One of the major concerns when you visit a country is if it’s safe to drink tap water in Costa Rica. This is one of the most common questions we get from our readers and friends that visit us because there are a lot of common misconceptions about it and you’ll hear different things from different people.
So in this article we’re going to talk about water quality in Costa Rica and whether it’s safe for visitors to drink it from the tap or not. Hopefully this will help clear up some confusion so you can be prepared for your trip to Costa Rica!
Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water in Costa Rica?
I grew up in a town call Los Lagos in the province of Heredia and I have never had any problems before with the water. However, I have been drinking tap water since I was kid. For locals and people who are used to the water, it’s not a problem.
For foreigners, it could be a different story but many of my friends from different countries have drank the tap water when they were here and haven’t had any problems either. Many of the expats you talk to will say the same thing.
But this does not mean that the quality of the water is the same in every part of the country so I put together a list of things to know about if the tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica.
Check Where Your Water is Coming From
The biggest water company in Costa Rica is the AyA and they have a pipe system all over the country. They do a good job continuously checking the quality of the water so if your water provider is the AyA, your water quality should be very good.
There are other smaller companies around the country that provide water service so if you are moving to Costa Rica or renting a place for the period of time, check who your water provider is (ask your property manager or landlord). Most of the companies have high quality standards as well.
The thing you need to be careful about is if your water is coming from a well or a water tank. In some areas, people pump their water from the ground or store water for regular use. We have had a couple of bad experiences in some places where the main source of water was from a water tank and it was not well maintained.
Some hotels in Guanacaste or drier areas in Costa Rica do this due to the lack of water during dry season. Hotels will have a sign in your room saying if the water is drinkable or not because many times, the water is coming from their tanks instead of the AyA.
Check for pipes and taps
In some cases, people think that they are getting sick because the water is not drinkable, however the reason is because they have dirty pipes full of bacteria. Obviously if the pipes and taps aren’t checked and maintained, bacteria will grow so it’s highly recommended to check the conditions of the main pipes and taps often.
What You Can Do
If you have a sensitive stomach or are having some tummy issues, you have several options:
- Bring a water purifier or filter like SteriPEN. These will filter out the bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. Very useful for hiking or day trips too.
- Water purification tablets are also handy and small to carry. It only takes 30 minutes for them to clean the water and make it drinkable.
We don’t recommend buying bottled water since it’s a huge waste of plastic. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle (we use Hydroflask and they’re insulated so it keeps the water nice and cold for 24 hours) and a filter.
If you are traveling and moving locations every day, the best thing you can do to be 100% sure your water is safe to drink is to use the purifiers for everything. Bring diarrhea pills too just in case, as you never know what can happen and it’s better to be prepared.
Touristic locations are for the most part safe, but it also depends on the person as some people are more sensitive than others. You can check with the hotel how the tap water is in that area as some places are better/worse than others. It’s better to play it safe than get diarrhea or get sick during your trip!
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