Solo Women traveling to La Fortuna, and throughout Costa Rica.
Solo Women traveling to La Fortuna, and throughout Costa Rica, will find a fantastic destination. Intensely diverse, with very accessible wildlife sightings, amazing jungles, an incredible array of activities and the nicest people you may find anywhere. All of it under the dramatic shade of the Arenal Volcano.
Traveling Costa Rica as a solo female? Concerned about possible dangers? Apprehensive? Thinking that your friends and family are right and it might be dangerous?
Not sure about daring? Fear not. Many women travel Costa Rica alone and end up smiling with great memories, new friends, and a great tan.
Solo women traveling is quite a familiar scene in the area of the Arenal Volcano (As well as the rest of the country). You can enjoy hotels, spas, tours, and sightings with the same awe and safety as any other traveler. However -even though Costa Rica is a friendly country- it is essential to keep in mind certain things to prevent uncomfortable issues or even trouble.
When you come to La Fortuna is a good idea to let us know. In Aventuras Arenal, we are ready to support you as our traveler. And we can as well arrange everything for you, here as everywhere else in Costa Rica.
We are locals and live in the region so that we can be of help is something arises.
Now, let’s start with what to bring and what not to bring:
Travel light, or as light as you can.
Best thing to do is to go to a specialized adventure store and find pants and shirts that are fresh and breathable. The good idea is to bring cheap socks, but many! At least two per day. Why? (That’s probably in your mind already) Well! Most likely, they will get muddy and dirty, sometimes wet. So much easier to just throw them away!
Jeans are not a good idea. They are the worst when you are in a hot, humid rainforest, and getting even worse if it rains. They are extremely hot when the sun is out, heavy when they get wet, almost impossible to dry if they are on and, in general very uncomfortable if all of this comes together.
Strap sandals, tennis shoes, if possible hiking boots (Light and comfy please!) And of course a couple of nice shoes (Even high heels) just in case. You know! 🙂
Makeup, skin, hair, and accessories:
Always and at all times: Sunscreen, lip balm, repellent (Better in cream than spray) and moisturizer.
Repellent: There are some delicate on the skin, but some of them are very hostile. It is a good idea to try a bit first on a small portion of your arm just to check for allergic reactions.
Well! Again! It depends on you. Remember if you always like to wear it, know that you might be sweating quite often, so waterproof is a good word here.
It depends on your hair, however, remember these are the tropics. We are talking about curls, frizz and hard-to-keep-beautiful hair.
So, you will have sun and wind on your head; and you will be getting in hot springs and swimming pools. So please ask your hair stylist what’s best for the weather and the adventures here.
A deep conditioner that is both moisturizing and strengthening is a good idea, as well as a swimmer specialized shampoo.
In some activities like zip-lining, horseback rides, mountain bike or rafting holding long hair is required, either for your safety (In the case of zip-lining) or comfort. (All these activities require safety helmets).
A good cap or hat might be the best and easiest way to protect your hair and face from the harsh tropical sun rays.
Hair Dryers and Irons:
Depending on where you go in Costa Rica, you may find lodges where one strong hair drier can cause a total blackout in the hotel. Always ask if you can use it.
In La Fortuna, you will find that mostly all hotels have them as part of the bathroom amenities.
If you are a nature lover you may already know this: Forget about umbrellas, they turn over in the wind and get stuck in the branches if you are on a trail. Get a nice, light, comfortable rain poncho. You can find them here everywhere plus they are so much easier to use, carry and dry!
Sweaters and jackets
A light jacket and a windbreaker are a good idea always. Especially in the region of the Arenal Volcano where is never cold, but sometimes after a good rain or during the windy December, and January months, it can turn chilly.
Also, in the tour buses, sometimes the AC will be at lower temperatures, and even though, tour guides and drivers try to please everyone, sometimes it is merely impossible. So! Better be prepared with a light sweater in the bag.
If, after or before Arenal, you are going up the mountains, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja or Talamanca. Yes, bring a good sweater. In the higher elevations of Costa Rica, (Talamanca Mouitain Range mainly) temperature can fall to 0°C (32° F).
Our advice is not to change too much into colones, as U.S. Dollars are accepted everywhere. Euros are much harder though. If you are from Europe, change your money to U.S. dollars.
And know that wherever you pay in dollars, most likely, the change will be in colones.
It is better to change your money at a bank (Instead of the high commissions of the airport). $50 will be enough. Once more, U.S. Dollars are taken everywhere!
Credit cards are fully accepted almost everywhere. And you will find ATMs in all the big towns; in some though, the service stops at ten o’clock at night and are back at 5 a.m.
Always bring at least 10,000 colones with you ($20) just in case.
Social Issues regarding clothes
The words here are Common Sense:
When you are in the beach areas, it’s all right, but when in town (La Fortuna or even more prominent cities like San Jose or Liberia) it will be better for you not to show too much skin as it may call for trouble.
Although Costa Ricans are used to tourists almost everywhere, this is still a Latin American country, and street sexual harassment happens now and then. Better to keep the Latino macho men out of your way.
So, now, yes, let’s talk about that elephant in the room.
Street harassment happens in the form of whispers, whistles, or gestures. Best way to deal with it, as everywhere else, is just to ignore it.
But! Please! If it gets a bit aggressive, don’t wait and look for a police officer, get in a store or restaurant and ask for help. It is not common, but if it happens.
Even when you are on a group tour avoid dealing with local men (And even male travelers) alone.
Never leave your drink alone in a bar, or go to in a strangers’ house, room or car and don’t say where you are staying out loud. Again: Common sense is a requirement.
Machismo is not as prevalent as you may find in other areas of the World, but it exists, and we have to know about it and be careful.
Remember this: Courtesy is never more important than safety.
Tour Guides, drivers, waiters
You will find tour guides, drivers, bellboys, receptionists, and waiters to be friendly and fun, and even flirtatious at times, however, again, be careful. Any flirt back can be taken as a provocation. And some may not hesitate if they feel they have an opening somewhere.
If you feel that they are a bit too much, talk about a fictitious (Or real) husband, fiance or boyfriend. Lie, without a problem! You can even carry a phony picture. They usually respect this.
If it happens with the hotel staff, please let the manager know about it.
And if, it happens with one of our tour guides and drivers, don’t hesitate and let us know immediately. We are very strict regarding sexual harassment of any kind.
Taxis, Uber, and driving:
Official taxis are red with a yellow triangle on the doors. In the larger cities, they are regular cars. In the country areas, such as Fortuna, taxis are usually four wheel drives.
Uber is in Costa Rica as almost everywhere else, however, it is considered illegal and you may get in trouble if police stop the car. Better to go with an official taxi.
Driving can be a bit harder than in other areas of the World. Roads can be narrow and very winding, and the driving is quite aggressive.
If, however, you are used to driving when you are abroad and know this sort of aggressive maneuvers, please get a GPS and have a phone with you at all times. (Signal may go in forested areas).
Some useful tips:
- Whenever you are taking a taxi, or an Uber don’t put your luggage in the trunk, have it with you in the back sit of the car. This is a good idea if, by any chance, you have a problem with the driver. You can simply get off the car without needing them for anything.
- Always take a picture of the plate number and send it to someone close (A friend, your parents, or even us!)
- Never hitchhike and never pick anyone on the road. Be careful!
The main worry of females solo travelers… Everywhere!
Violent crime is rare, but theft may happen.
And the view is the same as everywhere else concerning security:
- Be aware of your baggage in public places such as parks, bus or train stations, piers, etc.
- Avoid carrying your passport (Have a photocopy of it at all times but leave the actual document back at your room safety box), large sums of cash, showing off jewelry or big photographic equipment.
- If you are at the beach, it’s better not to take anything valuable with you, so you can get in the ocean whenever you want without a thought for your stuff.
- Utilize the hotel safes for the cash, jewelry, and your passport.
As a solo female traveler, you will want to play it safe. If you get hurt or become ill while in Costa Rica on your own, travel insurance will allow you to be safer and more comfortable.
It is so much easier to have a safety net in the case that something happens!
Overall, Costa Rica is safe for solo female travelers, but it is still reasonable to be careful.
- If you are going around the country, be conscious of your surroundings at all times
- Watch after your stuff.
- You should avoid being alone in unfamiliar or deserted places.
- Never walk on the beach alone after dark
- Do not go to bars alone
- Keep in mind that even casual flirting may mean a proposal by local men.
- Take the official red taxis
- Courtesy is never more important than safety
- Never do hitchhike! No matter what!
And most important: Embrace this adventure!
What is the purpose of traveling to amazing places and feeling miserable or terrified about it?
Enjoy yourself! Enjoy the chance of you taking every single decision, enjoy meeting new people, hearing stories from other travelers and making your own stories. Being an solo female traveler might change your life forever, as it may clearly show you that you can stand on your feet alone and be fearless.
Just know what to do and what not to do, and enjoy the ride!
Golden Rule: Use your common sense, at all times.
Written by Olga Sáenz-Carbonell for Aventuras Arenal. If you have any comments or doubts, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to reproduce this article please use the following reference and link:
Travel, L. (2018). Travel Guide – Aventuras Arenal – Tour operator La Fortuna – Costa Rica. Aventuras Arenal – Tour Operator La Fortuna Costa Rica. Retrieved 12 February 2018, from https://www.aventurasarenal.com/2018/02/08/travel-guide-one-7-experiences-must-arenal-volcano-area/
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