Many people will ask us if Costa Rica is a safe place to visit. Of course, we will be the first to say, “Yes, it is,” but we also want you to be aware of the simple things of traveling, just like you would for any place you visit, whether in the US or another country.
First, we want to share with you the article that we wrote, “Is Costa Rica Safe?” This article is about the basics of crime and areas that are prone to Costa Rica, along with learning about ocean currents, how to drive in Costa Rica, and talking about beaches, famous or isolated beaches.
These articles help you prepare for your trip with us to Costa Rica. We want to ensure that you feel comfortable before booking with us.
Let us help you during your trip here because there are some things that we suggest you avoid during your time here.
What cities/areas should avoid in Costa Rica?
While we are hesitant to say what towns to avoid, there are a couple of reasons behind these towns, and we want to share with you why you may want to avoid them. For better recommendations, please visit our complete guide on Where to Go in Costa Rica.
While Jaco is a great place for surfing and partying like a rock star, if you are coming as a family, it may be a place that you would want to avoid. However, if you come to Jaco with friends and couples, enjoy the fun. Below are some example images from Google to show you what Jaco nightlife is like.
Tamarindo is a lot of fun, with great surf, excellent food, and sunsets, but if you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of parties and cookie-cutter resorts, then you should avoid Tamarindo. Below are some example images from Google to show you what the Tamarindo party scene is like.
San Jose (Certain Parts)
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica, and just like any big city, there are places that you should avoid around San Jose.
One place is Santa Rita de Alajuela, northwest of the San Jose Airport. But, as drugs have been known, there is no reason an ex-pat or a family should head that way.
The other town you and the family should avoid due to poverty, crime, and drugs is Leon XII, which is northwest of the town center.
Limon, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, is not known for vacationers visiting. Limon is a port city with poverty, crime, and drug trafficking due to the town being a port.
How to Avoid Crowds in Costa Rica? (Tourist Traps)
What we are about to tell you is going to be a bit different way to look at how to avoid crowds in Costa Rica, but we like this spin on it. You can also read our article on the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica to learn more about the busy and slow seasons in Costa Rica.
Don’t Eat Out Every Meal
While we love a good breakfast filled with Pico Gallo and fried plantains, you may need to take a break after the 5th day of filling your belly with a ton of carbohydrates.
One suggestion is to have a meal at your place or a picnic on the beach. There are plenty of grocery stores or soda shops where you can grab sandwich fixings, chips, and drinks. There are also plenty of fruit stands and markets off the beaten path, and you can grab goodies to take to the beach with you.
Restaurants can get very busy during summer, and you may need reservations.
Go For a Hike
There are some incredible hikes around Costa Rica, some that you can hike on your own. However, we suggest you hire a private tour guide, as they will know the ins and outs of the place, such as the volcano or a waterfall or riding an ATV. Taking a hike can be a great place to avoid the larger crowds in different areas of Costa Rica, and you get to experience nature all on your own with your group and tour guide.
Find a Small Town in Costa Rica
While we know Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Jaco, and San Jose are popular towns in Costa Rica, we suggest you find those off-the-beaten-path towns.
We recommend you check out Samara, Uvita , or Montezuma. Small but perfect and a great way to avoid crowds. Once again, be mindful of when you are heading down because summer crowds in these cities are very popular (December to late April.)
Avoid a Big Hotel and Get a Boutique Style Hotel
Are you looking to stay away from crowded hotels? Very simple, find a boutique hotel. We can help you with that!
What Foods should I avoid in Costa Rica?
Talking about food, we want to keep this simple. If something doesn’t taste right or doesn’t look right, don’t eat it. Likewise, if you have an allergy to gluten, shellfish, or lactose intolerant, please let the restaurant staff know, as they are excellent about adjusting to what you need or what you need to avoid. Otherwise, most of the food in Costa Rica is nutritious and delicious! See an example below (breakfast omelet).
What Animals/Wildlife should you avoid in Costa Rica?
Plenty of wildlife will be seen from afar in Costa Rica. However, while seeing animals in the wild, whether a sloth, a howler monkey, or a macaw, we ask that you respect their habit and not feed them, especially the monkeys, as they have been known to take food and phones from visitors.
Yes, crocodiles exist in Costa Rica, and some are known to be in the rivers of Costa Rica. For example, if you head to the Famous Tarcoles River, also known as the “Crocodile Bridge,” you will see how big they are.
Costa Rica is known for wildlife and is home to over 300,000 species of insects. In addition, there are over 2000 species of spiders. The ones to avoid are Black widow, Brown recluse, Brown widow, Golden silk orb weaver, and Brazillian Wandering spider.
Some people are interested in snakes and will come to Costa Rica to find some of the most poisonous snakes in the world. Yes, you read that right. There are over 130 snakes, and 22 of those snakes are venomous. While we won’t write out 22 of them, the Fer-de-lance snake is one of the deadliest and found on trails, hence why you should use a guide on that hike, we suggest.
Poison Dart Frogs
These little frogs are so neat to find in the wild, but we highly recommend you look at them from afar. The poison is on their skin and won’t affect the humans unless they have an open scar. So let’s leave those guys alone.
What illnesses/diseases to avoid in Costa Rica?
To avoid illnesses and diseases in Costa Rica, we always suggest you head to the CDC’s website to find the most current conditions or diseases in Costa Rica.
It is like traveling anywhere. Don’t drink contaminated water, avoid mosquitos, cover your arms and legs, use DEET for protection, grab some citronella candles, and ensure you are up-to-date on your routine vaccinations.
Visiting Costa Rica is just like any other place to travel. However, there are things, animals, insects, and places to avoid when visiting the country.
We want to keep you safe and sound during your visit. However, there is much more to see and do in Costa Rica than worrying about what to avoid.
Remember, if you are fearful of traveling to Costa Rica, contact us below, as we would love to talk to you about coming to see this beautiful country.
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.