Water! It’s What You Came Here For

July 30, 2004

FLAMINGO’S and Potrero’s defininggeographic features are their beaches andthe Pacific Ocean. Plenty of activities canlure you out of your hotel, away from therestaurant table – even off the beach – andonto or under the water.There’s Diving …THIS nutrient-rich sector of the PacificOcean brings about a rich marine life, saysEduardo Muñoz, manager of Aquacenter,based in the Flamingo Marina Resort. You’llfind huge schools of white-tip sharks, stingrays, manta rays – really all types of rays –as well as sea turtles, and spotted and bottlenosedolphins in the depths here.The area is the closest population centerto the Catalina Islands, 10 km. off the coastand one of the country’s premier dive sites.That’s a 20-25 minute boat ride, Muñozboasts, considered quite a short journey indiving circles.There’s something to see all year, andMuñoz says he secretly prefers the lesswindy May-November season, which correspondsexactly to Costa Rica’s low touristseason.“It’s a much less choppy ride to the divesite,” he smiles.With no rivers flowing into the Pacificalong this section of coast, visibilityremains good all year, a claim other parts ofthe country can’t make about their dive conditions.Expect to be able to see at least 30feet, with distances extending to 100 feetduring the May-November period, yetanother case for low-season diving.Check out: Aquacenter (654-4141, ext.621, www.aquacenterdiving.com); TheEdge Adventure Company (654-4946,www.theedgeadventure.com); and CostaRica Diving (654-4148, www.costaricadiving.com), all in Flamingo, for your diving,snorkeling and certification needs.Then There’s Fishing …THERE’S good reason why USAToday named this section of the northPacific coast one of the top tenfishing spots in the world.As with diving, the sportfishingseason is nearly year roundhere too, explainsDarrell Furton of BillfishSafaris. January-March seesmarlin (blue, black andstriped), and when the watersbegin to warm up in May,expect to find dorado and sailfish.(Sailfish have become amostly year-round phenomenonhere.)Furton boasts that some 39world fishing records are heldhere, including one for a 300-pound yellow-fin tuna.Also, as with diving, tripsto the site are short: drops inthe ocean floor mean primefishing can be found as close as30 km. offshore. Fifty km takesyou to depths of 1,000 feet.“Go fishing in Florida andMexico, and you’d travel fourto five hours to encounter thosedepths,” Furton says.In Flamingo, Billfish Safaris(654-5244, billfishsafari@racsa.co.cr)and ) The Edge Adventure Company(654-4946, www.theedgeadventure.com)can hook you up.And Don’t Forget Sailing …THE famed Papagayo winds and theprotected seclusion of Potrero Bay combineto create some of the world’s top sailingconditions between December and April,says Jim McKee, owner of the 52-foot cutterrig sloop Shannon and longtime experton these parts.You might encounter 14-to 16-footwaves outside the confines of the cove. Butthe mountains on the north side of the 8-km.-long bay temper the force of the 20-30 knotwinds and flatten the water, making for asurprisingly smooth ride, McKee explains.Toss in the opportunity to see abundantmarine life: Dolphins, manta rays and tunaare apt to leap from the surface of the water,and, if you’re lucky, you might sight anoccasional migratinghumpbackwhale.The boatsbased here offerexcursions to suitevery timeframe,and give you arelaxing fewhours on thewaves with sandwichesand anopen bar, somewith an opportunityfor snorkeling.Excursionsleave most afternoons.Those famedGuanacastesunsets top off theday.Sail the waves with: Lazy Lizard (832-5773, www.sailingcostarica.com);Shannon (827-5533, www.flamingobeachcr.com); and Samonique III (388-7870, www.costarica-sailing.com); basedin Flamingo.

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