Costa Rica Coastal Sailing: Golfito to Playas del Coco

Through December 1st to 15th we cruised the Costa Rican coast as we got to know each other on board Karaka. Sher and Laura, both from Australia joined the crew for most of this leg.

December 1st-5th:

Our start was very rainy with nasty currents, and wind opposing swell. We had to motor quite a bit unfortunately to maintain movement in the right direction. Most of the crew got quite sick during the first few days… i took a few gravol but never did any hurling…


We made our first stop for a few hours at Isla del Cano on December 3rd after getting one of the fishing lines tangled in the propellor. We had also ripped one of the jib sails and were hoping to maybe fix it while in mooring at this beautiful national park island but it was quite exposed and not worth the risk of more extreme weather coming it.

Most of us went to shore for a few hours and walked along the palm beaches of paradise. We chatted with the park officer, Alberto a little bit who was stationed there by himself and was very friendly offering us food and coffee. He waived the mooring fees for us and let us walk around the island.


Before it got too late we went back to the boat and took off into a beautiful pacific sunset.

The next day we experienced some extreme calm weather… ended up just hanging out and drifting for a long time.

We eventually noticed we has some Dorado circling the hull of the boat. Tom jumped in a one point with his giant spear-gun and shot one of the big male fish which was almost as big as him.

The other two Dorado just kept swimming around the boat occasionally chasing and hunting the flying fish in the area. These awesome little fish can fly for close to 200m just above the surface of the water. Occasionally the would land on the deck and be a nice meal for Kat.


This fish served the 8 of us and Kat well for a number of meals.

Current kept pulling us slowly into Golfo de Nicoya. It was a nice slow drift but quite enjoyable… nice hot day in sunshine, swimming and relaxing watching dolphins jump and another epic sunset.

Finally in the evening after over 24 hours of drifting we got some wind and tacted back and forth through the next.

December 5th:

This morning Tom decided to motor us the last 15 miles or so to Bahia Bellenas, the town of Tambor on the Nicoya Penninsula.
We anchored in a nice spot not too far from the fishing docks. We did some hull scraping and went to the marina bar to do some internet.
Due to the fact that it was sunday and elections or something were happening in Costa Rica, everything was closed but we managed to find one place open and got some basics, got the BBQ burning and had a nice pizza night. So far we have travelled 253 NM.

December 6th:

After scraping the hull and stitching the sail, Martin and I went adventuring on land, got some burgers and ice-cream, beer and chicken.
We had some mis-communication about dinner with the others who went to the clinic to take care of Alex and Laura’s skin infections and were tired. We went to bed relatively early… the wind picked up quite extremely in the middle of the night and we had to tie everything down.

December 7th:

We woke up to horrific winds still… NE winds. We missioned Laura to shore through the wind in the kayak. She needed to leave to get back for her work. We said goodbye and got the boat ready to go. By noon the winds had died considerably but we still managed to move well by wind and current around Isla Cabo Blanco and on northward through the night.
I had the best watch between 4-6am and 4-6pm where i got an epic sunset and sunrise over the open ocean.

December 8th:

Caught three skipjack tuna this morning. Not the best tasting kind of tuna but still nice to have some fresh fish. The wind was strong and we were healed over pretty well… most people were feeling sea sick but i managed to cook the fish up. We arrived in Playas del Coco around 6pm after another great sunset cruise.


December 9th:

We had a full day in town which started with a nice morning beach walk down the bay.
The environment in Northern Costa Rica is much drier than Golfito area in the south. There was even Cacti in some places.

We then all met up for lunch town and discussed our plan to scout out local grocery stores for the best prices to do our big shop for the long crossing to mexico.

December 10-12th:

We did some scouting for groceries, thought about food for the trip but mostly we relaxed, enjoyed cocos night life, and connected with some couchsurfers.

We had to go to this marina which was inconveniently located away from town to dock the boat and fill up our water tanks. Soon enough we got kicked out for using too much water when we started showering on the dock.


We then went and anchored out a few nights in a remote bay called Bahia Huevos that is in on the other side of the larger Bahia Culebra just north of Coco. It is quite a nice spot with a beautiful beach, cave and cliff lookout.


We had a nice beach fire and played music in the evening, watched the sun set from the nice cliff lookout.

The next morning i woke up extra early to go for a nice kayak paddle into the mangroves nearby. I actually found a wooden paddle on the beach near the aweful Four Seasons golf course… they always seems to be everywhere you go in the world causing such destruction of the natural landscape… anyways my paddle was very nice and i went in and through the mangroves and it was beautiful and sunny day yet again.

I came back to the boat and hung out on shore, tried to spear some fish with no luck. We all did our own thing, on the beach, on the boat or out in the dingy or kayak for the rest of the day and we motored back during sunset to Coco so we could get up the next morning for the big shop.

December 13th:

So today was the day of the big shop. We spent over $1000… quite a bit more than we had expected. I mailed some post cards off, we loaded the boat and made like 6 trips of stuff, did some more internet, went for some happy hour margaritas and cooked a feast of burgers for sher’s last evening with us.

December 14th:

We made a list of things we still needed and went a got them… spending more money ofcourse… more happy hour margaritas, found a place to make free phone calls to Canada/USA so i called a bunch of friends and family. We got checked out at customs and decided to motor off right away once we returned to the boat and went back to our anchorage at Haeveos for the evening.

December 15th:

Woke up early and got the boat all ready. We packed and organized all the food and were off in the afternoon.


We motored and then sailed off to Ollies Pt. in Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. This is a world famous surf spot and when we arrived at 4:30pm Tom immediately hopped in the water with his board and paddled towards the waves to catch some surf. On the way in we caught a small bonito tuna and saw some giant manta rays.


The rugged cliffs were just spectacular


Martin and I kayaked to shore with Kims surf board. I caught some surf and just barely stood up once… got slammed the rest of the time… The waves were not that big but still pretty powerful.

Martin decided to wander off and by this point it was really dark. I thought he might have swam back to the boat but obviously he just wandered way down the beach out of yelling range in the dark. I had a hard time getting beyond the break with the kayak and surf board on my own and ended up getting slammed a few times pretty hard… ended up breaking one of the little fins on Kims new surf board and felt so horrible about it…

I settled into the V-birth bunk finally comfortable and slept well since it was a little cooler with a nice breeze out where we were anchored.

December 16th:

9:30am we were off with pretty light winds we drifted a lot through the night and into the morning… we were now offshore with no land in sight.



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