You dream of traveling to the wonderful Costa Rica but you’re scared to go on your own? You won’t be anymore after reading this complete guide about solo female travel in Costa Rica. Here are 25 useful tips to stay stress free and amazed at all times during your trip.
Costa Rica is on many travellers’ bucket list because it reunites all kinds of adventures and landscapes. You could literally hike an active volcano, spot wild animals like toucans or sloths in a rainforest, and relax in the fabulous hot springs of Costa Rica on the same day.
Then, you could also surf pacific waves or swim in the crystal clear water of the Caribbean coast… To help you make the most of your trip, all the best things to do in the Ticos’ country are reunited in this Costa Rica 10 day itinerary.
However, solo female travel in Costa Rica can get stressful if you’re not prepared enough. Like in any country, travelling in a group or solo is very different. You’ll need to organise your trip and learn way more about Costa Rica when solo travelling, especially as a female.
Where to go? What are the dos and don’t? What to do if anything happens? How to prepare before the trip? How to make friends in a country you know nothing about? Here are all the things I wish I knew before travelling solo to Costa Rica.
Is Costa Rica safe for solo female travelers?
Before diving deeper into every aspect of a solo Costa Rica trip, let me reassure you : yes, Costa Rica is safe for women travelling alone. Overall, locals are very friendly and helpful, there’s no harassment in the streets.
Obviously, anything can happen anywhere and you need to stay careful at all times. Following the guidelines listed in this piece will considerably reduce the risk.
Solo Female Travel Costa Rica : 25 tips you can’t ignore
How to prepare for a solo female trip to Costa Rica?
Plan your itinerary
Should you plan your itinerary or go with the flow? The degree of preparation you need for your solo trip to Costa Rica obviously depends on your type of travel. Some people like to follow the people they meet on the road while others make must see lists.
However, as a woman travelling on her own, you must be aware that Costa Rica isn’t the kind of country where you can 100% improvise.
First, the different locations might look close on the map but there isn’t always a direct road. Costa Rica is a country where nature reigns supreme, so traveling in the mountains and around lakes takes time.
If you only have less than three weeks in the country, I recommend making a list of the spots you’re keen to visit and checking the different transportation options between those cities.
Some cities are very poorly connected… Do your research to visit them in the most convenient order for transport, it will save you lots of time and money!
Book your accommodation
As a solo female traveler in Costa Rica, you should choose your accommodation carefully. Hostels are great to meet people but need to be more cautious, while solo hotel rooms are nice to have some time to yourself.
Hostels are awesome but can get quite exhausting ; single rooms can get lonely but are good for a well deserved rest. But it’s not all white or black, you could also do both ; two nights at a hostel and then one alone to relax.
In both cases, it should always be close to the center and restaurants. Do not choose remote locations when solo female travelling unless there’s everything you need on-site.
Whether you’re more into hostels or hotels, the most important criteria you should look at is the rating of the place. If a place is unsafe, you would want to know and that’s what the reviews are for. If their score is under 7, read the reviews and especially the recent ones.
You can double check them on booking and on google as well. If it looks like there are safety issues, just leave. For solo female travel in Costa Rica, I recommend booking at least a few days in advance to secure your nights. By doing this, you will also have the luxury of setting the option “9+” when doing a booking search.
Share your travel informations with your family or friends
At all times during your solo female travel in Costa Rica, one of your loved ones must know where you are and when. Give your itinerary, hotel rooms addresses and contacts of people you met to someone close.
If you leave for a hike or somewhere you’re not sure you’ll have data, let them know how long it’s supposed to take. This way, they’ll know when not to worry!
Buy a local sim card
This advice is directly related to the previous one. In order to keep your family and friends informed at all times, you’ll need to have data when you leave the hotel.
You should get a local sim card instead of asking your phone company to expand your phone plan. One, it’ll cost less money and two, you’ll have better coverage. For Costa Rica, the best phone operator is Kolbi.
Travel with 2 phones, 2 bank cards and a copy of your passport
As in any country, your belongings are never 100% safe. If you’re unlucky, you could lose them or have them stolen. And it’s not your fault nor the country’s fault, it can happen to the best of us even in the safest countries.
With that in mind, you should always have a duplicate of everything you need to go back home in case of emergency. Put a second old phone in your suitcase that you’ll leave at the hotel. It’s also easy to get a second bank card with an online and fee-less bank.
Don’t be lazy about it because it could really be life saving, travelling in a country solo without money is basically impossible!
Last but not least, the most valuable item you’re travelling with is your ID or passport. You should have a copy of it at all times to go around, and leave the real document in your suitcase. Obviously, take the document if you’re about to take the plane or train, but don’t take it to the restaurant!
Bring snacks for when you don’t want to go out
You won’t know in advance how the city you’ll end up in that night looks like. It’s okay if you don’t feel like going out to eat, because you don’t like the vibe of the place or you’re just tired.
That’s why I suggest always having snacks in your suitcase! It’s always good having different options on solo female travel in Costa Rica and it helps avoiding unnecessary stress.
Always have a loaded power bank
Wherever you go, bring a powerful power bank. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that you’ll never run out of battery. On a solo trip, your phone is everything : your map, way to contact anyone, activity, best friend, important data keeper (hotel addresses, emergency numbers…).
However, I never know what can happen so you should always write down your itinerary, addresses of your different hotels, numbers of family, friends and emergency local contacts on a piece of paper.
I have the JIGA 30,000mah portable charger and I can charge my phone around 8 times, which is very reassuring.
How to make friends when travelling alone in Costa Rica?
How to meet people when solo travelling? That’s most people’s biggest concern. But there’s something you’ll soon discover ; you’re never really alone when travelling solo. Locals and other travelers are much more likely to reach out to you if you’re alone than if you’re with a group.
It doesn’t matter if you’re shy ; people tend to have a different personality when they speak a different language or are in a different country. According to Communicaid, it changes according to the different culture linked to this certain language, the lack of nuances or the level of fluency.
What could you talk about with strangers? It’s way easier to chat with other travelers than with a random person at your local bar because you share a common interest with them. You’ll naturally talk about where you’re from, how you ended up in this country, where you’ve been to already and where you’re heading to next…
The conversion will just flow and without noticing, you’ll be best buddies. Now, here are the best ways to optimize your meeting opportunities. I tried them all when solo travelling in Costa Rica and they all work!
Do group tours
Group tours are widespread everywhere in Costa Rica because you can’t join most of the places by foot. You can find tours for every kind of activity : volcano hiking, waterfalls, exploration of Costa Rica ancient ruins…
If you join a tour, they will pick you up at your hotel, show you around and share their knowledge about the place, usually give you lunch and drop you off at your hotel.
Those all inclusive formulas are also one of the best ways to meet people on a solo female trip in Costa Rica. Tour guides usually try everything in their power to create the best group cohesion between the 10 to 15 international travelers.
Sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences with strangers is the easiest way to break the ice. I highly recommend Viator tours as it’s usually in small groups with experienced local guides.
Stay in hostels
Single rooms in hotels are nice to chill, but they provide very few opportunities to meet people. In shared dorms in hotels, which can be female only or mixed, you’ll get to talk to your bed neighbors very easily.
Most hostels in Costa Rica also organise activities like a welcoming tour, free walking tour or bonfires. Selina hostels for instance offer yoga classes, tours and lots of other activities.
Take public transport or shared shuttles
The cheapest way to travel in Costa Rica is by public buses. However, it’s always a long ride, lots of changes and time. But it also means it’s an opportunity to ask other travelers for directions, advice or just chat to pass the time.
Your second option is to take a shared shuttle. You’ll travel in the same kind of van as for tours, with more or less 10 people. People will definitely be talking so feel free to join the conversation anytime!
Join online Costa Rica groups
You don’t have to wait to arrive in the country to make friends… That’s the magic of the web. Look for Costa Rica or Central/South America travel groups on Facebook and join them.
Solo travelers regularly post in those groups for meet ups and adventures. If you don’t find such a post, create it!
For instance, you could say that you’ll be in this specific city next week and you’ll be happy to have a drink or road trip adventure with other travelers. This way, you’ll for sure meet some like minded people and have a lot of fun.
How to avoid uncomfortable situations?
Do not go out at night
This is our number one rule when solo traveling anywhere in the world. Your surroundings won’t look the same when it’s dark than during daylight. Reduce any risk and unnecessary stress by choosing not to be in the streets by night.
It obviously starts by not going out for a drink at night. For dinner, you can either eat before the sunset, find a hostel/hotel with a restaurant on site or at least an accommodation that is a maximum 5 minutes walk from restaurants.
Last, do not book transportation that arrives or leaves at night when solo travelling. Bus stations or railways are usually not the safest places past sunset.
Don’t get drunk
Getting drunk when solo travelling, even if you’re with a group of new friends you met at the hostel, is quite risky. You can’t trust people you met hours ago to take care of you or stay with you at all times. You should always have all your brain available when making decisions.
It doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink with your friends, but know your limits and stop drinking before feeling the effects of alcohol. If you’re at a bar, take an official cab back to your accommodation after the drink. Overall, try to avoid situations where you feel vulnerable.
You don’t owe anyone anything
Perks of solo travel is that you don’t owe anyone anything. You can basically just go with the flow and talk with people that you choose.
What’s funny when travelling solo is that you’re rarely alone. You’re around strangers all the time at tours, hostels, bus stations, shops…
If you don’t feel like talking or you feel uncomfortable in a situation, just leave. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, just do what feels good to you. It truly doesn’t matter if you’re a bit rude or not polite, what does matter however is how you feel.
Hardware is never worth your safety
It goes without saying, but our reflexes are sometimes scrambled in stressful situations. If you meet someone with bad intentions, just give them your phone, wallet, or whatever they want and leave as soon as it’s safe for you to do.
You’ll always find a solution to have an emergency passport or bank card. What’s more important is that you don’t get hurt physically.
It’s okay to stay alone
During a solo trip to Costa Rica, you expect to spend plenty of time on your own. But spoiler alert ; that will be quite the opposite! Talking to people you don’t know all the time can be a bit exhausting. You have to keep the conversation going way more than with close friends.
If you don’t feel social all the time, it’s more than okay to stay on your own for some time. Don’t force yourself to talk to people by fear of missing out or being judged.
If you’re feeling like it, lay down in your hostel dorm bed with a movie even if the others went out to party. In the end, who cares? You’ll never see those people again if you don’t want to!
Find an emergency contact in the country
Ask your loved ones if they know anyone living or travelling to Costa Rica at the same period as you. In case of trouble, you could reach out to them. If you can’t find anyone, write down your embassy’s number and address. Here’s a list of numbers you should have with you at all times :
- Costa Rica emergency number
- Country’s embassy number and address
- Bank’s stolen card service number
- Travel insurance’s number
- Hostels and hotel’s numbers
You don’t have to say that you’re travelling alone
Definitely lie when you need to! If you meet someone and they ask you too many questions, don’t tell them that you’re travelling alone. You can just pretend that your friend or partner is sick and is resting at the hotel for instance. Overall, trust your gut feeling.
Plan a bigger budget to leave any situation if needed
Money should never be an issue when it comes to your safety. If you ever need to get out of a situation you don’t feel comfortable in, just take that expensive cab or book that other hotel. And even if you don’t need to, knowing that you are financially able to do it will make you freer.
How to soak in the Costa Rica lifestyle?
During a solo trip to Costa Rica, it’s way easier to get around or speak with locals if you speak a bit of spanish. I suggest learning at least basic sentences, like where is this place, can I get this dish, thank you, hello, sorry…
Hotel receptionists usually speak english, but not all restaurant staff or locals. Don’t worry if you are really bad at the language, you’ll always find someone to help you. But if you can, it’s always reassuring to be able to communicate and ask questions on your own when solo travelling.
Say Pura Vida
As soon as you set foot on Costa Rica’s land, you’ll understand that “Pura Vida” is more than a greeting. It’s a national way of life. Ticos live by these two words. Pura Vida doesn’t really have a specific meaning ; it’s used as hello, thank you, have a good day and basically anything!
To soak in the atmosphere of the country, you can say pura vida to anyone after a sentence. No matter the occasion, you will never be missing the point. Locals will appreciate you more for knowing their culture.
Speak with locals
It may sound like basic advice, but it’s something I don’t always put into practice. Chatting with locals will give you a real insight on the country, their culture and what they love. They might tell you about cultural events, hidden gems to visit or must do activities.
Respect the culture
Speaking with locals and learning about their behavior and the country in general is very important. Cultures are very different from one country to another, and even sometimes between different cities inside one country.
You don’t want to do anything that looks disrespectful. It all starts by dressing and acting according to their culture and traditions.
Best places to travel solo in Costa Rica
Now that you know everything about solo female travel Costa Rica, you must wonder where you should go in the country to have the best experience. If you’re not an experienced solo female traveler, you might not want to stay on the beaten paths.
Getting lost in the deep nature of Costa Rica sounds amazing but only if you’re accompanied by an experienced local guide you trust. For now, if it’s your first time in Costa Rica, you have to visit at least a beach and a mountain areas.
Best Pacific beach town?
Costa Rica is incredibly well located because it has access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The Pacific Ocean west coast is ideal to surf and has a vibe like nowhere else.
On this side, you’ll find three big spots from north to south : Tamarindo, Samara and Santa Teresa. I will introduce each of them and then tell you which is best for solo female travel in Costa Rica.
Tamarindo is the most known beach town of the pacific coast because it is the biggest one. It has a lot of opportunities for surfers of all levels : beginner, moderate and expert.
It is a very lively place, always bustling with people. If you’re looking for a medium-size city with lots of restaurants, a good nightlife and surf sessions, you should enjoy Tamarindo.
Samara is a little smaller than Tamarindo and a little bigger than Santa Teresa. It has a lot of rocky headlands and is home to some of the most wonderful underwater wildlife of all central America.
If you get very lucky, you could swim with ray mantas, turtles, dolphins and sharks in just one dive. It gives off a small town vibe with lots of ocean related activities.
Santa Teresa offers the best beach sunsets you’ll ever see. The sky is colored with the most vibrant red, orange and pink colors, reflecting on the streaks of water left by the waves bursting on the beach. Even if you don’t surf, its laid back atmosphere is perfect to chill, tan, do yoga, party or try out amazing food at cute restaurants.
To conclude, Tamarindo is great for travelers who like to party and provides the best surf opportunities for beginners. Santa Teresa is a less crowded surfing spot, but the waves can get pretty big. Samara is perfect for relaxing and diving.
As a solo female traveler, you might want to stay in a city like Santa Teresa. It basically consists of a very long street running along the beach. It is therefore very easy to find your way around, eat at cute restaurants, meet up with friends from the day before or to go to the beach at any time.
Best Forest Town?
If you chose to do a solo female trip to Costa Rica, out of all the countries in the world, it’s certainly partly because of its insane jungles, forests and volcanoes.
No matter how long you spend in the country, you must spend at least 2 or 3 days in one of the fabulous volcano areas of the country. Here are three spots which, although very similar, each have their own specialties.
Manuel Antonio National Park is the real deal, because it both has the forest, wildlife and beach. If your priority with the trip is to spot wild animals, this is an absolute must go.
Among the hundreds of species that live in the park, you’ll find toucans, white-faced and howler monkeys, two-toed sloths, red-eyed tree frogs or even crocodiles.
Manuel Antonio is actually considered as one of the most biodiverse parks worldwide. Its perfect location on the Pacific Coast, three hours away from San Jose, makes it a Costa Rica highlight for many travelers.
Monteverde, two hours north from San Jose, is most famous for its Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Its 105km² offer a lot to explore, but are also home to many outdoor activities.
If you are a fan of thrills, go for the zip lining! If you wish to gain height while keeping your head on your shoulders, visit the Monteverde hanging bridges.
La Fortuna brings together all that Costa Rica has to offer : rainforests, active volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs… The magic of this place is like no other. You can hike the Arenal Volcano, and then have a relaxing session in free hot springs in a river.
La Fortuna is close to another must visit site : Tenorio National Park. Remember those clear blue waterfall pictures you saw before booking your flights to Costa Rica? Well, that’s the marvelous Rio Celeste waterfall and it definitely is as wonderful as it looks.
Solo female travel Costa Rica : the Wrap Up
We hope that you feel ready for a solo trip to Costa Rica, or even for a world tour now! Costa Rica is not a dangerous country at all, but it is always worth preparing to remove all sources of stress.
With an open mind, a smile and a charged phone, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Costa Rica for sure.
If you’re still hesitating to travel to Costa Rica because of the cost of the trip, we got you covered as well. Here are 22 ways to travel with no money that all work!
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