Due to some negative events, recently we are often asked about how safe Costa Rica is as a travel destination. This article will help you to properly assess the security risk and take the necessary precautions to fully enjoy your Costa Rica experience.
Offences against tourists have indeed increased in Costa Rica in recent years. This has to do with the strong increase in visitor numbers as well. The official police statistics show a total of 1´728 reported cases in which tourists were the victims of a criminal act in the period from January 2017 to June 2018. (Source: Statistics OIJ / ICT). During the same period, around 4.5 million tourists arrived in Costa Rica. (Source Statistics ICT). From a purely statistical perspective, the risk of being a victim of a crime is 0.038%. Undoubtedly, there is an underreporting of cases that have not been reported to the police. These are mainly theft offences with manageable damage. Serious incidents are, however, included in the statistics.
91% of the reported cases are offences against tourists’ property (i.e. theft of valuables, money or passports). In 94 cases, the life of the tourists was threatened (e.g. armed robbery) and 8 cases were reported as sexual assaults. About 100 life-threatening serious incidents on tourists have taken place between January 2017 and June 2018. That is 0.002% of all visitors in the same period.
Statistically speaking, the risk is relatively small. However, it would be wrong to underestimate or mince potential dangers. That's why we give you some important tips to help reduce even more the chances of being a victim of a crime:
Opportunity makes thieves. Although idyllic beaches and friendly Costa Ricans give the visitor the feeling of safety and lightheartedness, this is also true for Costa Rica. Travelling has a lot to do with cultural exchange, and it would be wrong to suspect a potential theft behind every local. This being said, you should always keep in mind:
Costa Rica is great to be explored by rental car. Again, there are a few rules to follow:
What you should keep in mind
Thieves and predators have something in common: they go for those that separate from the group. Although it may seem so nice to watch the stars at night alone on the beach, it is not the best idea in terms of risk reduction. However, that does not mean, that these experiences are withheld from you. Just note the following tips:
The beautiful beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica sometimes make you forget that there are also dangers lying within. Underwater currents, the so-called "rip currents", are quite common and can be detected with good observation. But do not rely on your eye alone and always ask locals or surfers if swimming in the sea is safe. Also, pay attention to the local safety instructions.
If you are nevertheless caught by a current and driven to the open sea, keep calm and do not try to swim against the current. Let yourself drift and try to draw attention to you. As soon as the current subsidies, first swim perpendicularly to the coast, away from the flow zone, and then with the waves back to the beach. The tourism authority provides this information video.
A bath in a brook in the middle of nature is one of the greatest experiences in Costa Rica. However, always ask first at the hotel or ask locals, whether the bathing area is safe. When thunderstorms form in the mountains or the water turns brown, flash floods are a threat, and you have to leave the water immediately.
Avoid jumping into the sea, rivers or streams from big heights without proper caution. You cannot tell if the water is deep enough or if coral reefs, rocks or wedged tree trunks lurk below the surface.
What is Costa Rica doing for the safety of tourists?
Tourism is a very important economic sector in Costa Rica and therefore safety is of great importance. The tourism authorities recently presented its security strategy:
But enough about all sorts of risks. We look forward to your Costa Rica adventure, enjoy nature to the fullest!
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