Discovering a Costa Rica Sweet Spot: Golfo Dulce

Image Source: Golfito, Costa Rica

Looking to escape to the world of Jurassic Park in real life? Consider traveling to Golfo Dulce, located between the Osa Peninsula and Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast. With one of only three tropical forest estuaries in the world, it is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Gulfo Dulce receives tropical runoff from eight rivers (the Platanares, Tigre, Agujas, Barrigones, Conte, Rincon, Esquinas, and the Coto) into a confined embayment without ocean currents, creating low surface-salinity levels which makes it a fresh-water gulf. With an abundance of wildlife and sea life, the biodiversity here is unlike any other place in the world.

With its caves, rocky islets, reefs and ledges, the marine ecosystem is both unique and fragile. Surrounded by volcanoes, volcanic reefs lay in the shallows offshore creating optimal habitats and feeding grounds for sea life with its massive estuary system of creeks and mangroves. Snapper, grouper, amberjack, bluefin trevally, sharks and barracuda cruise the reefs. 

Kayaking In The Golfo Dulce

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The mangroves within the gulf are a crucial nursery for croner, shrimp and other marine life. The mangrove-lined river holds big snapper and the underwater roots make for a convenient escape route. The small caves, rocky islets and shoreline are abundant with small barracuda, snapper, corvine and snook. The snook can weigh over 40lbs, and inside the Zancudo Peninsula and at the mouth of the Esquinas is another great place for snook.

Crocodile Bay Resort led the conservation efforts in this area by establishing a catch-and-release program, and thanks to a generous donation by a wealthy American, a foundation was set up to protect the gulf. By establishing this area as a ‘responsible fishing habitat’ protected by law, the once dwindling population of roosterfish and cubera snapper from overfishing are back again making these waters an ideal spot once again for anglers.

Anglers and Roosterfish

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The biggest roosterfish that has been landed in this area was 80lbs and anglers are catching big roosters in the surf in the morning just by wading. More than 40 IFGA world records have been established in this area.  Through effective conservation methods the once threatened fish populations are now thriving in this area.

The gulf is also a hot spot for dolphins and whale watching. Humpback whales pass through the gulf from the Northern Hemisphere January through April and from the Southern Hemisphere in August through April. Bryde’s Whales and False Killer Whales are year-round residents.

Dolphin in the Golfo Dulce

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Golfo Dulce is an ideal spot for a vacation. Be it throwing a fishing line or sitting on the beach in the early morning watching the whales, a visit here promises to be unlike any other place in the world.

Image Source: Johnny Haglund- Lonely Planet Images

Being in the gulf with its wild and unique sea and land creatures, jetting rocks, reefs and mangrove forests, one is struck by the almost mystical quality of this diverse bioregion that leaves you in a state of awe and wonder. Golfo Dulce is one of the sweetest places in the world to visit.