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Kayaking Costa Rica

With plenty of coastline on two oceans,kayaking Costa Rica's beautiful waters is anexcellent way to see the country. Two gulfs, numerous nationalparks, and plenty of mangrove estuaries beckon coastal explorers,not to mention all the whitewater opportunities that I've covered in my whitewaterguide.

Sea kayaking Costa Rica's coastline is one of the best ways to viewwildlife. The quiet and stealthy kayak will allow you to get muchcloser to birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife than you would ina noisy motorboat. Even dolphins have been known to investigatepeople sea kayaking in Costa Rica.

Another advantage is that sea kayaks, much bigger and more stablethan regular kayaks, allow both beginners and paddling experts toaccess remote areas that may be unreachable by othermethods. For instance, many parts of the mangrove estuaries are tooshallow for a regular boat to pass through. Just imagine slidingnoiselessly up to a surfacing turtle and capturing the perfectphoto to bring home to your friends and family.

There are many outfitters that can offer guided tours withbilingual naturalists to point out all the flora and fauna youencounter while kayaking through Costa Rica's oceans, gulfs, andmangroves. Or you can choose the self-guided method - just rent akayak and go!

The Nicoya Peninsula's Refugio Nacional de Vida SilvestreCuru is a great place to go sea kayaking in the Northwest ofCosta Rica. There are palm tree studded beaches, dramatic rockarches and formations, and estuarial waters that are home to amultitude of birds and brightly colored crabs. I bet you couldcatch some fish too, if you decided to bring your fishingpole with you. Estuarial waters offer some excellent snookfishing.

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and Isla Damasare other excellent places to go sea kayaking in Costa Rica.Located on the central Pacific coast, these two locations offerexcellent kayaking and chances to see wildlife in its naturalhabitat. Isla Damas features a particularly nice mangrove systemwhere you'll find lots of different birds, crocodiles, white-facedcapuchin monkeys, and even boa constrictors if you're lucky. Again,there are tours here, so you can get a guide to show you around andgive you the proper names for the animals you encounter. ManuelAntonio is another beautiful spot with loads of things to see whileyou're kayaking, including gorgeous beaches.

If you want to spend some time kayaking Costa Rica'sCaribbean side, you definitely need to check out ParqueNacional Tortuguero. With 192 square kilometers of coastal landand waterways, there are amazing opportunities to spot wildlife andget fully absorbed into nature. The network of canals, lagoons andmarshland are home to manatees, monkeys, anteaters, sloths,peccaries, numerous birds, kinkajous, tapirs, and reptiles.Tortuguero, as its name implies, is also the most vitalbreeding ground for the green turtle in the Caribbean.While kayaking Costa Rica's Tortuguero park is breathtaking initself, to truly take advantage of the wildlife viewingopportunities you need to hire one of the many local guides herewho are experts at spotting animals that you and I wouldn't have achance at seeing otherwise. If you're into fishing,this also is a great chance to scope out some places to catchmassive Tarpon.

Make sure that you spend at least one day of your vacationkayaking Costa Rica's coastal waters. Thepeacefulness, solitude, and chances to see wildlife are trulyunparalleled.

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