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About Costa Rica Cruises
Costa Rica cruises are available by small ship aboard the expedition-style, 100 passenger Pacific Explorer or aboard the luxurious, 148 passenger Wind Star sailing ship. With more than four percent of the world's wildlife species living within its borders, Costa Rica is decidedly one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. From pristine rain forests to glorious palm-fringed beaches, the "rich coast" lives up to its name in every imaginable way.
What can I do on a Costa Rica cruise?
You'll visit ports of call and remote landings the big ships pass by. And with a limited number of fellow travelers, your experience both on board and ashore is up-close, casual, and very personal, whether you're meeting the Kuna Indians of Panama's San Blas Islands or seeking wildlife in a Costa Rican jungle.
Cruise West's Zodiac inflatable excursion crafts take you right to remote bays and deserted shorelines, close enough to the water to trail your fingers in the sea as you watch for blue-footed boobies, red-billed oystercatchers, and magnificent frigate birds. On the edge of Panama's Darien Jungle, you step from a Zodiac launch onto a huge gnarled root in the streambank. A tattooed man, the headman of the Embera village, welcomes you ashore with a smile and a handshake. Thanks to Cruise West's expert Costa Rican naturalists and local contacts, you're given a true insider's view of this magical world.
Where does a Costa Rica cruise go?
Along with beautiful ports of call on the Costa Rican coast line, Costa Rica cruises often include stops in Panama, including sailing through the Panama Canal.
- San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica, founded in 1737.
Located in the geographic heart of the country, the city's population is approximately 340,000 in a total country population estimated at 3.8 million. San Jose is the perfect launching arena and transportation hub for adventures into the more wild and natural wonders of Costa Rica. Home to the country's major international airport, San Jose also offers all the amenities and creature comforts, with a variety of hotels, restaurants, markets, and museums. The climate is described as 'eternal spring' in San Jose, and is the perfect weather to visit public parks, markets, and squares throughout the city offering a wide range of goods, food, and convivial atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. The city's architecture is an odd mixture of styles from different eras.
- Los Suenos, Costa Rica
Los Suenos is a resort area located southwest of Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, on Herradura Bay. Los Suenos faces the Pacific Ocean on the seaward side, and is backed by a dense rainforest including the Carara Biological Reserve. In this region, dry forest and humid tropical forest ecosystems meet and provide a home to rare scarlet macaws. Los Suenos is also home to one of the best resorts in Costa Rica, including a beautiful golf course and world-renown sport fishing facilities.
- Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park is located on the central western coast of Costa Rica, with a mountain range separating the park from Costa Rica's central valley. The park's flora and fauna include an impressive mix of 109 mammal species, including the endangered squirrel monkey. Over 180 species of birds have been documented. Dominant trees include the black locust, balsa, monkey comb, bastard cedar, and mayflower.
- Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Tucked between the Osa Peninsula and the mainland, Golfo Dulce ("sweet gulf") is the water entrance to the intensely amazing Corcovado National Park. The gulf harbors an important estuarine habitat from the drainage of the Llorona, Corcovado, and Sirena rivers. Visitors enjoy varied recreational activities including kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and beach walks.
- Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
The unspoiled natural beauty of the region is one of Puerto Caldera's main attractions. Its rain forest, which start just inside the coastline and continue up into the mountain ranges, contain rivers, waterfalls, parks and wildlife preserves. There are no passenger amenities in Puerto Caldera except for a small, air-conditioned terminal with restrooms, information desk, public phones and a small selection of craft vendors.
- San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur is a tranquil fishing village nestled at the head of a horseshoe-shaped bay on the Pacific coast of southern Nicaragua. The lovely bay is peppered with small, private yachts and commercial fishing boats.
- Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
The view from the Bay includes Pelonas Islands, Cacique Point to the northwest and Centinela Point. The Wind Star will anchor and guests will be transferred by zodiac for a beach landing (tip: guests may want to prepare for water/beach landing with appropriate footwear).
- Drake Bay, Costa Rica
Drake Bay or Bahia Drake lies on the northern end of the Osa Peninsula in Puntarenas province. Probably one of the most well known destinations in the region, this tiny town by the bay is actually one of the most inaccessible places in the entire country. With a rich history of first being discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe, Drake Bay is the gateway to visiting the Corcovado National Park as well as enjoying a plethora of other activities and tours in the region.
- Curu National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica
Spend a morning exploring the Curu National Wildlife Refuge-a private reserve of which two-thirds is preserved as primary forest. The reserve includes 4.5 kilometers of coastline, with tiny coves and three beaches. Although it is small, there is an abundance of wildlife to be seen in this reserve-including up to 200 species of birds! Be on the lookout for capuchin and howler monkeys, as well as sloths and anteaters.
- Tortuga Island, Costa Rica
Tortuga Island is actually two islands - uninhabited and picture perfect- that lie just off the Nicoya Peninsula. Characterized by palm-fringed beaches and lush tropical flora, Tortuga is pretty and peaceful and offers terrific sheltered swimming and snorkeling in warm waters. Nearby, Curu Biological Reserve is small and privately owned. Easy walking paths within the forest might reveal an ocelot, an anteater, or a colony of capuchin monkeys.
- Coiba National Park, Panama
Isla de Coiba is the largest island of nine islands within the American Pacific, and is located within Coiba National Park. Coiba covers 120,000 acres and is part of one of the most extensive marine parks in the world, protecting three ecosystems of island, marine, and reef systems. The islands are internationally famous as a turtle nesting site, and also offer magnificent flora, fauna, and bird watching. The area is renowned for the giant Blue and Black marlins caught in the surrounding waters. Damas Bay offers a 325-acre reef, one of the largest in the Central American region.
- Darien Jungle, Panama
Darien National Park consists of several ecosystems, from coastal mangroves to lowland forests, and from mountain rainforest to the highland cloud forest of Pirre Mountain. Replete with endemic and rare species, Darien is the northernmost range of many South American species and the southern range of numerous Northern and Central American plants and animals. The Cana Biological Station protects diverse wildlife habitats and offers phenomenal bird watching.
- Portobelo National Park, Panama
In 1980, UNESCO and the OAS declared Portobelo a World Cultural Heritage Monument and a Monumental City of the Americas. Portobelo was once a favorite pirate target. As the Spanish mined silver and gold from Peru, they would transport their treasures north to the Pacific's Panama City, and then haul it overland to Portobelo on the Caribbean side. They built forts and warehouses to protect this precious cargo until it was shipped to Spain. So of course, the likes of Sir Francis Drake pirated this city many times. Henry Morgan staged a major raid from Portobelo on Panama City. Sir Francis Drake died in Portobelo, not because of fighting wounds but because of a mosquito bite. Drake was buried at sea near Portobelo in a lead coffin.
- San Blas Islands
Originally called the Kuna Yala, the San Blas Archipelago consists of 378 islands running from the Caribbean coast of Panama almost to the Colombian border. As an autonomous province, these islands are home to the Kuna Indians, who maintain their own customs, culture, and economic system. The archipelago offers fantastic diving, snorkeling, and commercial fishing activities.
- Panama City
Panama City is the capital city of the Republic of Panama. It is located on a six-mile stretch of the southern Pacific coast, from the Panama Canal to the ruins of Panama Viejo in the east. It is a thriving city with a terrific blend of the old and new. The city is adorned with a Spanish sea wall built 400 years ago and the 17th-century Metropolitan Church. Don't miss the lush tropical rainforest gardens.
- Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is one of the most important waterways of the world, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This engineering marvel allows navigators to avoid traveling several thousand extra miles around the dangerous southern tip of South America's Cape Horn. The Canal stretches 50 miles from coast to coast through large areas of virgin jungle, and provides annual passage for more than 12,000 large ocean-going vessels.
When can I go on a Costa Rica cruise?
Winter is prime time for Costa Rica cruises and you will find departures beginning in December through April. Only a few cruise lines offer this destination on some of their smallest vessels, so they often sell out well in advance.
How do I get there?
Costa Rica cruises can either be roundtrip from Puerto Caldera or northbound and southbound departing from either Los Suenos, Costa Rica or Colon, Panama. Flights are available from most major US gateways to either San Jose, Costa Rica or Panama City.