3/26/2010

On the Water in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

I recently put together some material for a project in Costa Rica that involves sport fishing, diving and surfing. They had very little practical knowledge on the subject matter and wanted someone who could create some copy for their website. This is the gist of what they received.

Fishing
In the northwest corner of Costa Rica there resides one of the premier sport fishing destinations in all the world. This is one of the country's most fertile fishing areas and definitely the best area for marlin. Fishing these waters is less about quantity and much more about quality. At last count, there were more than 80 current IGFA world record fish from Costa Rican waters, including 21 all tackle, 41 line class and 18 fly. 40, yes 40, of those IGFA world records have been established in the waters of the northwest.

The Gulf of Papagayo is home to an interesting and amazing mix of inshore and offshore ocean life. It is particularly known as one of the world's best fisheries for sailfish and for great numbers of striped, blue and black marlin, some approaching 700 pounds. These are also the waters of record class roosterfish. Sixty to seventy pound fish are common, with frequent catches approaching 100 pounds. Other species of note include, yellow fin tuna to 300 + lbs., dorado, wahoo, roosterfish, Pacific Dog snapper, amberjack, big cubera snapper, grouper, cabrilla, and jack crevalle. Among the vast archives of sacred sport fishing destinations around the world, few stand in comparison to the unusually prolific nature of the Gulf of Papagayo fishery.

Diving
Bounded on the north by the fabled Murcielagos (Bat) Islands, and on the south by the equally famous Catalina Islands, the Gulf of Papagayo plays host to the best diving found within 200 miles of the coast. Within easy reach of Marina Papagayo, you’ll enjoy some of Costa Rica's most nutrient rich waters, places like Mango, Monkey Head, Surprise, Aquarium,  Fantasma, Rainbow, Key Largo and River Plate - each a divers fantasy. These dive sites are a nexus for seahorses, manta rays, eagle rays, hawkfish, angelfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, pompanos, turtles, sharks, octopus, many species of eels, humpback, pilot and killer whales. Manta rays are most commonly seen at the Catalina Islands between December and April.

Diving is a year round activity in the Gulf waters. The average yearly temperatures are in the range of 24-26°C (75-79°F) from mid-May to mid-December and can fall to 21°C (70°F) at depth from December to April. While the water temperatures are warmer and visibility better during the May-December period, this is the green season, so you should expect rain during this time of year. The average visibility is about 20 to 60 feet, and up to 80 on clear days. Variation is due to the water being fortified with nutrient rich plankton feeding a vast hierarchy or marine life.
With so many locations to dive on, the area offers an adventure for every level of diver. Marina Papagayo affords access to an undersea world that is a veritable rainbow of oceanic life.

Surfing
Costa Rica was discovered as a wave riding paradise in the 1960's. Since that time, the breaks along the Pacific coastline of Guanacaste have experienced increasing popularity. Carving out a spot as one of the top places in the world to surf, more and more surfers from around the world are traveling to Costa Rica in search of the perfect wave. The rainy and dry seasons have distinct characteristics: abundant swells and onshore winds during the rainy season, crystal clear water and offshore winds during dry season.

The most well known surf spots in the country, Ollie's Point and Witches Rock, are exploding just minutes from Marina Papagayo. Ollie's Point is known for it's fast hallow right, a wave of perfection that holds mythic status among die hard wave riders. This break produces waves that roll on for 300 meters. Three rides here and you are through for the day. Witches Rock, to the north, is an absolute shrine to surfing, a destination of daring. When the south swells roll into Santa Rosa National Park, the Rock pitches smooth over head tubes.  When it's on, these waves challenge even the pros.

I posted the fishing portion on the Sport Fishing Forum, of which I am a member.

All the best> Seth Horne


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