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Adventure

Costa Rica: Inspiring your next yachting adventure

Continuing Ocean independence’s mission to offer unsurpassed yachting experiences around the globe, we explore Costa Rica with Senior Charter Manager Daphne d’Offay.

A boots-on-the-ground trip to this tropical paradise reveals just why its protected jungle, remote beaches, rugged volcanoes, and vivid wildlife can only be fully appreciated from the water.

 If you’re looking for an only-by-yacht tropical escape, Costa Rica needs to be near the top of your list. This small gem of a country, tucked away in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, is sparking the interest of many in the superyacht charter market.

Despite being less than half the size of England (51,000 sq km), Costa Rica is home to a staggering array of wildlife. This density of natural life (615 species for every 10,000 sq km) is the greatest anywhere on earth. Its thriving rainforests and sprawling coastlines offer a unique appeal for those with a spirit for adventure.

However, the country’s wilderness is certainly not for everyone. With the tropical heat, insect dense jungle, and challenging terrain, Daphne notes, "visiting requires a bit of stamina, especially if you want to immerse yourself in all the activities the jungle has on offer. Some on our trip found it more rugged than anticipated, and to truly enjoy the rainforest's offerings, being properly prepared helps."

Speaking candidly about her experience, she added “the beauty of this destination is precisely because it is not for everyone. Visiting by yacht broadens the whole experience far more than if exploring solely by land.” While most who visit are subject to bouncing along rugged tracks in 4X4s and taking on sweaty jungle treks to get anywhere near the best spots, a well-equipped yacht and tender can comfortably deliver guests to the best drop off points in the thick of the action.

Immersed in mother nature

Situated on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, Marina Bahia in Golfito stands as the premier destination for discerning clientele visiting the remote southern reaches of Costa Rica. A luxury beachfront resort, still under development and superyacht marina boasting 45 slips accommodating yachts from 40 to 350 feet, Daphne was invited to stay at this resort during her visit and emphasised that "it's incredibly well-equipped for yachts and their crew – the kind of place they'd want to return."

However, she is quick to make an essential clarification for charterers more acquainted with the pristine blue waters of the Caribbean. "One shouldn't expect the typical crystal-clear Caribbean waters fringed by white beaches specifically in this southern region. The presence of freshwater runoff from the surrounding rainforest, particularly during the rainy season, gives most of the waters a unique emerald-green tint."

Daphne D'Offay Costa Rica Fam Trip
Costa Rica beachfront resort
Costa Rica sunset

Golfito bay is a “gulf within a gulf”. The marina is in the sheltered Golfito Bay, itself nestled within the more expansive Golfo Dulce or 'Sweet Bay’ - a nod to its unique waters. As Daphne elaborates, "It's where the 'Sweetwater' from the rainforest runoff merges with the ocean's saltwater. The mix of the two creates the 'Sweet Bay'."

The area's geographical significance doesn't end there. "Golfito is adjacent to the Osa peninsula, with the Corcovado reserve and rainforest right on their doorstep. A corridor connects the two landmasses and it's reassuring to see 500,000 acres protected in that corridor to curtail development, as the local wildlife uses this area to transit between the two landmasses”, Daphne observes.

Aside from the luxury amenities and stunning location at Marina Golfito, this thriving wildlife has solidified Golfito’s position on the luxury yachting map. Daphne recalls "by pure chance, while in the bay, we came across a pod of 100 dolphins and even had the opportunity to swim alongside them. Being an unplanned encounter, it was a stark testament to the region's abundant wildlife.”

Regulations for yacht charters in Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers those visiting by yacht relatively few restrictions. "For yachts looking to charter," Daphne explains, "there's just one main step: securing a charter licence. The marina offers a service to take care of this, leaving only some basic paperwork to complete." There is also a small charter tax involved, standing at 2.5%.

However, Daphne emphasises Costa Rica's silent expectation. “It’s paramount, that our adventures and interactions here, on and off the yacht, honour the surrounding nature.” Those seeking the water sports thrills and glitzy beachside restaurants characteristic of Caribbean Charters may find themselves adjusting their compass.

In Costa Rica, luxury lies in its natural allure. From swimming alongside spinner dolphins and sea turtles, to spotting toucans and sloths from secluded beaches, kayaking amidst the mangroves, and humpback whale watching off the Osa Peninsula; cruising in Costa Rica is to immerse yourself in mother nature’s very best, and discover a profound respect for your surroundings.

For the thrill seekers surfing off the Osa Peninsula is a must. “It's a hotspot for big wave surfing on its Pacific side,” Daphne points out. And if you’re considering an on-land break, the area's eco-lodges are worth the detour. “Anchor your yacht in the bay, then head to a beach-side eco-lodge. Spending a few nights, coupled with surfing sessions, farm to table dining, and a local guide to fishing would be a treat for many.” With surfing instructors available at most lodges, it's a haven whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

Costa Rica

MISCONCEPTIONS

While Costa Rica may be a familiar name on the travel circuit, its true appeal, especially for luxury superyacht charters, remains wrapped in a few misconceptions. Daphne sheds light on these, starting with the country's climate. "There's a common belief that you should visit only during the high season. Yet, my off-season visit proved that Costa Rica is suitable all year round.

With steady temperatures year-round, ranging from 25-30°C (77-86°F), even the rainier months like May to October offer a warm and inviting climate. “We had one day of heavy rain, the rest of our stay the weather was perfect."

Another common oversight is the alleged difficulty for superyachts to get to Costa Rica. "While it's true that it isn't a traditional yacht hub with numerous permanent berths, getting there from the Caribbean or the US West Coast isn't complicated at all," Daphne clarifies. Using KNIGHT, a 50m Heesen as an example, "the Owner took her down to Costa Rica earlier this year and plans to return soon after a stint in French Polynesia."

Lastly, she tackles the suitability of the destination for family charters. "While in the south, activities like zip-lining, diving, and horseback riding are ideal for families with tweens and teens. The northern region, with its pristine beaches and luxury resorts is also welcoming for families with younger kids."

 

Surprises about Costa Rica

One of the first things Daphne noticed about Costa Rica was the genuine warmth of the locals. "The people here are incredibly authentic," she observed. "It's easy to tell when a smile is just for show, but in Costa Rica, the happiness felt real." As someone who’s travelled extensively, Daphne is confident in her ability to differentiate between genuine interactions and rehearsed courtesy.  For her, the locals in Costa Rica stood out as some of the most genuinely happy she's met.

The practicalities of travelling to Costa Rica also left a positive impression. Landing in San Jose, even on a commercial flight like JetBlue, Daphne and her group were greeted with a VIP experience that made customs a breeze. "I was pleasantly surprised by how close the smaller airport was for our connecting flight. It was so nearby, we felt like we could have walked. This ease of transfer, without the usual rush and fuss, was a refreshing change.”

And when it came to navigating between peninsulas and across the Gulf by boat, “we sometimes had to disembark without a dock, stepping directly into the water. For me this only adds to the adventure, and people that are going to this sort of destination, they don't mind getting their feet wet. They are there to explore.”

preparation

Costa Rica’s south sits in blissful isolation. Away from the main settlements, many essentials can be hard to come by, making preparation for a visit all the more important. "Selecting the right attire and equipment is crucial to an enjoyable charter.”

Opt for versatile clothing like loose-fitting pants that can unzip into shorts, ideally made of materials that dry quickly and pack useful accessories like a clip-on water bottle. This ensures comfort and convenience, especially when embarking on spontaneous adventures off the yacht.

“Wildlife enthusiasts,” Daphne believes, “will find a pair of binoculars essential.” The richness of Costa Rican wildlife is unparalleled. While a yacht will inevitably have a pair on board, having your own to hand means you won’t miss that magical moment a whale unexpectedly breaches in the distance, or your guide spots a troop of capuchin monkeys in the canopy above.”

As for exploration on foot, Daphne advises, "whether you're scaling active volcanoes or exploring the dense rainforest undergrowth, invest in a good pair of walking shoes, they make all the difference."

Costa Rica

If you are interested in a Costa Rica yacht charter please don’t hesitate to enquire below. Alternatively, view a charter itinerary for inspiration as well as the yachts available for charter in Costa Rica here.

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