What’s New in Costa Rica? Here’s an excerpt from “Cruising Ports” 6.5 edition …Marina Papagayo (180 full-service slips, floating fuel dock) is the only real marina in northwest Costa Rica since Marina Flamingo was shut down. Marina Papagayo lies in the N corner of Bahia Culebra.
Call the marina on VHF 16 when you’re within range, and they’ll assign you a pier and slip number based on your LOA and beam. To reach the marina, pass in the middle of the entrance to Bahia Culebra (See chart) between Playa Blanca and Punta Ballena, then head for my GPS waypoint 10°38.0′N, 085°39.5′W.
From here, the red and green buoys marking the marina basin entrance are easy to see. From the buoys, turn to starboard to enter the marina basin. Due to overlapping breakwaters, you may not see into the gap until you’re at that entrance. I’ve sounded 60’ of water on the approach and 12’ alongside the slips.
The interior slips (piers A, B and C) accommodate two boats side by side (or multihull), and pier D to the left from the entrance has alongside berths for 12 megayachts to 200’ LOA. Uniformed staffers take your lines.
The well-made floating slips are extra wide for golf carts. All slips have sewage pumpout, and the marina has a backup generator for their 30- and 50-amp dock power in case the Costa Rican power grid fails. The 250’ fuel dock in the far N corner has plenty of turning space.
The marina office is in the 4-story building in the basin corner. There we found an internet room, work out faculties, a small chandler store where you can order marine parts directly from the states, a swimming pool, snack bar and a nice crew lounge. A convenience store is at the head of the fuel dock. The dockmaster and dock hands all speak English and are very friendly and helpful. This marina gets a lot of European megayachts and US sportfishers. In dry season, strong N wind can blow strongly off the land, but the marina in the lee of hills gets little fetch.
FMI visit http://marinapapagayo.com or call (506) 2690-3600.
Port Clearance: You can do your own port clearance in Playa del Coco, which is a 6.4 n.m. dinghy ride across Bahia Culebra and 2 bays south, partly exposed if NE wind is blowing. See below, about landing a dink in Playa del Coco. To get there by road usually means a 45-minute taxi ride (about $50 US). Marina Papagayo can arrange port clearance for you, but it’s fairly expensive (paying for 45-minute taxi ride for officials from Playa del Coco), until customs and immigration man their new annex in this marina. This is a gated property, so the marina has to call a taxi for you.
Travel & Provisioning: The marina is 30 minutes from the recently expanded Daniel Oduber Quiros international airport in Liberia (LIR), which has direct flights to and from the U.S. Some food & supplies are available in the marina store, and a full provisioning can be done in Playa del Coco. Several stores have very good supplies, the best groceries we’ve seen in Costa Rica with stateside quality. Or you can have a provisioning service associated with the marina convenience store do it for you – just give them your list.
Though the marina is isolated, this makes it a very quiet place — except at dusk & dawn when the jungle comes alive with singing insects; howler monkeys call to one another in the trees. Many of Costa Rica’s famous colorful birds are seen on hiking trails within 100 yards of the marina office.