Before 1000 BC, Costa Rica
was a trading route between the southern Andean empires,
and the northern Mesoamerican empires. Archaeological
excavations have revealed trade goods, pottery, and
jade reflecting the presence of both cultures.
Spaniards were the first
known people to settle in Costa Rica. They were greeted
by over twenty clans
of various distinctions, most of whom maintained relationships
with the people of Panama and Nicaragua, the bordering
Today, Costa Rica is, in general, a place where individuals
and families alike can visit year round and find warm
climate and bright days. Nevertheless, temperatures
and weather can be quite unpredictable. If there is
one characteristic you should take into consideration,
it’s the rain. May to mid-November will bring
about afternoon rains and bright, sunny mornings. September
and October will likely be the wettest, with heavy
rains any time of the day, which may interrupt your
transports across the land, especially in the remote
areas of the country. The dry season is normally in
January and February, with winds being the only challenge,
sometimes bringing about gusty conditions and cooler
Peak season in Costa Rica
is during the winter months of North America. It’s important to plan in advance
during this time, and expect not to find many bargains.
The off-season, also called the “green season”,
is the time to find bargains with tour operators and
hotels. Visit in November, April, and May, when the
rains dissipate, leaving the landscape alive and green.
Twenty five percent of Costa
Rica’s land is maintained
as a system of national parks, wildlife refuges and
biological reserves. Their purpose: to protect and
serve the country’s flora and fauna. Their goal
is to alleviate the impact on the land from human settlement
and resource-extracting activities. Over the last thirty
years, about 75 protected areas have been established.
It’s an unbelievable statistic, but true. Costa
Rica’s reserves protect about four percent of
the globe’s total wildlife species and life zones.
There are rainforests, cloudforests, paramo (high-altitude
moorlands), swamps, lagoons, marshes and mangroves,
and tropical dry forest. In addition, there are a handful
of pre-Columbian settlements, beaches, and active volcanoes
that are protected. It can be helpful to remember that
the national parks are different from the refuges and
reserves in that they cater more to tourists via their
services and amenities.
A pass through the country’s capital, San Jose,
is quite enough for most travelers. If there is time
to spare, the city does have excellent cafes, vibrant
parks, an energetic university area, and a decent arts
district. Most travelers are quickly drawn to the outskirts
of the city, Valle Central, with its agriculturally
rich landscape, and distinctive volcanoes, including
Volcan Poas and Volcan Irazu, both of which can be
fantastic avenues to teach kids about this unique geology.
For the adventurer who seeks
the road less traveled, Zona Norte is the destination
to reach. It is often
overlooked because of its location to the far north
of the country. This area’s star is Volcan Arenal,
an active and entertaining volcano. Volcan Arenal spews
lava at night that seems to light up the sky. Zona
Sur is perfect for the serious hiker, with Mount Chirripo,
the mountain summit that towers over the entire country.
Parque Nacional Corcovado offers the last significant
area of tropical wet forest along the Pacific coast
of the isthmus. This park is a tremendous place to
walk and encounter Costa Rica’s wildlife.
The cloudforests are a must
see in Costa Rica. The place to experience them is
in Monte Verde. The cloudforests
there are some of the last remaining in the Americas.
The beaches of Manuel Antonio, Samara, and Nosara
are worth a trip also. To experience a bit of the
culture of the country, visit Limon province where
the Afro-Caribbean descendants
live and practice the old West Indian traditions
Herradura Bay Costa Rica,
a gem of a coastal town sits just 90 minutes from the
San Jose airport. Captain
Tom Carton, of Captain Tom’s Sportfishing, is
located in this magical little beach town.
Lois Carton, Captain Tom’s mother describes how
Tom came to be in Herradura Bay by saying, “Tom
traveled to Costa Rica by truck trailing his first
fishing boat. He had many adventures on his way down
and was lucky to get there in one piece. He first settled
in Playa Jaco, which is about five minutes from Herradura
Bay. The town 14 years ago was a tiny beach town that
was very popular with the surfing crowd. He bought
a piece of property in Herradura and was attracted
by the countryside of farmlands. Herradura Bay beachfront
is just a few restaurants even now. Tom has fished
out of that bay for fourteen years and started the
first charter fishing business there.”
The Captain is known for
his almost 100% hit rate, even after twelve years in
business. Guests can be
assured, Captain Tom has brought together a high
level crew, with years of experience, including First
R.J. Lilly, and 2nd mate, Douglas Martinez Serrano.
Together, they have provided countless numbers of
enthusiastic travelers a chance to catch the big fish
of the Pacific
When you charter a fishing
trip with Captain Tom, you get more than you pay for.
Of course, the Captain
high quality equipment to make fishing successful.
In addition, transportation to and from your hotel,
soft drinks, beer, and lunch are also included.
The “Estrella del Mar”, Captain Tom’s
custom-built 37 foot sport fisherman, operates out
of the Los Sueños Marina. The boat comes with
a 360-horesepower diesel engine, a twelve foot wide
cockpit, GPS, radar, fish finder, VHF radio, stereo,
telephone, and head and shower. It also has a salon
with two 8-foot benches, and a stratoglass enclosure,
among other amenities.
Imagine the coastal wind
blowing through your hair as you gallop gracefully
down a quiet beach. If you
try, you can almost feel the moist air of a mysterious
cloud forest. You can have this and much more when
you visit Captain Tom. Captain Tom strives to offer
something for most everyone, which makes family visits
extremely rewarding. He will help arrange just about
any adventure you are interested in, and Costa Rica
has plenty to offer. Snorkeling, dolphin and whale
watching, island cruises, and visits to secluded beaches,
among many other trips to various Pacific destinations,
are possible. A visit to the Carara Biological Reserve,
or a kayak tour of the Tulin River will make your trip
even more memorable. If that weren’t enough,
Captain Tom will help coordinate airfare, hotel and
ground transportation. Even if the more subdued activities
are more your speed, Tom will be your ticket to a good
time. Go ahead… plan on a family golf outing,
or a visit to the spa just for you.
Still, fishing is what the
Captain does best, and fishing in Costa Rica is where
he does it, for good reason.
On Tom’s trips, fishermen can go for Costa Rica
Marlin, Dorado, Huge Tuna, or the empirical Costa Rica
Sailfish. Statistics are awesome. Captain Tom states
on his web site, “It is common to release a dozen
or more sailfish in one day and not unusual to release
twenty!” The web site also proclaims, “During
the International Sailfish Tournament in Costa Rica
a few years ago, an all-time tournament record of 1,691
billfish were released by 120 anglers in 4 days.”
The fishing is outstanding
any time of year, although it has its seasons. Marlin,
sailfish, and roosterfish
can be caught all year round, generally, but it’s
important to note some months are better than others.
For example, sailfish is a best catch in February,
tuna is abundant from June through August, and Dorado
is prevalent December through April.
At Captain Tom’s new fishing lodge, The Captain’s
Lair, adventurers have a place to take refuge after
each long day of non-stop fun. The lodge is perfect
for families, with six villas, each with two bedrooms,
air conditioning, direct TV, full kitchens, king or
queen beds, and a living room. The grounds are beautifully
landscaped, with the greenest of green grass, tropical
foliage, accessorized by an enticing pool for all guests
to enjoy. Scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots and white-faced
monkeys remind the guests that this is a place one
must share with the earth’s creatures. The atmosphere
cries out for the guests to sit back, breathe deep,
and absorb the here and now.
Dining out in Costa Rica
can be expensive. You can expect to pay $7-9 for a
main dish, not including a
10% service charge and 15% sales tax. Thankfully, the
restaurant at The Captain’s Lair is always an
option. The restaurant there is an open-air facility
that features a true catch of the day. Ms. Carton says
that Tom’s inspiration for opening the restaurant
and bar came from one of his best friends, Bruce Buzelli.
Bruce was a top-notch chef in the states, and was drawn
to settle in Costa Rica because of the surfing. Now
Bruce runs the restaurant. Lois says, “He specializes
in creative seafood cuisine, using only the freshest
Captain Tom’s charters are custom in nature and,
appropriately, custom in price. A 50% prepaid deposit
is required. Captain Tom requires 30 days notice for
cancellation. Within 30 days, payments are non-refundable.
It is very common and comfortable
to rent a car for traveling around Costa Rica, especially
It is expensive, though, so it may be smart to consider
other forms of transport, if your group size warrants.
The country’s public bus system has a great reputation,
is cheap, frequent, and reliable, even in the less
Taxis are also readily accessible, and far-reaching.
Costa Rica can be expensive,
with prices, for example, for high-level accommodations
comparable to the U.S.
The key is knowledge, research, and preparation.
Having some insight and referrals are helpful. Captain
and his Lair are one treasure of a find.
Captain Tom is currently
offering a “Green Season
Special”. For only $375 per person (based on
4 anglers), travelers get three nights at the Captain’s
Lair, and one offshore fishing trip. The promotion
is good between June and October 2005.
Tom's Sports Fishing and Lodge
DESCRIPTION: For more than 12 years, Captain Tom's
has provided some of the best custom inshore and offshore
charters in Costa Rica's Herradura Bay area. GREEN SEASON
SPECIAL. June - October 2005. $375 PER PERSON (based
on 4 anglers) 3 nights and 1 Offshore fishing
de Turismo (ICT)
San Jose 1000, Costa Rica
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