Safety First

  • Although the water in San José is generally safe to drink, water quality varies outside the city. Bugs and bug bites can be a health concern in the Costa Rican wilderness. Beside being annoying, mosquitoes can carry malaria or dengue. A strong insect repellent and proper clothing minimize both the danger and the inconvenience. Pack an anti-itch cream (cortisone or Benadryl) to soothe itching.

  • Be sure to use sunscreen.

  • It is safe to drive in Costa Rica but the roads are not always well marked. Unless it is necessary, don't drive at night. It is hard to see where you're going, and its easy to get lost.

  • On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, currents can be swift and dangerous. Rip tides are very common. Many beaches have neither lifeguards nor warning signs. Know your swimming strength.

  • If you're visiting jungle areas you should go with an experienced local guide. If you visit a volcano, pay strict attention to restrictions on entry to dangerous areas.

  • Exercise at least the same level of caution in Costa Rica that you would in major cities or tourist areas in the United States. Like any other tourist destination it is always advisable to keep your purse/pack tucked safely under an arm. Do not carry large sums of money, and keep the money you have in a location where you don't need to pull all of it out to pay for something.

  • Travelers renting vehicles should purchase an adequate level of locally valid theft insurance, park in secure lots whenever possible, and never leave valuables in their vehicles.

  • Keep your passport in a safe place until you need it.

  • Medical care in Costa Rica is of a high standard. Only emergency medical treatment is available without charge for visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment required.

  • Costa Rica has created a tourism police force (Policía Turística) dedicated to improving the security of foreigners. Dial 911 for police assistance. Service is available in English.

  • Remember, you are responsible for your personal safety.