Costa Rica, translating to “rich coast,” has long been considered one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. With a focus on sustainable development and eco-conscious tourism, the country is divided into 20 natural parks and eight biological reserves. Thousands of migratory species travel 20,000 miles annually to make Costa Rica their seasonal home. Paramares S.A. creates tailored megayacht charters to Costa Rica and supports vessels throughout their journey. Paramares’ owner, Ernesto Andrade Conejo, spoke to our editorial partner Yachting Pages about how to responsibly enjoy this beautiful and bio-diverse country.
Sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica covers only 0.03 percent of the earth’s landmass, but five percent of its biodiversity. It draws wildlife enthusiasts, adventure lovers, and affluent style-conscious travelers to its azure shores.
Costa Rica has a number of large marinas. It’s been popular with megayachts and sportfishermen for the past 12 years. In northern Costa Rica, the deep-water Marina Papagayo offers berths for megayachts up to 220 feet. There’s also a Four Seasons resort and Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole golf course here. The central Los Sueños Marina is one hour from the international airport and is the only government-sanctioned marina operating in Costa Rica. It’s a service port for vessels up to 180 feet. Marina Pez Vela, minutes from the town of Quepos and a national park, can accommodate 200-footers. In southern Costa Rica, Banana Bay Marina is in the calm and tranquil waters of the pristine Golfito Bay and offers berths up to 120 feet.
Marina Papagayo, Marina Pez Vela, and Marina Los Sueños are the only Costa Rican marinas authorized by the government to offer two-year cruising permission for megayachts, sportfishermen, and sailboats without paid taxes.
Isla del Coco, Isla del Caño, and Islas Murcielagos are nature reserves and therefore have a no-landing policy. Visitors are welcome to cruise offshore, observing and photographing the array of wildlife on land. However, scuba diving and access to the islands themselves are prohibited without official permission from MINAET of Costa Rica.
Cruising Costa Rica is easy. Weather during the rainy season in June and July may affect sailing, but only a minor hindrance. The “dry season” runs from December to May, with March offering the most favorable conditions to visit Costa Rica. Temperatures differ only slightly between summer and winter.
Costa Rica highlights
Begin your Costa Rica charter in Peninsular Papagayo, just a 20-minute limo ride from the international airport. Explore the host of secluded beaches along the coast, including Playa Huevos, Golfo de Santa Elena, and Salinas Bay. Witness humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and leatherback turtles suracing close to shore. Ask your captain to drop anchor in one of the peaceful bays overnight. Or, make your way to Marina Papagayo, and spend the night in the luxurious Four Seasons resort.
Costa Rica is a beach lovers’ dream. Make your way down the coast to the Nicoya Peninsula (second photo from top). It offers a number of deserted beaches, including Montezuma. Difficult to access without a tender, the endless miles of beaches offer some of the country’s best surfing and kayaking opportunities. For more activity, Costa Rica offers some of the best sportfishing in the world. Sailfish, marlin, wahoo, roosterfish, and snapper are popular.
Take a private helicopter flight to Arenal Volcano National Park and witness the mighty 5,357-foot volcano (above) towering above the landscape. Until recently, Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano, spewing ash and lava on a daily basis. While still active, it’s entered an indeterminate resting phase. There’s much more to see and do here, including rainforest canopy walks, whitewater rafting, and relaxing in the volcano-heated hot springs.
Animal lovers should stop at Manuel Antonio National Park. Internationally recognized as being one of the world’s most bio-diverse nature parks, it’s home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Some of the most-viewed residents are howler monkeys, iguanas, and the two-toed sloth. Drop anchor in Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, which is also the only marina in Costa Rica with a travel lift.
Farther south, Osa Peninsula is a primitive paradise of rainforests, howler monkeys, and deserted beaches. It’s home to Drake Bay, famous for the Ridley sea turtles, which venture ashore to lay their eggs. Drake bay is also famous for the migration of humpback whales between August and March and bottlenose and spotted dolphins. For thrill-seekers who want to get up close to the abundant wildlife, the biological reserve of Isla del Caño lies off the Osa Peninsula coast. Here, guests can enjoy snorkeling and diving with sea turtles, dolphins, and whales.
Inarguably the main highlight of Costa Rica is Cocos Island National Park, described by explorer Jacques Cousteau as “the most beautiful island in the world.” Located about 342 miles off the Pacific coast, it’s the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a rainforest. It boasts numerous plants and animals and is renowned amongst divers. They rate it as one of the best places to view large pelagic species such as sharks, rays, tuna, and dolphins.