A riptide is a strong current that pulls a swimmer out to sea
The tourist brochures with their enticing photographs of tropical paradise, do not mention that approximately 200 drowning q year occur in Costa Rican waters. Of these, an estimated 90% are caused by riptides.
A riptide is a strong current that pulls a simmer out to sea. It can occur in waist-deep water. It is most important to remember that riptides will pull you out but not under. Many death are caused by panicked swimmers struggling to the point of exhaustion.
If you are caught in a riptide, float. do not struggle. Let the riptide carry you out beyond the breakers, If you swim, do so parallel to the beach, not directly back in. Go with the flow of the current. You are very unlikely to be able to swim against a riptide and will only exhaust yourself. When you are carried out beyond the breakers, you will find that the riptide will dissipate - it won't carry you out for miles. then you can swim back to shore. Swim at a 45º angle to the shore to avoid being caught by the current again.
If you feel a riptide while you are wading, try to come back in sideways, thus offering less body surface to the current. Also remember to walk parallel to the beach if you cannot make headway, so you can get out of the riptide. Some riptides are permanent; others come and go or move along the beach. Beaches with a reputation for rips are Playa Bonita, near Limón; the area at the entrance of Parque Nacional Cahuita; Playa Dońa Ana and Playa Barranca near Puntarenas; Dominical, and Playa Espadilla at Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.
Other swimming problems are occasional huge waves that can knock a wader over - stay within your limits and remember that few beaches have lifeguards. Follow all signs, swim within sight of the lifeguards if there are any and, if you get into trouble, swim out beyond the breakers and wave for help.
Some beaches are polluted by litter, or worse, sewage and other contamination, which can pose a health hazard. Beaches are now checked by authorities and the cleanest are marked with a blue flag.
Pictures by Jörn Malek. The team of 1-CostaRicaLink and Costa-Rica-Information-Mobile wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.
Text by Lonely Planet.
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