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Costa Rica next feb with a young familly

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Joined: 22 May 2007
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:13 pm    Post subject: Costa Rica next feb with a young familly Reply with quote

I would like to have your opinion on this:

- I am going to Costa Rica for 12 days arriving Feb 26 with my wife and kids (7,6,4,1 years old).
- I am an intermediate windsurfer (no wave, no freestyle) but survived and had fun on Rio Vista river chop on 4.5 days (if you know about it)
- I want to be sailing 4 to 6 half days during this trip
- It would cost me 360$ round trip to bring 1 board (93L) with 2 sails/mast/boom)

At first, I had planned to go to Arenal for that matter. I donít know if it is a good place for the rest of the family while I will be on the water.

Do you think it is more familly friendly on the coast (Bahia Salinas) ? If so, why?

Thank you
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Joined: 05 Jun 2001
Posts: 312
Location: Bonaire

PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have friends do both but remember, Arenal howls so get ready for some knee action..and fun at that. I have not heard about Bolanos Bay in some time but friends loved it. Keep me posted as I need a vacation and CR sounds great. I would go just to work on my surfing and see the rainforest.

Ann Phelan

Twitter: bonairebliss
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Joined: 02 Apr 1995
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sailed Arenal years ago, cool place. Your family could do jungle canopy tours or see the volcano nearby. Also, I recommend renting - that place can really blow and you may need small gear (I rode a 2.9 on a 8' 70 liter board one day - Im 190lbs).
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Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the Arenal area would be great for your family, as long as they don't mind peace & quiet, beauty, perfect temperatures, monkeys, tropical birds...
I stayed at Tilawa and loved it. They have a big game room for the kids. They rent real wind and hot sails I think. There's a JP outfit further round on the little penninsula.
But don't miss the coast of the Nicoya penninsula, especially if you surf.
CR is heaven for the surfer/windsurfer.
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Joined: 13 Oct 2002
Posts: 385

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Taco,
I've sailed at Arenal and Bahia de Salinas in the last two years, so I can give you a fairly fresh perspective on both.

I was there in Jan and it nuked 4.0m for the entire 4 days I was there. It blew like stink day and night. My understanding is that Feb can also blow pretty hard there. I was quite happy with this, but my (non-windsurfing) family was not so thrilled. We stayed at Tilawa and it was a bit too rustic for our tastes. The wind was rattling the windows and we really couldn't sit out on the small terrace without getting blasted. There's a small pool at Tilawa, but it was so windy that it wasn't an enjoyable place to hang out. Also not much around there as far as other places to eat or things to do. The nearby town of Tiliran is a little desolate and we didn't spend much time hanging out there. There are some hikes you could do - but we aren't such big hikers. Usually some monkeys hanging out in the trees by the hotel.

The windsurf gear rental at Tilawa was OK (mostly RealWind boards), but there were more folks and better gear at the TicoWind rental spot on the other side of the lake - that seemed like the place to be. I pretty much sailed by myself at Tilawa.

The sailing conditions are Arenal are bump and jump with an aggressive lake chop. It is much choppier feeling on one tack than the other. Good waterstarting skills are important. If you're comfortable sailing in the Delta, you should be fine on Lake Arenal. The water and air are nice and warm - either shorts/rashguard or a shorty is all you need. It is a beautiful place to sail scenically - its hypnotizing to watch the windmills slowly turning as your blasting across the lake.

Before we went to Tilawa, we stayed for a few days at the other end of the lake at the Tabacon Resort near La Fortuna. My family really enjoyed this area near the Arenal Volcano. We could see the volcano spewing lava at night. We did the zip lines, hanging bridges hike, and the awesome hot springs at Tabacon (especially cool at night). Its about 1.5 hrs from this end of the lake to the sailing spot at TicoWind (at the other end of the lake). If you didn't mind doing a bit of driving (on not the greatest road), this might be a good way to do some sailing and feel good about leaving the family in a happy place. Amazing wildlife around this area too.

Bahia de Salinas
This area is a bit off the beaten path and was pretty quiet when we were there last March. We stayed at the Ecoplaya Resort which was OK, but again a bit on the rustic side for us. There was a sketchy windsurf gear rental operation at Ecoplaya run by a Dutch guy named Marc. The gear was pretty good (a couple years out of date), but he wasn't very reliable.

The sailing was similar to Arenal - this is an enclosed bay with some chop and a bit of swell - but no breaking waves. You have to be very careful when walking to shuffle your feet in case there are any stingrays around. When the tide is out it is a pretty long walk with gear in the 4.0m winds to get to the water (150m or so). It was just Marc and I windsurfing. There were some kiters out - they launch from another beach a mile or two upwind of Ecoplaya. On one lighter wind day, we did a scenic tour of the bay and went almost out to the ocean (5-6 miles) and skimmed the Nicaraguan coast (the bay is partly in Nicaragua and partly in Costa Rica).

This is a very dry area - not lush like Arenal. The nearest town of La Cruz is again, pretty sleepy. It is 20min on a bumpy dirt road to get from La Cruz to the sailing site at Ecoplaya. There are a couple decent restaurants nearby to Ecoplaya - Blue Dream is a kiter spot and has good pizza.

One interesting thing we did while staying there was a day trip to Nicaragua - Ecoplaya does a van tour if there are enough interested folks. The border crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua reminds you that you are really in Central America - not in Kansas anymore Toto.

There are a few nice beaches about 10min past Ecoplaya. These are reasonably sheltered from the hot, blasting wind.

- I'd go for Arenal over Bahia de Salinas.
- Rent gear from TicoWind
- Depending on your family's tolerance level, either stay near TicoWind, or alternatively stay near La Fortuna and do lots of driving.
- Costa Rica is a great country and there is so much to see in such a small place. Would also recommend staying at the beach for part of your trip. Many good surfing spots on the coast (no windsurfing though). We stayed in Tamarindo, which is lively, but getting overdeveloped. Playa Flamingo looks like a good place to try.

If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

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Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 216
Location: East Bay

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm down here right now, staying at Hotel Mystica:

and sailing at Tico Winds. Just got off the water using a 3.5 and i had to buy gloves for my poor blistered fingers.
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