Thursday, March 25, 2010

Water safety in the ocean

Yesterday's photo showed a lifeguard's kayak, and Brattcat of Brattleboro, Vermont Daily Photo left a comment asking a question about whether the water is safe or dangerous. Here is my answer, and I apologize for its length, but I wanted to be thorough.

As you see in this photo, swimmers in Tamarindo have the ability to choose whether they want large or small waves. There is an island and a reef at the southern end of the bay that shelters the waters and makes the waves small. That is why there are boats moored in the southern part of the bay, which is shown in this photo. The boats and swimmers are protected from the ocean waves.

At the northern part of the beach, the ocean waves roll in. That area is popular with surfers. Just beyond Tamarindo beach is Tamarindo estuary, which I have shown in the past, and across the estuary is Playa Grande, where the leatherback turtles nest. When the tide is going out, swimmers should not go into the mouth of the estuary north of Tamarindo beach because the tidal current flows out of the estuary into the ocean.

Tragically, a swimmer disappeared in Tamarindo 6 months ago. He was a British journalist who left his hotel by himself on his first morning in Tamarindo in his swim suit to go to the beach, and was never seen again. His wallet and valuables were in his hotel room and people think that he drowned in the ocean. A large search effort was mounted and his friends and relatives have quite understandably generated a lot of publicity to see if anyone saw him before he disappeared.

I don't know why, but the news media or others sometimes will exaggerate or distort reports involving the safety of foreigners in developing countries. After the disappearance of the British tourist in Tamarindo, there have been news articles and internet postings about the disappearance of foreigners in Tamarindo. Besides the British swimmer, the articles talk about a hiker who disappeared in Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which is 90 minutes away from Tamarindo, and another tourist who was lost at a small beach town hours south of Tamarindo.

These other incidents, although tragic, have nothing to do with Tamarindo, but now even the Wikipedia entry for Tamarindo has a large heading and prominent discussion about the alleged disappearances of tourists in Tamarindo. This is about as accurate as saying, for example, that Monterey, California is unsafe for tourists because a hiker disappeared in Yosemite and another tourist disappeared in San Francisco, or that Palm Beach is unsafe because someone was lost in the Everglades and another person was lost in the Florida Keys. For Europeans, it would be like saying Nice, France is unsafe because someone disappeared in Marseilles and a hiker was lost in Grenoble.

I have always felt very safe in Tamarindo, both in the water, on walk along the beach or in the forests, or in town. My wife has gone to Tamarindo with our friend, Sharon (of Phoenix Daily Photo) by themselves and they felt perfectly safe walking back to Langosta after dinner at night, and doing a full range of activities.

This week on Viva la Voyage we are showing photos of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in Australia.

8 comments:

Steffe said...

That's the media for you!


Very tragic with the journalist.

Marie said...

Your photo makes me want to be there :-))) I am not afraid (I have read your post - I think journalists often exaggerate).

brattcat said...

Thank you for this excellent answer, Dave. I agree, the press has plenty of room for improvement.

Rambling Round said...

That explains it! Nice to have a choice of the little waves over the big waves.

Sharon said...

I can certainly vouch for David's words. In fact, walking at night was a real pleasure.

Julie ScottsdaleDailyPhoto.com said...

it is very safe to walk around and swim around except I would be cautious of being in the water as high tide rolls in as the water is very strong during that time period. For swimming the estuary is very calm with no waves.

glenda said...

I will have to add my feeling of safety at being in Tamirindo, whether it was walking to dinner in the evening, walking along the beach, swimming in the ocean, or shopping by myself in town. Tourist need to be responsible for checking out the tide etc. where ever they are in a place they have not been before.

Lois said...

It is tragic when something like that happens and too bad it gets blown out of proportion. I'm sure it is safe and hopefully most people will realize that. It would not bother me!

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