Costa Rica

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An online cruising guide for yachts sailing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Capital San José
Language Spanish, Mekatelyu, Brubri
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
Calling code +506

The second oldest democracy in the America's next to the United States , Costa Rica is populated by a friendly , open and eternally optimistic people, with little evidence of any great social divide. Voting is considered both an obligation and a right and as such Costa Rica continues to evolve as a model democracy. Unlike the rest of Central and South America , Costa Rica never experienced the worst of Spanish colonialism , due to its distance , and jungle impassability from the old colonial capitals in Guatemala and Mexico. With this distance Costa Rica evolved into an egalitarian society without the great social and political divides, and their related problems present in other Latin American countries. As indication of its unique nature, Costa Rica is one of the only countries in Latin America with no standing Army. Eco- Tourism in Costa Rica continues to grow every year with visitors from all over the world funding the continued preservation and growth of its famous nature reserves and National Parks . Costa Rica is one of the few countries in Latin America to have its own special Tourist police force , ensuring the safety and continued presence in Costa Rica of its most important investor , foreign visitors. March 25th, 2014 ( Consulting firm, FTI Consulting has published its 2014 Latin American Security Index, ranking Costa Rica as the safest country in Central America and one of the safest countries in the whole of Latin America. Costa Rica has been and continues to be known as the Switzerland of Central America. Of interest to visiting yachtsmen , Piracy is virtually unknown on either coast, due to a strong US Navy and Coast Guard drug interdiction presence just over the horizon, making it one of the regions safest cruising area's Costa Rica is an undiscovered yachting paradise reminiscent of the Mediterranean and Caribbean of the late 1970's . With a long Pacific coastline , numerous charming towns ,friendly people and excellent breezes year round ,Costa Rica's Pacific coast is a fantastic cruising ground. The jewel in Costa Rica's Oceanic Eco crown ,are the Cocos Islands. Located some two hundred miles off the Central Pacific Coast, these Island are a national reserve and have often been described as a mini Galapagos. The Caribbean side is not as long and not as blessed with as many advantages as that of the Pacific.There are three large marina's located on the Pacific . In the North, Marina Papagayo, at Los Suenos in the middle at Playa Herradura and more southerly at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Visiting yachtsmen have excellent facilities for pump out , stay over and provisioning at any of these. The newest of all , and by far the best ,with a recently acquired travel lift ,( the only one of its kind between Mexico and Panama) , is Marina Pez Vela in Quepos.


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Chart Number - Chart Name
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Give weather conditions.

Sources for Weather forecasts:


List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.


  • Cocos Island, National Marine Park, World Natural Heritage Site (UNESCO 1997) and Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR 1998). Two Coast Guard officers are stationed on the island, and one or two park rangers. Approximately 300 miles southeast of Puntarenas in the Pacific (approximately 5° 33’N, 87° 02’ W), the 24 square kilometer (~10 sq. miles) is famous as a pirate hideout dating back to the 14th Century. Legend says that there is pirate treasure buried somewhere on the island. The island receives more than 22 feet of rain a year, which supports a tropical rain forest and many waterfalls. It used to be free to anchor here, but now there are fees charged for anchoring. Chatham Bay is a lovely, but deep anchorage. There is a persistent ocean swell that can make the anchorage very rolly and uncomfortable.

    The water is exceptionally clear, and it is considered by SCUBA divers to have the greatest collection of large sea life in the world. One can see huge schools of hammerhead sharks, and there are large Manta Rays, some of which welcome the divers and present themselves for riding. Their behavior is apparently intended to rid themselves of the Remoras that attach themselves to the Mantas.


Add here VHF channel for coastguard, harbor masters. etc.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets


Add any navigation notes such approaches, dangers etc here. If this section does not apply remove it.



It is advised to make first landfall at an official port of entry if possible.

A clearance certificate from the last port or country visited must be presented, and be sure that all crewmembers' passports have an exit stamp from the last country.

Clearance must be done in sequence: Port Authority, then Customs and lastly Immigration (all crew to visit Immigration). The port officials visit the yacht on entering Costa Rica.

In subsequent ports of entry, the skipper may go ashore to clear with the Port Captain and present the Zarpe (clearance certificate).


The port captain at the port of departure will issue an international departure certificate (Zarpe) specifying the country of destination. Immigration must be visited before your departure.

Customs and Immigration


A Temporary Import Certificate (Certificado de Entrada) for the yacht is issued by Customs - that is valid for three months. An additional 90 day extension may be obtained by applying to Customs in San José or Liberia.

Firearms and all ammunition MUST must be declared on arrival.

PETS: Pets require a Health Certificate issued by a licensed Veterinarian which must show the Veterinarians name and license number, address of clinic/pet hospital, telephone number and email in addition to the pet's name, species, sex, vaccination details and dates and must show that the pet is free from any parasites and any clinical signs of infectious diseases. A document declaring pets market value is also required. Further details


Visas are issued on arrival to citizens from most countries. No visas are required for stays of up to 90 days for citizens of the E. U., Argentina, Canada, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, South Korea, USA, and Uruguay.

No visas are required for stays of up to 30 days for nationals of Antigua, Albania, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Chile, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Monaco, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, St Kitts, St Lucia, San Marino, St Vincent, Singapore, Suriname, Trinidad, UAE, and Venezuela. Visas are required for all others.

Fees and Charges

  • Visa =
  • Cruising Permit =
  • Marine Park Fees =
  • Fishing licence =
  • Scuba licence =


Health and Security




Prophylaxis for Malaria is highly recommended and please note that Dengue Fever is endemic in the country.

External Territories

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Marinas & Yacht Clubs

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List transportation to other countries, etc.



List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



Books, Guides, etc. Use the Reference template or not at your discretion. For example:

{{Reference|Rod Heikel|Greek Waters Pilot Imray||Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire|9780852889718}}, expands to
Rod Heikell, Greek Waters Pilot Imray, Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire, ISBN 9780852889718
  • Author, Title, Publisher, ISBN ISBN number
  • Author, Title, Publisher, ISBN ISBN number


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

  • Have spent quite a fair bit of time sailing in and around Gulf of Nicoya, where Yacht Club Putarenas is located. Great cost effective mooring on the estuary with nice facilities. Wonderful sailing breezes on the Gulf and more and more regattas, as sailing catches on here in Costa Rica. An extremely sophisticated, and in general and English speaking, Costa Rica Yacht club membership, will no doubt regale you with great stories of their wonderful country. Super friendly people. Be advised , it can get rather hot on the Estuary, but the Yacht Club offers AC rooms at reasonable rates, huge pool and probably the most cruiser friendly locale in Costa Rica, if you need to get off the boat for a bit. Great food and ambience. Tell the manager, Carlos Chincilla , that David Ware (Stellar Sails) recommended the club.( Our brochures are on the members notice board.) The owner of the Restaurant also Carlos limited English but great host will make you feel at home. Go for the Fillet Mignon as opposed to the Lobster.
    Mechanical repairs are available, slips also at the Puerto Azul, new development next door. Owner is Fabio. Not sure the rates.
    Puntarenas is the original beach town of Costa Rica reminiscent of parts of Old Spain and the Caribbean. It is a poor town and as everywhere get local knowledge before venturing out in depth.
    Welcome to Costa Rica - David Ware, Stellar Sails.

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Names: Lighthouse, JeanneP, Costaricasailmaker

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