Tortuga Island – Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Arriving to the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Tortuga Island, you half way expected Mr. Roarke and his trustworthy sidekick, Tatoo to be onshore welcoming us to Fantasy Island. Smiles everyone, smiles. Which certainly wasn’t difficult knowing the passengers of Manta Ray catamaran will be spending the entire day on this private island owned by Calypso Cruises.
Long before the sun had risen, I was whisked from my hotel by private driver to start the journey from Jaco to the marina of Puntarenas. Along the way, the driver picked up Chad and Paula Clark from Portland, OR and Natalie and Tanya from Boston, MA. The 5 of us bonded quickly over fueled excitement and a typical Costa Rican breakfast consisting of eggs, bean, rice, tortillas, juice, coffee and fruit.
About 30 other passengers began to arrive from San Jose, including a local filming crew, making this a comfortable amount of people for the tour. About 9 AM, we were called out to the docks to be introduced to the professional crew in their crisp whites along with nautical safety instructions, location of bathrooms and most importantly, when the bar would open once we were at sea.
The morning passed leisurely as we sailed through the Gulf of Nicoya. The Calypso’s Captain pointing out Cedros Island, Jesusita Island, the bird sanctuary of Guayabo Island, Sugarloaf Island, Gypsy Island and the now closed maximum security prison of San Lucas Islands. These beautiful, protected uninhabited islands and bird sanctuaries are only accessible only by water.
Just as quickly we disembarked from the boat, the culinary crew began to preparation our 4 course gourmet lunch and the activity crew went into full force ensuring that each and every passenger were enjoying themselves. Every type of activity was available snorkeling, banana boat, jet skis, paddle boats or simply lying in a hammock under the cool breezes of the swaying palm trees sheltering the island.
Shortly after noon, lunch was served, again by the crew in their crisp whites and oh my goodness, it was simply fabulous fresh corvina ceviche, BBQ’ed chicken, 3 types of fresh salad (try the pasta salad, its was worthy of 2nds says this girl). Cake was served at the end to celebrate a couple on their honeymoon as well as an wedding anniversary. I must say, this crew went out of their way to make it a perfect day. Fresh fruit and drinks were served as we sailed over to the island, before you even figured out where to throw the trash, a crew member was there to collect your trash. Service was impeccable.
About 4 PM, we noticed the crew began to pack up the food and close down the bar, bringing everything down to the beach; however, the cataraman was still sitting out far in the bay. We then learn one of the catamaran motors wouldn’t start. Trust me, there was not one person that seemed disappointed that we were forced by mechanical failure to stay longer on the island. The jokes began circulating that our cruise went from Fantasy Island to Gilligans Island. Everyone was in good spirits knowing we would catch another gorgeous sunset.
Soon the orange tender boats arrived on shore to deliver the passengers out the ship. Needless to say, the joke then became the Titanic….woman and children first. Three guys, including the famous Costa Rica chef, Chef Rafael, who was filming an upcoming cooking show, began playing the calypso keyboards…comedy….remember when the Titanic went down the music was still playing.
Slowly with one engine roaring, we make our way in the dark, back to port, yet seizing the moment for another extraordinary Costa Rican sunset! Smiles Everyone, Smiles!