Costa Rica is a country that has had a comfortable democracy for quite some time. Even though her neighbors have been torn apart with political strife, Costa Rica has remained peaceful and with little or no political upheaval. It seems to have created a genuinely happy group of people. However, human nature being what it is, there is some amount of crime that does exist.
The usual warnings apply. Stay out of any red light districts there may be and always travel with groups in well-lit areas. Keep your money in a hidden pocket somewhere in your clothing but do not carry a wallet. It is advised that you keep a credit card or travelers checks. Both are insured and when you are on vacation if you are mugged you can get them replaced.
Don’t leave your drinks unattended and don’t make change or flash your cash. It’s not difficult just handle your transactions discreetly. Stifle the need to wear expensive jewelry it’s overdone in this environment anyway. It has been suggested that visitors keep photocopies of their return plane ticket and their passport. Keep an extra stash of cash in your hotel room just in case of an emergency.
If you drive your rented car out of a gas station, grocery store, your hotel, or just about anywhere and it ends up with a flat tire. Don’t let the inevitable Good Samaritan help you that comes right along as soon as you have broke down. In the past there have been tourists that allowed this nice guy that just happened along, to help them change the tire while he has you distracted his buddies sneak into the other side of the car and steal you belongings.
The roads are usually paved and easy to travel but occasionally you have to go down some rough dirt road. If you are unsure of the roads don’t drive them. As a matter of fact, it just isn’t good sense to rent a car. The cost of gas is terrible and you have to stress out about figuring out where you are going. It would be smart to set aside a bus/taxi fare when you plan your trip.
If someone spills food on you move quickly away from them as they try to help you. Wiping ketchup off of you is a way to grab you and pick your pockets. This is an old ploy that is used all too often in many ports of call, not just Costa Rica. Many people come to Costa Rica looking for photo opportunities. Shutterbugs just love their equipment and it is a big tragedy when their cameras get stolen. Get vacation or travelers insurance for your camera and equipment.
If you do get equipment stolen or your wallet stolen, call 911 and follow through with getting a police report. You will need a copy of the police report in order for your camera to be replaced. Chances are that you will never have to use any of this advice, but it never hurts to be safe.