Jay & Nicole's Trip to Costa Rica - May 2007 

(click any small picture to get enlargement)

The trip to Costa Rica began with a two-hour flight from Caracas, Venezuela ... where we lived at the time.

Our destination was San Jose, which is the capital and is located in the middle of Costa Rica.

The view during the entire flight was of clouds.  We were entering a tropical rain forest area during the wet season, so rain and bad weather was to be expected.

We heard there was a tropical storm brewing in the Pacific Ocean, but it will hopefully stay to the north.

We landed and got to our hotel, which was located in the city center, without any issues.

San Jose is surrounded by mountains and is over 3000 ft above sea level... so it is quite cool when compared to the coastal areas.

The city is mid-sized and holds 10% of the 4 million Costa Rican inhabitants.  The main language is Spanish but most people are educated and quite a few speak English; the main religion is Catholic.

There are supposedly only a few people living in poverty, but the overall conditions didn't look great.

We walked to the main square since the weather had cleared up; many folks were walking around.

This area was quite modern and looked more like a European business center than American.

The Spanish had influenced the early architecture and there were a number of nice old buildings, like the Opera House.

We stopped for a quick drink and found there were no special Costa Rican drinks ... so we just had a Long Island iced tea.

On this vacation we had a total of two weeks to spend in Costa Rica.  During the 1st week we booked a cruise on a sailing ship in the Pacific Ocean; during the 2nd week we would tour the country.

The next day we boarded a shuttle which took us from San Jose to Jaco, in Herradura bay, where we would meet the ship.

The trip took 3 hours, including stops to buy tourist trinkets.

We arrived to the port as the sun was setting.  It took hours to fill out the paperwork before we could board the ship, which we could see on the other side of the breakwater.  Luckily they gave us snacks & drinks and we could begin meeting other passengers ... all were American.  The first night on the ship is called 'stow-away' and allows you to have a nice dinner and get a feel of the ship before it sails.

The next morning we could see the harbor area ... it was mostly retirement homes ... for Americans!  Costa Rica has long been a destination for US retirees ... but it is getting quite expensive, so many retirees are going to other countries like Panama or Belize.

At the mouth of the river which feeds the bay was the sprawling Marriot resort. 

The entire area was quite green and lush ... except for the brown areas, which are being cleared for new developments.

We were told that we would not leave until later in the afternoon... so we headed back to shore for sight-seeing. 

Our shuttle back and forth to shore was the life boat.  It is too bad we couldn't use one of the nice fishing boats in the harbor.

The walkway from the harbor to the Marriot hotel was quite unique ... a vegetable tunnel!

The Marriot hotel was quite fancy and had a complicated series of swimming pools.

Luckily no one minded that we used the facilities for the day ... including internet access!

Below, the view of the bay was quite spectacular.

The beach area was actually very disappointing.  There were few waves and the shore was a muddy type of sand.

Most locals drove right to the edge of the beach to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. 

Quite a few of the residents had boats ... most for sport fishing. The lush green hillsides being ruined by new developments. Our ship waiting for us in the middle of the bay.

There weren't any other places to explore on land, so we took the shuttle back to the ship.  When the sea is rough, it is difficult to get off the lifeboat and onto the steps ... this isn't a normal cruise liner!  

From Windjammer Brochure - about the "Legacy": 

This four-masted Barquentine sailing vessel, formerly named the the France II, was built in 1959 and served as a meteorological research vessel for the French Government. Acquired by Windjammer in 1989, she was renovated with custom interiors, spacious rooms and modern navigation controls.

Passengers = 122   Crew = 43   Length = 294 ft   Width = 40 ft

Our room was on the main deck level, with a/c, a window and a decent bathroom w/shower ... quite nice for an old wooden ship!

The hallway on our level was quite wide.  The next floor down is a bit more cramped; the rooms have bunk beds and portholes.  
The bottom floor is even smaller and the rooms have no windows.

The dining area was on the same level as our room but towards the back of the ship; it had about 10 tables, with open-seating. The meals were quite casual and allowed us to exchange stories.

We spent most of the cruise on 'top deck', where the bar and a covered area were located. 

This figurehead was of the founder of Windjammer, looking for new adventures.  The widow's net caught sailors who fell while working the bow sails, thus keeping women from becoming widows.

The deck was made of wood and wasn't slippery when wet; you could go barefoot all the time!

The mid-part of the ship was full of the rigging for the sails.  We were amazed by the amount of cables and rope.  The process of learning how to control the sails must take a long time.

The Captain and navigators spent most of the time in the control center at the back end (stern) of the ship.

Passengers could normally take turns steering the ship ... but on this trip is was not allowed ... which was good since Nicole forgot her driving glasses!

We were looking forward to leaving port but we were informed that we were still waiting for a lot of passengers.
It seems that there was bad weather in San Jose last night and no planes could land.  The planes were diverted to Miami and would only arrive tonight (Sunday).  The ship was now planning to leave on Monday morning.

The rest of the people arrived and told horrific stories about their journey; we are glad we came a day early! On Monday we left for Quepos and then would head to Drake's Bay and Golfito ... at each stop there would be excursions available, such as hikes, dives, tours, etc. 

The crew hoisted up the lifeboat and raised the anchors.  We quietly motored out of the bay, viewing the lush coast.

The seas were gentle and the weather was comfortable; 
we relaxed and just read on the top deck.  Periodically we could see thunderstorms forming over the coast, but we stayed dry.  The late-arriving passengers said that a tropical storm had formed in the Pacific and was headed towards northern Costa Rica ... 
... at least we were going the other way! 

As the afternoon progressed, the skies darkened and the wind picked up.  The Captain announced we could not go to Quepos; they don't have a dock and we'd have to use the life boats to get to shore, which would be too dangerous with big waves. 

The itinerary was changed and we headed to Coronado Bay, which was further down the coast and protected by islands.

It was interesting that the Captain could change the destinations on-the-fly, but I am sure that it took a lot of coordination; it also messed up plans for any excursions! 

The Captain was not familiar with this bay, so we progressed rather slowly; it got nice and calm!

We had 'happy hour' with snacks and rum swizzles, followed by some games and then dinner.

We stayed out in the bay for the evening and would only dock sometime on Tuesday morning.  

The next morning we saw many small buildings around the bay, with the rain forest looming behind.

After breakfast we got off the ship and went for a walk.  The area was not 'touristy', so there was not much else to do.  
The scenery, flowers and papaya trees were all quite nice. 

The road followed the bay for awhile.  We saw a ship carrying a very unique load ... yachts and fishing boats.  

It had apparently stopped in the bay to drop off a purchase that someone had made.  Water transportation is a necessity for these out-of-the-way places.   

We could look backwards and see the Legacy tied up to the dock.  

We had yet to see the sails raised and the Captain said the weather needed to clear before that could happen.

We laughed when we saw so many animals taking a siesta.  Almost every household had at least one dog.
We came to a little village and got a few stares, but people mostly ignored us.  It was very hot and many were drying their laundry.  

The road climbed steeply into the hill and then abruptly ended.  We were happy though, as it was too exhausting to go much further.

We returned to the harbor area and saw a bunch of ship-mates at a bar ... a nice, cold drink sounded like a good idea.

We relaxed and looked at tour books to figure out where we were.  Nicole also found one of the few cats around the area.

We returned to the ship for a late lunch and then departed the bay.  As we headed out to the open ocean we could get better glimpses of the green hills of the lightly inhabited barrier islands.

<==  Our 'reading area' for the 
         afternoon; made more  
         comfortable with mats.  

After swizzles & snacks,   ==> 
Nicole went to the room to      
read since it was cooler ...      
she ended up taking a well       
deserved nap; I had to finish     
the drink for her ... oh well!     

At this point we need to move to another page for the rest of the cruise story ... click below for more!

           Cruise (part1)      Cruise (part2)       Central Coast Area        Northern Beaches      Volcano (part 1)    Volcano (part 2)
               this page           next page