What Not To Do In Costa Rica

what not to do in costa rica
Nyrene Grace Patricia
Nyrene Grace Patricia  
Published

Diverse flora and fauna, lush rainforests, beautiful volcanoes and majestic surf waves — these are just some of the exciting things about Costa Rica. These wild walks with nature, exciting canopy tours and rich national park systems are results of Costa Rica’s efforts of preserving and conserving their country’s natural resources. As you travel around Costa Rica’s northern lowlands, you can’t miss seeing a sight that a traveler can only dream of experiencing, the sight of a symmetrical volcano spitting a bright lava flow. For you to get the safest vacation experience with as much fun as possible, we’ve listed down what not to do in Costa Rica.

1. Don't fear the rainy season

Outdoor plant under a heavy rain.
Source: Pexels

Wet shoes, umbrella dark skies – these are just some of the hassle things you don’t want to run into on any trip. Costa Rica’s rainy season may scare you off, but these advantages will make you reconsider. The place is known to house a wide range of lush, green forests; its full beauty only blooms in May when the rainy season starts. Aside from this, the temperature won’t be as hot as summer and travel prices will be cheaper. Enjoy dancing in the rain!

2. Don't leave valuables unattended

Laptop, bag and other valuables on a table.
Source: Pexels

More than a million of the Costa Rican population live in poverty, so it’s no surprise that people can be desperate enough to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. It may save their sick child or starving families at home. To avoid such thefts, always keep on your surroundings and never leave your wallet, passport, and expensive gadgets unattended. Stay vigilant and safe.

3. Don't be afraid to speak Spanish

People conversing over a wooden table.
Source: Pexels

If you have little to no knowledge of the Spanish language, don’t worry; you’ll survive the trip. Lots of locals are fluent enough in English to guide you through your travel. But if you want to hone your Spanish fluency, go and talk to the locals in Spanish! It could be embarrassing at first when you use wrong words or confuse terms, but they’re friendly enough to just laugh it off and teach you the right way to speak. Good luck!

4. Don't buy drugs

Drugs crushed using mortar and pestle.
Source: Pexels

You shouldn’t be buying or selling illegal drugs anywhere, right? Now here’s why, of all countries, you wouldn’t want to be caught with drugs in Indonesia. Even marijuana is prohibited to be sold and produced on a big scale according to Costa Rica’s narcotics law. Even if the law is vague on small consumption, the law interpreters may not be on your side. To keep the jail out of your itinerary, just avoid the illegal substances completely throughout your trip and enjoy the Costa Rica experience.

5. Don't smoke in public

Lit cigarette sitting on ash tray.
Source: Pexels

Costa Rica has one of the strictest laws in the world when it comes to smoking. You can’t smoke in public areas such as transportation terminals, buses, taxis, trains, workplaces, public establishments, restaurants, bars, casinos. Tourist spots like parks and stadiums are included in the list. Basically, most of the spots that tourists can wander to do not permit smoking. Here’s a tip: find out the designated smoking areas around places you’ll visit or stay at if you need to smoke.

6. Don't skip out on mosquito repellent

Mosquito biting into a human skin.
Source: Pexels

It’s a hot season in almost the whole year in Costa Rica, so mosquitoes will be there regardless of which you month you traveled in. In the latest figures by the Costa Rica Ministry of Health, dengue cases have risen in 2019 by 70 percent from 2018’s 975 reported cases. With this, you shouldn’t take any risks. Before leaving your hotel room or rental home, always cover up with mosquito repellent to drive these buzzing mosquitoes away!

7. Don't feel obligated to go on a canopy tour

Woman walking on a canopy walkway.
Source: Pexels

Costa Rica is known for these forest adventures that feature zip line riding, rappelling, tree climbing, and other wild activities. Afraid of heights? There’s no need to be swayed by the locals to try canopy tours if you don’t want to. But know that it’s a wild nature ride you’re missing out on. If you’re going with your family and groups, it’s the best time to grow your bond with them.

8. Don't swim in front of a surf break

Photo of an incoming surf wave.
Source: Pexels

Many tourists travel to Costa Rica for the hundreds of surfing spots in white sand beaches, vacation weather and perfect ocean temperature all year long. These popular spots include the crowd-favorite Playa Grande or the less crowded Witch’s Rock. Local stories around the witch’s rock called Roca Bruja, a huge volcano rock that locals believe to be cursed, may entertain you on your stay. You can enjoy the sight of a world-class surf break all you want but remember not to swim in front of it! Doing so can cause you swimming injuries and that is the last thing you’ll want to get during a vacation.

9. Don't assume all food south of the border is the same

Plate, forks and knives on a table.
Source: Pexels

When a place has rich and diverse natural resources, it is safe to assume that a country’s food culture is just as thriving! Rice and beans are considered staple food in Costa Rica especially in their signature dish “casado” and “gallo pinto”. While the local traditional dishes are a must-try, many restaurants that serve a mix of foreign recipes and local ingredients have popped up including Italian, German, French and Middle Eastern restaurants where you can get anything from pasta to sushi in Costa Rican taste.

10. Don't go to the beach at night

Moon glowing on a night sky.
Source: Pexels

It goes for any location that when tourism booms, crimes tend to rise. The mugging of tourists is not unheard of in Costa Rica. Most of it happens at night in places without bright streetlights like the beach. We get it — the quiet sound of splashing waves and view of shimmering stars can be very tempting. When walking by the beach at night is really part of your itinerary, make sure that you travel in groups! Follow the rule for packing your bag lightly: if you don’t want to lose it, don’t bring it.

Remembering the do's and don'ts in Costa Rica

Did you find this not-to-do list difficult to follow? Avoiding the things not to do in Costa Rica helps to keep you away from hospitals and police stations. It’s only for the best!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Nyrene is a university student with a passion for writing. She finds joy in meticulously planning events and trips up to the smallest detail through her tracker sheets. From time to time, she...Read more

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