My visit to Costa Rica in 2008 was short as I did not feel comfortable at all. With my visit into the centre of San Jose to post a parcel home I was told to ‘go home Americano’. I replied ‘sorry but I’m not American’ This did not seem to do the trick and I was consequently followed down the street. Feeling most uneasy I entered a shop and pretended to be interested in buying something. The 2 young men stayed outside for 10mins before moving on. Crime is on a steady increase in Costa Rica so be careful and don’t carry too much money or your passport. There are tourist police in Costa Rica in all the major tourist spots now. Daylight robberies occur and sometimes with weapons. So is it dangerous? Some say not, some say yes. Most enjoy it and have a trouble free holiday.
Having said that there are lots of outdoor activities to keep you on the go. Bungee jumping, white-water rafting, diving, hiking, snorkelling and more. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coast offer good diving and swimming. Caution should be exercised though as both coasts have strong rips, with sadly 6-12 tourists drowning each year. Pick a reputable tour company and go enjoy the outdoors. You can zip through the canopy on lines, hike up active volcanoes and swim in the beautiful clear water of the Caribbean all in one day and at night if you are there at the right time watch the turtles at Tortuguero beach lay their eggs.
On my bus from David in Panama through to San Jose there are some pineapple crops but for the most part it is jungle. The trip is rather long and winds on what seems like forever. Crossing the border was easy but took about 1 ½ hrs.
Costa Rica is also a very popular country in which to volunteer.
Ingrids Travel Tips for Costa Rica
1) Be aware of what and who is around you all the time.
2) Don’t wear lots of jewellery or expensive watches – this makes you a target.
3) To do tours pick a company with a good reputation. Ask someone who has already been there.
4) Go with friends when out walking.
5) I found that the taxi drivers could be trusted and they speak English. All the ones I used in San Jose knew where my hostel was.
6) Leave your passport at your hotel/hostel. They especially like to rob you of them.
7) Try to avoid carrying a big expensive camera.
8) Generally I found that the Costa Ricans did not like Americans, but it is best not to snap back if they accuse you of being an American gringo. (Maybe I just hit there at the wrong time?)
9) People love to visit Costa Rica and many have such a great time, so please remember this is just how I saw and experienced it.