Parismina, Limon & Islands in the Gulf of Nicoya (Costa Rica)
Parismina is not exactly a middle of the road destination in Costa Rica. Located on the Caribbean Coast of the Province of Limon, south of Tortuguero, Parismina is a small village where green and leatherback sea turtles come ashore to lay there eggs. From the four kinds, the green sea turtle is the most common in Parismina.
You can reach the town of Parismina by bus from San Jose in the Central Valley. From the Gran Terminal Caribe downtown you have to take a bus to Siquirres, where you either can stay the night over, or transfer right away to Cano Blanco. Parismina is only reachable by boat, so you have to find a water taxi to bring you the last stretch from Cano Blanco. But also from other places you may be able to make arrangements to get there.
Moin, close to the city of Limon and even from the southern towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo you can take a boat that brings you to Parismina. No flights available to Parismina, since they land in the more popular town of Tortuguero. It is said that the Rio Parismina Lodge uses chartered flights to fly in their guests from San Jose directly to Parismina. It’s a lodge specialized in snook and tarpon fishing arrangements.
Parismina has everything that the backpacking tourist who is looking for a pure experience loves, no banks, stores or any other modern blessings. Parismina has some decent places to stay and for the one looking for more luxury the Parismina Lodge is a good option. On the other hand the possibilities for undisturbed bird watching, beautiful exploring tours on the canals that lead through the dense rainforest are plentiful.
There are fishing trips to the beach and on the open sea or the Parismina River. Decent hotels and cabinas in Parismina provide you with comfortable lodging and there are some good places to eat and drink. You also have the option for home stays with a private room and all your meals included. It’s a good way to really know the local community and support it.
Living from what the sea provides the fishing town of Parismina has gotten involved in the protection programs for the sea turtles who nest on the communities beaches. The village of Parismina used to live off the meat and eggs the sea turtles provided, but have made the turn-around to conservation. Local guides can take you on night tours to observe the sea turtles, still threatened by poachers mostly from outside the community.
Islands in the Gulf of Nicoya
In the Gulf of Nicoya you find most of Coat Rica’s islands. These islands are found in front of the coast from San Pablo, Naranjo and Paquera and form a collection of undiscovered attractions. Since the Gulf of Nicoya is relatively quiet, it’s possible to go and discover these treasures by kayak. Where the Rio Tempisque enters the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica’s second biggest island (after Isla de Coco) Chira Island can be found with more than 3,000 inhabitants.
The main economic activity is fishing, followed by farming and a more unexpected one; the salt winning out of sea water. Chira Island is almost divided in half by a wide creek forming extended mangrove swamps.
There is a daily connection with the city of Puntarenas on the mainland to deliver the fresh fish and seafood to the market and of course there are ways to charter a boat from the Nicoya Peninsula. For tourists there are hardly accommodations, so a visit to Chira Island will be limited to a day-trip. Venado Island offers more possibilities for tourists.
The island has around 1,000 inhabitants who live from fishing. There are some accommodations and inviting trails to the rainforest and mangroves that cover most of the island. Caballo Island has beautiful beaches and a population of 200 souls. The dry rainforest covers the island. Right next to it you can find the small Bejuco Island, where nobody but a caretaker lives.
San Lucas Island has a more notorious reputation, since it used to be a prison colony for more than 115 years. There is nothing left than ruins of the former toughest prison of Costa Rica, that was in service until the 1990’s. Gitana Island lies in front of Baha Gigante on the Nicoya Peninsula protecting it from the rough sea, making the bay a favourite boating destination.
Next to it you find Isla Muertos an ancient indigenous burial ground. By far the most popular island in the Gulf of Nicoya is Tortuga (turtle) Island with over one hundred tourists visiting daily. There are two small, unpopulated islands that are surrounded by crystal clear water, ideal for snorkeling and diving. The tropical beaches are breathtaking.
There is a canopy tour and a trail through the forest. Tortuga Island can be accessed through Puntarenas. Even a day tour from San Jose in the Central Valley can be organized to visit this gem in the Gulf of Nicoya.