We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Safety Question

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
3 posts
11 reviews
Safety Question

Hi there!

I've been researching a trip to Costa Rica and really loved a place I found not too far outside Santa Teresa. I was ready to book it when I ran across some articles about a woman who was assaulted and murdered there. Which of course led down a path of similar stories with tourists... and a lot of people sound like they were just going about their business, sometimes in broad daylight, or in their rental homes.

Now, I'm a pretty seasoned traveler and I also live in Washington, DC, which is a great city, but not exactly the top of anyone's safety list. There are places here that I avoid at night. That said, I know that even in the "safe" neighborhoods there's crime, and that's just the trade off for living in a city. I accept that trade off, because I love my city and the creative, energetic, and diverse culture that it has.

So part of me felt likethe risk is pretty on par with where I live - until I started seeing that some of these issues occurred even when people seemed to take all the right precautions. A lot of posts say that crime has gotten much worse in the past few years. I'm getting hesitant to book the place I fell in love with, because some people are recommending only to stay in places with security.

I feel like I've read all I can, but need help interpreting how bad the situation is/is not. Thanks y'all.

16 replies to this topic
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
51,553 posts
102 reviews
1. Re: Safety Question

I love your post and the fais view about safety.

Now days around the world everything is kind of different...no more many countries that are 100% safe...to bad.

Of course you are going to find some negatives opinions from people that love to have the 3 seconds of fame...

We are not the paradise we used to be many years ago...to bad but is the true...

roadadvisor

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
738 posts
27 reviews
2. Re: Safety Question

It's a tough call to make, for sure, but I haven't heard about anything terrible happening in ST lately... not that that means bad stuff won't happen again. WeFish probably has a better idea than I as to what is going on in ST these days. My hubby and I will be going there tomorrow, as a matter of fact. I worry more about the road condition than I do about crime. And speaking of which, the 2 gas stations in Cobano were the scenes of a robbery Sunday night. I saw the video of the one robbery. Two guys on a motorcycle. One suspect held a gun to a woman's head and then fired at the car leaving the station. It's pretty scary stuff, but, as you know, it happens.

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
3 posts
11 reviews
3. Re: Safety Question

Yeah that’s not great either 😳 It’s certainly a gamble either way, but I can’t tell if it’s more so than usual, if that makes sense?

Newport Beach...
Level Contributor
18 posts
14 reviews
4. Re: Safety Question

Hi, I was there with friends at the End of May going into June and we LOVED it ! We stayed at Hotel Tropico and we didn't feel anything weird at all. We didn't walk along the beach at night though & I never thought " Oh I'm in Paradise & nothing happens" .. I kept alert like I would in NYC or anywhere else and just stay smart. We had a blast & ate great food and did lots of Yoga .. all the guys surfed. Good Luck! :)

United States
Level Contributor
10,501 posts
273 reviews
5. Re: Safety Question

you don't mention what kind of accommodations you are looking at? Are you traveling alone or with others? Those for me are important factors. Sure Costa Rica has seen a rise in crime...anyone saying otherwise is not looking at the facts. I think there is more risk in independent houses or similar accommodations and personally would not go that route in Costa Rica...especially if traveling alone. That advice goes for many Caribbean and resort areas. I would agree with staying somewhere with some security and I always like an upper floor. We wil be going next Jan. and while a different area I am not concerned and am staying in good secure hotels. And of course I think night wandering and travel needs to be done cautiously.

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9,726 posts
70 reviews
6. Re: Safety Question

Check if accommodations have safes, whether they r in each room/cabin or only at the reception, and their size. In CR, I saw the smallest mounted safe in my life in one place where we booked in Manuel Antonio - it was literally big enough for a wallet, not even for a mini-IPad or anything of that size...

We feel better in places with owners/managers/caretakers actually living on site and where there are other cabins or rooms, not in individually rented houses, as mentioned in the previous post.

We do not bring any jewelry or valuables/extra electronics or fancy cameras we need to worry about. We try to have as little as possible with us when going out.

Taxis after dusk.

Backpack or day bag/carry on on the front, not on the back, especially in crowded places like airports, bus terminals, markets, etc.

More safety tips here - https:/… and https:/… (lots of Health and Safety topics for CR on the right side of the screen there).

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
3 posts
11 reviews
7. Re: Safety Question

Thanks all for weighing in! I'm traveling with my husband so I won't be alone.

I was looking at the type of places that are sort of a grouping of individual cabins/small rooms. The one I fell in love with has a gated area (with a code), but it's definitely not a big place and I have no idea if the owners stay on site. Lua Villas is the name if anyone is curious.

We don't have fancy jewelry or anything, but I am an amateur photographer, so that's the one big electronic I would always have on me. I tend to keep it in a crossbody bag on my person at all times, which, along with being vigilant, has so far (knock on wood) kept it from being stolen when I travel. I'd be pretty sad not to take that with me.

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9,726 posts
70 reviews
8. Re: Safety Question

Looks like a great new place! They do mention safety boxes in their apts and studios, and it is a bunch of rental accommodations together, not a stand alone house rented out by itself, so you should be fine. Have a good trip!

Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
Level Contributor
1,911 posts
62 reviews
9. Re: Safety Question

Everyone that has posted has stated some good points. I will add a few suggestions.

Lua Villas are gorgeous and in a safe part of the area. But, I must say that it really doesn't matter where you are, you have to use your common sense. The thieves here are opportunists. They will hide and wait for you to make a mistake. So, don't leave any belongings unattended at the beach. You may think there is no one around but you are mistaken, watching the tourists and waiting for them to slip up is an occupation for thieves and they have a lot of time on their hands. If you can't afford to lose an item, don't bring it.

Don't leave anything in a rental car. It is not a safe place to store anything of value. Do not go to the beach after dark, even if you are with someone. It is not safe (unfortunately). This is truly one of my saddest statement for your safety. The beach, the stars, the moonlight is so gorgeous at night, it makes me sad that the thieves have won this area of vacationing in paradise.....perhaps one day we can win it back.

If you find yourself in a spot that you feel uncomfortable (ie: on the beach in an isolated place) then leave. Use your 'spidey sense' and most of all, use your common sense.

If you are bringing an expensive camera, make sure you back up your photos every night into a safe place (cloud storage, dropbox, google photos). If you are bringing a laptop, make sure all your valuable information is backed up somewhere before you leave home.

Considering the amount of people that visit this corner of the country and the number of visitors that have problems with theft are very low. Not everyone that vacations in the Santa Teresa area is a victim. Don't have any preconceived notions that something will happen to you because most likely nothing will!

Enjoy your vacation.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7,517 posts
149 reviews
10. Re: Safety Question

I have to disagree, with respect, on the backing up of photos on a nightly basis. It's not difficult to wind up shooting 30 or even more gigabytes in a single day. Uploading them would generally require taking a laptop on the trip plus a faster internet connection than a lot of lodging options provide.

Reply to: Safety Question
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted