get out of the crowd.
- Don’t leave your luggage unattended
- Every now and then a person may show up offering their phone to call. You may trust him/her (It is a usual thing to have) but keep your eyes open and all your systems in an alert. If you decide to use another person cel phone, stay in a crowded place and keep an eye on your belongings.
- Airport taxis are orange red and they are usually at the left side of the international exit. The drivers are certified and bilingual and they are usually a bit more expensive.
If you opted for a Car Rental is important to know these:
- Do not drive after sunset. Sunset happens between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p,m,, every single day, all year long. No seasonal differences (Remember we are in the tropics).
- The roads here are unpredictable, they can be extremely winding, and there can be unexpected turns and rounds. If we sum up fog or rain… that can turn into a very dangerous thing to experience.
- When you are out of San Jose, bikers and pedestrians walk on the side of the road (No sidewalks in many places) and it is unfortunately usual for them not to wear anything visible. So, they sort of pop up in the dark and you have to be really careful.
- Path holes, they happen. And in the rainy season is very usual to have a big path hole covered with water that makes it invisible. And sometimes they can be deep, and yes, they can break your car.
All of the above, can be avoided by not driving after sunset.
Avoid visiting the beach after dark or before dawn.
Beaches are tempting at night. You want to see the stars, and you want to see the surf… But listen to your common sense: Never put yourself in a place where you can be totally vulnerable. Even in a group it can be dangerous… It is a big no no.
Avoid going in the forest after dark (Unless you are with a tour and tour guide)
This is the time for hunting… for snakes and others! And it is extremely easy to get lost in it.
Avoid swimming without knowing.
Please ask the locals about rip tides and dangerous places. Locals are the best source of information. And if, the waves are rough, simply stay at the pool of your hotel. Read about rip currents and how do they look.
Take only red cabs.
Do not use any unofficial taxis. They are everywhere. As much as official ones. And maybe they are driven by an honest person who’s just trying to earn some honest dollars. But they may not. And you simply cannot tell the difference.
Tours and Activities
Go for official vendors. Ask us! That is what we are here for! At Camino Travel you have a bunch of people in operations waiting for you to ask about which tours, what to bring, what’s better and what’s safer. Let us support you! It will always be safer and probably of higher quality.
However, there is a big advice regarding any activity you do: Never mind it looks cloudy, use sun screen. Never mind you didn’t see one, or you never get bitten: Use bug repellent.
And always, always read the “What to bring” in the tour description.
Keep a list of important phrases to know in Spanish, just in case (You will get one in paper in your “Welcome Kit”:
- Soy alérgico a ___ (I am allergic to ___)
- ¿Cómo llego a ___? (How do I get to…?)
- ¿Dónde está el baño? (Where is the bathroom?)
- ¿Dónde está el hotel ___? (Where is the ___ hotel?)
- ¿Dónde está el restaurante ___? (Where is the ___ restaurant?)
- ¿A qué hora es el ___? (At what time is the ___?)
- ¿Cuánto tiempo se tarda en ___? (How long does it take to ___?)
- No puedo ___ (I cannot ___)
- No puedo comer ___ (I cannot eat ___)
- ¿Esto tiene ___? (Does this have ___?)
- Me siento mal (I feel sick)
- Tengo ganas de vomitar (I feel like throwing up)
Get several copies of your passport and put them in separate places in your luggage. And place your passport in the safe of hotels (Remember to get it before check out!) If by any chance you loose it, everything will be much easier if you have a copy of it.
Do not leave belongings unattended in vehicles… never mind if locked or not locked!
They are tempting and you are, again making yourself vulnerable. If you are renting a car, take whatever you need and leave the rest in the hotel. If you are traveling from point a to point b, don’t leave your car unattended, look for a parking lot. And if you are on a private transfer, ask your guide/driver about it.
Call your credit card provider prior to leaving home to release any international travel bans on your account
Nothing worse than being in a foreign country and needing access to cash only to find out that your access is restricted.
Forget about traveler’s checks.
You will hardly find places where they take them. Not even in banks.
Don’t do any unofficial tours or do any tours with a tour guide coming from nowhere.
Ask us! We are here for you. It is not about us getting two more dimes to sell you a tour… it is about your safety.
Check And Double-Check Your Currency Conversion
And simply don’t change anywhere but in a bank, or an official exchange office. Or in the hotels or airports (Although they go for high commissions)
Remember in Costa Rica U.S. dollars are taken almost everywhere (Bring $20’s and down… Forget about $50-100 bills).
Split your credit cards and cash in different places.
Not only that, split cash in several places. So that if, by any chance, you lose your wallet, or purse, you always have more somewhere else in your bag.