Tap Water Safety in Costa Rica

Can you drink the tap water in Costa Rica?

In general, yes.

The US Center for Disease Control’s travel advisory confirms the safety of the tap water in Costa Rica (source). However, it would be best if you take special precautions toward the unregulated water sources in some areas.

Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.

What do people in Costa Rica think about the tap water?

  • It’s generally safe to drink tap water in Costa Rica, except in the most rural and undeveloped parts of the country. However, if you prefer to be cautious, buying bottled water is your best bet.
  • If you have the means, vigorous boiling for one minute is the most effective means of water purification. At altitudes greater than 2000m, boil for three minutes.
  • Another option is to disinfect water with iodine pills: add 2% tincture of iodine to 1L of water (five drops to clear water, 10 drops to cloudy water) and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cold, longer times may be required.
  • Alternatively, carry a SteriPen that destroys most bacteria, viruses and protozoa with UV light.


Most places (such as cities) have potable water, so don't worry about drinking tap water. Bottled water is also available at low prices. Nevertheless, exercise caution about places with doubtful water sources. These places tend to be away from population centers or near the beach/coast.
Tap water in urban areas of the country is almost always safe to drink. However, being cautious may be in order in rural areas with questionable water sources.

The most commonly searched cities in Costa Rica are:

For a full list of cities in Costa Rica, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.

World Health Organization Costa Rica Water Summary

The World Health Organization estimates that 99 percent of Costa Rica have access to drinkable tap water.

In 2000, 87% of the population had access to drinkable, tap water on site, and 94% within an accessible distance, including both rural and urban areas.

In Costa Rica, like in most countries, clean tap water availability is much higher in urban areas than in rural areas, with urban area availability averages at 96%.

The rural availability figures at 84%

World Health Organization's 2017 Costa Rica Water Data

The World Health Organization data on water quality and availability throughout Costa Rica includes the national average, averages for urban population centers, and averages for rural areas.

Safely ManagedA location that safe, drinkable water that is free of biological or chemical contaminants available on premise.
At Least BasicSafe drinkable water is available within 30 minutes from the location
LimitedIt would take more than 30 minutes from the location to access safe, drinkable water.
YearPopulation in 1000sSafely managedAt Least BasicLimited

What Do People In Costa Rica Think About The Tap Water?

Travelers and residents of Costa Rica have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data.

A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.

Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility19%Low
Water Pollution46%Moderate
Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility81%High
Water Quality54%Moderate

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View our tap water report on all cities in Costa Rica

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