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Can You Drink the Water in Costa Rica? Guide for Travelers

While traveling in Costa Rica it is always important to stay hydrated and drink a lot of water. This country is known for its hot temperatures and tropical environments. It’s easy to get dehydrated. 

If you are wondering “Can you drink the water in Costa Rica?”, the short answer is usually yes, the tap water is safe to drink. 

Throughout the country, drinking water is generally well-regulated. However, there are some exceptions to that.

Where You Usually Can Drink Costa Rica Water

Usually, the water is fine to drink in any big town. 

For example, in San Jose and the Central Valley, Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, Playa Flamingo, La Fortuna, and Papagayo Peninsula.

Although it is usually completely safe to drink tap water in these locations, you should always ask at your hotel first. 

Where You Should Avoid Drinking the Water

In very rural areas it is best to avoid drinking the water. 

A few of the areas we always buy bottled water include; the Caribbean coast, the Osa Peninsula (Drake Bay and Pavones areas), and many small villages. 

Also, keep in mind that the water in Costa Rica does not have added fluoride. This means it might be more hard than you are used to (if coming from the US). If you are visiting Costa Rica from Europe you are probably very familiar with hard water.

The Costa Rica Water Treatment Process

In Costa Rica, tap water undergoes an extensive treatment process to ensure its safety and quality done by the A y A (the Costa Rican agency for aqueducts and sewers). 

First, water from natural sources such as rivers or underground aquifers is collected. 

It then goes through a filtration process to eliminate larger particles and sediments. 

Next, various disinfection methods are employed to kill harmful microorganisms and bacteria before the water is pushed out as drinking water.

In some areas, you might come across well water instead of town-provided water.

How to Prevent Getting Sick from Costa Rica Water

Costa Rica water

If you would like to be a bit cautious, your best option is to purchase bottled water. 

We suggest bringing your reusable water bottle from home. 

Then, you can purchase big jugs of bottles water at the grocery store and just refill your bottles. 

A few products you might want to bring include:

Lifestraw Water Bottle: We like Lifestraw bottles because they offer a built-in filtration system that effectively removes bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from water sources.

Portable Aqua Purification Tabs: If you think you may find yourself in some interesting situations, you can always bring water purification tablets. Really, I don’t think they are necessary for the usual traveler. But, if you would like to be super cautious, you could always bring them.

Imodium: It doesn’t hurt to bring some type of Anti-Diarrheal Medicine with you to Costa Rica. We suggest pills because you can then easily take them in your carry-on luggage if you are not planning to check a bag.

What to Do if You Get Sick From Costa Rica Water

If your stomach is upset, we first suggest going to a pharmacy and asking for anti-diarrheal medicine. 

If you are staying in an area without any pharmacy nearby, you can always ask the cashier of the local grocery store. 

It sounds weird, but usually, they sell medicine. 

The cashier might ask you how many you need. They mean how many tablets. Medicine is sometimes sold here in individual pills rather than in boxes. 

If you are really sick, it is best to go to a doctor. Ask at your hotel. They should be able to direct you to a good doctor nearby.

We always suggest purchasing travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica. That way, you can get reimbursed for your medical treatments if some kind of health issue arises during your travels. 

Looking for our Costa Rica travel insurance recommendation?

We suggest Heymondo. They offer comprehensive plans that ensure your peace of mind throughout your journey. 

Their plans extend coverage to various aspects such as medical expenses, personal liability, baggage, and travel disruption.

Moreover, they provide the flexibility to customize your plan according to your specific needs, with optional add-ons available for electronic equipment or adventure sports.

Get Your Heymondo Travel Insurance Quote

Other Things to Note About Costa Rica Water

Costa Rica Water

– Keep in mind that Costa Rica is a tropical environment. We find that it is really easy to get dehydrated here because it is usually so warm and humid. Definitely try to drink more water than you usually would. 

– It is best to avoid swimming in sketchy water sources. What I mean is any pools that don’t seem to be cleaned often, stagnant water, etc. This country is filled with weird bacteria that you probably want to avoid. 

– There isn’t any bottle return for money in Costa Rica, but your hotel might recycle. You can always ask them before throwing out any plastic bottles.  

– Even if a hotel says that the water is potable, it is best to ask and clarify before drinking the tap water in your hotel room bathroom. Sometimes the bathrooms here are on a different water supply system. 

– If you are unsure about a particular source of water, don’t risk it. Nobody wants to end up sick during their vacation. Drinking bottled water doesn’t cost that much and will save you from potentially getting ill.

– Costa Rica is one of the only countries in Latin America with potable drinking water. Just want to warn you if you are doing a longer Central or South American trip. 

– As I mentioned above, the water is hard here. You might find that your skin and scalp may get dried out more easily than you are used to. You can always buy moisturizer and dandruff shampoo at any grocery store in Costa Rica. 

Our Experience with Costa Rica Water

Thomas and I both tend to have somewhat sensitive stomachs. I also tend to drink more water than any other person I know.

At home in San Jose, I always drink tap water. I think the water tastes great and we don;t have any issues with it.

We usually always buy bottled water if visiting more rural areas, just to be on the safe side. 

We have occasionally gotten stomach illnesses that we think were from water. Although, we can’t say that for sure. 

Usually, we wait it out and the stomach pains disappear within a few days.

Once, Thomas got really sick from the water just over the border of Costa Rica in Nicaragua. We knew we shouldn’t drink water from the tap there, but we stupidly ordered cocktails at a bar and they had ice in them. Thomas must have drank his a little too slowly because the next two days were rough for him.

So, lesson learned. Watch out for ice! 

Conclusion on Costa Rica Water

In conclusion, usually, you will have no issues if you drink tap water in Costa Rica. 

However, if you would like to be on the cautious side, purchase bottled water.

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Safety in Costa Rica: How to Stay Protected

Costa Rica Time Zone: Everything You Need to Know

Pura Vida in Costa Rica: What the Phrase Means

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.