Advice For First Time Travelers to Costa Rica

Costa Rica projects an image of rainforest canopy tours, crystal clear blue water, and the free-spirited Pura Vida mentality. While these things are all as good as advertised, many first time travelers to Costa Rica may be surprised to learn that they suffer from a unique set of modern problems. This guide will help soften the blow of the culture shock and prepare travelers for a great trip to Costa Rica.

First the pleasant surprises. English is spoken throughout the country and American dollars are an acceptable form of currency. For casual purchases, keep some Colones in your wallet; the exchange rate is roughly 600 Colones/ $1 USD. Also, the entire country is wired in 110V so American appliances will work without cumbersome adapters.

The most common entry point to this country is the San Jose Airport (SJO) which has surprisingly modern customs and immigration terminal. It is here that some of the shine of the country may wear off if you are not prepared.

For starters, there are signs posted reminding tourists that it is illegal to engage in sexual intercourse with minors. There are reminders that possession of Cocaine, Marijuana, and Opiates is also quite illegal. Those who think that Costa Rica is a third-world lawless zone should go elsewhere, because the Policia in Costa Rica do not have a sense of humor regarding these serious crimes.

The taxi stable at the airport is the one place in the entire country where travelers should be on the lookout for pickpockets and shady unlicensed cab drivers. These ne’er-do-wells may promise an exclusive tour of the surrounding countryside that you can’t get anywhere else; these can lead to horror stories of tourists being robbed and stranded in an unfamiliar land. The best counter to this problem is to arrange transportation ahead of time with a reputable transport company.

Over the last few years the roads in Costa Rica have been improved tremendously, however there are still places where the pavement gives way to dirt, rocks, and mud. Also there are virtually no roads in the country wider than two lanes. Therefore as you leave San Jose factor in additional travel time for highway problems. Vehicle breakdowns, accidents, and mudslides can delay traffic for hours, so be prepared to stop for a while.

Once out in the countryside, the Pura Vida mentality will take hold of you. Rural Costa Ricans are friendly, honest, and generally concerned with the safety of their foreign guests. Violent crime is virtually non-existent outside of San Jose and the fishing, ecotourism, and volcanoes truly do live up to their world-class reputation.

A final note: Customs charges a $36 deportation tax when you leave the country regardless of your destination. This fee is due on site in cash or else you cannot leave the country. This is non-negotiable and can be a burden for backpackers and other travelers on a budget who are down to a few pennies when it’s time to leave. Make sure you set aside this money before you spend yourself out.

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August 15, 2010

On August 15th Craig enjoyed his last day in Costa on the Wanderer along with good friends Andrew (from Playa Garza), Andrew (from Playa Jacksonville), and the Georgia peach Paula. It was a relaxing trip without the hustle and bustle of the TV crew, but Craig still found time to catch a 150lbs. Striped Marlin.

With a meter-long razor-sharp spear and a top speed over 60 knots, these fish are known for their aggressive fighting tactics and bulldog strength. This particular Marlin had the attitude of a bareknuckle street-fighter, but Craig stayed vigilant on the reel and Alex was right there to safely bill and release this massive marine monster.


Of course the greatest victory for FishingNosara crews is the safe release of all billfish. As with dozens of other Marlins and Sailfish caught by the Wanderer this season, this brutal behemoth was safely released back into the blue water.

Captain William and the boys are feeling on top of the world these days. The fish are biting, the clients are smiling, and the schedule is filling up fast.

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year already since completing the Wanderer. This boat represent a classic story of a few dudes getting themselves WAAAAYYYY in over their heads, but persevering to succeed beyond even their own imaginations.

August 14, 2010

Craig Sutton and the Inside Sportfishing crew had one thing on their minds when they hit the water on August 11th: Marlin.

This bad boy came tearing up the spread and hit the naked ballyhoo rig so hard it almost pulled the rod holder right off the boat. After an amazingly acrobatic 25 minute fight, the fish was finally in range to be billed. With the stress of the fight and the huge stature of the fish, we decided to release without removing it from the water.

On the final day of filming, the crew got a Blue Marlin hooked up and tailwalking for the cameras, but this one got away. They retreated to the reefs and caught a whole boatload of Yellowfin Tunas and Dorados.



Look for episodes of Inside Sportfishing from Nosara in the near future. It was a blast to host these seasoned world travelers and treat them to some world-class fishing and down-home fun!

 

August 9, 2010

It was as real special honor to welcome Sam August, Shea McIntee, and the rest of the Inside Sportfishing crew to Nosara for a week of enjoyment in our little slice of paradise. They took several Costa Rica Safari Tours of the surrounding areas and absorbed the pura vida culture, food and fun.

They kicked off the first of their three full days fishing with a real treat: The Return of Travis Tabor! That’s right, he was back on the Wanderer to finish the Grand Slam.

All eyes and lenses were waiting for Travis’ Rooster to rear it’s head. First thing in the morning, he nailed this 30lbs. Rooster Fish, completing the Costa Rica Grand Slam. Throughout the day the TV show crew boated a half-dozen Yellowfin tunas.

Congratulations Travis, you have accomplished one of the rarest feats in Fishing.
Pura Vida Amigo!


August 6, 2010

On August 6th client Scott McKee and his friends were on the Wanderer for the first of three full days fishing. On the first trip they caught a nice-sized Dorado and hooked up but lost a pair of Sailfish.

August 7th was the high point for Scott McKee’s party as they caught two fish of a lifetime. First up was this 100lbs. Sailfish (above) that put on a real show for these anglers. After a safe release, they set their sights on the big daddy Blue Marlin.

What a fight! This guy was a heck of a catch and he wanted no part of a photo session. This is as close as he felt like coming, and Scott clearly had no problem with that. The party rounded out their trip on the 3rd day with a nice Yellowfin tuna and a brutish Amberjack.


August 5, 2010

On August 3rd we welcomed our new friend Travis Tabor for the first of five full days fishing. Travis is a fellow First Coaster (he hails from St. Augustine) and he brought some trademark Florida enthusiasm with him.

The first day was a little slow, but his second trip things picked up in a big way. On August 4th Travis started off the day with two awesome Sailfish releases.

Then a big bad Blue Marlin came tearing through the spread and hit the high speed marlin rig like a steam locomotive. After a brief but vigorous fight, they boated and released this incredible Blue Marlin.




August 5th was full of action but with more humble results. Captain William put Travis on a couple of Sailfish, but they managed to escape this time. They rounded out the evening on the inshore reef and filled the sushi trays with an assortment of tunas.

With the Sailfish and Marlin in the bag, Travis decided to make a run at the legendary Costa Rica Grand Slam. Next up was the red devil known as Cuberra Snapper.

Using FishingNosara’s exclusive Cuberra Fishing Tactic, Mr. Tabor hauled in this evil looking 45lbs. Cuberra off the bottom despite this species’ reputation for fighting like the devil. Nice smile by the way!

Could Travis catch the elusive Rooster Fish and complete the Costa Rica Grand Slam? The suspense would build as we’d have to wait a few days to find out.

July 30, 2010

Captain William and the crew barely had time to say goodbye to Jody Barone because the Wanderer was booked for a Sunset cruise that evening.

Client Ronald Smith and his party enjoyed a cool sunset cruise. They caught a 20lbs. Amberjack and enjoyed pods of whales and packs of dolphins. As usual with the Sunset cruise, fishing is optional but relaxation and fun are mandatory!

July 30, 2010

July 30th was a busy day on the Wanderer. First, client Jody Barone was on board for a half-day fishing for the big billfish. They trolled all over the area and got lots of bites. Unfortunately they lost a big Marlin but they hooked up some Sails.

It was all smiles by the end of the day; they had caught and released two MASSIVE 100lbs. Sailfish. Awesome job!




Captain William and the crew barely had time to say goodbye to Jody because the Wanderer was booked for a Sunset cruise that evening.

July 29, 2010

On July 20th clients Doug, Ken, and Gina booked the Wanderer for a day of fishing and fun. Doug writes, “On the first trip, we had a nice Marlin hookup but after an hour, lost the battle. ¬†Later that day, I landed a nice sailfish estimated at 125lbs.”

Doug was so stoked that on July 29th he enlisted his buddies Earl and Kevin to head out for another trip. Once again, They were on the hunt for Marlin. Doug writes, “On the second trip, we had six Marlin strikes but unfortunately no hook-ups. We did find a nice barrel floating and holding bait fish. We ended up landing four huge Dorado – 50lb-70lb range.”



He was all smiles back on shore. “Captain William, David and¬†Alex were a ton of fun to fish with. I would recommend Captain William, the Wanderer, and it’s crew to anyone. These were two of the best days I spent during my month in the Nosara.”