There are many beaches in Costa Rica, so this is not an easy question to answer. Few beaches offer life guard stands and those that do, are often left unattended. Therefore if you choose to swim, you do so at your own risk. Generally, if you see other swimmers and they are not struggling, you can count it being a good swimming beach.
If you see surfers in front of you or nearby, it is not likely a good place to swim. Similarly, if you see large or fast crashing waves or notice that there is a fast drawback of water when it recedes between wave sets, it is likely not a safe place to swim. Riptides are common in Costa Rica and should not be underestimated.
In any situation, test the waters before going out too far. To do so, you can wade into the water to your knees. If you feel a pull out, it is likely a riptide. To minimize risk, always swim with a partner.
If you find yourself in a riptide, do not swim against it. Instead, try to swim parallel to the shore. If you cannot do so and are pulled out, do not panic. Riptides will often carry you to calmer water where you can find an alternative route back to the beach or wave for help.
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