Tips for Women Travelers in Costa Rica

Find everything that women travelers in Costa Rica need to know about healthsafetyromance, and women’s rights:

All the information below is provided by Pink Pangea community members based on their experiences abroad.  Add your voice!

Health

Feminine Hygienic Products

Shannon says: Pads are found abundantly in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Tampons are also found, but more sparsely. There are only one or two brands, usually sold in quantities of ten. If your nearest grocery store doesn’t carry them, then the pharmacy should.

Birth Control

Shannon says: Birth Control is legal and found abundantly in pharmacies across the country. You can purchase the Depovera shot, a one month shot, and yasmina (yaz, which was pulled by the FDA in the US). Other daily pills are available but vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy.

The “day after” pill is illegal and unavailable. Abortions are illegal here.

Gynecologists

Shannon says: There are gynecologists, mostly found in larger cities (i.e. Escazu, San José, Heredia, Jaco, San Isidro, etc). Small towns often bring in a gynecologist once every few months for a day of appointments.


Romance

Dating Locals

Shannon says: Costa Rican men, called ticos, love American women. They believe the stereotype that American women are easy and rich. Carry yourself in a way that doesn’t affirm that stereotype if you don’t align with it. Wearing expensive jewelry can send the signal to certain ticos that you are their ticket to an easier life.

There is a large supply of marijuana and cocaine in Jaco and Dominical. Be wary around large groups of men coaxing you to leave a public venue (for a house party or walk on the beach). If you practice common sense you should have no problems. Ticos can be romantic, and are usually very old fashioned.

Types of Men

Shannon says: Macho dominant men who expect you to cook and breed their seed.

LGBTQ-friendly?

Shannon says: Yes. I am a married lesbian and have experienced more hospitality here than in the United States. The bigger cities have more nightlife options but not being much of a party girl myself I have had no drawbacks living as an out gay woman in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica does not recognize our union, but at the same time they don’t try to change us. Hopefully the next president will be more “gay friendly.” President Chinchilla certainly is not.


Women's Rights

Women’s Rights

Shannon says: Women have a right to vote and hold jobs. It is less common to see women in a place of power here versus the United States, but I believe that is partly due to the fact that many relationships here dictate that the woman stays at home to raise the children. Costa Rica is much like the US 15-20 years ago in this regard.

Local Women

Shannon says: Costa Ricans base their time and priorities around people and family, not how much money they can make in a day. They are relaxed, never hurried. They do not want to disappoint. So much so, they may tell you the answer that they think that you want to hear as opposed to the actual truth.

Women-Specific Environments

Shannon says: None.

Perception of American Women

Shannon says: In general, the young ticos believe the stereotype that American women are easy and rich. Others are just happy to have met someone from the States because they have friends or family in the States or have visited in the past and want to share with you their favorite things about the States.


Safety

Transportation

Shannon says: Group van services like Interbus are very safe and provide an easy door-to-door service from tourist locations throughout the country. Buses are very safe (although the coca cola station in downtown San José is known for muggings). Taxis are also safe, just stick with the marked and licensed taxis.

Shady Areas for Women

Shannon says: Limón and downtown San José

Clothing

Shannon says: In beach towns, it is perfectly ok to wear bikinis with short shorts around town. If you are traveling alone and don’t want to attract a lot of attention simply dress less sexy. It’s all up to you, how much attention you attract. You will not offend anyone in a beach town by dressing skimpy. In a small mountain town it’s cooler so dress accordingly. There is no concern to cover your legs or wear skirts and dresses. Be aware, however, that dressing skimpy in small towns will cause you to stand out.

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