Golfito & The Gulfo Dulce

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Sixty five nautical miles south east of Drake Bay, and around the entirety of the Oso Peninsula lies Costa Rica’s southern most port of call, and the once booming port of Golfito. This small town tucked deep into the Golfo Dulce is where we’d be meeting up with our friends, Ryan, Melissa and their their baby boy, Ilo, as well as where we’d eventually be clearing out of the country. Rachel and I were very excited to see our good friends again and this would be the fist time that I met their son. 

Shot for  Ellie Activewear
Shot for  Ellie Activewear

Golfito is a strange and almost forgotten part of Costa Rica. With no surf, clear water or white sand beaches, this stretch of coastline does not get the influx of tourist dollars that much of the rest of the country enjoys. This does mean though that the jungles and wildlife here have had a chance to recover, and coastline reflects an absence of man. 

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With the Swans now on board, we were excited to go and explore further up into the gulf. Unfortunately, this time year there’s little to no wind, unless it comes in squall form, so we ended up motoring a lot! The anchoring throughout the Golfo Dulce can be a bit tricky, as it’s one of the only rainforest fjords in the world. This can make anchoring a challenge, lowering your anchor into 60 feet of water, only 500 feet from the shore. From shore the depth would drastically drop from 6ft to over a hundred and we had to make sure our anchor set well on the wall and that we also had enough room to swing without grounding in the shallows only a boat length or two away. It often felt like we could walk straight from to the beach to the boat. 

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We found several stunning places to anchor Agape and enjoy the refreshingly cool water. One of the best places we found was in front Dolphin Quest, where we met Jahza, whose father owns the property. He was kind enough to show us around and up into the the jungle to a waterfall back on their land. Here we also took the dingy around the point to one of the few places that had clear water and even a small coral reef to do some diving and spearfishing. There we even saw a reef shark, turtle, spotted rays and tons of brightly colored reef fish. 

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Just to the east of Jahzaʼs property lives another family with a young boy named Jade who showed us one of the cayman crocodiles that lives in the river near their house. 

While here, the Swans and us enjoyed lazy days of swimming, walks down the endless red sand beaches, rope swings and just being together. It’s so nice to have friends come to visit that donʼt really care what they do or how they spend their days, so long as we are spending time together. We were lucky enough to have the Swans with us for two weeks in the Gulfo Dulce and though I originally was a little worried about having baby Ilo onboard everything went great. It gave me a lot more confidence that one day Rachel and I might have kiddos of our own while sailing.

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The big excitement and drama during the Swan’s visit came as we motored back into Golfito at the end of their stay. We heard over the radio that a fishing boat had capsized and that three people were missing. The call came in right as a large squall moved across the bay drastically reducing our visibility. The radio call went out over and over to the Costa Rican Navy and the Coastguard, but there was no response. Finally, a US Coastguard cutter that happened to be in the area responded to the scene. They asked for any vessels in the area to assist in the search for the missing men and we were happy to do so. After about 20 minutes of searching in the pouring rain, we managed to find the capsized fishing boat and call it in, although we could not see anyone onboard. After the fast response boat was launched and the US cutter had things under control, we headed back into port. On our way in and about 3 hours after the first radio calls for assistance came in, the Costa Rican Navy finally responded… Later contacted by the US Coastguard to let us know that the missing men had been found and were safe.

Looking for the missing fishermen.

Looking for the missing fishermen.

Rachel also rescued this little guy out in the middle of the bay that had been washed out by a rainstorm.

Rachel also rescued this little guy out in the middle of the bay that had been washed out by a rainstorm.

Rachel’s birthday would also pass as we drifted around this jungle paradise and I planned a surprise day for her at a resort tucked way up into the bay, and that was only accessible by boat. We anchored off their private beach, where the next day she would enjoy morning yoga at their waterfront gazebo, a massage, cocktails and swimming at the pool (they also had wifi so she could call home) and a romantic sunset dinner. We even managed some wildlife viewings of toucans, morpho butteries, monkeys and even a snake hunting for birds. It was a great day and I managed to pull of the surprise! I still can’t believe my little lady is growing up so fast ;)

After 24 days, having friends onboard, Rachel’s birthday, and being at least a week over our visa, we were ready to continue our voyage south. 

Costa Rica is a beautiful country full of kind and generous people, and spectacular wildlife. If you are a little adventurous and have the time, it’s quite easy to get off the main tourist track and find the true gems this country has to offer. We spent just over three months exploring the west coast and feel like we only scratched the surface of what this country has to offer.

Shot for  Ellie Activewear