Does Costa Rica get many natural disasters?

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are quite common in Costa Rica with small ones occurring daily and tremors strong enough to feel a few times a year.  Major quakes strike about once a decade but no tourist has ever been killed or seriously injured by an earthquake in Costa Rica.

The tourist infrastructure and modern areas in Costa Rica are generally well prepared for earthquakes.  Building standards include earthquake “proof” engineering to prevent collapses and natural gas pipes are not used which greatly reduces the danger from fires.  Emergency personnel are well trained and respond quickly.

Tsunamis

A few years ago the tsunami disasters in Southeast Asia and Japan raised awareness that offshore earthquakes can be more devastating than onshore ones.  The shape of the seabed off the shores of Costa Rica is not particularly suited to the formation of tsunami waves.  Recent major earthquakes off the coast of Chile (> 8.0) and in the central Pacific triggered Tsunami warnings in Costa Rica but all resulted in nearly unnoticeable increases in wave heights on the shores.

In most areas the ground rises sharply away from the beach.  There has never been a significant tsunami recorded in Costa Rica but if you are concerned about the possibility of a tsunami “ocean view” accommodations well out of the reach of the waves are readily available in most beach areas.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are not a major concern here as Costa Rica slips just under the the band of Caribbean and Pacific hurricanes. The shape of the Gulf of Mexico dictates that the storms turn north soon after entering. (See our Weather page for current storms and weather predictions)

 

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