Tips on Crime and Safety in Costa Rica: Tips and Recommendations

If you plan a trip to Costa Rica, you’re in for a treat. With its beautiful landscapes, rich culture, and welcoming people, it’s no surprise that this country is a popular tourist destination. However, like any other place you visit, knowing about potential safety risks and how to minimize them is essential. This article will provide tips and recommendations to help you stay safe during your Costa Rican vacation.


Avoiding Petty Theft and Drug-Related Crime in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in a region that’s known for drug trafficking, which makes it a transit point for illegal activities. Unfortunately, due to limited resources, the police force may not have the same level of training or staffing as those in more developed countries. Additionally, the jail system is overcrowded, leading to many criminals being released onto the streets instead of locked up.


As a tourist

It’s essential to be mindful of petty theft and drug-related crimes. Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:

  • Money Instead of carrying large sums of cash with you, use ATMs. If you need to withdraw significant money, ask the bank teller for an envelope (sobre) and have them store it behind the counter.
  • Valuables Keep your phone out of sight by not carrying it in your hand or back pocket.
  • Your passport is valuable, so keep it secure and carry a duplicate as the law requires.
  • While at the beach, you can only bring valuables if you have someone trustworthy to watch them.
  • Leave your valuables in your hotel safe and only bring them in your car or trunk if it is secure.
  • Travel Be cautious when driving at night, as criminals may puncture your tire and then steal from your vehicle while you’re distracted.
  • Take a taxi at night instead of walking or biking, and travel in pairs or groups whenever possible.
  • Avoid being inebriated in public, as it can make you more vulnerable to being targeted by criminals.
  • If you are confronted or threatened, do not resist. Remember, your possessions can be replaced, but your safety cannot


Although it’s essential to be aware of potential safety risks, don’t let that stop you from exploring and enjoying all that Costa Rica offers. These tips and recommendations can minimize risk and help you have a safe and enjoyable vacation. If you become a victim of theft or violence, notify the police immediately. With these precautions in mind, you can fully experience the beautiful scenery, friendly people, and rich culture that Costa Rica offers.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Costa Rica safe for tourists?

Yes, Costa Rica is generally a safe country for tourists. However, like any other place you visit, it’s essential to be aware of potential safety risks and how to minimize them.

What are some common safety risks in Costa Rica?

Some standard safety risks in Costa Rica include petty theft, drug-related crime, and driving hazards.

Is it safe to carry cash in Costa Rica?

Carrying large sums of cash in Costa Rica is generally not recommended. Instead, use ATMs to withdraw money and store it securely.

How can I keep my valuables safe at the Costa Rica beach?

Only bring valuables to the beach if you have someone trustworthy to watch them. You should consider leaving them in your hotel safe instead.

Is it safe to drive in Costa Rica?

Driving in Costa Rica can be hazardous, especially at night. Please be careful and aware of your surroundings, and consider taking a taxi or public transportation instead.

Can I drink alcohol in public in Costa Rica?

It’s legal to drink alcohol in public in Costa Rica. Still, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and avoid becoming inebriated, making you more vulnerable to being targeted by criminals.

What should I do if a criminal in Costa Rica confronts me?

If you’re confronted or threatened by a criminal, do not resist. Your possessions can be replaced, but your safety cannot. Notify the police immediately if you become a victim of theft or violence.

How can I stay safe while traveling alone in Costa Rica?

If traveling alone in Costa Rica, consider joining a tour group or finding a travel buddy. Avoid walking alone at night and take taxis instead. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.



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