A long, skinny country with the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts only separated by a short helicopter ride above a spine of volcanoes, Costa Rica abounds in natural splendour, as well as rich culture to be found in Spanish colonial cities and laid-back surfing towns busy with yoga retreats and beach bars.
Anglers will be in their element on a Costa Rica charter in one of the richest sportfishing grounds on earth. At the same time, surfers, divers, hikers and horse riders will find a pristine, thrilling wilderness to entertain them. The yachting infrastructure in Costa Rica is also increasingly impressive, with superyacht marinas in several regions on the Pacific Coast.
Whether you want to white water raft through the jungle, soak in hot springs under a volcano, or play a round on a lush golf course by the sea, Costa Rica is a place to breathe deep and jump off the yacht into a sparkling sea of possibilities.
There are five main regions for cruising on the Costa Rica Pacific coast. Due to the length and varied topography of the country, there’s a significant climate range between regions, from dry and sunny in the north to cool and wet in the cloud forests to hot and humid in the rainforests of the south. It’s a fascinating country to explore by superyacht. Here’s a short guide to help you decide where to visit on a Costa Rica yacht charter, running north to south.
The coast of Guanacaste is the golden child of Costa Rica tourism — a sunny place of stunning white sand beaches, dry, sunny weather, and a growing number of luxury spa and golf resorts. The most exclusive area is the Papagayo Peninsula, a yachting playground of secluded horseshoe bays and high-end resorts. Dock your yacht at the superb IYG superyacht marina, dine and spa at the Four Seasons, and play a round at the magnificent Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. The Papagayo Peninsula is a green oasis of lush forest and turquoise waters, where long days are spent swimming in perfect blue-green coves and wandering through the dense forest, howler monkeys chattering in the canopy.
The stunning Nicoya Peninsula is a little harder to get to and, therefore, less developed than Guanacaste, at least for now. Long considered a bit of an off-grid secret, the area is becoming increasingly popular as tourists discover the beautiful beaches of Malpais and Santa Teresa. At the same time, the laid-back surfer town of Nosares draws people with its yoga treats, turtle nesting sites and Pacific breaks.
The Northern Zone (Inland)
From Guanacaste, we strongly suggest a trip inland to the Arenal volcano, where you can soak in hot springs at thermal spa resorts, go hiking, or even enjoy some of the best windsurfing/kitesurfing in the world on Lake Arenal, view of the volcano in the distance. The Northern Zone also offers the unmissable Monteverde Cloud Forest, where jaguars, ocelots, pumas and spider monkeys hide in the trees, and you can spot unique bird species, including the resplendent quetzal. Walk across suspension bridges in the clouds or zipline through the canopy in this biodiversity hotspot.
The north of this good-time coast is littered with hotels and bars, but the Manuel Antonio National Park earns this region its spot on the must-travel list. Manuel Antonio is a relatively small reserve, but it packs a punch, with its forests home to three-toed sloths, toucans and macaws, crocodiles, and a whole host of monkeys, including white-faced capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and howler monkeys. The hills roll down to some of Costa Rica’s best beaches, including one showstopper with two crescent beaches back-to-back, separated only by a thin strip of rainforest.
The activities in Manuel Antonio are abundant, including horse-riding on the beach, ziplining, waterfall rappelling, hot springs in the jungle, kayaking up rainforest streams, and snorkelling coral reefs just off the coast. As you cruise south from Manuel Antonio, you come to a pristine, undeveloped area of steep, jungled coastline and the quiet, wide beaches of Dominical, Matapalo and Uvita. Rent a horse and gallop to your heart’s content.
Heading further south, you enter the hot, steamy forests of the Osa Peninsula. The south coast is hard to get to and thickly jungled, with few roads and little infrastructure — meaning that it is a magnificent coast to explore by superyacht, particularly since the opening of the luxury Golfito Marina, which accommodates superyachts up to 350 feet.
The Osa Peninsula is home to the splendid Corcovado National Park, where you might see the elusive tapir in jungle clearings or spot a jaguar in the fork of a tree. Drake Bay is a humpback whale nursery and offers the longest whale watching season in the world, while the waters also teem with dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and other species of whales, as well as a stunning array of game fish for keen sport fishers. From here, you can explore Zancudo Beach, fringed with forest and mangroves hiding monkeys and crocodiles, and surf the famous break at the surfers’ haven of Pavones, producing some of the longest waves in the world at over 1km long. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see bioluminescence in the water around Zancudo, so be ready to jump on the paddleboard or kayak to float through a galaxy of stars.
Cocos Island is around 350 miles off the coast, a UNESCO-listed National Park of extraordinary natural value. The volcanic island is home to the only humid tropical rainforest on an island in the East Pacific, while the nutrient-rich waters and coral reefs attract an astonishing range of marine life, from whale sharks and blue whales to giant mantas and hammerheads.
Considered some of the best diving in the world for the big pelagic fish, remote, beautiful Cocos Island was once famous for its legends of pirate treasure but is now renowned for what lies underneath its clear, pristine seas.
Because the country is so narrow, superyacht guests travelling the Pacific coast of Costa Rica can still access the Caribbean coast via a 2-hour scenic helicopter flight over this stunning landscape. The Caribbean side of the country is a paradise of azure waters and coconut palms, with highlights including the Tortuguero National Park, where you can spot sloths, sea turtles and giant manatees as you kayak through a flooded forest.