We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Danger on Playa Espadilla

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
155 posts
89 reviews
Save Topic
Danger on Playa Espadilla

Playa Espadilla is a VERY dangerous beach to swim. I had seen a couple of old faded rip tide warning signs, but with so many people in the water, I wrongly ignored them. In the afternoon of my second last day of a week at Kacha Beach Club I got pulled out in a rip tide. When I realized I could not swim back, I started yelling for help but it seemed nobody on the beach could hear me.

I stayed calm, rolled on my back to float and waved my arms. Within less than a minute a volunteer lifeguard was speeding towards me on his surf board, Johnny pulled me to safety.

These people do a tremendous and unappreciated job, I was his third of the day and he rescued five the previous day. They need to get some funding. There also needs to be more signage spread along the beach where people can see them, not in amongst the trees.

Be careful in Paradise.

Portland, ME
Level Contributor
123 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

So glad you were ok, and thank you for the warning! I will be sure to swim with caution on my trip in May!

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

Warnings about rip tides in Costa Rica should be a "sticky!" Not that anyone would read it anyway..... lol Just like frankspurs who saw the sign and went swimming anyway.

You were lucky, frankspurs, that someone came to rescue you and that you knew enough to relax and go with the rip tide. That's great! It must have been very frightening. I am sure you gave a generous donation to the local volunteer lifeguard association. Maybe someone should help them get a grant?

Drowning causes the highest number of tourist deaths in Costa Rica and people should ALWAYS pay attention to signs and ask about local conditions before going swimming in the ocean.

Be safe, people! Please.

Playa Hermosa...
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio, Jaco
Level Contributor
1,457 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

So happy you're okay frankspurs! This issue only comes up periodically from time to time and I'm with Hattie, it should be front and center daily! For those who are unaware, here is an article with instruction/warning if you are caught in a riptide. http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-a-Riptide Good post frankspurs... you'll probably never know how many people you helped with this post!

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
9,090 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

I'm glad this was posted. Not enough people know that many of the Pacific coast beaches can be dangerous, even for moderate to good swimmers. I'm a non swimmer so I stay clear of the water. On previous trips I personally witnessed drownings of persons who were supposedly strong swimmers. They are the ones most likely to ignore warnings and signs figuring the danger doesn't apply to them. Too confident in their abilities. Be aware and be careful. Ask locals about sea conditions and know what to do if a rip gets you.

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
Level Contributor
8,087 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

That is scary! glad to hear you are okay. There are several drownings every year here, some beaches have lifeguards but most actually don't. Good advice for other to remember, no matter how calm the waters look, do not be fooled. Thanks for posting.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,561 posts
133 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

Thanks for posting--this is a problem in many places in the Pacific, including Hawaii. Very good that you remembered to not swim against a rip tide, but rather to go with it/parallel to it.

Level Contributor
126 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

Glad you are ok! We'll be going there in 2 weeks, and plan on going to that specific beach and the beach in the MA NP.

May I ask how far out from the shore were you when you got pulled by the riptide? Were you able to stand or farther out? I did read that the public beach there can get "rough".

Thanks for the warning, it is something to be reminded about!

Destination Expert
for Bermuda
Level Contributor
3,484 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

glad you're okay!

it's always a wise move to first ask locals about sea conditions before entering the water at an unfamiliar beach, even if there are already people in the water! and if there are signs saying that there are riptides, there are probably riptides. if you choose to ignore safety advice and signs, remember that someone might have to risk their own life to try to save yours.

Destination Expert
for Richmond
Level Contributor
1,708 posts
214 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla


The best way to stop yourself from being dragged out, is to stay close enough in to touch the bottom. Stay close to other swimmers and you can notice if they become stuck in one.

Riptides are "only" dangerous if you can't swim or when you try to fight them and become exhausted. Just "go for the ride", lie on your back and wave your hands in the air. If you want to try to get out of it, swim parallel to the shore and you should get out of it after 20-30 yards (riptides are all narrow currents of water).


You will be fine!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
47,524 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Danger on Playa Espadilla

I advice my passengers all the times about the Central Pacific beaches...the best ALWAYS ask locals where to swim...some really dangerous spots...!