Tag Archives: costa rica

Quepos Strand, Daily Walk

So, what do we do on our down time in Quepos, Costa Rica?  We walk a lot, well we walk everywhere as we don’t have a car, it’s good exercise, and we get to know the town better.  More often than not, we cruise up and down the Quepos strand.

There is a beautiful strand along the coast of the town that has over a half dozen statues.  They are beautifully carved and stand proudly overlooking the strand.  Unfortunately, the plaques explaining their names and history are all too worn to see.

Statues along the strand in Quepos

Statues along the strand in Quepos

The Quepos strand often has walkers, joggers, and kids playing along the way.  There is a little skate park, lots of benches under shady trees, and on weekends vendors selling their wares.

Strand along the coast in Quepos.

Strand along the coast in Quepos.

One day on the Quepos strand, we spotted three beautiful scarlet macaws in the tree.  They are so amazingly beautiful.  We often hear them before we see them as they usually squawk as they fly high above us.

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

There are several bars and eateries on the Quepos strand – I think we have visited most of them.  Me tossing back a cold one – passion fruit daiquiri with green sugar rim.  So deserved this after our long Reto Mae Extreme Hike.  Calories in and Calories Out.

Yummm - bet you wish you could have a sip.

Yummm – bet you wish you could have a sip.

I normally don’t drink frothy drinks, but most of the bars have 2 for 1 specials during happy hour and this is one of my favorites.  I think it is just the green sugar that I like the most.

Back to the Quepos Strand…we usually walk back and forth along the strand as it is breezy and full of locals.  It is on our way to the marina and the center of town, so we truly are on it daily.

Blue Marlin Caught FAD Fishing

Yacht Delivery and FAD Fishing

Our friend Patrick, is the Captain of a beautiful 64′ fishing yacht.  He invited us on a short delivery from Quepos to Golfito for a little FAD fishing.  We met him at Manuel Antonio Estates and had the pleasure of hanging out with him while he was doing repairs on his boat.

64' Fishing Boat Delivery

64′ Fishing Boat Delivery

This trip would take Sugar Shack 2 full days to make, whereas Patrick’s boat would only take 3-4 hours.  But why rush when you can swing by the FADs?

FAD FISHING:

FAD stands for Fish Aggregating Device. They are man-made objects used to attract ocean going fish such as marlin, tuna and mahi-mahi (dolphin fish). They usually consist of buoys or floats tethered to the ocean floor with concrete blocks.

HOW FADS WORK:

FADs come in different sizes, and they will be strategically placed in various depths and spots in the ocean. Large predators, including Marlin, will congregate here due to the fact that small bait fish are naturally attracted to these structures. Thus, the larger fish come here to feed.

There is a lot of controversy around FAD fishing just as there is around hunting blinds.  I do not know enough to speak for or against FADs, so I will just tell you that people come from all over the world to do FAD fishing in Costa Rica.  Most charter boats are sport fisherman that do catch and release programs.

THE BOAT AND CREW:

Patrick the Captain; Tony the first mate, and Eliza the second mate joined us on this adventure.  As we are leaving the marina, at just above idle, moving 8 knots we realize his “idle speed” is close to our regular max speed 🙂  Love it.

Just outside the marina, Patrick showed us the benefits of a SeaKeeper.  A SeaKeeper is installed to minimize the movement of the boat.  Works particularly effective on monohulls and fishing boats as it keeps them from rocking side to side.  SeaKeeper video.  I am a huge fan – best 1/4 of a million dollars you could spend!

The crew rigged the boat and prepared the bait the day before.  I have never been on a sport fishing yacht and it was super cool and very fancy.  A really great experience for Matt and I.

Boat Rigged for Fishin

Boat Rigged for Fishin

Of course, this boat is beyond stocked.  They put out the outriggers with huge teasers and readied the poles with bait.  Below, you will see two black poles standing by for a nibble.  The bait is in the cylinders below the poles.  They wait to see the teaser move, then pull in the teaser as they toss out the bait on the poles.  An expert maneuver of bait and switch.  Its all about timing between the captain, first mate, and fisherman.

Outrigger and Fishing Gear

Outrigger and Fishing Gear

Once the throttle went down, we saw a max speed of 40.2 knots which burned 100 gallons per hour, per engine (2 engines).  The “cruising” speed was 32 knots at 1900 rpm and 70 gph.  And it all felt effortless.  A completely thrilling experience.

Dolphin Sighting

Dolphin Sighting

MAHI MAHI:

As we were headed out to the FADs, we passed by a huge fallen tree floating in the water.  Matt and I would normally tack to avoid such a collision, but Patrick actually headed toward it. Imagine my confusion.

Yellow Footed Boobies on a Floating Tree

Yellow Footed Boobies on a Floating Tree

Of course, he has a lot more horse power and could maneuver the boat a lot easier than our sailboat.  There were some yellow footed boobies hanging around the tree, taking a break from flying over the Pacific Ocean.  As we neared the trees, the crew tossed out a couple of lines and within a few minutes, we heard our first zing!  A beautiful Mahi-Mahi took the bait and jumped in one of the 4 freezers on deck.

Mahi Mahi Dinner

Mahi Mahi Dinner

BLUE MARLIN CATCH & RELEASE:

Hammer down, we made it 100 miles offshore to one of the FADs in just a few hours.  Matt was first in the “chair” and reeled in a beautiful blue Marlin.  We caught one on Sugar Shack – the same day we caught a sail fish.  But that experience was a lot more difficult than this one as we could not slow down our sail boat to reel in the fish like we did on Patrick’s boat.

Eliza reeled in the 2nd one which jumped on the line within 15 minutes of releasing the first one.  I was nervous about reeling in one as my arms are super weak.  Frankly, after “the cancer” I never went back to working out and the arms just never recovered.  But, Patrick was relentless and convinced me to hop in the chair.

After great instructions and a lot of help from the Captain, I was able to reel in my first blue marlin!  Word was he weighed about 350-400lbs.  Pretty freakin awesome!  Could not have happened without Patrick’s excellent boating skills, he continually reversed to help me reel in this beast.

Blue Marlin Catch and Release

Blue Marlin Catch and Releas

After catching the Mahi and 3 Blue Marlin, we decided to head to Golfito.  We released all of the marlin by the way.  Hammer down, a few hours later, we arrive at Fish Hook where Patrick effortlessly backs in this 64′ beauty into a slip – 1st try, no shouting, no problems, no worries.  Impressive!  That’s why he’s a paid captain of a multi-million dollar sport fishing yacht – as he says “its what I do.”

We enjoyed lots of fish for dinner, met a new friend Sheddy from Chuffed and celebrated our successful day.

The next day was a little “rough” for everyone, but Tony, Matt and I managed to hop in a taxi to Rio Claro to catch a 4-hour bus back to Quepos.

The Celebration and Bus Ride Home

The Celebration and Bus Ride Home

AMAZING DAY:

Patrick worked closely with the boat owners to design and create this beautiful boat.  It is truly a master piece.  Not only is it beautiful, but it makes incredible use of every nook and cranny.  Extremely efficient, useful, and elegant.  It was a special treat to be among such luxury.

We are truly blessed to have met such wonderful people!  It was a once in a lifetime experience and we will always be grateful to Patrick for this adventure!

Playa Hermosa R&R

Road Trip: 5 Beaches, 400+ Miles

Beaches, Beaches, Beaches.  Since we had a car, we decided to drive along the west coast of Costa Rica up toward the Northern beaches.  Matt mapped out our route with the goal to hit 5 beaches along the peninsula.  Pretty aggressive journey as the average speed is 60 kmh (40 mph) on a single lane highway.  This trip should take us about 11-12 hours not including stops.

Yesterday, we drove from Manuel Antonio Estates to the Southern border and across to Panama.  Today, our trip will take us almost to the  Northern border of Nicaragua (the gray line in the image below is the border) – a short hour away.

After this trip, we pretty much drove the entire western coast of Costa Rica.

Beach adventure along western Costa Rica coast.

Beach adventure along western Costa Rica coast.

We were back on the single lane highway (one lane each direction), traveling through beautiful scenery, palm tree farms, small villages, lush greenery and cultivated fields.  There were periods of heavy down pour and bright sunshine.  If you weren’t trying to pass a slow 18-wheeler, you were focusing on the curved roads and bicycles, motor bikes, horses, pedestrians.

On the way to Guanacaste, we traveled through Liberia which is a pretty large town with an international airport, a modern church, an authentic colonial atmosphere, a rich history, and a central park.  The other really spectacular thing Liberia had was a Walmart!  I know, I know, not a big deal in the states, but in Costa Rica it is a huge score.

We had planned on driving to San Jose the next day (since we still had the car) to hit the Walmart and Mas y Menos stores.  That is 1.5-2 hour drive one way.  So, by stopping at the Walmart in Liberia it saves us another 3-4 hour drive.

The prices were not discounted, but the variety of products was huge.  We were able to stock up on paper goods and various supplies that we have not found locally in Quepos.  Win, Win, Win!

It took us quite a while to get to Playa Hermosa.  There are several beaches called “Playa Hermosa” in Costa Rica, but the one we visited was the one in Guanacaste.   Playa Hermosa has idyllic beauty and lush surroundings. A two-kilometer long grey sand beach, encircled by tropical forests and ridges of volcanic rock.  We took a lovely walk along the beach which was not very crowded.

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Our lunch stop was at Aqua Sport, where we sat on the beach and enjoyed the cool breeze.

Aqua Sport Lunch Stop. One of our favorite beaches.

Aqua Sport Lunch Stop. One of our favorite beaches.

After the last few stressful weeks, it was a joy to just sit and relax at the beach.  We decided we needed to get a move on, so we headed to Playa del Coco.  It was a very vibrant little town with lots of little shops and eateries.  It was raining a lot so we just did a drive by.

A friend told us to stop by Playa Danta while we were in Guanacaste.  It is a calm bay good for swimming and stand up paddle boarding.  We tried to get there following the local signs, but turned around.  Then we tried again using maps.me and got turned around again.  We were on a deeply rutted dirt path during a rain storm and decided that we should move on to the next beach.

It was sunset by the time we made it to Playa Potrero.  The beach was part of a national park so we did not drive in since it was close to closing.

Playa Potrero Sunset Shot

Playa Potrero Sunset Shot

Our last stop was Playa Grande.  Another super cute touristy surfer town.  We stopped in for a cold brew, then hopped back in the car to make the long journey home.

Beaches Visited:

  • Hermosa
  • Del Coco
  • Danta (missed this one)
  • Potrero
  • Grande