Bruce in kayak.

"We specialize in small group travel, which minimizes environmental impact, increases safety standards and allows for personalized, enriching and authentic experiences."

— Bruce Smith, founder and owner, Seascape Kayak Tours Inc.

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Kayaking in CurúOctober 24th, 2009

Seascape will return to Costa Rica and open its southern base Nov. 16. Today’s blog is adapted from an article by Jennifer Harter of Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya Peninsula, not far from Seascape’s southern base in Tambor. She wrote the story for a local Costa Rican publication about a trip she did with us almost a year ago. If you want to know what a day trip with Seascape is like, this gives you a pretty accurate description.

Last November our friends Bruce Smith and Frances Figart from Seascape Kayak Tours invited us to have an experience of a lifetime. We met the couple about a year ago and learned that Bruce has been offering multi-day sea kayaking trips in Costa Rica during the winter months for the past 13 years, splitting his time between here and New Brunswick, Canada, where he has been guiding expeditions of the highest quality for 15 years. Several years ago, he added half-day and full-day kayaking tours to Seascape’s multi-day trip Costa Rica product. With his charismatic outdoor leadership qualities, Bruce has managed to organize trips that combine a day of fun, education, wildlife observation and conscientious environmental practices. The kayaking expeditions are all designed with beginners in mind so that anyone can share and enjoy the experience. The place that Seascape has chosen to share on their tours is Curú Wildlife Refuge, also our meeting point.

img_19481JENNY HARTER AND MARIANNE FISCHEL TAKE A PEACE BREAK

Curú is a natural haven of beautiful beaches and abundant biodiversity, the first privately owned National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica. This place is an undiscovered treasure and a wonderful example of a very thriving sustainable development program, combining forest management, protection and sustainable agriculture. The refuge has managed to offer locals valuable job opportunities, as well as educational programs and conservation projects like the reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws and the rehabilitation of Spider Monkeys. They have also started research groups, built artificial coral reefs and studied migratory patterns of various bird species found on the land. All while offering tourists the chance to kayak, hike, horseback ride, snorkel, enjoy the beaches and see a wide variety of flora and fauna. Curú is the perfect place to spend a day of enlightening enjoyment and pleasure.

We arrived at the main gate just before 9 a.m. where the guards were already expecting us; we were greeted and instructed to drive in towards the beach where Bruce and Frances were waiting. Once the rest of the group arrived, Bruce gave us an introductory tutorial on the refuge, went over some pointers on paddling technique, told us what to expect and reviewed kayaking safety procedures. He explained the importance of staying together as a group and of respecting the environment, and encouraged us all to go at our own pace and enjoy our pristine surroundings. Once we all had gotten comfortable in our kayaks, and had paddles, spray skirts and life vests on, we proceeded to carry our boats toward the still water. One by one, we were assisted in being launched into this pool-like bay of teals and greens.

img_1998JENNY AND HER GROUP ENJOY A FRESH FRUIT SNACK ON QUESERA

As you glide along the waters the feeling of peace is overwhelming. The coastline to your left is amazing and to your right you begin to see various islands, including Isla de Tortuga. With each stroke I began to sink into a meditative-like state of bliss. The surroundings were dreamlike and the water was perfect – and changing. As we advanced along the shoreline, the ocean began to obtain mosaic qualities. The colors began shifting from turquoise to deep blues and emerald greens, such a gorgeous contrast to the earthy tones on the beach and mountains. We glided past the beaches of Posa Colorado and Quesera to turn left around a point towards the bay of Playa Organo.

Organo Beach is a beautiful oasis of tranquil coastline with an abundant estuary filled with marine life. On the edge of the bay a wall of cliffs shoots out of the water to create an impressive and dramatic landscape. As the winds blow against the rock face, you can hear the sounds of nature’s music that resemble someone playing an organ, hence the name of Organo. Once we reached the coast here, we had been paddling for about an hour and a half at a steady yet mellow pace.  Once again, one by one we rode small waves towards the beach where Bruce assisted us to shore. Here we swam, took some photos and enjoyed the setting for about half an hour before departing towards the true highlight of the trip.

As soon as everyone was geared up and in the water, we all began to paddle back towards Playa Quesera, our next destination. After a short crossing of about 20 minutes, we were once again beached in another awe inspiring heaven. Playa Quesera, is definitely amongst the most unspoiled beaches I’ve visited in Costa Rica, creating a surreal castaway feel. This place is a true gem, a small cove of white sand and the most intensely toned waters, surrounded by yellowish stone walls and remarkable rock formations. As Frances and Bruce set up our picnic, we were free to help, explore, photograph or swim. I couldn’t believe we were on the Pacific Coast; I felt like we had just arrived on a secluded Caribbean cove.

Only one downside: since these beaches are facing the Gulf of Nicoya and so many rivers end up here, sadly lots of trash washes up along these shores every rainy season. After surveying the damage, we all sat together under some beautiful almond trees to enjoy a delicious and healthy picnic in the shade. Over lunch we all talked about the experience so far and got to know each other and our guides better. Everyone expressed their pleasure in the kayaking, and their dismay that such a beautiful place could be violated by ocean pollution and garbage. After eating, we packed up our things and were each handed plastic garbage bags so that we could all help to clean up the beach. We all agreed it is the responsibility of environmentally conscious people who visit these places to lend a helping hand by cleaning up the beach and taking debris back to a place where it will be recycled. What a great way to educate visitors as well as local people on waste management and the importance and value of protecting rivers and oceans.

img_2032JENNY HELPING WITH THE BEACH CLEANUP ON PLAYA QUESERA

We packed up again and started launching the kayaks into the water. As we headed back to the Bay of Curú, I felt intense gratitude for the occurrence of the day. Bruce and Frances shared a unique escapade with us to treasure forever. This tour stands out in greatness and is a must if you are visiting the Nicoya Peninsula area. Kayaking in Curú is a very different and special tour in comparison to all the ones I’ve tried in the area and even in Costa Rica. The opportunity to learn, experience and enjoy is a treat for foreigners and locals alike. I highly recommend contacting Seascape Kayak Tours to plan a visit to Curú Wildlife Refuge while it is still, for the most part, a pristine place.

Jenny Harter is an outdoor enthusiast, photographer, beach lover and bookworm who is opening a new book shop inside the Holistic Clinic at the shopping center at the crossroads between Malpais and Santa Teresa. View her surf and wedding photography at www.blissphotocr.com and www.soulsistasurfphotography.com




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