Safety tips for your Nosara vacation

How to avoid Nosara’s most common injuries

Season after season, Nosara’s reputation for great waves and thrilling, adrenaline-charged activities catalyzes  the arrival of increasing visitor numbers to its beautiful isolated shores. While the majority leave with nothing but great memories some aren’t so lucky. Often, the very things that act as the area’s most popular draws can also cause accidents, injuries, and sickness. From the air-conditioned comfort of a plush hotel restaurant it’s easy to forget that Playa Guiones is a  small, remote location in the tropics where accidents and health hazards come in all shapes and sizes. As visitor numbers increase so does the volume of patients walking (occasionally limping) through the doors of Playa Guiones Paradise Medical Center. Although accidents and sickness will always occur, it can’t hurt to read up on some local knowledge before your arrival. With this in mind took time out with Paradise Medical Center resident Doctor Alejandro Gutierrez to talk about how to avoid meeting him, (at least on a professional level) in person. Here, Dr Gutierrez outlines a few of the most common medical issues he has to deal with.

Surf injuries

Pro surfer in Guiones, NosaraAlthough there’s obviously exceptions to the rule, surfing injuries typically happen in a specific set of conditions encountered on small, offshore days. On small days, the relative lack of power and height acts as a magnet for beginners. While conditions may be far more manageable for beginners on days like this, problems arise usually from either being dropped in on, or being dropped in on by other surfers. Also, many beginners have a hard time duck diving and are more prone to just ditching their board and swimming under the approaching wave. Lots of people in the lineup along with lots of rogue board flying around is a recipe for disaster. Finally, and particularly in strong offshore winds,  boards get blown up the wave face mid ride and can hit people. Most of these injuries are random and therefore difficult to avoid, however a good place to start would be the surf instructors informing students about how to read conditions and avoid potential injury.

Sunburn and skin complaints

tourist sunburned in nosaraMany tourists arrive and underestimate the strength of the Guanacaste midday sun. This makes sunburn  a common ailment. In some cases  sunburn combines with the dust and can lead to more complicated skin infections. Its essential that you wear the right clothes before going out. Before engaging in activities make sure to apply strong sun cream. This applies particularly if you just arrived and your skin has not had time to acclimatize to the hot temperatures.




stingrayWe see a number of people, both tourists and locals come here after they’ve accidentally stepped on a stingray. The initial pain is said to be fairly mild, with victims thinking they’ve maybe stepped on a crab. However, this changes rapidly, and within minutes, the powerful neurotoxins from the stingrays that visit the shores between December to March, enters the bloodstream and begins to cause enormous discomfort. Obviously, the first point of contact is usually the foot, from where the poison begins to travel up the leg. Although stingray encounters are never fatal, or even threatening, the pain can be overwhelming. In all cases the stingray only attacks because it’s been stepped upon by an unwitting surfer or beach goer. The way to avoid this is to do whats known as the ‘stingray shuffle’ in which you walk by moving your feet while sustaining contact with the ocean floor. This way, if there’s a stingray you’ll kick it before you step on it and it will likely just swim off. If you think you have been stung by one it’s essential to leave the water as quickly as possible. You need to get home and put your leg in water as hot as you can stand in order to ease the pain. The effects will eventually subside. If necessary we can apply a painkiller. Stingrays here are small so it’s unlikely any material from it’s barb will be left in the wound, however if this is not the case it should be removed.

Quad accidents

Atv tour in Nosara mountainsThis is one that occurs more and more  every year. The rental quads in Playa Guiones are fast and powerful and tourists often underestimate the quality of the roads. Bumps and potholes can come out of nowhere. Also, quads, which are essentially built as off road vehicles, can behave very differently when they get on to asphalt and often the change in handling characteristics takes people by surprise. The best advice is simply to slow down, enjoy the ride, and remember that the roads in these parts can hold many surprises. Also, don’t rent a quad for yourself and then give it your young child to drive around. This may sound crazy but it happens with alarming regularity.



Refusal to admit your hurt

In some cases when there’s been physical trauma victims act differently because they are on vacation. They’ve paid time and money to be here and refuse to accept that they are injured and need to rest and relax. Just because you can move your hand doesn’t mean your arm isn’t broken. If someone thinks they’ve been injured they need to see a medical professional right away and not wait for the injury to worsen because they really want to take a surf lesson the next morning.

Plan ahead

If you’re coming here to engage in physical activities it’s better to be safe than sorry. The best way of ensuring you’ll be okay if anything happens is to either get good travel insurance or by checking your personal health insurance will cover any accidents you may have.

Anyone in need of Paradise Medical Services on 2682 0942. For out of hours emergencies call 8865 7892.

Wrote down all the tips? Now you are ready to start planning your adventures!

One thought on “Safety tips for your Nosara vacation

  1. SANA says:

    Heat stroke. Always carry water with you. And wear a hat too.

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