Half- and full-day excursions and sunset cruises are offered from dozens of beaches along the Pacific coast. By far the most popular trip is to Isla Tortuga , in the Gulf of Nicoya. Several companies offer daylong excursions from Puntarenas  and Los Sueños, near Jacó  (the cruises are also offered as excursions from San José).
Natural-history cruise touring is a splendid way to explore Costa Rica’s more remote wilderness sites. Normally you’ll cruise at night so that each morning when you awake, you’re already anchored in a new location. You spend a large part of each day ashore on guided natural-history hikes or recreational-cultural excursions. Most vessels cruise the Pacific coast.
Lindblad Expeditions (tel. 212/765-7740 or 800/397-3348, www.expeditions.com ) and National Geographic Expeditions (tel. 888/966-8687, wwww.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com) offer 8-, 11-, and 15-day itineraries combining Costa Rica and Panamá aboard the 64-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion. I escort two trips each winter: Join me (www.christopherbaker.com )!
Windstar Cruises (tel. 206/281-3535 or 877/827-7245, www.windstarcruises.com ) uses its luxurious 148-passenger Wind Song for nine-day itineraries, December–March, down the Pacific Coast and combining Panamá and Costa Rica.