Crocodile Bay Marina: Osa destroyer or Golfo Dulce dream?

Karl Kahler | July 6, 2015
An artist's rendering of the proposed Crocodile Bay Marina in Puerto Jiménez.

PUERTO JIMÉNEZ, Puntarenas — As we walked out onto Crocodile Bay’s 750-foot pier Thursday, a man ran up behind us saying his wife was being taken by ambulance boat to Golfito, and he had belongings to give her.

Cory Williams, whose family owns the Crocodile Bay Resort and plans to build a 115-slip marina, a 74-room hotel and 50 condominiums here despite considerable local opposition, said in good Spanish that he would be happy to help. He accepted a bundle the man brought for his wife, saying if the hospital boat wasn’t here yet, he would give it to the guard.

The Crocodile Bay pier.
The Crocodile Bay pier. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“And how is your wife?” Cory asked.

“I think they took her out with appendicitis.”

We groaned in sympathy. The man decided to take the bundle back, and with a “Perdón” and a “Voy corriendo,” he took off jogging for the end of the long pier.

“We let the Red Cross and the hospital use our pier facilities because the public pier facilities are in such poor condition that handicapped people, old people and hospital patients can’t be safely boarded there,” Cory said.

When we walked within view of the end, we saw the hospital boat with the man’s wife inside. She would be transported to a hospital in Golfito, presumably to undergo an appendectomy.

A wheelchair sits at the end of the Crocodile Bay pier after a woman was loaded onto a hospital boat.
A wheelchair sits at the end of the Crocodile Bay pier after a woman was loaded onto a hospital boat. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“And that’s really another big, important idea up here for the town, is having adequate infrastructure,” said Cory, a consummate pitchman offered a coincidental softball. “And as we all know, the government just doesn’t have the resources or the financial capability to build … anything, really. So they really rely on the private sector.”

Cory Williams, 36, is the tall, lantern-jawed, articulate public face of Crocodile Bay Resort & Marina, which when completed in an estimated four years will be the biggest development the Golfo Dulce has ever seen.

Cory Williams, 36, in his office at Crocodile Bay.
Cory Williams, 36, in his office at Crocodile Bay. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

Starting first thing next year, the plan is to build a modern, state-of-the-art marina with slips for 115 boats, with a 74-room, two-story hotel on the water and 50 residences ranging from studios to three-bedrooms at prices between $200,000 and $500,000.

The current Crocodile Bay Resort, built in 1999, has 34 rooms, but those will be closed after the new hotel and residences are complete.

This plan has run into a hurricane of local opposition — most of it, Cory says, from a small group of people that has filed every lawsuit imaginable against the project, though he says the majority of the community supports it and looks forward to the jobs it will bring.

They’ve never done anything good for the people,” said Diego Chavarría, a boat captain who worked for Crocodile Bay for seven years, giving voice to the sentiment that this business is stingy and doesn’t share anything with anyone else.

Artist's rendering of a master bedroom in one of the new residences that will be built at Crocodile Bay.
Artist's rendering of a master bedroom in one of the new residences that will be built at Crocodile Bay. (Courtesy of Crocodile Bay)

It’s a surprisingly common theme, if you go around Puerto Jiménez asking people what they think of the Crocodile Bay project: Sure, it will bring big money here, but all of it will go into Crocodile Bay’s pockets. Any economic benefit to the town is outweighed by the environmental risks, the more vocal opponents say. Puerto Jiménez needs direct economic revitalization, not the trickle-down effect of a few jobs for maids and gardeners.

“A lot of the controversy is really misplaced, or it’s shrouded,” said Cory, who has lived in Puerto Jiménez for 16 years and has a Costa Rican family here. “It’s often discussed as an environmental issue, but it’s not against our project specifically, it’s against development in general, against increased tourism. They just don’t want more people down here in the Osa. And I can respect that opinion, although I don’t share it.”

Cory said people don’t understand that a marina will give the Golfo Dulce a place to safely fuel, dock and repair boats under strict government oversight — it will make the gulf cleaner, not dirtier.

“Here in Costa Rica, because there aren’t many marinas, most people don’t have experience with marinas and really don’t understand what marinas are,” Cory said. “And they think that marinas themselves contaminate. And that’s not the case.

Artist's rendering of a patio at one of the new residences that will be built at Crocodile Bay.
Artist's rendering of a patio at one of the new residences that will be built at Crocodile Bay. (Courtesy of Crocodile Bay)

“If you look at the marinas in Costa Rica, they’re beautiful! They’re gorgeous. They’re very well-operated, well-managed, and I assure you that the majority of the people that are against our marina have never been to visit the other marinas.”

Cory mentioned Marina Papagayo, Pez Vela in Quepos and Los Sueños in Herradura, calling them excellent examples of well-run marinas.

“That’s what’s so peculiar,” Cory says. “I could understand if Costa Rica had a lot of irresponsibly run marinas that were creating an environmental disaster. I could understand the concern over having another, but that’s not the case. They’re really exemplary marinas. The water tests done in Los Sueños inside the marina basin show that the water quality inside the marina basin is better than the water quality outside the marina basin.”

 

The kayakers

To get the other side of the story I drove to nearby Gringolandia, the humorously named neighborhood that was actually the original location of Puerto Jiménez, which at the time called itself Santo Domingo, before it was flooded and destroyed by a tsunami. Formally known as Pueblo Viejo, at one point it had so many dogs that people called it Perrolandia, but when U.S. expats started moving in, it became affectionately known as Gringolandia.

Just down the main street in this neighborhood is Aventuras Tropicales, a kayaking company that offers tours of the local mangrove swamps. The Costa Rican owners of this enterprise, the family of Alberto Robleto and Marielos Villalobos, have been among the leading voices of opposition to the Crocodile Bay project.

It seems inevitable that three years of construction noise and traffic on a big marina project will adversely affect a business that offers quiet kayak tours along this same coast. But the 52-year-old family matriarch, Marielos, stressed that she is not opposed to the project because the family business will suffer.

“I don’t say Aventuras Tropicales opposes it, I say the community opposes it,” she said.

I asked Marielos why this marina will be bad for the community.

The Jailhouse Croc is one of the fishing boats operated by Crocodile Bay, many of which have "Croc" names.
The Jailhouse Croc is one of the fishing boats operated by Crocodile Bay, many of which have "Croc" names. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“We haven’t said this is going to be bad for the community,” she said. “We have talked about a negative impact on marine ecosystems. We have talked about processes that we don’t consider to be in order.”

She thinks the municipality has made bad decisions about Crocodile Bay without consulting the community. And she claims that it started building its pier before it had all the necessary permissions — which Crocodile Bay strenuously denies.

“When the people see that this is happening, they ask how a company can come along and do that,” Marielos said. “They showed a permit from the municipality. The executive in Golfito gave them permission, incorrectly or not. These permits do not seem normal to us….

“The problem is, when they started, they didn’t get off to a good start. So the community looks at them, and then they close access to the beach, and the people start getting mad, because they won’t let them pass.”

Crocodile Bay, I said, claims it allows anyone access to the beach or the mangroves next to the beach.

“At this time,” she agreed. “Things have changed. I’m telling you history.”

Marielos said she lacked the scientific credentials to talk about one the biggest questions:

“Given that when the public pier was built, there was change to the entire shoreline, the people ask themselves, ‘What will the change be like doing a pier that’s bigger than the public pier? How will that change the beach?’ That’s a question to ask, if they’ve taken into account, scientifically, the impact it would have in the terrestrial maritime zone, the fact that you do a fill there.”

 

The travel agent

I drove to Toucan Travel, a tour office just off the main street in Puerto Jiménez, to meet another opponent of the marina. Esther Coronado, 40, a native of Menorca, Spain, spoke first about the 4 acres of fill required to build the marina.

 

Esther Coronado at her desk in Toucan Travel.
Esther Coronado at her desk in Toucan Travel. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“The fill means the loss of a beach to this town,” she said, “because supposedly, in the project they present, they say the whole beach is part of the concession.” She pointed out the area she was talking about on a big, colorful Toucan Travel map. “They say all that area is part of the project.”

“They are the owners of that area,” I said.

“As a concession. Exactly. But the people can still protest. That’s the only beach the people have in Puerto Jiménez.”

“You think they’re going to cut access to the beach?”

“Generally the big hotels do that.”

Jiménez has a little beach just north of Crocodile Bay, in front of Los Delfines Restaurant, where local families bring their children to play in the water. Few families venture to the beach in front of Crocodile Bay, not because it’s prohibited but because it’s a longer walk and it isn’t a better beach.

Swimmers at the public beach in front of Los Delfines Restaurant at high tide.
Swimmers at the public beach in front of Los Delfines Restaurant at high tide. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

What’s worse, at medium and high tide the gulf floods the Crocodile Bay property to the treeline, making access virtually impossible unless you want to swim around the trees or walk through heavy vegetation teeming with snakes.

In addition to her concerns about beach access, Esther said Crocodile Bay has erected barbed wire to close off access to mangroves that should be open to the public.

Cory said Crocodile Bay does not have any barbed-wire fences around its mangroves or anywhere else except around the maintenance yard adjacent to the airport and around the fuel tanks at the foot of the pier. He said anyone who wants to walk through the mangroves near the beach is free to do so.

Visitors walk past the public pier in Puerto Jiménez.
Visitors walk past the public pier in Puerto Jiménez. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

Hammering the theme of access, Esther said Crocodile Bay does not let local boaters use its pier.

“That pier is public, in reality, what they have now, it’s also a concession, and they don’t let anyone go up there,” she said. “That dock you can’t walk on, you can’t fish from there, because it’s for security, they don’t let anyone come close or tie up. Even when the pier here was in disuse, because it was too deteriorated, they still didn’t let boats tie up there.”

Cory said the current pier is private, but the marina will be public.

“The concession we have is for a private pier,” he said. “It’s exclusively for the operation of sportfishing boats. It’s not a public facility, not a public pier, and boats don’t have public access.”

But the day the marina opens, he says, it will be open to all by law.

 

The fishing captains

A friend of Esther’s, boat captain Diego Chavarría, who worked for Crocodile Bay for seven years, also complained that it doesn’t allow local fishermen to use its pier — or if they really need it to board old or disabled people, they may have to pay 700 or 1,000 colones — $1.50 or $2.

The Puerto Jiménez waterfront, with the Crocodile Bay pier visible in the distance.
The Puerto Jiménez waterfront, with the Crocodile Bay pier visible in the distance. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“I have no interest in charging $1.50 a person,” Cory said. “That’s not the business we’re in. We’re trying to have an adequate pier so that Crocodile Bay customers can sportfish.”

Those who complain that the pier isn’t public, Cory said, are the same people who oppose the marina, which will be public and open to all.

Oscar Villalobos, 34, another fishing boat captain in Jiménez, said Crocodile Bay let him use its pier recently while the public pier was being repaired, and he wasn’t charged anything.

“I think the marina will be excellent for the community,” he said. “It will bring a lot of jobs, which is what we really need. … Puerto Jiménez and the Osa Peninsula have only one period of tourism, the high season. The rest of the year, there’s nothing, there’s no work. At a marina where yachts are permanently moored, all year long, there’s year-round employment.”

Beachgoers in front of Los Delfines Restaurant.
Beachgoers in front of Los Delfines Restaurant. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

Oscar cited one study by the University of Costa Rica that found that each fishing yacht creates 12 jobs. “There’s a lot of people who speak out of ignorance,” he said.

Will he moor his boat at the marina when it opens?

“Yes, of course I’ll put my boat there, for the services they can provide.” He said it will be much easier for him to dock, fuel, maintain and clean his boat, not to mention board passengers.

 

The environmentalist

On Friday I drove back to Aventuras Tropicales to talk to Laura Robleto, 30, a student of environmental engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica in Cartago. She wanted to talk about the environmental impact of this project.

“There are always impacts,” she said. “If you want to do this development, which has large impacts, in a place of high biological intensity, high biological fragility, those impacts are magnified.”

Laura objects to the size of the project, which she says isn’t appropriate for a small town like Puerto Jiménez.

“The marina project is not just a parking lot for boats,” she said. “The project is very big. They’re planning to build a lot of real estate….

Plans for the Crocodile Bay Resort & Marina, with the marina at top, the red-roofed hotel and public area below it and the current hotel and 50 new residences below that.
Plans for the Crocodile Bay Resort & Marina, with the marina at top, the red-roofed hotel and public area below it and the current hotel and 50 new residences below that. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“It doesn’t fit with the development model we have in Puerto Jiménez. It’s huge. That’s what we mean. We are just saying this is not the project for this environment, for our development model.

“We need development for the people. This is not development for the community. This is just development for someone, and it’s different. When you want to develop a community, you need to benefit directly, not indirectly.”

I asked if Laura didn’t think the customers of the marina would eat at restaurants in town, spend money at the grocery store, use the gas station.

Laura asked why this town should get the “leak,” the leftovers, the crumbs from someone else’s table. She dismissed the jobs the project will create as menial.

“When a person gets a job making beds, they’re going to stay in that job like forever,” she said. “And their life is not going to change. That’s not development, that’s settlement. They will settle.”

She reiterated that this project opens the doors to a development model inappropriate to this place:

“We don’t want to be turned into inhabitants of Cancún.” 

 

The great debate

The arguments that have been mounted against this marina could fill an encyclopedia. Opponents say the Crocodile Bay Marina will drive away dolphins, whales and turtles. It will disrupt if not pollute the beaches and mangrove swamps on the coastline south of town. It will dump sediment in the gulf and negatively impact the terrestrial maritime zone it occupies.

The wall above the reception desk.
The wall above the reception desk. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

It will impede access to public beaches and mangroves. It will require big trucks to drive through town showering local businesses with dust. It will provide some jobs, but not good jobs. Nobody will be hired who can’t speak English. It will attract a clientele looking for prostitutes and drugs.

None of this is true, Cory Williams insists. Crocodile Bay built its pier 17 years ago, it currently operates 42 fishing boats, and it has never harmed the large dolphin population in this gulf. In fact, the dolphins love to swim with the boats.

Cory cited a University of Costa Rica professor who said sportfishing boats cause a great danger to the whales and run the risk of scaring them away, which would be a big hit to local whale-watching tours.

“So boats that are going out to go sportfishing, in a straight line, somehow cause more distraction and discomfort to the whales than the boats that follow the whales, that actually provide the whale watch tours? My boat, Point A to Point B, is the problem, not the boat following the whales, taking pictures?”

Cory says the footprint of this marina, the 4 acres of fill needed to built it, is much smaller than those of the marinas in Papagayo, Herradura and Quepos. Building marinas does not cause environmental devastation, he says — in fact, it provides a modern, clean place where boats can dock, fuel and be serviced, with a single owner that the government can easily monitor to make sure it’s complying with all rules and regulations.

The reception area at Crocodile Bay Resort.
The reception area at Crocodile Bay Resort. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

So what about the argument that Crocodile Bay will not hire local people, but will bring in its own people in from somewhere else?

“There’s nothing more offensive to the local community than that argument,” Cory said. “So the argument is that local people are not smart enough or skilled enough to be able to provide the jobs for a residential hotel and marina development. And the reality is that today Crocodile Bay is one of the most successful sportfishing resorts in the world, primarily because of the wonderful staff that we have that are from the town of Puerto Jiménez.

He cited some major kudos on TripAdvisor, like “Best hotel in Central America” and “Best hotel in Costa Rica.”

“And the No. 1 reason for that is not because our rooms are the prettiest, it’s because our staff is the best,” he said. “The people here are absolutely first-class, and for 15 years have been doing exactly the same jobs that this marina is going to require.”

Cory said a group of 10 individuals had filed “every possible lawsuit against us you can imagine,” including three cases in the Supreme Court.

“They’ve never won,” he said. “The project has won every single lawsuit every single time, without exception, without an asterisk, without an issue, because everything that we’ve done has been in perfect accord with the law.”

 

The trespasser

In search of barbed wire and armed guards, I took a walk Sunday morning at low tide along the beach from the Los Delfines Restaurant to the Crocodile Bay pier and beyond, into the mangroves on the other side.

I saw no barbed wire anywhere except at the top of a tall fence surrounding what Cory later told me were fuel tanks. There were no guards and no signs marking anything private.

Fuel tanks at Crocodile Bay.
Fuel tanks at Crocodile Bay. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

The beach is big at low tide, but it’s not a beautiful beach — it’s swampy, in places mucky, and full of sticks and stones. Anyone looking for a great beach can drive to Playa Platanares/Preciosa, just a few minutes away, or the stunning surfing beaches of Matapalo on the southern tip of the peninsula.

The forests and mangroves here abound in wildlife, but they are so dense and snaky that no ordinary person would want to go on a nature hike here. For all the questions raised about access to the beach and mangroves, I couldn’t spot a single person seeking access to either on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Under the Crocodile Bay pier.
Under the Crocodile Bay pier. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

I walked onto the Crocodile Bay property from the pier, unsure whether I might be trespassing once I crossed the 50-meter line. I crossed a couple of sketchy little bridges across swampy rivers and emerged into a boat maintenance yard.

A bridge on the Crocodile Bay property.
A bridge on the Crocodile Bay property. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

Now I was pretty sure I was trespassing in what was not a public area. When I reached the guard shack along the road next to the airport, the guard confirmed gently that I was not supposed to be here without permission. There is a barbed wire fence between the airport road and the maintenance yard, with a sign saying this is a maintenance entrance on private property and the hotel entrance is 150 meters away.

Boats in dry dock in the Crocodile Bay maintenance yard.
A sign says this is a private maintenance entrance, but the Crocodile Bay Resort is 150 meters away. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

I walked down the airport road to Corcovado Beach Lodge, an assortment of pretty bungalows right next door to Crocodile Bay, and met Tomas McGuinness, 46, the new part owner and caretaker of this property, formerly known as Parrot Bay. I asked him what he thought of the proposed marina.

“If there is a marina coming over here, if they have oversight for the natural resources and all that, I don’t see a problem with that,” he said. “This place certainly needs jobs. I get people looking for a job over here on a daily basis. There is definitely a lack of jobs.”

McGuinness, who formerly worked in tourism on the Caribbean side of the country, said fisherman put illegal gill nets in lots of the rivers around here, but not in the Platanares River, because they know Crocodile Bay has a watchman there to stop them. He said it’s an example of how responsible development can actually protect the environment.

“If you ask me for my opinion, I’m all for that,” he said. “I know what development can bring for a place. And I also know from working out of Tortuguero that it is possible to create jobs and develop the place without destroying the environment.”

For more info

Crocodile Bay website: http://www.crocodilebay.com
Facebook page “No a La Marina Privado de Puerto Jimenez – Si Marina Publica”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/12829640983/
Facebook page “Sí a La Marina Puerto Jimenez”: https://www.facebook.com/sialamarina.puertojimenez?fref=ts

Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net.

 

11 Comments »

  1. What about the fish?!

    I am sure Cory as much as any other deep-sea fishing operation in Southern Costa Rica are very much aware of the lessening of fish for sport fishing. What would be the point in investing on a marina for sport fishermen when there is not fish to catch in first place. Maybe is about time for the Williams to listen to nature and change directions. Aiming for a more sustainable business, something simple and eco friendly. Look at the business model of some your most successful “neighbors” like Lapa Rios, which at some point was in the top ten eco lodges of the world. Nature doesn’t lie to us, the truth is there, right in front of your eyes. Investors can see it… No fish, no fishing, not money then. Crocodile Bay has an opportunity to change now. Stop, and think about it.
    Thank you

    Comment by Jose Espinoza — July 6, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

  2. MONEY vs LIFE Thank goodness CR does not have many marinas. Guanacaste is the living proof that in spite of “development” the local persons have not come out of poverty. Now they suffer from high prices and lack of water. Your project will hire the persons you need, no matter where they come from. This article is totally inclined to promote your business Cory. This activiy is not ecological at all.

    Comment by Sol — July 7, 2015 @ 8:44 am

  3. Yo soy Argentino, vivo en USA hace 45 anos. E vivido en Costa rica 2000 / 2005
    Adoro Costa Rica, mi esposa y yo vamos a retirarnos in Costa Rica el proximo ano.
    Desde que sali de C R e vuelto 2014 por 3 semanas y encontre un gran cambio
    positivo.
    El Gobierno tiene que controlar el desarrollo the las tierra tan hermosas
    y proteger el ambiente , árboles, Océanos, CR no necesita mas desarrollos
    si no lo paran ahora va a terminar igual que USA, IN THAT IS NOT GOOD!!!!!
    COSTA RICA NO NECESITA MAS RESIDENCIAS LUJOSAS. AY QUE SALVAR COSTA RICA
    SUS SELVA, ANIMALES, FAUNA, Y LO MAS IMPORTANTE SU HERMOSA GENTE(EL TICO Y TICA) .MAS DESARROLLO MAS GENTE MAS GENTE MAS PROBLEMAS MAS CONTAMINACIÓN AMBIENTAL DESTRUCCIÓN DEL AMBIENTE , EN LA VIDA DINERO NO ES TODO , SENCILLEZ IS LA BASE DE LA FELICIDAD!!!
    PURA VIDA.

    RICARD MARCOLINI

    Comment by richard — July 7, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

  4. STOP ALL DEVELOPING ANY CONSTRUCTION , WILL DESTROY ANYTHING AROUND
    LEAVE CR THE WAY IT IS.

    Comment by richard — July 7, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

  5. RICH PEOPLE DON’T CARE FOR NATURE!!!!! THE WILL DESTROY PUERTO JIMENES

    LOOK WHAT HAPPENING IN GUANACASTE!!!! 3 GOLF COURSE????, FOR WHAT ??? GUANACASTE AS SEVERE DROUGHTS . WHAY???? PLEASE, PLEASE KEEP CR THE WAY IT IS !!!!!
    I WILL TAKE ANY COMMENT AT rmarco2010@gmail,com

    PURA VIDA, SAVE COSTA RICA!!!!!!!!!SAVE COSTA RICA

    Comment by richard — July 7, 2015 @ 7:07 pm

  6. I run a very small family guide service and go to CR each year to swim, have fun with my wife. We do not earn a tremendous amount of money but can afford a small vacation. I always wanted to fish for sailfish…but spendy, for us. PJ is my favorite town in CR. I like to surf and have been comming here for a brief stay beofre I head across the bay to surf, or down to the point at Matapalo. One year several years back, I made quite abit more money guiding at home and thought I could rent a boat out of Croc Bay to go sailfishing with my wife for a half day. We walked up to the gaurd shack and was directed to the office. They told me I had to stay there to use the services…..Darn it, I can not afford the $125 or so a night to stay there…..Just then a general manager type guy comes in the office and overhears the conversation, radios down the boats and they agreed to take us! What a great place, they were willing to take a couple of low rent folks like us out for a half day, even though we like to stay in the 20$ hostel downtown!!! I am appreciative of the service and experience at Croc Bay. I had a long frank talk with my captain and mate and they both were from the local area, liked the work there, and had nothing poor to say other than me not following direcitons with those cirlce hooks…I pulled the hook out of 4 different fishes mouth! My wife hooked and landed three….Thanks Croc Bay. Trade offs are always present in development……

    Comment by Mike Kennedy — July 9, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

  7. Hai there,
    Im from the other side of the world Europe (Netherlands) and we work in the tourist business, in our program: Sweden, Norway, Iceland and many other countries. We have seen these discussions many times before a group that is against it and a group that sees the benefits. I can tell you that more then 50 projects that i have seen, all has come out positive. If people give it time, put away their “feelings” and listen and look, then on the end they are changed. From all these projects in area’s where there was only nature, people were against it, now after a few years, they work at the complex, they have open a restaurant or even a other kind of business.

    And believe me, it was completely the same story as the story above, but the people gave it some time, and trusted people like Cory Williams, now he could easily run for mayer, because now they “love” him. Changes in live are always “hard” but if you are a smart person, then put a side your feelings and anger, and give it some time and listen to the professionals or even better, have a look further in the world.

    What do you think from Ibiza Spain, Iceland Westfjords, Hawaii, Florida Keys, Montauk, Sweden, Lofoten Norway, all areas that has not been born with hotels and accommodations, there it also started the same as here, but now 90% lives from the tourists. What do you think happens when tere are no tourists anymore in the Florida Keys ?

    So be open, think a little further and if people don’t speak English, well then there a 3 years to go to learn it, because if this area is getting many more tourists, you have to speak English. So have a look further in the world and see how big and successful many places are wright now. I would say, be very very happy that Cory Williams that you all know for many years is making this project and not a Chinese company wit a lot of money, is it not Cory, then somebody else will find this pearl, believe me and there is going to be a moment that the people are not asked anymore. I think it is great that one of you guys build this project, you know him and his family, trust him and look further in the future, because it only can get better ! We wish Crocodile Bay all the best and im 100% sure its going to be one of the best accommodations in the world where people are one with the nature and the people from the village.

    Comment by Raphael — July 15, 2015 @ 4:17 am

  8. @Raphael, I almost pissed my pants while reading your phrase “..where people are one with nature and the people of the village”. Please tell me, since when are tourists staying at big gated resorts with aircondicioned rooms and swimming pools one with nature and local communities? Give me a break.

    I worked with local fishermen around the Golfo Dulce during the past years and all I have been hearing from them is that fishing stocks have been dropping rapidly over the last decades, so please also explain me as well how expansion of big game fishing in this area helps tourists to be ‘one with the people from the village’ while it will cut into their daily income. Moving towards scuba diving tourism would be a step into the right direction but I don’t read anything about that in the article above.

    Agreed, Costa Rica needs investments in order to achieve more income through tourism, but at the right place with the right focus (not harming unique nature and directed towards local communities) so the money ends in the right hands and not in those of a few filthy rich owners of big marinas and resorts.

    Expansion of small-scale and truly sustainable ecotourism is what Costa Rica needs, cause its ecology is her one and only unique selling point that has the potential to attract tourists from all over the world into a very far future.

    Comment by Michiel — July 16, 2015 @ 2:53 am

  9. Well i don’t have the time to start a long discussion here, i just wanted to share my opinion with, my expertise, my experience. So laugh at somebody’s opinion, thats your choice. But still you have to explain to me why all these places i mentioned above, are doing great ? Tell my why its works all over the world and not in Costa Rica ? Why are the Keys still doing great, Panama has many camps around Coiba Island, why is Hawaii still booming ?

    And so i can go on with many many example’s in the world. But still im 100% sure, if Mr Williams does not get the project, then in 1 or 2 years a Chinese or Russian company will build it, without talking to the community. Oh yes, i forgot, the sportfishermen has been catch and released for 99%, so the fish is not gone because of the sport fishermen ! Does the local fishermen also do catch and release ?

    Ask nature conservation organizations what they think about the professional fishermen, how many dolphins, whales, fish, Big Game Fish, Seals and many other Sea-animals are killed in the nets. I have rescued more then 100 sea-turtles during my fishing-trips in the warm countries, all are stuck in nets and ropes, so who makes the most damage to the sea?

    Comment by Raphael — July 17, 2015 @ 12:33 am

  10. @Raphael, why are all the places you mention doing great?
    Well, I just think you and me have a difference in vision on what is ‘success’ and ‘doing great’. Yes, Hawaii is booming in the economic sense, but ecologically it has been imploding. It is referred to as the “extinction capital of the world” with the vanishing of nearly half (140) of its historically recorded native bird species. Luckily for Hawaii it’s tourism is not depending on birdwatchers, but in fact a very big part of Costa Rica’s tourism actually is.

    With the examples you mention from all over the world you’re trying to compare apples with oranges, as well you mix up the agreement of local people on developments with sustainability, which are two completely different things. The first reason why Costa Rica is a popular holiday destination -and in particular the Osa Peninsula- is for it’s immense biodiversity (and like I said before that is great because it’s an unique selling point of the country), not for it’s resorts which can be built pretty much anywhere where the sun shines.
    The establishment of marina resorts have a big ecological impact as it comes with deforestation on the building site itself, fresh water source depletion, pollution, disturbance of migration of local wildlife and the ruining of the natural scenery and character of the area where they are build. For these reasons big resort development should be avoided in unique nature areas such as the Osa Peninsula.
    And in fact a big portion of the tourists going to the Osa are coming for a ‘wild experience’ and not for luxury, these people will stay away as soon as the area starts to look like something as Manuel Antonio National Park and it’s surroundings.

    Your statement about the impact of (big-game) sportfishing compared to local fishermen is false and not based on any resource. First, many big-game boats catch and kill local baitfish and secondly they often actually DO bring caught fish home to eat instead of releasing them back into the wild (just check out the picture section on the website of Crocodile Bay, most caught fish are referred to as “tonight’s dinner”). Besides that there is always a proportion of post-release mortality in caught and released big-game fish. On top of that, big-game fishing focusses on (often threatened species of) top predators in the food chain. Impacts in the top of the food chain have an ever bigger impact on the balance of the complete underwater ecosystem down in the triangle and should thus be avoided. Whereas local fishermen focuss mainly on catching easier to handle plate sized fish which comes with a smaller ecological impact. Read more about this topic in this research: https://www.rsmas.miami.edu/assets/Shiffman_et_al_Mar_Pol_2014.pdf

    And even in case all tourist caught fish are being released unharmed, in the resort’s restaurant they will eat imported fish from outside which is just externalising the ecological impacts to another place. Small scale fisheries have a way smaller ecological impact compared to industrial scale fisheries which provide supermarkets (and thus resorts) as they have less bycatch in any form.

    Above all, big-game fishing is nothing else than trophy hunting under water and I don’t see why Costa Rica should promote and expand this type of tourism while it is prohibited on land at the same time.

    Regardless everythhing I mentioned above, the Costa Rican law says this: “the first 164 feet (50 meters) of beachfront, measured from the mean high tide line, is considered the Public Zone. This guarantees that all beaches in Costa Rica are public. No buildings are permitted within the Public Zone.” Where is the new marina of Crocodile Bay planned? Exactly, in the Public Zone.

    Please watch the documentary ‘Quebrando los Huevos de Oro’ to learn more about the topic of ecotourism versus resort tourism within Costa Rica: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdR23l98isg

    Comment by Michiel — August 14, 2015 @ 11:57 pm

  11. Things are changing — http://www.ticotimes.net/travel/2016/10/marina-pez-vela-quepos/

    Comment by Freddy Pacheco León — October 14, 2016 @ 7:05 am

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