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Costa Rica vs Mexico: Which is the Safer Vacation Destination?

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Are you trying to decide between Costa Rica vs. Mexico for your next getaway? Is Costa Rica safer than Mexico? Is Costa Rica safe?

It is a valid question, as both countries have their own unique risks and dangers that you should be aware of before planning your trip.

We’ll look at crime statistics, safety tips, and other important factors that can help you make the right decision for your upcoming vacation.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the safety concerns for both countries and compare them so that you can make an informed decision about where to go on your next vacation.

If you have decided to travel to Central America for your next vacation, but can’t decide if you should explore Mexico or Costa Rica I am here to provide you with the pros and cons of visiting each country along with which country is my favorite and why.

Are you wondering is Mexico safe right now or is Costa Rica safe? Keep reading because both Mexico and Costa Rica have a lot to offer in terms of authentic cuisine, attractions, beaches, and a ton of upscale boutique hotels. 

Mexico is a hop, skip, and jump from any major U.S. city with more than 30 million Americans visiting  Mexico last year.

Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches, rowdy spring breakers, luxury resorts, fluctuating currency, and even the long-running drug war with the cartel.  

Costa Rica, on the other hand, is a bit farther away from the United States but all the major airlines offer low-cost flights to Costa Rica.

The links in this post may be affiliate links.  That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission.  It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.

Costa Rica might be smaller than Mexico, but Costa Rica is just as diverse and includes gorgeous beaches, volcanos, rain forests, jungles, bird watching, insects, plants, and animals not seen anywhere else in the world. 

While the Mexican resort towns of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Tulum are filled with Spring Breakers, Costa Rica on the other hand offers a more relaxed, family-friendly environment and is great for couples and solo travel.

When deciding whether to visit Costa Rica or Mexico you first have to decide what it is you love to do, who you are traveling with, and do you want a party scene or more of an adult and laid-back atmosphere.

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Costa Rica vs. Mexico

Safety comparison between Costa Rica and Mexico

When it comes to deciding between Costa Rica and Mexico for your next getaway, safety is a crucial factor to consider.

Both countries have their own unique charm and attractions, but it’s important to prioritize your well-being. So, let’s delve into the safety comparison between Costa Rica and Mexico.

Costa Rica has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in Central America. It has a stable political climate and a low crime rate compared to its neighboring countries.

However, petty theft and pickpocketing can still occur in popular tourist areas, so it’s important to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings.

Mexico, on the other hand, has received some negative media attention regarding safety concerns.

While certain regions may experience higher crime rates, it’s essential to note that Mexico is a vast country, and safety can vary significantly depending on the area you visit.

Popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen generally have a strong security presence and cater to a large number of international visitors.

Ultimately, both Costa Rica and Mexico offer safe travel experiences if you take the necessary precautions and choose your destinations and hotels wisely.

In the following sections, we will explore in detail the violence in each country, what makes each country safe for tourists and the safety measures in place for travelers in each destination.

Violence in Mexico

The levels of violence in Mexico have been a growing concern for travelers. The country has seen a dramatic increase in violence related to drug cartels, and there have been reports of kidnappings and murders.

The state of Guerrero has seen some of the highest levels of violence in Mexico, prompting many travelers to steer clear of this state altogether.

Mexico vs. Costa Rica, in terms of violence, is an issue that needs to be considered when deciding which country to vacation in.

Drug cartel activity in Mexico

Drug cartels have become an unfortunate reality in Mexico, and the violence and crime associated with them are a major concern for tourists.

According to the US Department of State, some areas of Mexico are experiencing levels of drug-related violence that are “unprecedented” compared to previous years.

The same report also mentions that the Mexican government has taken some measures to combat the problem, including increasing the number of law enforcement personnel. 

The reality is that in certain areas, drug cartel activity is still rampant, and tourists should take the necessary precautions to stay safe while in Mexico.

It’s important to note that most of the violence associated with the drug cartels occurs in the northwestern states of Mexico, whereas Costa Rica is located in Central America and is not affected by the same type of conflict.

By comparing Mexico vs. Costa Rica, it’s clear that there is much less risk of encountering drug cartel activity in Costa Rica than in Mexico.

Is Mexico safe for tourists?

When it comes to Mexico vs. Costa Rica in terms of safety for tourists, Mexico is often seen as a less safe destination due to the prevalence of violence related to drug cartels.

When considering the safety of Mexico as a tourist destination, it’s essential to understand that the country’s reputation varies depending on the region you visit.

While certain areas may experience higher crime rates, popular tourist destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen generally have a strong security presence and cater to a large number of international visitors.

One aspect that makes Mexico safe for tourists is the extensive security measures implemented in tourist areas.

These measures include a significant police presence, both uniformed and plainclothes, ensuring the safety of visitors.

Additionally, hotels and resorts in Mexico often have their own security staff to further enhance the safety of guests.

Moreover, the Mexican government recognizes the importance of tourism for the country’s economy and invests heavily in maintaining the safety and security of visitors.

This includes initiatives such as improved infrastructure, enhanced emergency response systems, and dedicated tourist police units.

While it is crucial to stay informed about specific safety concerns in different regions of Mexico, overall, the country offers safe travel experiences for tourists.

By being aware of your surroundings, taking necessary precautions, and choosing reputable tourist areas, you can enjoy a memorable and worry-free vacation in Mexico.

Why vacation in Mexico

One of the biggest advantages of vacationing in Mexico is its diverse and captivating culture. From ancient ruins to colorful markets, Mexico is a treasure trove of history and tradition.

You can explore famous archaeological sites like Chichen Itza or wander through charming colonial towns like San Miguel de Allende.

Immerse yourself in the culture of Mexico City or indulge in the vibrant music and dance of Mariachi bands.

The cultural experiences in Mexico are unmatched and will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

In addition to its rich culture, Mexico boasts breathtaking natural beauty. From the pristine beaches of Cancun to the stunning landscapes of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico will leave you in awe.

Snorkel in crystal-clear cenotes, swim with dolphins in the Riviera Maya, or watch the sunset over the picturesque cliffs of Cabo San Lucas.

The beauty of Mexico’s nature is simply breathtaking and provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and adventure.

Let’s not forget about the incredible cuisine that Mexico has to offer. From mouthwatering street tacos to gourmet dining experiences, Mexican cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavors and variety.

Indulge in authentic dishes like mole, ceviche, or churros, and savor the vibrant spices and fresh ingredients that make Mexican food so delicious.

And of course, no trip to Mexico is complete without sampling some tequila or mezcal, the country’s iconic spirits.

So whether you’re seeking a romantic escape or an unforgettable girls trip, Mexico is the perfect destination.

With its vibrant culture, stunning natural beauty, and mouthwatering cuisine, Mexico offers an experience that is unparalleled.

Pack your bags and get ready for the vacation of a lifetime in the land of sun, fun, and fiestas.

Best time to visit Mexico

If you’re trying to decide when is the best time to visit Mexico, there are a few factors to consider.

Generally, Mexico experiences warm and sunny weather year-round, making it a great destination for a getaway no matter the time of year.

If you’re looking to escape the cold and enjoy some beach time, the winter months, from December to April, are a popular time to visit Mexico.

The weather during these months is typically dry and sunny, perfect for lounging on the beautiful beaches of Cancun or Tulum.

However, keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.

If you’re looking to experience some of Mexico’s famous festivals and celebrations, plan your trip around these events.

The Day of the Dead in late October to early November, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in March or April, and Cinco de Mayo on May 5th are just a few of the vibrant and colorful festivals that take place throughout the year.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Mexico depends on your preferences and what you want to experience during your trip.

Best luxury hotels in Mexico

Looking for the best luxury hotels in Mexico? Look no further!

Mexico is home to some of the most breathtaking and opulent hotels in the world, offering an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking the ultimate in comfort and indulgence.

From beachfront resorts to secluded haciendas, Mexico has it all.

One of the top luxury hotels in Mexico is the iconic One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos. This stunning resort combines modern elegance with authentic Mexican charm, offering breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez and impeccable service.

Another top choice is the Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen. This luxurious retreat is nestled in a lush jungle and offers private villas, pristine beaches, and a world-class spa.

If you’re looking for a more boutique experience, the Viceroy Riviera Maya is a must-visit. This intimate resort features spacious villas with private plunge pools, lush gardens, and a tranquil spa.

For those seeking a blend of luxury and history, the Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende is a perfect choice.

This enchanting hotel is housed in a collection of restored 16th-century colonial mansions, offering a unique and romantic experience.

Whether you’re seeking beachfront luxury or a secluded retreat, Mexico has an array of luxury hotels that will exceed your expectations.

So why choose between Costa Rica and Mexico when you can indulge in the ultimate luxury in Mexico? Book your stay at one of these top luxury hotels and prepare to be pampered in paradise.

What to do in Mexico

Best Beaches in Mexico

Mexico boasts a coastline that stretches for thousands of miles along the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, making it a beach lover’s paradise.

Mexican beaches are known for their pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and a wide range of water sports and activities.

Whether you seek vibrant nightlife, tranquil retreats, or natural wonders, Mexico’s beaches have something to offer for everyone. Some of the best beaches in Mexico include:

  1. Tulum Beach, Quintana Roo
  2. Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
  3. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
  4. Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
  5. Sayulita, Nayarit:
  6. Huatulco, Oaxaca
  7. Holbox Island, Quintana Roo

Crime rates in Costa Rica

When it comes to the Mexico vs. Costa Rica debate, one of the most important factors to consider is crime rates. Costa Rica is generally regarded as a relatively safe destination for tourists and locals alike.

According to the Numbers Crime Index for 2020, Costa Rica has a score of 47.20, whereas Mexico has a score of 57.73. This indicates that Costa Rica is the safer choice when it comes to crime rates.

The Costa Rican government has taken steps to reduce crime, with initiatives such as increasing the number of police officers on the streets and encouraging citizen involvement in crime prevention.

Additionally, while Costa Rica does have a significant amount of gang activity, most of this is contained to certain areas and not considered a large threat to tourists visiting the country.

As a result, travelers can feel relatively safe exploring Costa Rica’s cities and rural areas.

Corruption in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered to be much less corrupt than Mexico, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

In 2016, Costa Rica was ranked 53 out of 176 countries, while Mexico was ranked 107. This means that there is much less bribery and misuse of public funds in Costa Rica than there is in Mexico.

Additionally, the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators report that Costa Rica scored higher than Mexico in the categories of Control of Corruption and Government Effectiveness in 2016.

It’s important to note that there are still some issues with corruption in Costa Rica. In July 2018, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís requested the resignation of five of his cabinet members due to accusations of corruption.

This has caused some instability in the government, and could potentially lead to more corruption. Despite this, Costa Rica is still considered to be a much safer option than Mexico when it comes to avoiding corruption.

Is Costa Rica safe for tourists?

Costa Rica stands out as a safe destination for tourists, making it an attractive choice for travelers seeking a worry-free getaway. There are several factors that contribute to Costa Rica’s reputation for safety.

Firstly, the country enjoys a stable political climate, which promotes a sense of security for both locals and visitors.

Compared to its neighboring countries, Costa Rica has a relatively low crime rate. While petty theft and pickpocketing can occur in popular tourist areas, it is not an issue that should deter travelers.

By practicing basic safety precautions, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and staying aware of your surroundings, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Furthermore, Costa Rica’s emphasis on conservation and eco-tourism plays a significant role in ensuring the safety of its visitors.

The country’s dedication to preserving its natural resources translates into well-maintained national parks and protected areas.

The presence of park rangers and tour guides adds an extra layer of security, allowing tourists to fully immerse themselves in the country’s breathtaking landscapes without worrying about their safety.

Mexico vs Costa Rica – (Costa Rica)

Costa Rica ranges from tiny surf towns on the Pacific to the busy capital of San Jose while Mexico is the party capital of Latin America. 

I prefer Costa Rica over Mexico because the water is safe to drink, and the country has some of the best healthcare facilities in the world so I don’t worry about what will happen if I get sick while traveling.

Costa Rica is famously located in the “blue zone” where people live longer and they are healthier than most people anywhere else in the world.

I love Mexico and I travel there annually because there is so much natural beauty.  If you prefer to layout on the beach, hike a waterfall, or kayak down a river you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

For me, it really comes down to my mood and what I am looking to get out of my vacation when deciding whether I am traveling to Costa Rica or Mexico.

When considering which country is the best fit for your next vacation consider the cost of flights hotels and the language barrier. 

Let’s take a look at the two countries and compare Mexico vs Costa Rica to see what each country has to offer.

Best time to visit Costa Rica

The green season months are typically better for surfing but be prepared for rain, mosquitos, and muddy roads.

The dry season months are prime beach weather but also be prepared to spend an arm and a leg on hotel accommodations.

For experienced surfers, there are definitely world-class waves to be had at several different breaks in the area during the swell season, which is May through December.

Where To Stay in Costa Rica

Travelers can find luxury boutique hotels ranging from $200 a night up to $600 a night.  If you are planning to travel during the peak season – December through April – make sure to book your accommodations early.

A few places worth checking out for your next trip to Costa Rica are the following:  Latitude 10 Beachfront Resort, Selva ResortOtro Lado Lodge, and Florblanca Resort.

What Do To In Costa Rica

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has made a name for itself as the adventure capital of Central America thanks to its rainforest hikes, volcanoes, zip-lining, and ATV-ing but let’s not forget about the stunning beaches in Costa Rica. 

I’ve rounded up seven of Costa Rica’s best beaches. With sun-kissed sands and turquoise waves, these not-to-be-missed beaches effortlessly embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle.

  1. Playa Conchal
  2. Playa Manzanillo
  3. Nosara
  4. Playa Montezuma
  5. Costa Ballena
  6. Tamarindo
  7. Manuel Antonio

What to do if you’re worried about safety while vacationing in either country

When vacationing in either Mexico or Costa Rica, it is important to take some basic safety precautions. Staying informed about the current situation in both countries is essential.

In Mexico, travelers should be aware of drug cartel activity, as well as ongoing violence. In Costa Rica, travelers should be mindful of corruption and crime rates.

It is important to research the areas where you are staying and plan activities accordingly. Avoiding dangerous neighborhoods and places known for high crime rates is key to a safe vacation in either country.

Exercise caution when driving, especially at night. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t carry large amounts of cash with you.

Travelers should also familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs. Follow local guidelines for clothing and behavior, and be respectful of local cultures.

Additionally, it is recommended to purchase travel insurance before leaving for your trip to provide protection for yourself and your belongings. 

By following these safety measures, travelers can have an enjoyable and safe experience in either Mexico or Costa Rica.

Country Summary: While petty crime is the predominant threat to tourists in Costa Rica, violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault, occurs in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican government provides additional security resources in areas frequented by tourists.

If you decide to travel to Costa Rica:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • U.S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad.
  • Follow the Department of State on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Costa Rica.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Most Important Factor to Staying Safe!

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to safety, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a hotel is its location. Opting for a hotel in a well-lit and populated area can go a long way in ensuring your safety.

Avoiding hotels located in remote or sketchy areas is always a wise choice. When you’re in a popular spot with a lot of people around, there’s less likelihood of encountering any kind of danger.

Plus, it makes it easier to get help in case of an emergency. So, be sure to research the area and location of the hotel before making a booking.

The Right Room

When choosing a safe hotel the room you book is just as important as the location.

Consider requesting a room on an upper floor as it is less accessible to outside intruders. It’s also important to check the room’s entry points.

Do the windows have locks? Are there security bars? Does the door have a peephole? Make sure to inquire about the safety features of the room before booking.

If you are traveling alone or with children, it may be best to opt for a room near the front desk or elevator for added security and ease of access. Always choose a hotel that prioritizes the safety of its guests and invests in the right security measures.

Do Your Research

Before booking any hotel it’s important to do your research. Make sure you know what to expect from the area, what kind of amenities and facilities are available, and most importantly, which hotels have the best safety features.

One great way to start your research is by looking at reviews and ratings online.

Many popular travel sites offer unbiased reviews from previous guests, which can help you get an idea of what to expect.

Take note of any comments or concerns that other travelers may have had regarding safety or security.

It’s also a good idea to research the specific neighborhood or area where your hotel is located. Some areas may have higher crime rates than others, and it’s important to be aware of any potential risks or hazards.

Look for hotels in areas that are well-lit, well-traveled, and that have a visible presence of security personnel.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to the hotel directly with any questions or concerns you may have about safety or security.

Ask about their policies regarding keycard access, security cameras, and on-site security personnel. A good hotel will be happy to address any concerns you may have and will prioritize your safety and security during your stay.

Check the Reviews on Exepdia

Which destination is my favorite?

Costa Rica holds a special place in my heart. My preference for Costa Rica is not just based on its incredible natural beauty and delicious food but also because I got engaged at the Florblanca Hotel in Santa Teresa.

That unforgettable moment has forever tied me to the lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and warm hospitality of Costa Rica.

In terms of safety, both Mexico and Costa Rica have safe and friendly areas, but Costa Rica’s reputation for being a peaceful and not the party capital of the world solidifies my preference.

Ultimately, my sentimental attachment to Costa Rica makes it the top choice for me when it comes to travel destinations. 

Although Costa Rica is my favorite, Mexico has been nothing but pleasant.  The people are friendly, family-oriented, very religious, and completely willing to help and answer questions therefore I believe Mexico is safe.

For detailed safety information on traveling to Mexico or Costa Rica please see below.

If you decide to travel to Mexico or Costa Rica:

  • Keep your traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text to a friend.
  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Mexico.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.


  • Expedia: the best website for finding cheap flight deals and hotels to and from Costa Rica.
  • Discovercars.com: my favorite car rental booking website, as it consistently has the best selection and prices.
  • Hotels.com: another excellent hotel booking website for finding fabulous Athens accommodation.
  • Tripadvisor: this famous review website now allows you to book accommodation and tours directly as well.
  • Get Your Guide: my favorite resource for finding tours and activities in Costa Rica and elsewhere.
  • Viator: another great option for finding fun things to do, skip-the-line tickets, and fabulous tours in Mexico.

Conclusion Of Mexico Vs Costa Rica

Mexico is known for its all-inclusive resorts with private beaches, unlimited drinks and food, and a ton of activities, but you can find the same sort of vacation in Costa Rica.

Whether you decide on Mexico or Costa Rica is really dependent upon who you are traveling with, your budget, and the type of vacation you want to have.

For me, Costa Rica is a great alternative to a Mexican vacation because of its lush rainforests, the country is a great place if you’re looking to include zip-lining in your vacation plans.

Pretty much anyone between the ages of five and 85 who visit the country can find a zip-lining adventure that suits them, whether it involves soaring through the canopies, rappelling down waterfalls, hanging off bridges, or all of the above.

No matter where you stay, a zip-line adventure will be none too far away, and the stunning views should not be missed.

On top of that, there are several active volcanoes and many rivers and streams that attract kayakers and canoers from around the world.

There are beaches to lounge on, trails to hike and ride horses on, and reefs for diving and exploring, making Costa Rica a great spot for your next trip.

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

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  1. LOL, you certainly did a terrible job comparing Mexico and Costa Rica.
    1) Mexico is EXACTLY 40 Costa Rica countries,
    2) Mexico has HUGE surf towns, check Oaxaca Puerto Escondido and the likes, Sayulita in Nayarit
    3) Mexico is not in Central America, Mexico is in North America
    4) Mexico has 4 time zones, all climates, from jungles as the Amazon to deserts as the Sahara
    5) Food in Mexico is amazing, UNESCO heritage of Mankind awarded, only France and Japan have the same award
    6) Don´t drink water from your home, buy bottled water
    7 ) Mexico received 42 million tourists in 2019, to 3 million in Costa Rica for a reason
    8) If you are to travel Mexico from point to point is the equivalent of going from Portugal to Siberia
    9) Mexico is megadiverse, Costa Rica is not
    10) Mexico has 37 UNESCO sites, the most in the Americas, compare it to 22 the USA has, and Costa RIca has 5
    11) Mexico has a huge hotel, hostel, tourist infrastructure, internet, etc
    12) Hospitals are better in Mexico, you can check medical tourism statistics
    13) There are dozens of flights a day to the USA
    14) Prices in Mexico are amazing value

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