Is Santa Teresa, Costa Rica Safe?

Petty theft remains one of the main safety concerns in many towns in Costa Rica. Santa Teresa is no exception. While the destination is generally safe, with no need for visitors to panic, you still have to take some safety measures, like avoiding walking alone on the beach at night, not wearing expensive jewelry, and not leaving valuables in your car or ATV unattended. 

When you talk about prevailing crimes in Costa Rica, petty theft quickly comes to mind. However, Santa Teresa is a pretty touristy town and welcomes a lot of people. So, if you’re planning on visiting Santa Teresa, you may be worried about the level of safety that’s here. 

Many locals and expats would say you are unlikely to encounter any problems during your stay. But that is not always the case, especially when you don’t exercise some safety measures on your part. 

In this article, you will learn all about the state of safety in Santa Teresa, including the current situation for solo travelers, safety in touristy destinations, and safety of water and weather, among others. 

Key Takeaways

  • Santa Teresa is generally safe currently. However, increasing cases of petty theft remain a concern for visitors.
  • You are unlikely to encounter problems if
  • Don’t assume the water is safe to use, unless otherwise guaranteed by the hotel where you’re staying.
  • The weather is generally safe in Santa Teresa.
  • As a solo traveler, I recommend sticking to the Selina area in Santa Teresa for absolute peace of mind, safety-wise.
  • Generally, my visit to Santa Teresa was absolutely worth it. 

How Safe is Santa Teresa? (My 5-Week Experience)

Earlier this year, my husband, Tim, visited Santa Teresa just for a short vacation after spending some time in Jaco. 

One of the best things about this place is how easy it is to meet interesting people and make friends. Everyone is friendly. And let me tell you, watching sunsets in the jungle is absolutely breathtaking.

However, when it comes to safety, we heard a lot of stories about petty theft but didn’t experience any (fortunately). 

This town is generally very safe, even late at night. However, walking along the main road can be risky, especially after dark. There aren’t many sidewalks, so you’d still have to be cautious.

Meanwhile, this isn’t your typical town where you’d find mostly locals. Here, the majority of people are tourists or expats. So, if you’re looking for an “authentic” experience, you might not find it here.

I also think that proper illumination on streets when it’s dark can reduce the chances of robbery. Unfortunately, the town experiences frequent power outages. 


  • Make sure wherever you’re staying has a backup generator or battery-powered router to keep you connected during blackouts.
  • You have to remember that stealing usually happens when there’s an opportunity for it.
  • Many tourists leave valuable items in their cars where people can see them. Then, when they come back from eating or swimming, it’s missing!
  • People also leave their bags on the beach when they go in the water, and that’s an easy target for thieves. But if they were more careful, they could avoid it.

Water safety in Santa Teresa

How safe it is to drink water directly from the tap in Santa Teresa depends on where you sit. 

Generally, across Costa Rica, the water is safe to drink. Santa Teresa water comes directly from natural springs located at San Miguel Biological Station.

However, some people have explained how they got sick within three days of arriving in Santa Teresa. 

If you stay in, say, a villa in the hills that has its own water delivery and isn’t on the town’s water supply, it’s not safe to just assume the water is safe to drink or use. 

I recommend you first confirm with the hotel or property management. 

Weather Safety in Santa Teresa

Most of the time, the weather in Santa Teresa goes back and forth between being really warm, in the high 80s and low 90s. 

There’s a nice breeze coming from the ocean. From December to May, it’s the dry season, which is the hottest and sunniest part of the year. 

Then, from June to November, it’s the rainy season, which is usually more humid and a bit cloudy in the afternoons. 

But no matter the season, it’s always great weather for swimming in the ocean.

Is it safe to walk alone at night in Santa Teresa?

There aren’t many places to stay or eat right by the beach, so it gets really dark around those areas, and not many people are around. So I don’t recommend you hang out there at night alone. 

During our visit, we always felt safe. The city is bustling, and there’s just one main road, so you won’t end up in shady spots. 

Furthermore, police are frequently present in busy areas to keep things in order. 

The main worry remains minor theft, so keep your valuables with you, whether you’re on your ATV or chilling on the beach.

Is Santa Teresa Safe for Solo Travelers?

A lot of people seem overly worried and cautious when they talk about solo travelers in places like Costa Rica. If you’re coming to Santa Teresa alone, just use your common sense, and you’ll be okay. 

As a solo traveler, I totally suggest staying at the Selina Santa Teresa North Hotel. Since it’s the low season, as a female solo traveler, I’d recommend opting for an all-women dorm to avoid any uncomfortable situations in nearly empty mixed dorms. 

Selina hostels worldwide offer various group activities and tours, so check out their website. I’ve also heard good things about Lost Boyz and Zeneidas.

Friendly Advice: 

  • Don’t go to the beach alone at night. If you’re with a group of friends, like 3 or 5 people, you should be okay, but it’s not safe to be there alone.
  • Be careful with your drinks, and avoid going to the beach alone at night; there are reports of rapists roaming around town.

How Safe Is Driving From The Airport to Santa Teresa?

If you’re driving from San Jose SJO Airport to Santa Teresa, you can choose to first drive to Puntarenas and catch a ferry. 

It’s about a two-hour drive, plus another hour and a half to board the ferry and cross the Gulf of Nicoya to Paquera. After that, it’s about an hour’s drive to Santa Teresa.

Otherwise, you’d be driving the entire way, which will take you over six hours.

Now, how safe is the road? The roads can be challenging, especially for small cars. You might see rental vehicles that the rough roads have damaged. 

Santa Teresa’s main road lacked paving until recently. Most of the more minor roads are just dirt or gravel, and they can be full of potholes that feel like mini swimming pools. 

A 4×4 vehicle is the best choice for handling these unpredictable roads. Many people prefer renting or buying ATVs or motorcycles, especially if they live outside of town or during the rainy season. 

ATVs are more prevalent than cars on the road, and riding one can be quite enjoyable; in fact, some individuals even don bandanas as if they were in a film.

So, be prepared for some frustration on the road.

Rating Safety Experience in Santa Teresa

Please be aware that this rating is based on my personal experience in the town and the data I’ve gathered to present the most accurate picture of Santa Teresa’s current safety situation.

It doesn’t represent the all-encompassing rating of safety in the town. 

Safety Factors in Santa Teresa RATING
Pickpocket risk Medium
Natural disasters Low
Female solo traveler risks Medium
Mugging risk Low
Scam risk Low
Tap water risk Medium
Terrorism  Low
Overall Risk Low

Final Thoughts

Lots of tourists worry about whether Santa Teresa is safe or not. Over the years, it’s gained a reputation for robberies, which makes tourists feel uneasy when visiting. 

Generally, it’s pretty safe, but you still have to take precautions, just like you would anywhere else. 

Avoid wearing fancy jewelry, stay away from quiet areas, keep your valuable stuff locked up in your hotel, park your car where it’s busy and well-lit, and always keep your car windows up.

Walking alone on the beach at night is definitely not a good idea. If you’ve been out partying late and you’re not entirely sober, make sure you’re with friends and don’t carry anything valuable. 

It’s better to stay in a hotel close to town if you don’t have a car or ATV to rent.

I hope you found this helpful for your trip to Santa Teresa. 

Pura Vida!

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Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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