Is Uvita Costa Rica Safe? (Find Out What Locals Won’t Tell You)

Uvita is generally safe, but stay aware, like anywhere. For a good stay, try Karandi Hostel. However, be cautious in the southern Playa Arco and Playa Tortuga areas due to a lack of oversight and access challenges. Yet, it’s a matter of keeping an eye open and avoiding setting yourself up for risk (i.e., being drunk in public, oversharing information, trusting beyond what you usually do).

If you’re planning to come to Uvita, you must have read lots of great reviews about Whale’s Tale, saying it’s a must-see. But you may also have found a few reviews mentioning scary incidents in daylight involving couples and families at the beach. 

While these were from a few years ago, you may be wondering if security in Uvita has improved since then or if there have been any recent incidents. 

Tim and I were recently at Uvita for a three-week trip, and I intentionally paid attention to the details of security in the town. 

I also asked a few questions of the locals to get a better understanding of the security situation there. In this article, you will learn all you need to know about Uvita’s safety and whether or not it’s worth visiting. 

Key Takeaways

  • Uvita safety in touristy areas Even today, people often leave their valuables in their cars while enjoying the water at beaches or waterfalls, increasing the risk of theft. So, limit what you take to tourist destinations. 
  • Drinking water is safe—you can drink tap water in Uvita in almost every part of the town. However, in some rural areas, you may want to stick with bottled water.
  • Safety of Nightlife and Walks—It’s generally safe to walk at night, but it’s better if you do it in groups. Don’t walk around at night alone near the coast because there are too many places with no people.
  • Uvita weather safety: During the dry season, which spans from December to April, temperatures typically range from 27°C to 35°C during the day, with pleasant nights averaging around 21°C. 
  • The crime rate in Uvita has decreased significantly in recent years, according to the world’s ranking data.
  • Visitors should take the following precautions: monitor their belongings, avoid flaunting expensive items, use hotel lockers, and pay attention to any warnings from local authorities.

Why are there concerns about safety in Uvita? 

Uvita is a small town in Costa Rica that has everything you need, such as a good supermarket, pharmacy, and bank. It’s the go-to place for services between Quepos and Palmar Norte. 

Because of this, it’s busier than the nearby beaches, attracting more visitors and locals. 

Most people are indeed friendly, and there aren’t many troublemakers around. However, there have been reviews online that people should be aware of. 

Like a few other Costa Rican towns, there have been instances of robbery, especially at the waterfall or beach, where masked individuals with weapons have been known to emerge suddenly from the bushes. 

You can easily find news about these incidents online by searching for “Uvita robbery” or “Uvita crime” on Google. 

This is why many visitors, before planning their itinerary, come online to ask about how safe Uvita is. 

If you’re also concerned about this, continue reading to learn the truth without any sugarcoating.

How safe is Uvita? Our Experience in 4 Weeks

My husband and I rented a lovely house in Guapil, just north of Dominical, for three weeks and four days in February 2024. 

It felt really safe there. My husband even went running by himself, and we never saw anyone suspicious near the house. 

The locals gave us some tips about a couple of quiet spots in the area where it’s best not to leave valuables in your car when you park. 

But overall, we’ve never heard of any serious crimes happening in the area. We’ve been to Costa Rica many times, including Guapil, Dominical, and Uvita, about five or six times.

The worst that usually happened was leaving our stuff unattended at the beach and not being able to find it when we returned from swimming.

So, based on our experience, the most common crimes in Costa Rica are small things like theft. Of course, no place in the world is entirely safe, but unless you’re tossing around loads of cash and expensive jewelry on the lawn, you should be fine. 

NOTE: 

  • The fact that we didn’t experience any crime doesn’t mean things don’t happen. As a result, I conducted further investigation and research to determine the frequency of crime in Uvita. 

Here are my findings. 

Should Visitors Have Safety Concerns About Uvita?

The truth is that many travel review sites feature fearmongers. Currently, Uvita is a peaceful area with everything you could want. 

Many of the trendy crime cases occurred between 2017 and 2019, after which the town’s security detail (police/rangers) increased their efficiency and oversight of the area and even rural streets. 

You’ll find grocery stores, restaurants, a microbrewery, beautiful beaches, and fantastic ocean views. Additionally, there are plenty of restaurants up in the hills with great views. 

You can also enjoy grocery stores, ocean boat tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, river tours, beach art in Dominical, thermal baths in Hatillo, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife, such as parrots, toucans, and monkeys. 

Uvita Safety in Touristy Areas 

When it comes to safety in touristy spots in Uvita, let’s break it down by the different entry points to the beach, which are both part of the Marino Ballena National Park:

  • Uvita (Whale Tail): This is the main entry point, where you’ll also find whale-watching tours. It’s well-controlled and regularly patrolled, so incidents are rare. It’s a calm beach with nice sand, perfect for families.
  • Shaman/Colonia: This is the southern entry point; it is also controlled and pretty safe. Families enjoy this area too, but it’s more famous for surfing and swimming.

Pro Tip: 

  • Both of these entry points have parking lots that cost around $3 for the whole day, and most tourist activities are around the same price.

When you’re at the beach or exploring the rivers and waterfalls in the area, it’s a good idea to keep your belongings simple and minimize what you bring. 

It’s common for people to leave valuables in their room or car when they’re enjoying the water.

Just like anywhere else you visit, it’s essential to pay attention to your surroundings. 

There have been some reports of incidents south of Uvita town, particularly in the Playa Arco and Playa Tortuga areas, where there isn’t as much oversight from rangers or police. 

Given the isolation of these areas, it’s important to exercise caution and refrain from putting yourself in danger, such as by drinking in public or disclosing too much personal information to strangers.

Uvita Safety of Drinking Water 

You can usually drink tap water in Uvita without worry, almost everywhere. It’s clear and filtered multiple times, so Costa Ricans drink it without problems. But in more rural places, like the Caribbean Coast or less touristy spots, it’s safer to stick to bottled water, which costs around $1 per bottle.

Uvita tap water might have more minerals and chlorine, which could upset sensitive stomachs. This is similar to what you might find in any country. Also, the water is hard, not soft, and has no added fluoride.

There are exceptions, though. The water might not be as clean in rural areas or certain rural beach spots. Some beach areas, especially in the Caribbean, struggle with clogged water filters due to their desalination process.

Water near volcanoes has more minerals, making it harder to filter. If you’re worried about mineral concentration, keep this in mind.

When in doubt, ask the locals about the water source. If they use A y A (the Costa Rican Aqueduct and Sewage Institute) or well water, it’s usually safe. 

However, be cautious if the water comes from a tank, especially in beach areas, as stagnant water can be a problem if not changed frequently.

The safety of Uvita is crucial for both nightlife and solo walking.

Because there aren’t many people around, walking alone at night near the coast in Uvita is unsafe. That’s the primary concern, but you’ll be fine if you’re smart about it. My husband and I felt safe walking together at night.

But the good thing is that there’s always security and many people around during the day, making me feel safe. Still, it’s best not to bring too many valuables. 

Also, don’t leave anything valuable in your car; try not to carry a lot of cash or expensive gadgets, especially at night. 

During the day, I often carried my camera and phone without issue.

Meanwhile, we saw police patrolling the beaches and the whale tail. Although we encountered no issues, we received advice to refrain from being alone on the beach.

Safety of the Weather in Uvita 

In Uvita, the weather offers different experiences throughout the year. 

During the dry season (December to April), temperatures typically range from 27°C to 35°C during the day, with pleasant nights averaging around 21°C. 

Rainfall is minimal to almost nonexistent, although occasional brief showers might occur. Overall, the humidity levels are lower compared to the rainy season.

On the other hand, the rainy season in Uvita runs from May to November. Daytime temperatures generally range from 24 °C to 29°C, while nights are slightly cooler at around 21°C. 

We expect heavy rainfall during this period, with September to October typically having the most significant precipitation.

Rain often falls overnight or late in the afternoon, leaving mornings and early afternoons relatively dry for outdoor activities. 

Safety in Swimming at Uvita

Observe the ocean and pay attention to any warnings issued by lifeguards or local authorities. Strong currents can occur at certain times of the year. 

Stick to swimming in the areas they say are safe, and be careful if the tide changes. 

If you’re not the best swimmer, consider using floaties or other safety gear. 

Crime Rate of Uvita Town 

Costa Rica, including Uvita, has had less crime over the past few years. 

For example, according to Insight Crime, in 2019, the homicide rate was 11.7 per 100,000 people, and the overall crime rate was moderate, with 47,930 crimes reported in 2020. 

In 2018 and 2019, robberies occurred at 334.12 per 100,000 people and thefts at 964.49 per 100,000 people, respectively. 

Is Uvita Costa Rica Safe

Source: GitNux

In 2018, the rate of reported sexual assaults was 43.75 per 100,000 people, while the safety index for property crimes was 40.29. San Jose also had a high overall crime rate of 62.58 in 2018.

P.S. This data is a catchment of Costa Rica, with Uvita inclusive, under study. 

Safety Tips for Visitors to Uvita

While crime can happen anywhere, Uvita generally has less crime than big cities. 

But being smart about safety is still important, just like you would in any new place. Here are some golden safety tips I’ll always tell any visitor: 

  1. Pay close attention to your belongings, particularly when you visit parks, beaches, or waterfalls.
  2. Don’t show off expensive things.
  3. Use lockers or safes for valuable items in your hotel.
  4. Be careful when swimming in the ocean.
  5. Listen to any warnings from local authorities, especially if there are strong currents or tides. 

Visiting Uvita: Pros and Cons

As you plan to come to Uvita either for a short or long-term stay, take note of the following pros and cons: 

PROS CONS
Beautiful beaches Daily entrance fees for the beach and park are required.
Marino Ballena National Park No all-inclusive or large resorts are available.
Experience authentic Costa Rican culture. Not as Americanized as some might prefer
Watching whales and dolphins It’s a 4.5-hour drive from San Jose.
Wildlife Observation Limited shopping options
Uvita Waterfalls

The bottom line 

Tim and I didn’t see any signs of robbery or violence during our short stay in Uvita. 

Given our brief visit, it’s possible we were just lucky, or maybe robbery incidents have decreased since we last heard about them. 

Either way, we stayed cautious and kept our belongings close, with only essential items like my ID, some money, and a photocopy of my passport. Even if there were thieves around, we wouldn’t have lost much.

I wouldn’t let the slight chance of robbery or theft ruin your enjoyment of the area’s main attractions, which is what Costa Rica is famous for. 

Unless there’s clear evidence that crime is rising, it’s best to focus on the positive aspects of your trip.

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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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