Is Tamarindo Costa Rica Safe?

Most towns in Costa Rica are safe, Tamarindo being one of them. Hence, if you plan to visit Tamarindo, you have nothing to worry about. However, there are a few factors that you must consider in terms of safety. 

I have traveled to Tamarindo twice for vacation, once solo and once with my family. Not once did I feel unsafe. However, I followed specific guidelines to ensure my own and my family’s safety. 

Key Takeaways From This Article

Is Tamarindo, Costa Rica, safe? It is a question that is on the mind of practically anyone planning a visit to this beautiful town. Tamarindo is safe; however, you need to consider the following:. 

  • Tamarindo is a safe town, with an overall crime rate of 59.67 per 100,000 residents. 
  • By calling 911, you can get assistance from the police, fire brigade, or medical. 
  • The most rampant crime in Tamarindo is pickpocketing. 
  • Costa Rica’s safest towns include Tamarindo, Heredia, Drake Bay, Arenal, Escazu, and Atenas.

Where is Tamarindo?

Tamarindo is a beach town in Guanacaste province’s Santa Cruz district. The city is just one hour away from Liberia Airport and is Guanacaste’s most developed beach town. Initially, Tamarindo began as a small village famous for eco-tourism and surfing. 

Because Tamarindo is on the North Pacific Coast, it offers exceptional surfing spots such as Langoste, Grande, Allevarna, and Playa Negra. You can do many activities, including snorkeling, swimming, sailing, sunbathing, kayaking, scuba diving, and sport fishing.

You can also visit Tamarindo National Park or Marino Las Baulas National Park to observe wildlife. The Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course near Tamarindo is an excellent place for golf. The JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa is on the golf course

The current crime and safety statistics in Tamarindo

Apart from pickpocketing, which is common in crowded cities, Tamarindo is safe. The locals and the police are friendly. The overall crime rate is 59.67 per 100,000 residents, which is low compared to other cities. Violent crimes are rare—about 8 per 100,000 residents. 

Tamarindo is under a Level 2 travel advisory because of the pickpockets and petty thieves. That means you should take extra caution. However, compared to other towns in Costa Rica, the crime rate in Tamarindo is lower. But taking precautions and being aware of your surroundings is still necessary. 

Petty thieves and pickpocketers in Tamarindo are unlikely to confront you, but they will steal what is unguarded. Hence, leaving your belongings on the beach for a swim is unsafe, especially if you’re at the beach alone. Avoid hanging your backpack on the back of your restaurant chair.

Don’t leave your luggage in the back seat of a packed car. While carjacking incidents in Tamarindo are rare, the chances of you leaving your car doors open are high. 

Emergency numbers to use in Tamarindo

Even if you feel you won’t need them, you must know emergency numbers that you can use in Costa Rica. Save them on your phone or write them somewhere you can easily access them. 

  • Medical center: If you need any emergency services while in Tamarindo, the number to call is 911. Describe the emergency that requires connection to the fire brigade, police, or medical assistance. 
  • Tamarindo police station is located on the main road to Tamarindo, near the Best Western Hotel. The station is open 24 hours a day. 
  • Emergency services: You might have to drive to Villareal, a 4–15 minute drive to the nearest public health clinic. However, there are nearby private clinics, and you can request their contact information from your accommodation staff. 

Tamarindo Travel Safety Tips

Fortunately, the Ministry of Public Security (MSP), under the request of the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce (CCTT), posts bilingual police officers in Tamarindo. That means that Tamarindo has several police units patrolling the city. 

The local community is always ready to assist the police in keeping law and order. 

Many tourists flock to Costa Rica—unfortunately, many pickpockets or petty thieves also camp at Tamarindo, especially during high-peak periods. 

    • Carry the bare necessities: Carry a copy of your passport and other documents. Have a portable safe where you can leave your valuables at your accommodation. Carry only enough cash for your daily needs. 
    • Use official taxis. Use red or orange taxis with a yellow triangle on the door. Confirm that the door number matches the plate number. The meter was working before the trip started. 
    • Be vigilant about your possessions when at the beach.
    • Avoid isolated and poorly lit areas. If you’re in a mugging situation, the safest thing is not to resist and hand over everything. 
  • When booking rental properties, use reputable booking platforms and reputable agencies. Be especially cautious when renting from individuals, as most disappear when you pay them. 

Which are the safest places to visit in Costa Rica?

Tamarindo is one of many safe towns to visit in Costa Rica. San Jose, Puerto Viejo, Atenas, Escazu, Heredia, Arenal, and Drake Bay are some of the safest places to stay. However, some areas, even in these safe towns, can be risky. 

Avoid neighborhoods where theft is common, unlit, or poorly lit streets or parks. Tamarindo has a fascinating nightlife. There are various clubs, bars, party spots, and restaurants. However, you still need to be cautious, especially when alone. 

Please avoid the Jaco and Quepos areas outside of Manuel Antonio National Park. You should also avoid most places at night, specifically national parks. Avoid the neighborhoods I have highlighted in the table below. 

Unsafe Neighborhoods Near Tamarindo
Los Guido Pavas
Leon XIII Limon
Desamparados El Infiernillo
El Carmen La Carpio
Puntarenas Liberia

Is Costa Rica safe for solo travelers?

Yes, Costa Rica is safe for solo travelers. The people are friendly, and you will get a lot of help from the community in most towns. However, you should join group tours. 

But if you’re a woman, avoid hiking or exploring alone. Traveling at night is also unsafe, especially in poorly lit and isolated places. Avoid flashing your valuables in public to prevent attracting petty thieves. 

If you use public transportation, you always look busy, especially at the bus station. Looking lost is a sure way to attract scammers. Always keep an eye on your luggage while on the bus. Staying aware of your surroundings will help you notice anything suspicious quickly. 

Know that there are tons of free things to do in Tamarindo once you get there.  The beach is my favorite!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the local police in Tamarindo reliable?

Like the rest of Costa Rica, Tamarindo has a professional and reliable police force. The other name for local police in Costa Rica is “Fuerza Pública.” They are usually fast when responding to major emergencies. 

Unfortunately, the police force in Tamarindo might not be resourceful enough to cover most petty crimes. That’s why it’s essential to take extra caution. 

Does anyone in Tamarindo speak English?

Indeed, Spanish is the primary language spoken by the locals. Learning some Spanish expressions is essential to helping you get around and ask for help when needed. 

However, because Tamarindo is mainly a tourist town, most locals know and speak English. 

What should I do if I am a victim of a crime?

Costa Rica has different police units. The easiest thing is to call 911, which will dispatch the correct officers. The Fuerza Publica (National Police) oversees general public safety and crime prevention. Policia Turistica (Tourist Police) is mainly bilingual in most tourist towns, such as Tamarindo. 

Whichever police unit responds, the people who investigate the crime are the OIJ (Organismo de Investigación Judicial). You must, therefore, be sure to report the crime to them. 

Conclusion

Tamarindo is a safe place, whether you are going for a brief visit, vacation, or want to stay longer. However, as a tourist town, you still need to be cautious; it doesn’t lack its fair share of pickpockets, petty thieves, and scammers. Before visiting Tamarindo, please find out if there are any travel advisories.

Have you ever been to Tamarindo? Please share with us your experiences and how you kept safe. 

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About 

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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