Cocal Amarillo: remote beaches, epic surfing – and soon, an airstrip

March 18, 2015

Cocal Amarillo has it all: secluded beaches, spectacular Pacific sunsets, and some of the best surfing in the country. For travelers hoping to get away from it all, nothing beat Bahía Pavones, the bay tucked into Costa Rica’s southwestern coast.

There’s just one problem: How do you get there?

This region is extremely remote, so when it comes to Cocal Amarillo, getting away from it all is pretty darn difficult. But thanks to the Development Board of the Southern Region of Puntarenas (or Jodesur), the community hopes to rebuild its long-defunct airstrip. Once the 350 million-colón ($657,000) project is complete, the tiny town of Cocal Amarillo will be able to receive flights from across the country.

“Bahía Pavones has re-emerged as one of the most promising destinations for adventure and ecotourism,” said Hans Mora, a representative of the project. “This is due to the scenic beauty of its landscapes, the fame of its waves in the world of surfing, and it is still home to great biodiversity and tropical forests all around.”

This Friday, delegates from numerous organizations will meet in Cocal Amarillo to sign an agreement – which should finally make this project possible. Visitors will include Director of Civil Aviation Alvaro Vargas, Golfo Dulce’s director of tourism Elberth Barrantes, and Nature Air’s commercial director Alexi Khayavi, among others.

A local airstrip was built back in the 1970s, but it was abandoned around 1986. Since then, the five-hectare property has become overgrown and useless. Getting here requires long hours in a car, and mass transit is nearly impossible. Meanwhile, bureaucracy has delayed the construction for nearly five years: Jodesur contributed most of the necessary funds in 2010, but it has taken time to secure the necessary permits and manpower.

For locals, an airfield – and an influx of tourism – could be a panacea for the community of 6,000 people.

“The Pavón district has the highest rate of social lag in the region,” said Mora. “This is essentially due to the lack of employment opportunities. The tourist visits that come are not enough. The biggest limitation is the precariousness of the road system, which is obscure and difficult. In this sense, the airfield would be of enormous help to increase opportunities for tourists to enter and exit the place without difficulty, [making Pavones] a strategic partner of the local economic recovery.

 

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