Top 10 Areas To Avoid In Costa Rica (2023)

The top areas to avoid in Costa Rica are those places that even aid workers fear to go for fear of physical harm coming to them. Yes, Costa Rica is a hub for tourism; it is one of the most favored countries that tourists yearn to taste and experience. The country has so many heritage sites, pristine beaches and places of profound natural beauty.

Nevertheless, the places on this list should be avoided because there is nothing tourist about them. Criminal gangs make life difficult for locals who know the grounds, and visitors coming to Costa Rica for the first time would be irresistible bait. Most times they want to relieve visitors of their valuables such as cell phones, wallets, cameras, and so on. Refusal to hand over the said valuables is what could turn into a life threatening situation.

Costa Rica is still a lovely place to visit; one just has to know where to go, and where to stay away from.

Areas To Avoid In Costa Rica

1. Santa Rosa de Pocosol

Santa Rosa de Pocosol is a neighborhood in San Carlos, in the north of Costa Rica. The whole region is flat, and rural, and borders Nicaragua. In the recent past, this was one of the places advertised to tourists because of the natural places of beauty. However, presently, visitors are advised to stay away from Santa Rosa de Pocosol because it is a violent place.

Even aid workers have to take extra security protocols before venturing into these areas, otherwise they just cannot go there because the violent gangs and criminals have no respect for aid workers or for anyone else.

2. Matina

Matina is a small rural community along the Matina River in the Limón province. Matina is located toward the east of the country. There are several spots of beauty such as coastal resorts and beachside lodgings in the area; there are local markets and wooded areas to explore as well.

However, the general advice is that Matina is to be avoided as one of the troubled spots in Costa Rica. This area of about 38,000 people has too many criminal gangs, and very little policing going on. Therefore anyone venturing into this neighborhood presently is doing so at some considerable risk; even aid workers consider this a high risk area.

3. Barranca

Barranca is a district on the Pacific coast, in the province of Puntarenas. This area is located in the west of the country, the coastline forms a natural enclosed bay. This is a great place for shipping and for exporting locally manufactured products. Local investors have taken advantage of Barranca’s natural features and have made it the site of an export and manufacturing zone.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of poverty here; to the point that international bodies have had to intervene so as to provide the people with some of life’s basic necessities. This has been identified as a crime hot-spot; a place to be avoided by visitors, including foreign aid workers.

4. Los Guido

Los Guido is a district in the San Jose Province of Costa Rica. The area is hilly, and while most of the people are poor, they live in the high ground, while the low land is in the background, and is quite wooded. Los Guido is centrally located in Costa Rica; it is far away from all the beaches which draw in tourism and sustain the economy. The geographical location is perhaps one of the major causes of poverty.

Los Guido has been identified as one of the places to be avoided in Costa Rica; the few economic opportunities have caused many young people to turn to crime.

5. Desamparados

Desamparados is district in the central region of Costa Rica. It sits on an elevation of about 1,161 meters. This is an urban area with all kinds of commerce going on in the area. In the back ground there are high grounds, some of which are forested areas.

Desamparados has a population of around 34,000 people. This district has been identified as one of the troubled spots in Costa Rica, if you are visitor, you had better stayed away from here.

6. Pavas

Pavas is a district of the San José canton, in the central region of Costa Rica. This is a rather important area; it encompasses the Tobías Bolaños International Airport, as well as the San José’s domestic airport.

The district has a population of 71,384, and is known to be one of the roughest parts of Costa Rica. As a tourist you have no business being in this area.

7. La Carpio

La Carpio is a district in Costa Rica that has gained notoriety for gun violence, and for all kinds of petty crimes. The gangs in the area practically control the place, and visitors are their main targets. The violence in this area has been documented by several visiting journalists; it is unwise to go there.

8. Leon XIII

León XIII, a neighborhood in Tibás, San José. This neighborhood has plenty of problems ranging from poverty, undocumented immigration, overcrowding, lack of employment opportunities, and so on. This is the neighborhood with the highest population density in Costa Rica.

The neighborhood is a no go area for tourists; even aid workers have designated this as a place to be avoided.

9. El Carmen

El Carmen neighborhood in Cartago, and the area known as “El Infiernillo,” in San José are other troubled spots. These are places where local gangs target visitors to relieve them of their valuables. As a tourist it is not advisable to venture to these areas even in the presence of a tour guide.

10. La Uruca

La Uruca is a wider area in San José.  This area is located in the central region of the country; it is very important as a major industrial and commercial area. This is also one of the largest districts in Costa Rica.

There is plenty of crime in the area; while it has not been proved that visitors are prime targets, they are advised to stay clear of this area.



The areas to avoid in Costa Rica are those places where visitors ordinarily have to business going. This does not mean that Costa Rica is not safe for tourism; it even shows how much effort the government has put into ensuring that tourism hotspots are safe for visitors.