Sea Kayaking in Costa Rica is unique, at least for us northerners… Warm water, ocean swell, exotic animals, and fun-loving culture. Costa Rica has interesting laws too, which allow you to camp on just about any beach you choose.
The trips I have done take place around the northwest tip of the Nicoya peninsula, which offers paddlers the choice of everything from quiet bays to turbulent open ocean. The diversity of this area allows you to vary the paddling route to accommodate all paddling skill levels.
On our last trip we put in near Paquera, and paddled south. As you roam through these channels you start to notice the current more and more, and in the narrow sections it can get quite fast. We planned our route to take advantage of the tides as much as possible, and when we couldn’t, we stuck near the shore and used the eddies like an otter; short sprints through the current then back to an eddy, short sprint through the current, and onward.
Our first day was a bit of a late start so we got to the nearest island bay and camped in our hammocks near a cobble beach. It was fun to see the nightlife (Crabs, fish, etc) by headlamp.
In the morning we took off to an island where we heard there were spider monkeys. After crossing a channel with some stiff current we arrived on the island and within 5 minutes the monkeys were in our boats, looking for food. They must get served by the local fishermen…
The next day was a great exploration of both Costa Rican tourist culture (beautiful beach but lots of people) and a nice snorkel spot. Within a couple of miles we landed on a pristine beach cared for by the resident nature preserve. We decided to stay in a bungalow for the night and change seeing a crocodile in the river around dusk. I’ve been to a river in Costa Rica that had LOTS of Crocs, some up to 15 feet long. This river boasted some nice smaller ones, with howler monkeys and other small mammals scuffling through the underbrush. I find that Twilight is always amazing in the woods, and Costa Rica doesn’t disappoint. What we thought were Monkeys screaming at us one evening were actually Coatimundi, a Racoon-like mammal that is thought to be the protector of the forest.
Our return paddle had us challenged with some waves and current, and some great fishing from the kayaks.
All in all a great place for sea kayakers of all abilities, who like the addition of culture and natural history in every stroke.
Greg is the head guide for Lost Creek’s Costa Rica Kayak Trips.