Beaches of Bahia Culebra: Playa Hermosa, a Tica favorite

March 2015
#Playa Hermosa_Sandy beach#Playa Hermosa_Boat projects

After our most recent boat breakage debacle, we needed some time to unwind our nerves and relax. We departed Marina Papagayo at dusk and dropped our hook off Playa Hermosa as the last flecks of color retreated beneath a dark sky.

We awoke early to an already-hot boat, tackled a couple projects, and spent the day exploring the sands of Playa Hermosa, a locals’ beach where hotels and touristy restaurants are refreshingly few.

It didn’t take long for the midmorning sun to scorch away our thoughts of the preceding days’ stress, as we wandered the beach’s volcanic reef. Our concerns melted away, as our thoughts drifted toward finding shade and a cold drink.

Beneath the canopy of a tall palm tree, we met three women and two cute little boys, one of whom introduced himself as “Stephen Antonio.” The handsome three-year-old was enamored with Neil and spent the better part of a couple of hours quietly at his side. Meanwhile, I used my embarrassingly poor Spanglish to try to get to know the other members of Stephen Antonio’s family. That evening, Neil and I watched a fiery sunset over rocks that guard that western entrance to the bay, feeling satisfied after a truly pleasant day.#Playa Hermosa_Neil and Stephen AntonioNorthbound or bust!
After much deliberation, we decided to backtrack several hundred miles north to visit countries we’d skipped during our rush south. We weighed anchor early the next morning to move a couple miles south to Playa del Coco. We were determined to accomplish the hectic task of checking out of Costa Rica by midafternoon in hopes of catching up with Darren and Jodi from s/v Gratitouille, a couple we’d met at Marina Papagayo a few days earlier who were less than 48 hours away from setting sail for the South Pacific.#Playa Hermosa_NeilChecking out, cha-cha-cha
Our experiences clearing in and out of Mexico and into Costa Rica taught us that the process can be time-consuming. This time we were emotionally ready for the affair. Costa Rica only allows boats to remain in their waters for 90 days at a time, after which time cruisers are barred from returning for three months. Checking out of the country, even prior to the 90-day limit, has the same consequence as staying until the last day. Thankfully, we had learned about a loop hole!

Rather than clearing out entirely, which would have required us to avoid the nation for 90 days before returning, we had our Importacíon Temporal (temporary import) suspended. Any days that we would subsequently spend outside Costa Rican waters would not count toward our 90-day allotment. This was key for us, since we were looking forward to friends visiting in early May.

Checkout day went something like this. We stopped first at the Capitania de Puerto, who informed us that we actually needed to go first to the Aduana; then we caught a 1-hour bus to the Aduana near the airport, where we met with Customs agents for about 30 minutes; then we hitchhiked halfway back to Playa del Coco with a very nice man who generously bought us each a delicious coconut; next we caught another bus for 20 minutes; then we walked to Migracíon; finally, we returned to the Capitania de Puerto to get our international zarpé. The sweaty bureaucratic process only took five hours. Winning!#Playa Hermosa_SunsetSending friends to sea
That night we dinghied across the anchorage to s/v Gratitouille, where we enjoyed a couple of hours with our new friends, Darren and Jodi. Together, we shared an impressive smorgasbord of nibbles for dinner. We felt special that they offered smoked salmon for the meal, a true Pacific Northwest delight! We gave them a bag of quinoa, big hugs, and well wishes for fair winds on their journey to French Polynesia!

As Miss Sassy splashed back toward The Red Thread under a sky brimming with stars, a strange feeling overcame me. I reflected on the evolution of our journey. Only a month earlier, we had anticipated that like our friends on s/v Gratitouille, s/v Panthera, and s/v Winterlude, we would be members of this year’s cohort of Puddle Jumpers.

I am content with our decision to push our Pacific crossing to next season, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of longing to race Darren and Jodi out to sea. I began to wonder with whom we’d share the Pacific in 2016, what bridges of friendship would be built as we approached our crossing, and what faces we’d find familiar on the other side of the pond.

Cool, salty water splashed my face, pulling me back into the moment at hand. I adjusted my weight on the front of the dinghy and shined the flashlight toward The Red Thread. Tomorrow she’d begin to take her crew north, not west, proudly part of the small 2015 cohort of cruisers who were to comb the crooks and crannies of Pacific Central America.#Playa Hermosa_Lizard lookout

8 thoughts on “Beaches of Bahia Culebra: Playa Hermosa, a Tica favorite

    • YES…barba grande! His hair is getting long, too! I’ve taken to helpin’ the ole man put it into a pony tail! Congrats on the RV…is there room for us to come crash? PS. We lied when we told you that smiley hand had found a home with our friends in El Salvador…turns out he didn’t actually make it off the boat. What do we do with him now…that is the question…

      We miss you Astraeas!


  1. Your Pacific crossing will come in time. Enjoy the wonderful experience you have had so far. And the adventure continues. Can’t wait to travel the next chapter with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Costa Crapa can kiss my backside. All the Tico wants is are green backs. 90 days is a joke. Only if the USA was as strict.


    • Hey there, while it is a hassle in some ways, we appreciate that each country has different restrictions. After a couple more months in CR (we’re behind on the blog and this post recounts early March), we’ve found it to be a wonderful nation. Some places are more pricey than others, which is a challenge on a budget, but the beauties have far out-weighted the drawbacks for us. Thanks for reading! ~Jessie & Neil


  3. I am so glad you decided to slow down, to smell the roses so to speak, you have time, tons of time, the boat is great, so enjoy , go check out those countries, and next year you will have a whole new group of friends, it is all for a reason……hugs!!!! Mejan from SV CURTSY


    • Mejan, YES, so are we! The months that followed our decision were nothing short of wonderful. Although we’re *officially* back in the US (as of 6 days ago), we are still 3 months behind in our blog! It’s awfully hard to keep up! I’ll continue to recount our tales, and you’ll really see just how special our time in Central America was – so wonderful! We’re already excited as we imagine whose paths we’ll cross when we return to The Red Thread in six months! Hope you and Bert are well 🙂 ~Jessie


  4. Pingback: From Nica to Tica: The Red Thread Returns to Costa Rica | s/v The Red Thread

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