Riptides – currents that pull you out to sea, is a real threat in many Costa Rican beaches. Rip currents can be spotted at times, if you know what you are looking for, such as a noticeable difference in the water color, a gap in the breaking waves, and foams or other objects floating out to sea. Unfortunately not many beaches have lifeguards on duty, and visitors will have to rely on the advice and information given by the locals who live in the area. The best precaution is not to swim in any beaches that have a strong current warning signpost, or beaches that do not have any sign of human activities.
If you get caught in a riptide, the most important reaction is to stay calm and to consciously remind yourself not to panic; it will save your life. Majority cases of drowning occur in riptides when people panic and try to fight the current, which results in exhaustion, and ultimately lead to drowning. Instead, swim at a normal pace parallel to the shore, until you are clear of the current – the waves at either side of the rip tide will take you back to the shore. If you cannot break free of the current, let it take you out beyond the breakers, then swim diagonally toward the shore.
* Remember that riptides and strong currents can occur even in shallow waters
* Check the area for warning signpost before you get in
* Never swim in a red-flagged zone
* If you are not completely certain about the surf or tide condition, ask the locals first
* If you get caught in a riptide, do not try to fight it, swim parallel to shore toward the breaking rip wave
* Never swim alone
* Never swim at night
* Never swim after consuming alcohol
* Beware that tides can rise at unexpected speed; if you plan on going for a walk over rocky outcrops and sand bars, give yourself plenty of time to get back before the tide turns.