Sea kayaking in Costa Rica

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of December 12-18, 1996
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Last-minute stays in Sun Valley
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Sea kayaking in Costa Rica

Sea kayaking in Costa Rica
Question: I'm going to Costa Rica for 11 days in mid-December. My main goals are to sea kayak, surf and windsurf, hike and camp in national forests, snorkel and scuba dive. I have good tips for all these activities except sea kayaking. What's the best spot for this?

David Fowler
Malibu, CA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Since I'm not sure where else in Costa Rica you'll be, I'll give you a few kayaking suggestions that cover a good bit of ground. Farthest afield are the kayak-friendly waters of the Golfo Duce on the eastern shore of the Osa Peninsula, 90 miles southwest of San José. Limited access--a once-daily puddle-jumper to Puerto Jiménez ($50 on Sansa, 011-506-233-0397) is your best bet--means quiet, crowd-free beaches, unspoiled rainforest, and low-key adventure options. Take your pick of flatwater paddling along the upper Gulf's serrated shoreline or open-water wave-riding at the mouth of the Pacific. Escondido Trex runs single- and multi-day kayak camping trips in the Gulf starting at $85 for a full-day trip. Stop by their office near the bar in Puerto Jiménez's Restaurante Carolina or fax them at 011-506-735-5210. Bring snorkeling gear and keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles; if the waters are calm enough, try shooting through the Matapalo Arch, a curving rock at the southern tip of the peninsula.

On your own, camping is best along the beach near Puerto Jiménez or, if you're looking to splurge, head 45 minutes south to Lapa Rios, a plush rainforest lodge on the bottom of the peninsula. Rooms go for $146 per person per night and there's excellent sea kayaking right off the beach. Call 011-506-735-5130 for more information. If you can't make the trek to the Osa, consider paddling the remote Playa Quesar in the Gulf of Nicoya or the waters off Manuel Antonio National Park, both of which are relatively close to San José on the Pacific Coast. Chicago-based Costa Rica Experts runs guided trips to both areas, with a four-day camping trip off Curu National Wildlife Refuge in the Gulf of Nicoya ($600 per person) and a one-day tour of the Isla Damas Estuary, near Manuel Antonio ($65 per person). They also design a custom trip for individuals and groups, so a call to them at 800-827-9046 would be well worth your while. For more details on the untamed Osa, check out "The Last Best Peninsula" in the Destinations section of Outside magazine's November 1996 issue.

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