I’m not a big worrier when it comes to crime when we travel. Most often crime seems to occur in areas where you expect crime to occur. However, there is always petty crime no matter where you travel. And being vigilant, using common sense and paying attention is the best deterrent to NOT having something happen to you no matter what country you visit.
The destination that I think we felt safest in all of our vacation travels over the years was Bali. Hands down the nicest people walking the face of the earth and you can’t even imagine that anyone could harm anyone. But of course that is naive and there is crime everywhere.
But there are some places you just feel safer.
Costa Rica is one of those places. There was not one minute of one day that I felt anything but safe and never worried once for the safety of my children.
I had read on some blogs and in my travel book about Costa Rica that you should never, ever leave anything in the car, expect to have it taken. So I made note of this, kept it in the back of my mind the entire trip.
San Jose Airport. Modern and easy to get through. Even once you walk outside the terminal, lots of people holding signs and others looking for friends and family. But there was something so less sketchy about this airport than so many others we have been through. No one was really trying to sell us anything or trying too hard to get us to take an overpriced taxi or trying to scam us of anything. I could list lots of airports (a few in the US) that are a little much when you those big wide automatic doors open and you get your first breath of foreign air.
We found our hotel/airport transfer relatively quick and were off and running within minutes of walking out the door. Extremely polite driver loaded our bags with a big smile and of course we didn’t have a colon or a dollar between us.
Digression: Sometimes I surprise myself with how ill prepared I can be. I remember reading about stopping at the one ATM machine after you get your passport stamped. I also remember reading about passing through Duty Free at about the same point and making sure you grab some wine and rum before you clear customs. Guess what I remembered to do? Well it wasn’t the ATM machine but I came bounding out of the Duty Free (first time I’ve ever seen one situated between Immigration and Customs) with a huge card board box overstuffed with bottles of wine and Dominican (not Costa Rican) rum and not a colones between us. Priorities.
Rental Car. A gentleman from our rental car company met us at our incredibly convenient airport hotel the next morning. (Do stay at the Hampton Inn if you are looking for absolute convenience – we arrived late and departed at the crack of dawn, so being 3 minutes from the airport was perfection). The rental car agent went over everything with the car, what to look out for, how to use the cell phone (that they provide, GENIUS!), things to avoid and things too look out for. And he gave us the warning. NEVER leave anything in the car. And when he meant anything he meant all the way down to the little piece of plastic that holds your cell phone on the dash. He said that people will break in for the smallest things.
We heeded the warning the entire trip and never had an issue.
We drove all over the country. We asked directions from locals, made wrong turns, drove on some of the worst roads I have ever seen but through it all, we only met nice, helpful people. Driving was easy (4×4 should be a must) and actually fun. We didn’t worry for a second. (not like in Mexico or the Dominican Republic where the police shake you down
AirBnbs. I can’t say enough superlatives about everyone we dealt with for our seamless rental checkins, from the people who meet you to go over the home, help you find the far away villa, the caretakers, groundskeepers, everyone was helpful. The homes were safe, we felt safe and absolutely nothing went wrong.
The Beach. Peaceful. Beautiful. NO ONE BOTHERING YOU. Wide open and gorgeous. No one harassing you. No one selling you anything. No one trying to get you to try their restaurant. None of the ugly that makes so many other beach communities around the world so annoying.
We followed the same instructions for the car as we did for leaving stuff on the beach. Bury your phone in the sand, hide your keys, or just don’t bring anything of value at all to the beach if you are all going in together or surfing or doing anything that would take your eyes away from your valuables. But this is true at any US beach as well. In San Diego there are of course petty thiefs but what’s even more mind boggling is always having to worry about the out of control sea gulls that carry away your bag of sandwiches or your ice chest in their beak. They are out of control.
So our experience was chill. We have nothing but good things to say about our three weeks. Not one incident.
But of course there is crime in Costa Rica just like every other country in the entire world.