What! No hot water? No cold water?

Please see why you should come and visit Costa Rica

Created: prior to 2018

I live in a place (Alberta Canada) where the ground water temperature ranges between 4 and 8C (40 to 47 for my American friends) so our tap water is that temperature unless we run it through our heater.

In many places in Guanacaste, including our vacation rental units near Samara and Nosara, you will not find ‘hot water’ and ‘cold water’ from the taps. You get ‘ambient temperature’ water out of both. Because of the warm ambient temperature all year around, this makes for a very slightly cool shower most days (a little warmer in the dry season). Quite refreshing even in the wet/green season.

However, in other places they will have ‘hot water’. The water heaters sold, both electrical and solar are often not thermostatically controlled, or if they are, it is set as high as they can set it, either by humans or by malfunction.

As a result, when there is hot water, the water can be dangerously hot, be careful with the ‘hot’ water. You can be badly burned at those places.

Some sellers of solar panels even warn that you must make sure you use the hot water, or let it run slowly when it is sunny, to prevent boiling inside the system, because it just keeps heating and heating until the sun goes away and if the water starts to boil in the unit …

In Guanacaste, one of the other problems is, you can buy a hot water heater, but after a couple years, because the ambient temperature is so high, combined with the heat from the heater, the electronics fuse and the heater either stops heating or it just keeps heating and heating until it catches on fire. As a result of this second risk, most with heaters end up turning them off for safety, and just use the tank to help moderate the ‘ambient’ temperature.

So, if you are in a place with hot water, be very careful, if you are most of the rest of the places … enjoy the experience, after a couple days you won’t even notice the lack of ‘hot’ water in the shower and sinks. Though it took me longer to get used to not being able to get ‘ice cold water’ from the tap – having to put jugs of water in the fridge to cool the water down.

In San Jose, I found the water to be colder – because the ambient temperature is lower, so I took quick showers. But to be fair, you are more likely to find hot water tanks/systems in the Central Valley because of this very reason, but don’t assume all places you go will have ‘hot’ water.

On the cold water front, as mentioned a couple times above I come from a part of the world where the water out of the cold tap is around 4 degrees Celsius (40F), a temperature most of us find ‘very refreshingly cold.’ I understand that other parts of the world don’t expect the cold water to be ‘cold’. Interesting side note: The cold water setting on washing machines and the ‘cold water’ detergent doesn’t work in my part of the world. I read an article that said it is because ‘cold’ water in most of the USA is not nearly as cold as our water in Calgary, and the detergent isn’t designed for what we call ‘cold’ water but rather what we call ‘luke warm’ water. Anyway I digress … the water temperature in Guanacaste Costa Rica is ‘warm’ and works well for washing all sorts of clothing.

Fortunately, the water all throughout the country is great for drinking. It varies in calcium and mineral levels – but that is usually more a personal preference and based on what you are used to than a health issue.


  • If you want hot water: You boil it and make your tea or coffee.
  • If you want cold water to drink: Put it in a jug and put it in the fridge or freezer to cool it off, or get used to drinking room temperature drinks like they do in Europe

    • fruit juices have more flavor when they are room temperature than when they are cold. But I know, most people from Canada and the USA don’t like to drink room temperature drinks especially water, soft drinks/pop/soda and beer, so go with the tips above.