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Costa Rica Beach Towns Lack Funding for Lifeguards

Since 2008, an average of one person has drowned every 3.5 days in Costa Rica. Already 50 people have drowned in the country this year. But lifeguards are absent from most of the country’s beaches. If that trend continues, the number of drowning deaths in 2011 will far surpass last year’s total of 76. On May 4, three U.S. teens from Ohio drowned on the central Pacific beach of Playa Bejuco, located between the central Pacific towns of Esterillos and Parrita (TT, May 6). On their final day of a mission trip spent working in churches and orphanages, 16-year old Kai Lamar, 17-year old Caity Jones and James Smith, 16, were swept away by a powerful riptide that pushed them out to sea. Two swimmers were rescued.

While the U.S. teens’ tragic death brought attention from international news media, most drowning victims are Costa Ricans.

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It is ridiculous that a country whose economy depends as heavily as Costa Rica's does on beach-related tourism should lack something as fundamental as lifeguards. More ridiculous still that the "travel media" don't report on this deficit as they crow about what a wonderful place Costa Rica is to visit, invest in, and retire to. Vacationers -- vote with your wallet. Stay in countries that can afford to keep you safe.



During the past 3.5 years, 17 people have drowned at Parrita, the second-highest number in the country. The town of Quepos, just south of Parrita, had the highest total, 18, since 2008.

Drownings Since 2008:

1. Quepos, Puntarenas - 18

2. Parrita, Puntarenas – 17

3. Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas - 12

4. Jacó, Puntarenas – 12

5. Sarapiquí, Limón – 11

6. Siquirres, Limón – 9

7. Santa Cruz, Guanacaste - 9

8. Liberia, Guanacaste – 8

9. Nandayure, Guanacaste – 7

10. Talamanca, Limón - 7

Dangerous Beaches:

Playa Bejuco – 5, including three last week

Bahía Ballena, Puntarenas – 5

Barranca, Puntarenas – 5

Cahuita, Limón – 5

Dominical, Puntarenas – 3

Esterillos, Puntarenas – 3

Nosara, Guanacaste – 4

Puerto Viejo, Limón – 4

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