Guest Post by Matthieu Dalant
Costa Rica is one of the most stunning places to visit in Central America, with its impressive hiking trails surrounded by lush jungle scenery ripe for exploration and endless beaches that run along a rippling cerulean canvas. It’s natural geography and vistas are so beautiful in fact that it is easy to become swept up in the moment and ignore the old adage of “better safe than sorry”.
While traveling can be one of the most positive experiences of your life, it’s important to stay safe and be responsible while doing it. As such, this article will help you travel safely and smartly in Costa Rica and minimise risks while maximizing fun.
One of the most popular ways to get around is to rent a car in Costa Rica. Having your own vehicle can be more convenient and provides you with the freedom to visit the different areas at your own pace.
However, there a few important safety tips that should be kept in mind if you decide that car rental is your preferred mode of transportation:
- Avoid driving after dark as many roads are unlit and in poor condition – a recipe for disaster
- Be extremely attentive as pedestrians are everywhere and traffic jams are common
- Hide your valuables under the seat when parked
- Keep an eye on the gas gauge – fill-up stations can be spaced quite far apart
- Always have a copy of your passport on you
If, instead, you are like me and prefer taking a taxi to get around, there are a few things you should know as well.
Most importantly, you should know the difference between official cabs and illegal ones as there are many unregistered drivers in the country. Official taxis either have a red body and yellow triangle on both front doors and the hood or are completely orange (at the airport).
While an unofficial taxi isn’t necessarily dangerous, many will try to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers by overcharging and they don’t have the proper insurance that official cabbies do. Additionally, it’s good to carry your smart phone with GPS or a map in case your driver isn’t familiar with a specific hotel or restaurant. Finally, try to carry some small bills in case your driver doesn’t have change when it comes time to pay.
Sightseeing and Activities
Whether you plan on day tripping to Poas Volcano or combing one of Costa Rica’s many sandy beaches, there are some useful tips that you should keep in mind.
Beware of Rough Waters
A quick Google search about tragic drowning incidents across the world shows that it is still an all-too-common occurrence. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of water conditions when traveling. Stay informed about riptide warnings and keep children at arm’s length.
If you plan on tackling one of Costa Rica’s more adventurous activities such as ziplining, hiking or white-water rafting, you will want to have the right equipment with you when you arrive. Everything from appropriate footwear and comfortable clothing to insect repellant and sunscreen should be packed beforehand.
If your Spanish is not up to par, chances are you will find yourself in a situation where you wish it was. Keep a cheat sheet of questions you may need to ask in your smart phone or on a pocket-sized notepad.
Costa Rica is generally a very safe place to travel with the whole family. However, if you want to enjoy a fun, hassle-free getaway, it is important to be prepared and be aware of your surroundings.
When you plan your trip, pick a hotel with good security measures and avoid wandering alone at night once you arrive. Take steps to protect your valuables and always be well-prepared before going sightseeing or doing activities.
If you notice any suspicious activity, you can call 911 to be connected with the appropriate authorities. And remember, it’s always best to trust your gut instinct than to end up in an unwelcome situation.
About the Writer
Matthieu Dalant is a French-Canadian blogger living in Montreal. He is interested in a wide range of topics including business, technology, travel and culture.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica? What Costa Rica travel advice would you give other travellers looking to visit? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.