Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America, though nothing is guaranteed. On both coasts but especially the Pacific, currents are swift and dangerous, and generally there are no lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches several tourists drown in Costa Rica each year in rip-tides, the major cause of tourist deaths (see article below).

Adventure tourism is increasingly popular in Costa Rica, and many companies provide white-water rafting, bungee jumping, jungle canopy tours, deep sea diving, and other outdoor attractions. A few years back, a couple of tourists died on Costa Rica’s flood-swollen rivers in white-water rafting accidents, plus one over-weight non-swimmer man whose life jacket wouldn’t support him. A man fell from a canopy zip-line to his death, and also, an American lady and her daughter died trying to reach the top of Arenal Volcano, and a guide died trying to save them. Before, visitors should use caution when selecting adventure tour companies, and avoid small discount companies without a track record of more established companies. The government of Costa Rica has passed legislation a few years back to regulate and monitor adventure tourism safety enforcing laws regulated by the Ministry of Health, insisting on safety standards and insurance in the event of an accident. Considering the increasing number of visitors participating in outdoor adventures, the safety record these days is excellent.

Medical Facilities

Medical care in San Jose is adequate, but may be more limited in areas outside of San Jose. Hospitals and doctors usually expect immediate payment for any health services, but your home country medical insurance is often accepted at private hospitals, check first. The cheapest yet best one in San Jose I have found is the new CIMA Hospital in Escazu. Also, Clinica Biblica and Clinica Catolica are privately run hospitals. A hospital with full services will cost you maybe $2000 per night depending upon your problem. I do not recommend the public hospitals unless you are unable to afford a private one because of the line ups. The personal service is also lacking due to inadequate funding and staffing.

Disaster Preparedness

Costa Rica is located in an earthquake zone so plan any escape route in advance to evacuate a building. Hurricanes rarely reach Costa Rica, and if they do, they are limited to the coasts, and always break up before they can climb over the mile high mountains to the populous Central Valley. Regarding volcanos, don’t climb Arenal. The other active volcanos, Poas and Irazu have controlled admission if they get volatile.

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