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- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
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Immediately west of the plaza in La Cruz, a paved road drops to the flask-shaped Bahía Salinas, ringed by beaches backed by scrub-covered plains lined with salt pans and mangroves that attract wading birds and crocodiles. The beaches are of white sand fading to brown-gray along the shore of Punta Descartes, separating the bay from Bahía Junquillal to the south. High winds blow almost nonstop December–April, making this a prime spot for windsurfing.
The road, unpaved and in horrendous shape at last visit, leads past the hamlet of Puerto Soley, where the road splits. The right fork leads via Playa Papaturro to Jobo, a fishing village at the tip of Punta Descartes. Turn right in Jobo for Playa Jobo and Playa La Coyotera.
The left fork leads to Bahía Junquillal; a 4WD vehicle is essential (this route was impassable during my last rainy-season visit due to mud and a washed-out bridge). En route, you’ll pass Refugio de Vida Silvestre Chenailles, a private wildlife refuge not currently open to the public.
Bolaños Island National Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Isla Bolaños) is a wildlife refuge protecting one of only four nesting sites in Costa Rica for the brown pelican, and the only known nesting site for the American oystercatcher. Frigate birds also nest on the rocky crag, about half a kilometer east of Punta Descartes, during the January–March mating season. Visitors are not allowed to set foot on the island, but you can hire a boat and guide in Puerto Soley or Jobo to take you within 50 meters.
Eco-Wind (tel. 506/2228-7146, www.ecoplaya.com, high season only) surf center at Eco-Playa Resort and the Kite Surf Center (Blue Dream Hotel & Spa, tel. 506/8826-5221, www.suntoursandfun.com), at Playa Papaturro, rent boards and offer classes and courses in windsurfing.
Hotels and Restaurants
Although the Dutch-owned Eco-Playa Resort (tel. 506/2679-9380 or 2228-7146, www.ecoplaya.com, $74 pp low season, $84 high season, two-night minimum required) is modestly attractive, this all-suite complex suffers from its location on Playa La Coyotera, a thin and totally unappealing beach. The 36 spacious rooms, suites, and villas (in seven categories) set amid landscaped lawns feature open-plan lounges with terra-cotta floors, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, TVs, telephones, kitchenettes, and upscale, motel-style decor. The soaring palenque restaurant opens to a crescent-shaped pool and sundeck.
The modern two-story Blue Dream Hotel (tel. 506/8826-5221, www.suntoursandfun.com, from $23 s, $34 d), at Playa Papaturro, specializes in windsurfing and has nine rooms (including a budget room) with terra-cotta floors and sliding glass doors to terraces with views, plus four larger wooden rooms for three people. The simple restaurant serves Italian fare. Its room rates are inanely complicated, varying almost monthly.
For dinner, head to the hilltop Restaurante Copal (tel. 506/2676-1006, 7:30–9 A.M. and 5:30–8:30 P.M. daily), serving up Italian fare and gorgeous views.
Getting to Bahía Salinas
Buses (tel. 506/2659-8278) depart La Cruz daily at 5 A.M., 8:30 A.M., 11 A.M., 2 P.M., and 4:15 P.M. daily for Puerto Soley and Jobo. Return buses depart Jobo 90 minutes later. A taxi will cost about $3 one-way to Puerto Soley, $8 to Jobo.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition