The tours offered at Bahía Rica are in the Gulf of Nicoya on the west coast of Costa Rica. The gulf is scattered with islands and the shore is offering a diversity of untouched beaches, cliffs and mangrove. The calm water in the gulf is perfect for kayaking and boat trips.
Countless species of fish swim the delicate marine environments surrounding Bahía Rica. Snorkeling and just swimming on the beach will bring you face to face with any number of these, while sport fishing tours can offer anglers the thrill of catching and the possible satisfaction of eating your catch. Dolphins and whales make appearances along the coast and sometimes in the Gulf of Nicoya.
In the Gulf of Nicoya, a string of islands (Isla Chira, Isla Guayabo, Isla Negritos, and Isla San Lucas) provide homes and nesting sites for birds. Frigate birds, spoonbills, and brown boobies, to name a few, are protected on these islands. Isla Guayabo serves as a warm winter nesting site for the peregrine falcon.
Within the biological reserves of southern Nicoya, you can spot anteaters, boa constrictors, ocelots and pumas, herons, caracaras, and agoutis.
Many animals live in the lush green of mangrove colonies: raccoons, frigate birds, crabs, kingfishers, lizards and snakes of numerous variety, oysters, and even stingrays and small sharks.
The Gulf of Nicoya region is famous for the Ridley turtles that bombard the Ostional beach to lay their eggs during specific times of the year. Largest of all turtles, the Leatherbacks, consistently nest at Playa Grande. Full-grown males can measure 10 feet in length and weigh up to 2,000 pounds!
The Islands of the Gulf of Nicoya
This is the second largest island of Costa Rica (Coco Island is bigger). Around 3500 inhabitants live there on fishing, subsistency farming or work on the salinas, where salt is extracted from sea water. These salt pans are popular with roseate spoonbills and other wading birds. Isla Chira is bisected by a large estuary at the east leading into a canal through vast mangrove swamps.
Most of the 1100 inhabitants of Venado Island are huddled together in the fishing communities on the northern side. Hiking trails through the protected forest lead to viewpoints or you can make guided tours to the mangroves.
This island is covered with tropical dry forest and has some nice beaches. The island is home to 200 fishermen.
This is the smaller sister island to Isla Caballo and it is uninhabited with the exception of a caretaker having an eye on things.
Isla San Lucas
The island just off of the southeast tip of the peninsula was once a sacred burial place for pre-Columbian Indians. These Indians were wiped out by a Spanish conquistador. Currently, the island is uninhabited, but rich in archaeological history. Isla San Lucas was a penal colony until 1991. It had the reputation of being the roughest jail in Costa Rica and its 117 year history is rich with tales of violence. A network of prison cells hosted society’s undesirables who ran the community, fished, farmed and did domestic chores. Today the prison walls are crumbling in ruins and the jungle has grown over big parts of the structures. The island is registered in the National Park list since the beginning of 2008.
Isla Gitana (Isla Muertos)
This island protects the Bahia Gigante from rough weather, making the bay popular with boaters. On Isla Gitana, the Fantasy Island Yacht Club, was a funky sailors hang-out until it closed in 1998. The island’s alias, Isla Muertos, gives clue to a more remote history: Indians had used it as a burial post and still you can see graves there, nowadays christianized with crosses.
You will see local fishing boats scattered around the coast of this island as there are a number of fishermen locating here. At the east end of the island you’ll find a big beach with nice shade under the numerous palm trees. There is also a couple of nice tunnels one can climb or paddle through on the right tide.
This small island is the closest island to the Paquera ferry landing. From the ferry landing you can see the old graveyard behind the white sand beach. The local people have been burying their deceased here until recent days.
Particularly enchanting for it’s beauty, Tortuga Island is known for its immaculate white sand beach and turquoise waters, a perfect stop for swimming, snorkelling and beach fun. It actually consists of two uninhabited islands, situated in front of the Curu Wildlife Refuge: Tortuga and Tortugo. A female and a male turtle. The famous island is the female Tortuga. Belive it or not, on your way out to Tortuga, you are likely to spot turtles!
Biological Islands Reserves
The islands below are protected seabird sanctuaries and off limits for visitors. With binoculars, birdwatchers can nevertheless enjoy bird watching from a boat.
This is the largest of four known nesting sites in Costa Rica for brown pelicans. The island also affords breeding for boobies and frigate birds and accommodates peregrine falcons in winter. The ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya from Puntarenas to Paquera passes close by the cliff-bound rocky islet and you can watch the crowds of circling birds.
The Negritos Islands are neighbors of Isla Tortuga and comprise two islands separated by a narrow channel. They are covered with scrubby forest. On one of the island (Isla Nancital) you can visit the endangered Spider Monkeys.
This island lies in front of Punta Morales, 20 km north of Puntarenas. It is amazing to tour around these island and see, listen to and smell the birds as it is a breeding place for a huge colony of Frigate birds and Brown Pelicans.
Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco
This unique reserve lies on the wet tropical and dry tropical ecotone. The Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco, located at the southwestern end of Nicoya, is truly a hiker’s paradise. The trails within this 2,900-acre park lead to some of the most spectacular beaches in southern Nicoya, Playa Cabo and Playa Balsita.
Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú
Covering 208 acres, this refuge protects forests, mangrove swamps, beaches, and the contained flora and fauna. Three beaches grace this area; Playa Curú, Playa Colorado, and Playa Quesara. Turtles are fond of these beaches and regularly come to lay their eggs.