Costa Rica Travel Tips: Anna’s Take on Health, Safety and Romance
Feminine Hygienic Products in Costa Rica: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
Pads are the most widely available feminine hygiene product in Costa Rica. Tampons are available, but there is limited choice in sizes and brands. Both pads and tampons can be bought easily from supermarkets and pharmacies.
Mooncups can be found in San Jose, in some of the better-known health shops in areas such as Escazu and Santa Ana.
Birth Control in Costa Rica: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
The pill can be bought over the counter at pharmacies and without prescription, however they only have minimal stock and only one or two brands, so choices will be limited. As an example, I needed a 3 month supply before departing on a cycle trip and this required a visit to 5 pharmacies, and I ended up with 2 different brands of the pill.
Condoms can be bought easily in supermarkets and pharmacies, though the range can be limited.
Being a predominantly Catholic Country, the morning-after pill is not allowed, and abortion is restricted to situations that preserve the life or physical health of the mother. Abortions are illegal in all other cases, including rape or incest, for social or economic reasons or when the unborn child suffers from medical problems or birth defects.
Gynecologists in Costa Rica: Are there any that you recommend? How, if at all, is a visit different from at home?
Having never visited one in this country I can’t recommend any or speak to how it might be different, but they are only found in major cities such as San Jose, Liberia, Limon etc.
Breastfeeding in Costa Rica: What are accepted places for women to breastfeed? Is it accepted to do so in public?
As a pro-child country, breastfeeding is widely accepted in public. Like Western countries, there is the occasional outrage over a mother being asked to feed in a mother’s room or somewhere less obvious, but this is rare.
Dating Locals in Costa Rica: What are the norms and traditions? What should women look out for?
Ticos (Costa Rican Men) can be romantic and will flirt shamelessly. However, in general they think of “gringas” as an easy ticket to a rich, easy life. Real relationships can and do occur, but there is also a lot of “Latin love” holiday hookups, especially in surf towns where it can be a game amongst the men to sleep with as many women as possible.
Types of Men in Costa Rica: Describe a few “typical” types of men
For the most part, the men here are no different to those you find elsewhere in the world, although Costa Rica is still considered to be a more traditional, male-dominated society. There is the macho type who is old-school, with the expectation that you will cook them dinner, clean the house and raise the kids. There is the surfer type, who just wants to sleep with you to say he did. There is the user, who just pretends to like you so he can steal your money. And there is the “normal” type, just looking for a relationship.
Is Costa Rica LGBTQ-friendly?
Being a predominantly Catholic, male-dominated society, there are differing views on this subject. I cannot speak personally, but I have read about the changing attitude towards the LGBTQ community, and that it is becoming increasingly more accepted.
Women’s Place in Society
Women’s Rights in Costa Rica: Do women have the same position in society as men? How can you tell?
In theory, women can do anything men do, including voting and work, as there are no laws preventing them from doing so. In reality though, most positions in government and business are male dominated, and many women remain working as house cleaners, teachers and more traditional feminine roles.
Local Women in Costa Rica: What are some clear cultural differences between you and them?
In my opinion, most of the cultural differences are subtle. However, the strong Catholic background does mean birth control is not widely accepted, leading to high teenage pregnancy rates.
Women-Specific Environments in Costa Rica: Are there places where only women are or are not allowed?
Women are allowed everywhere. They can sometimes be made to feel uncomfortable walking into a bar due to being stared at. However, in tourist areas they are welcomed everywhere.
Perception of Foreign Women in Costa Rica: How do local men/women react to you when you say where you’re from?
In general, the perception of foreign women is that they are rich and easy. When I say I am from Australia it is usually met with surprise, as they assume that every white girl is American or Canadian. Apart from knowing Australia has kangaroos and is a long way away, there isn’t usually much further reaction.
Transportation in Costa Rica: Any that are safer/less safe for women to take?
Generally all transportation options are as safe as they would be back home, with the same commonsense safety precautions taken. Interbus is an easy and safe way to move around the country if you are concerned about local buses.
Dangerous area/s in Costa Rica: Any specifically for women?
Downtown San Jose and Limon are known to be the two most dangerous areas for both males and females at night. Generally Costa Rica is a safe country, however follow the same safety precautions you would at home such as not walking alone at night, not leaving your friends or well-lit areas to go for a walk along the beach with a guy you just met, and watch your drink, etc.
Clothing in Costa Rica: What to wear/what not to wear?
There are no clothing restrictions or guidelines in Costa Rica, but you will find the locals generally dress conservatively. In beach towns where the dress code is more casual, tourists in bikinis and short shorts/shirts are seen as normal. In the bigger cities such as San Jose, the women are much more fashion conscious and will place more emphasis, time and money into making sure they are current with fashion trends.