Check out this new Costa Rica Fishing video at Crocodile Bay Resort by Jimmy Nelson and Extreme Fishing Destinations!
Check out this new Costa Rica Fishing video at Crocodile Bay Resort by Jimmy Nelson and Extreme Fishing Destinations!
I have always liked Christmas week here at Crocodile Bay because the place fills up with families. I get a real charge out of seeing or hearing about a youngster’s first really big catch. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Mike and Rachel Cembalest from New York brought their boys, Max, Will, and Peter over the holiday. Max had recently had back surgery and was thrilled when the doctor finally gave him the ok to go deep sea fishing just in time for the trip. They didn’t have a good day offshore but caught a boatload of inshore species. They decided to give offshore another try but all the boats were already booked.
Rachel Cembalest poses with a stripped marlin
The Cembalest Family Squeezes together in for a great Sailfish
Shot – Mom must be taking the photo!
Fellow New Yorker and Croc customer for nearly a decade Mike Pizzi and his wife Ann offered to give up their boat so the Cembalest’s could take the boys out again. The boys returned to the dock with 4 sailfish and a striped marlin release on their scorecard. “They caught your marlin” I poked at Pizzi who has had great catches over the years here, but at times I think he uses black cats for teasers.
Anne Pizzi Steals another Marlin from Husband Mike
Well they say good deeds pays dividends. In this case it was really true. The next day Ann caught two marlin, one at 350 pounds and another at 250 pounds and was back at the dock two hours early to visit our spa and work some of the stiffness out of her muscles.
There really are too many families that were here to not forget someone, but the Mundt, Bahl, Shore/Plavic, Garrison, Mase, and Proefke are just to name a few. Phil Bush and Terry Fisher led a group from Cummins Motors.
Nearly someone from each family took a marlin and a few sails. Hugh and Rowan Plavic brought in a couple of nice wahoo on Christmas that made some folks stay away from the turkey and stuffing. Remember the names, Anthony and J.J. Mase. The two youngsters had a hay day inshore fishing and in about a decade I predict they will both be pitching in the major leagues.
Lots of marlin have been around, not biting everyday but they are here. Don Bradley hooked two in one day on a fly rod and landed one on conventional tackle yesterday. The dorado hasn’t made a good as of yet but usually bite well up into February so there is still hope. A few more sails will be working into the area as we approach peak season.
Inshore Aristides Romero has been catching big sierra mackerel just around the corner from the lodge and smaller size snapper. Mike Bailey from Toronto did manage a 35 lb cubera snapper on a popper.
Anthony and JJ on the dock with some nice amberjack!
Todd Staley, Crocodile Bay Lodge
Costa Rica Sport Fishing Vacations at Crocodile Bay Resort
Crocodile Bay Costa Rica
Fishing Report December 14th, 2010
by Todd Staley
To Book Your Dream Costa Rica Fishing Vacation visit www.crocodilebay.com/reserve.htm
My day starts at 4:00 am. This morning I saw something that I have not seen in a long time, a sky full of stars. If you live near a big city you can’t image what’s up there, but in a small town or out on the ocean it is unbelievable the beauty of a moonless clear night. It is also a signal that Costa Rican summer has finally arrived.
It looks like someone also told the fish. Offshore the ocean has really come to life. We have seen double digit days on sailfish, the porpoises ran through this week signaling yellowfin tuna were below, and the missing link, dorado began to show. Marlin has also been almost a daily occurrence.
Jimmy Nelson of Extreme Fishing Adventures Fights a 176 lb Tuna at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica. Needless to say we were knee deep in Sushi for the rest of the week….Thanks Jimmy!
Jimmy Nelson, of Extreme Fishing Adventures was down with his film crew, Ben Bateman and Sam Spornhauer. The came across a school of spinner dolphin and managed a couple of 20 lb yellowfin tuna when Jimmy decided to see if they would eat a popper. On the first case a big yellowfin came completely out of the water and crashed down on top of the lure that he through with 20 lb spinning gear. It was certainly an “Extreme” site to see as well as was the battled that follow. For every minute you have a big fish on the line the odds of losing it go up. Nelson took his time on the light gear and 4 hours and 12 minutes later he had a 160 lb tuna onboard and was ready for a trip to the spa. Father and son team Dan and Don Ballard also got a 100 lb fish out of the same school.
There have been too many marlin taken lately to list without forgetting someone. Greg Boyer’s, Dave Garlow’s, and Steve Wilcox’s groups were some that got in the action. Most of the fish were in the 150 to 400 lb range. Steve Wilcox’s trip was especially rewarding because it was like a repeat of his childhood when his father took him to Mexico where he caught his first marlin. Steve’s son Aaron took his first billfish here and also took a 55 lb monster dorado as well as contributed many of the photo’s in this report.
Marlin have been making daily appearances at Crocodile Bay
Aaron Wilcox poses with a beautiful bull dorado- easy to see how this fish got its name!
Ian Davis from Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures was down and got into the tuna action with a fly rod. He also left our webmaster Will Briegel with a library full of great photos.
The Yellow Dog Fly Fishing crue dueled some of the gulfs most sought after species as well as a variety of other inshore and offshore beasts.
To Book Your Dream Costa Rica Fishing Vacation visit www.crocodilebay.com/reserve.htm
Time to enjoy some of that tuna at the Crocodile Bay Bar! Thanks Anglers!
Inshore has yet to turn on really strong although Caroline Zargony took a couple of nice roosters to 45 lbs. Amberjacks and smaller tuna have kept deep Jiggers busy lately as well as big sier
To Book Your Dream Costa Rica Fishing Vacation visit www.crocodilebay.com/reserve.htm
Hope your Thanksgiving is full of turkey and football and thoughts of fishing in a warmer climate. George and Neil Henshaw traveled all the way from England to spend a week with us.
They got a taste of just about everything we have to offer in the
offshore and inshore waters near the resort. Marlin, sailfish, tuna,
dorado, roosterfish and an array of other inshore species. The
following pictures from the cobalt ocean and the emerald coastline is
an example of what is in store this season.
Costa Rica Fishing Report- November 16, 2010
I am usually pretty good at predictions when it comes to fishing Cand
that is why I don’t have much trouble going out on a limb once in a
while. When I said the season was going to start out red hot or you
could slap me in the face I was pretty sure I would go un-bruised.
Well fortunately the only thing to slap me was Hurricane Tomas. Maybe Ishould study meteorology when it comes to predictions. There were more storms churning across the Caribbean this year than have been seen in a long time. Here we don’t get the powerful winds but if the storm is big enough the outer bands will dump water on us enough to think about building an ark.
That is exactly what happened at the beginning of the season. Tons of
water fell. Silt slushed out of the rivers and the fish went into hiding.
We did have some good days amongst all the bad weather. Many dorado up to 40 lbs came in for a several days, a few sails made some drag washers sing and the spinner dolphin came through and a boat load of 20 to 40 lb yellow fin tuna were caught. Inshore the roosters pleased guests in the patches of clean water, but the snapper decided to stay in their bunkers.
As I write this the sun is shining brightly, the professional weather
predictors are saying the normal weather patterns have returned and I am busy study up on atmospheric changes.
Jigging and popping at Crocodile Bay Resort
If you love the sensation having a jigging rod almost ripped from your hands as a big fish inhales your butterfly jig, or the thrill of watching a tuna crush your popper, leaving a hole in the water where your lure used to be, then Crocodile Bay is the place for you.
The Gulf of Dulce, and it’s surrounding waters offers some great opportunities to catch fish both jigging and on poppers. If jigging is your passion, we have some deep structure that hold Amberjack, Cubera Snapper, African Pompano, yellowfin Tuna, Roosterfish, Grouper, Trevally, Jacks and a host of other tropical fighters. It’s not just the thrill of the strike, the challenge of keeping the fish out of the Rocks, or feeling every head shake through the braided line. It’s the simple fact that there are such a variety of fish down there, that you often don’t know what you have on the line, until you see it. It’s not uncommon to catch six or eight different species in a single spot.
For the popping enthusiast, you have many options both inshore or offshore. Working the beach and shallow reefs can produce a mixed bag, including Roosters, Jacks, Snappers, Mackerel, Barracuda, Dorado, and Trevally. Over some of the the deeper structure, you can find “floating Snappers”, or snappers that have come off the bottom and are holding close to the surface, as well as Jacks, Roosters, Barracuda and Dorado. Big Cubera Snappers will come up from one hundred feet or more to hit a popper. When they do, it is an awesome explosion of an angry, red fish and white water.
Offshore also, holds some great opportunities for the popper fanatic. Trolling offshore, we often find floating debris, such as logs, branches, pallets, or just about anything else that floats. These floating objects, attract baitfish. Offering a place to hide, in otherwise deep and structureless water. This bait, then attracts gamefish such as Dorado, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin. Usually, one pass with the trolling lures, will tell you what fish are holing on the structure. Find one that is loaded with Dorado, and you can stop and have a field day with a popper. It is not uncommon to have two or three fish hooked at once, with a dozen or more swimming around the boat.
If a big fight is what you are looking for, then Tuna is your game. We catch some very big Yellowfin Tuna here, and they will readily take a popper. It is a little bit different fishing, then what some anglers are accustomed to. We rarely see Tuna breaking on their own here. The big Tuna we catch, are always in with schools of Dolfin. Tuna run with Dolphin, such as spotted or spinner Dolphin that use echo location to find bait. Once the Dolphin locate the bait, the Tuna move in and feed with the Dolphin.
When we find a school of Dolphin, we position the boat in front of the them, and let the school come to us. When you see breaking Tuna, cast to them. It is possible to cast to hundred plus pound fish breaking right in front of you. But be careful, you never know when that two hundred pounder, is going to come out of the fray and take your popper.
Jigging and popping have become very popular in recent years. With the advent or braided lines, stronger reels, lighter, more powerful rods and better hooks, the sport has grown. Anglers now push the bounds of what is possible with spinning and light conventional tackle. For the experienced pro, we offer a variety of species to add to one’s life list, as well as a shot at a trophy. For the beginner, we’re more than happy to introduce you to the sport, and offer an excellent environment to begin honing ones skills.
Captain Allan Smith
For More Information visit: www.crocodilebay.com
or Click to Reserve your Costa Rica Fishing Vacation Today!
Ok, so you’re all jazzed up about catching a sail fish on the fly rod in Costa Rica. Or you might just want to try conventional fishing for sails, marlin, tuna, dorado and rooster fish..
I highly recommend it sooner than later.
As we all know FISHING = MONEY and it all boils down to that equation. .
Most equate fishing money with expendable income. Try looking at it this way:
“To me It’s a necessity“ Go ahead admit it. Fishing does things for you that cannot be compared with fixing the roof, buying the kids the latest hand-held electronic communication device or supplying a new 2012 survival shelter.
For the past 11 years I have watched the current state of world economic affairs in regards to sport fishing as an offshore fishing captain here in Costa Rica for Crocodile Bay Resort and for close to 30 years as a guide in Alaska.
I still say do it now as apposed to later and I’ll tell you why.
In these past few years all those around us swore and still swear that we will all be begging for food long before the Mayan’s doom-laden prediction that the end of the world will occur in 2012..
I have observed and noted during these past few years that almost all of my clients talk about how THESE things are affecting them. I don’t raise the subject because the last thing I want to talk about on my boat is your work. I’d rather talk world wide fishing. But inevitably someone does brooch the subject of world economic events and I can’t help but put in my twenty cents… accounting for inflation that is.
Most of them including myself are of the well thought out and discussed opinion that all of the people who can afford a trip outside their normal circle of fishing zones and have ventured to do so in the past three years or so, have had the same mental philosophy…
I’ll delete the expletives and keep in mind that we are all fishers after all is said and done, but to put it into a nut shell… They all have the mind set that either it isn’t as bad as the powers to be would lead you to believe or that even if it is and will get worse that now is the time to enjoy some of your hard earned money to treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting to do for who-knows-how-long.
Most have said that after looking at their current state of affairs that they decided now is the time. After all, if all turns to fecal matter I did what I wanted to do and I’ll never have to say I wish I had when I had the chance.
Further more: What if the Mayans were right? In a year or so the fish could be catching us..
Do you think that if you stood on the street with a sign that read “Will Work For Sail Fishing Money” that anybody would donate? Hell no. Those that still have it will be taking this advice to heart and going fishing in Costa Rica to catch a sailfish on a fly rod or roosterfish using bait the size of the fish they are now catching from the pond next to the golf course.
I not only learned from my father about learning from other’s mistakes but to also learn from their successes.
So follow the advice of not only me but the approximately 1,242 people I’ve taken fishing in the past 4 years despite the price of oil, the stock market, the housing collapse and the heartbreak of psoriasis. “When all else fails, go fishing.”
Do you need help forming a fishing budget plan acceptable to you and the boss/wife??
Stay tuned for my next missive.
Cappy Will Kitsos
Crocodile Bay Resort
For more information about Costa Rica fishing vacations visit www.crocodilebay.com
Crocodile Bay Resort
Costa Rica Fishing Report – September 2010
by Todd Staley
November & December Costa Rica Fishing Forecast!
We are just two months out from opening our doors for the 2010-2011 costa rica fishing season at Crocodile Bay Resort.
It seems like a long time off but will sneak up on us before we know it. Our crews are staying busy preparing boats, working on the pier and giving the resort some TLC before we open our doors to anglers worldwide.
November / December Fishing Forecast
My prediction and you can smack me if I’m wrong is that the first two months of the fishing season are going to go off like fireworks for a couple of reasons. First of all, the bad child, “El Nino” has headed for the hills. This occasional climate cycle causes the ocean to warm to bath water and prohibits the other natural cycles that moves the billfish into pockets each year, one of them being right in our backyard.
The water temps are right and as we open in November the big schools of dorado (dolphin fish pictured below) will be here already. These fish average 20 to 40 lbs and behind them looking to munch a few will be blue marlin.
November, December are historically two of our best marlin months. The large numbers of sailfish won’t arrive till late December but with the water temperatures down, I expect more than the usual number of sails to arrive to town early.
They have had some very good days fishing sails recently so there is a population that has already moved into the area. December also brings football size tuna, another type of munchies for marlin. If a blue marlin is on your bucket list, November and December is on the best times to visit southern Costa Rica.
The Golfo Dulce Becomes the Largest Marine Area of Responsible Fishing in Central America
Crocodile Bay Resort sits on one of the few tropical fjords in the world. The entire gulf as of June 12th, became the largest MARF in all of Central America. How did that happen? Well no good divorce lawyer would want you to know but what every family counselor in world would advocate, you get everyone involved sitting at the same table talking things out. Dad, mom, the kids, the dog and cat with the goldfish sitting on the table talking about their wants, needs, and frustrations. That is exactly what happened.
Satellite Image of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce
The small scale commercial fishing Federation (FENOPEA) sat down with the National Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT), the local tourist fishing association (APTC) , INCOPESCA, the Costa Rican governing agency of all fishing laws, and the shrimping industry. Everyone discussed their groups personal well being as well as the future of the Golfo Dulce.
The process took over a year to complete and the inshore fishery inside the gulf has already seen spectacular results. The first to go, were the shrimp boats. They signed an agreement to quit trawling inside the gulf and left last September. It is a know fact that for every pound of shrimp they catch, they also catch 10 lbs of bycatch (small fish and other crustaceans) that are discarded.
Some of them would find a reef on the way out of the gulf and dump there bycatch overboard and when the snapper came up to feed, they would drag their net and take a mother load of snapper with them, though totally illegal.
Last season we saw an immediate change and had the best snapper fishing we had seen in 11 years of operation. It was to the point where you always got a couple smaller dinner size snapper to eat and the big females could be released.
Next was the gill netters. All but a handful agreed to stop using nets inside the gulf. After much debate and with the assistance provided by those willing to give up the practice, it was decided that no licenses to fish with nets will be renewed and the last license expires in 2012. With less than 10 working now, down 90% from before, the incidental mortality rate in the gulf will is drastically lower.
The Golfo Dulce has been divided in half. In the northern half, small commercial fisherman will only be allowed to fish with hand lines. The other half of the Gulf, short bottom lines will be permitted but must all be used by hand, no equipment to haul lines is allowed.
Groups like Mar Viva have gotten involved to train these fishermen in processing and marketing. Much like organic gardening their product now has a higher value, marketed as sustainable caught. With the success of such a program, the commercial guys will not be tempted to return to old fishing methods.
The local sport fishing people agreed to do their part by replacing all treble hooks on lures to single hooks when fishing inside the gulf. There was resistance from a small group of anglers inside the country that rarely fish the gulf and they produced documents from The Billfish Foundation, and the World Wildlife Foundation stating treble hooks were sustainable.
I read the TBF study, and have searched all over the internet for the WWF study but have yet to find it.
My personal argument and backed by many who use the gulf is we are not dealing with fish that can be held in your hand while the free hand can use a pair of pliers to remove the multiple hooks from a fish. We are dealing with big fish, roosterfish 10 to 60 lbs and the extra time that fish is out of the water while multiple hooks are removed is life threatening to them. This will also save me about a half dozen trips to the hospital each year as my crews while trying to release a big fish caught on treble hooks often end up hooking themselves.
The prohibition did not get written into law but Crocodile Bay and most other fishing operations will be making the switch on a voluntary bases. The Siwash series hook, has proven to have an excellent hook up record when used as a replacement for treble hooks.
The sum of all this is: The inshore fishery, roosterfish, snapper, grouper, trevally, and many more species has always been fair year round. It is about to get great!
We Can Help Your Group Raise Funds for your Organization
In celebration of the recent success in the Golfo Dulce and the amount of volunteer man hours taken to accomplish this we at Crocodile Bay would like to help you raise funds for your favorite organization.
Whether it be a fishing, hunting, conservation or a group that helps people like the like the Scouts, Little League, and more. All are eligible.
If your group is making a difference in this world for nature or the people that live in it, we want to do our part to help you accomplish your goals. Crocodile Bay will donate 10% of any fishing or eco tour package booked direct with us (excluding travel expenses) during the 2010-2011 season to your favorite organization.
Your group must pre-register to participate and a specially designed mail out will be prepared for you to send to your organization. For details, have the leaders of your group contact me at email@example.com with “fundraising” in the subject box
Keep a wet line!
Reserve Your Costa Rica Fishing Vacation at www.crocodilebay.com/reserve.htm
Editors note: Our Fishing Director Todd Staley has twenty years of promoting Fishing tourism, conservation, and sustainable use of marine resources in Costa Rica. He was recently appointed President of FECOPT, The Federation that represents sport fishermen for the entire country of Costa Rica
In affect what that does is remove all nets from the Golfo Dulce. There were nearly 200 net fishermen working the gulf. Most were part time fishermen and many were fishing without licenses. In the agreement reached all small scale fishermen were issued licenses to fish with handlines and they agreed to retire their nets. All small scale commercial fishermen will be required to use at least a #6 size circle hook which will prevent them from catching undersized fish.
In the past many roosterfish that unlike Mexico are a year round residents here, have perished in gill nets. Roosterfish have no commercial value. This agreement which was signed into law will rapidly bring roosterfish stocks in the gulf back to a level unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
Note – Crocodile Bay’s Fishing Director Todd Staley sits on the Executive Board of FECOPT, the National Federation that represents Sport Fishing Associations from all over Costa Rica
For more information about Costa Rica Fishing vacations, visit www.crocodilebay.com/
It is amazing what can happen when people work together and the things that they can accomplish. For years different conservation and fishing groups have had ideas on how the Golfo Dulce, one of the few tropical fjords in the world and home to Crocodile Bay Resort should be managed. The problem is everyone presented different ideas separately and no one really worked together as a team.
If you are planning a Costa Rica fishing vacation with the kids this fall, here is some advice I give all the time. Small children need action and small fish. They do not have the patience or the skill to handle bigger fish. Action is the key to get them hooked on the sport. Take them to a place with lots of small hungry fish. To a small child a small fish pulls like a monster fish.
I have seen to many times Dad take a child here in Costa Rica and the child gets bored trolling and when a marlin or sailfish is hooked, it is too much fish for a child. The only experience the child is left with is watching dad catch a fish. Remember when you take a kid fishing, it is their day not yours, concentrate on them not on your own fishing. You will end up with a fishing partner for life that way, otherwise they will just head back to the video games.
For more information on Costa Rica fishing vacations for the family visit www.crocodilebay.com
Keep a wet line
Director of Fishing
Crocodile Bay Resort
Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
Karen Morgan ended her fishing day early. She walked up to me with a horrified look on her face and said she would have no part of any more fishing on her vacation. “What happened?” I asked.
“We were nearly attacked by a giant tiger shark!” she exclaimed. “It was twice as long as the boat and just as wide, and it came within a foot of us. Our captain said shark.”
A tiger shark is a creature that swims in nearly all oceans of the earth including Costa Rica and has a reputation similar to Attila the Hun, but they do not grow to the dimensions Miss Morgan described. I asked her to tell me what it looked like. “It had a giant head, and brown with spots all over it. It could have swallowed the boat.” she said still trembling.
“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” I teased, stealing the line of Chief Brody, from the famous movie “JAWS.” Then I explained what she had the privilege to witness was the largest and most gentle fish that lives in the ocean, a whale shark. I also explained that tiger sharks do inhabit these waters but she had a much better chance of winning the lottery than bumping into one. I also explained that one of that proportion would certainly be a world record and Costa Rica is famous for world records.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record book keeps records on fish caught throughout the world. Costa Rica has 126 world records. This includes 63 line class records, 34 fly fishing records, 8 junior angler records and 21 all tackle records meaning it is the largest fish ever caught on any sport fishing gear.
Some records have stood the test of time. Manuel Salazar’s 87 lb dolphin fish has been a record for 32 years. Both coasts have the world’s largest snook. The Common snook record taken in Parismina at 53 lbs 12 oz (24.32 kilos) has been in the book since 1978. The Pacific side also has the world’s largest black snook at 57 lbs 12 oz (26.19 kilos) taken near Quepos. Four marlin and three sailfish line class records came from here and also nine billfish fly rod records. Costa Rican snapper found it’s way into the record book thirteen times including all tackle records for Pacific cubera 78 lbs 12 oz (35.72kilos) and Colorado snapper at 24 lbs 1 oz (10.92 kilos).
There are a few fish you’ve probably never heard of that have made their way into the record book from Costa Rican waters. The star studded grouper, the long jaw leatherback, or the hog mullet are not household names. The bigmouth sleeper, something my wife has accused me of being while I rattled the tin on the roof with my snoring is actually a fish in the record book the came from the Rio Sarapique. You can get your own record book or more info at www.igfa.org.
Fish names in Spanish
Dolphin fish – dorado
Snook – robalo
Billfish = picudos
Sailfish – pez vela
Grouper – cabrilla
Mullet – lisa
Todd Staley is the fishing director at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica. For more information or to book your Sport Fishing or Eco Adventure visit www.crocodilebay.com
A Fishermans Dream: The Golfo Dulce, Golfito & Puerto Jimenez
Simply Spectacular: Golfito Puerto Jimenez and The Golfo Dulce of Costa Rica, has something for everyone to be bananas about. Mary South Published: Crocodile Bay Resort – These days, the words Banana Republic are more likely to conjure up an image of neatly stacked chinos and v-neck sweaters than they are a place like Golfito. But when United Fruit built this town on the southwest coast of Costa Rica in 1939, there was nothing here but wilderness and Boruca, the region’s indigenous tribe. Fleeing a rash of banana disease that was sweeping through their Atlantic coast plantations, United Fruit surveyed this deepwater bay sheltered within the Golfo Dulce and found untamed perfection. They built a massive dock, immaculate houses, schools, roads, a hospital—even a bowling alley—and they brought in workers from around the world. Most of all, they brought money and influence to a region that became their virtual fiefdom for nearly half a century. That era ended a long time ago, with the last vestiges of Mama Chiquita (as United Fruit was called by its employees) pulling up stakes in the eighties. They left behind a company town without a company; Golfito is no longer immaculate but it is, once again, wonderfully Costa Rican. At one end of the town, there’s the gritty bustle of mecanicos and pulperias that seem to be fighting to keep their foothold against the rain forest encroaching from the hills above. At the other, United Fruit’s ghost town lingers in what locals call the Zona Americana, adding a partially decayed, colonial charm to an area that feels a little like wild frontier. These houses, once occupied by manageriallevel workers at United Fruit, were built in a style that’s reminiscent of Key West architecture and many have been bought and renovated in recent years. There are plans for a world-class luxury resort and marina to be built in Golfito. Bahia Escondida is still in its infancy, but it has already brought some important improvements to the town, creating a park for local children and expanding the waterfront area with a reclamation project. Also promised is a boardwalk that will connect the American Zone with downtown Golfito. Just beyond the American Zone is the airport, a simple strip cut through the jungle, with an open-air ticket counter. A stone’s throw away is Bar la Pista, a great place to relax with an Imperial while you wait for your flight, or to have lunch after a morning at the teeming Deposito Libre Comercial de Golfito. A large plaza with shops selling all sorts of electronics, appliances, and housewares, this “duty-free” shopping zone was created to bring business to the area after United Fruit left. Shoppers come from all over southern Costa Rica to furnish their homes at prices that are taxed much lower (though not tax-free, as the name implies) than anywhere else. The catch is a complicated ticket system that calls for visitors to buy the day before, which means overnight hotel stays. Ticos (Costa Ricans) know the way to beat the system: Buy your tickets from one of the many locals who make a living reselling tickets outside the Deposito entrance and be prepared to bargain hard. Visitors to the area, however, will have little use for the Deposito. You are in one of the most beautiful places in the world and you may have to resist the urge to stop saying Wow! Golfito is perched at the base of the towering hills of the Piedra Brancas National Park with its Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Golfito (a wildlife refuge), and at the top of the Osa Peninsula, home to the Corcovado National Park. There are paths from town leading up into the rain forest of the Wildlife Refuge and you don’t have to go far to be dazzled. On one short walk I took up to the waterfalls behind La Sirena Hotel, I saw a javelina— which resembles a cross between a boar and a pig, with a bristly coat, thin legs, and tusks—scamper into the brush. In the tall, moist cavern of the falls, a bright blue butterfly— as big as a salad plate!—hovered between the moss-covered wall and the cerulean sky. I felt like I had stepped back into some kind of prehistoric world and then I realized—I had! It was an amazing experience for a traveler who considers herself easy to please but hard to surprise. The rain forests of the area are home to howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white faced capuchins, and squirrel monkeys. Agouties inhabit these parks, as do coatis, sloths, tapirs, brocket deer, poison dart frogs, giant dragonflies and the blasphemous Jesus Christ Lizard (named for its ability to walk on water). Jaguars and ocelots still live here, as do parrots, macaws, and toucans. The truly adventurous can have an unforgettable nature encounter by roughing it with a permit to camp or by staying at Sirena, a research station within the Corcovado park. Golfito makes a great jumping-off point for exploring other towns in the region. Puerto Jiménez (Home of Crocodile Bay Resort), for example, is directly across the bay from Golfito and reachable by ferry. A former logging and mining area, the laid-back town is now the gateway to Corcovado Park and is well known for the scarlet macaws that flit from tree to tree. If steamy hikes through primary rain forest are not your thing, you may want to grab a surfboard and head for Pavones or Zancudo, two of the area’s famed surfing breaks. At Playa Zancudo, you’ll find a six-mile stretch of sand lined by coconut palms, where the waves range from gentle at the northern end to gnarly at the other. Cabanas Sol y Mar is the place to go for a couple of beers at the beachside bar and, in high season, Sunday afternoon horseshoe throws where the competition gets intense—in a mellow sort of way. Pavones, farther out the same peninsula, has the second longest left-hand break in the world and when there is a south swell, the surfers are even more blissed-out than usual. But who wouldn’t be? This is verdant Costa Rica and the Tico attitude of pura vida reigns. If your surfing days are behind you, how about landing dozens of billfish from the cockpit of a sportfisherman? The Golfito area is a sportfishing paradise and specialty lodges abound for the hardcore fisherman. In fact, vacationing anglers rival ecotourists in importance, though obviously, many visitors to Golfito and Puerto Jimenez are both. And no wonder: The waters abound with giant dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, black marlin, and blue marlin. And that’s just the offshore catch. A labyrinth of nearby rivers and estuaries yield snapper, grouper, roosterfish, and pompano. Be sure and take a cab to the top of Tower Hill Road. There’s a picnic table in a clearing where you can sit and look all the way out across the Golfo Dulce. No matter how much you travel, it’s one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see. Directly below you’ll spot the huge old dock where the banana boats used to load. To the right, there’s Playa Cacao—where the restaurant Siete Mares offers open-air views across Golfito Bay. It’s a great place for ceviche and beer. Whether your idea of fun is hanging ten toes off a board, hanging five fingers around a cold bottle at the beach, or hanging 300 pounds of fish off the stern of a boat, Golfito has it all. United Fruit was right: And it’s still perfect Places to Stay If you’re going to the Osa Peninsula region, the best way to go is aboard your own yacht. But other accommodations range from bare-bones, self-catering surfer shacks to luxury Costa Rica fishing lodges, with just about everything else in between. Many combine pursuits—for instance fishing with ecotourism, or ecotourism and spa vacation. Wherever you choose, be prepared for the amazing views and warm gulf waters to trump a flatscreen TV and jacuzzi every time. Crocodile Bay Resort Puerto Jimenez www.crocodilebay.com (800) 733-1115