“TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO COSTA RICA”
- AIRLINES: There are two (2) major international airports in Costa Rica:
#1: San Jose "Juan Santamaria Airport" (SJO) is the largest airport in the country. Most major airlines (United, Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska, Spirit, Jet Blue, etc.) fly directly into into the capital city, San Jose's (SJO) International Airport and it's only a little over a 1 hour drive to Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Daily flights direct from Houston to San Jose are under 4 hours. There are also many daily direct flights out of Miami under 3-1/2 hours. In 2016 many European airlines (i.e. British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, etc.) started providing direct non-stop flights into Costa Rica's San Jose (SJO) airport.
#2: Liberia "Daniel Oduber Airport" (LIR) Liberia (LIR) handles some airlines and some of the smaller charter flight operators, however this airport is more than a 3-4 hour drive away from the Los Sueños Resort.
- GROUND TRANSPORTATION: We can arrange ground transportation to pick you up at either San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) airports and drive you to the Los Sueños Resort & Marina. The drive from San Jose (SJO) is typically under 1-1/2 hours, while the drive from Liberia (LIR) is approximately 3-4 hours, depending upon traffic.
- PASSPORTS: You are required to have a passport that has at least six (6) months left prior to the expiration date. Also, be sure your passport is in good physical condition with no tears or none of the seams are coming loose as Immigrations (and sometimes the airlines) have been known to turn people away when the edges of the passport are frayed or ragged. A clear plastic passport protector sleeve is a good idea to help keep it in good shape. It's also a good idea to make a copy of your passport before leaving home and carry that with you at all times, while locking your original passport in your hotel or condo safe. If you are driving a vehicle make sure you have a copy of your passport's photo page & visa stamp at all times. Without proof of a current visa the police can issue heavy fines.
- CREDIT CARDS & CASH: Many credit card companies will DECLINE charges that you try to make using your credit card outside of the USA & Canada if you haven’t traveled before (or recently). We recommend contacting your credit card, using the customer service number located on the back of your card before traveling to Costa Rica. Advise them that you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and will be using your credit card there, which they will note in your file. They will also take any blocks off the credit card so you won’t have any problems using it while traveling. Most all credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discovery), as well as US Dollars are readily accepted throughout Costa Rica except for very small shops or restaurants. Most everyone will accept US Dollars, however we suggest you try and bring smaller bills ($5, $10’s or 20’s) as some of the smaller vendors won’t cash $50 or $100 bills. If you want to exchange your home countries currency with the local currency, "Colones" (the Costa Rican currency), we recommend going to Scotia Bank or Pro-America banks, which are both located right here at the marina. They also have a ATM cash machines in the marina.
- CELL PHONES: Most cell phones from the USA & Canada work within Costa Rica. We commonly have access to 3G and even 4G now in most parts of the country. HOWEVER, just like credit cards, you may have to call the company and have them remove any “blocks” they may have on the phone for international use. Many carriers (like AT&T) will have automatic blocks on the use of your phone outside of the US. You simply call them (or go to your account online) and have them authorize international use of your phone. There is usually no charge for this. Be careful of using too much data (emails, internet, etc) as the roaming fees are usually quite expensive unless you get a "package" through your carrier. Most all hotels, condominiums, and even restaurants here have wireless Internet that you can use on smart phones such as Blackberry or iPhones. Also, a new app called VIBER is available and makes for free phone calls and text messages (both parties have to be using the app). SKYPE is a free app you can put on your smart phone or computer and make free calls to others on SKYPE or very about 2.3 cents per minute to any phone in the US (Landline OR cell) and it just requires an internet connection (wireless, 3G, 4G etc.) Also FACETIME is popular on iPhones. Most all of Costa Rica now has 3G & 4G cellular service.
- INTERNET SERVICE: Almost every Condo & House throughout the Los Sueños Resort provide free WiFi internet service, as do most restaurants and businesses here.
- ELECTRICITY: Electric service here in Costa Rica is 110/120v. The electrical power plug used is the standard North American 110/120 volt plug configuration, identical to the plug configuration used in the USA, Canada & Mexico.
- WATER: The Los Sueños Resort has excellent drinking water. A subsidiary of the resort owns a series of private aquifers and operates its own wells and water distribution systems. The water quality is tested monthly to ensure the quality meets strict quality standards set by the resort. Most guests enjoy the taste of the water and drink it straight from the tap without any filtration. Outside the resort the water is typically good as well, however if you don't travel often it may be a good idea to drink bottled water, which most restaurants can provide. There's nothing worse than ruining your vacation with a stomach bug.
- MEDICAL FACILITIES: Within the Los Sueños Resort campus there is a private medical facility ran by Clínica Bíblica, a private hospital out of San Jose. The clinic is located north of the main guardhouse within the Resort’s gates. In addition to providing emergency stabilization and patient transfer services, the bilingual staff of the CARE Clinic offer preventative medical consultations, a full service pharmacy and check-ups. Outside the resort (i.e. in the town of Jaco) there are several pharmacies. Each pharmacy here in Costa Rica has a full time doctor on staff, who typically is bi-lingual.
“FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ's)”
- WHAT IS FISHING LIKE IN COSTA RICA? Unlike most areas where you may have fished Offshore before… such as the east coast in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico (with long distances just to reach blue water) or the Pacific coast of Mexico in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, or Ixtapta…… fishing in Costa Rica is a unique experience where the waters are almost always relatively calm and the boat rides short! There's NO 2 or 3 hour boat rides on rough waters here! If you are apprehensive about long, rough boat rides……that is seldom the case around Los Suenos and few passengers report getting seasick. The landmass of the country itself provides a blocking cover from windy conditions for our fishing grounds out of the central Pacific region of Costa Rica. We move around and fish where the fish are but most of the time this is from 20-30 miles from Los Suenos. In our boats, that means it’s usually a short 1 to 1-1/2 hour boat ride to and from the bill fishing grounds. We normally leave the marina between 7:00AM in the mornings and return around 4:00PM in the afternoons. This means you have a full day of almost 6 hours of trolling for big Sailfish and Marlin on calm waters!
- CAN WE PULL THE MARLIN & SAILFISH UP ONTO THE BOAT FOR PHOTO'S? NO, we are not allowed to bring any Billfish (sailfish or marlin) out of the water. You can however take photo's of the Billfish along side the boat before the leader is cut and the Billfish is released. If the local government officials see that we have allowed you to take the Billfish out of the water the Captain will receive a $4,000 FINE & possible lose his license to operate a fishing charter boat!! Removing Billfish from the water scrapes off their external protection layer (aka Slime) and they potentially die shortly afterwards due to bacteria attack. Their soft bodies also offer no protection and when they are hauled up onto the boat & their internal organs are often damaged, resulting in fatality shortly after release. Government officials are using social medial sites (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to extract photo's and indict charter captains so please help us in not receiving a fine and preserve Costa Rica's beautiful world class sport fishing industry.
- HOW CAN I GET PHOTO'S & VIDEO OF OUR FISHING EXPERIENCE? You are more than welcome to bring your own photo or video equipment aboard the boat where you can capture your fishing experience. We do have a professional Photographer-Videographer on call, with all their own state of the art camera & drone equipment if you prefer. Within a few days after your bucket list experience they will provide a professional video & still shot photo's capturing your days experience. Please ask our reservation desk for more details.
- WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A DAILY FISHING CHARTER? Everything you would normally need is included in our charter fees except the cost of the 8 day fishing / transportation license and tips (See Tip Section Below). The fishing/transportation license is required by Costa Rican law for all adults over 18. It is required for all "boat transportation", so even if only going to Tortuga Island and no fishing....you still have to purchase one. The cost is currently $15 and is paid in cash directly to the agent at the entrance to the dock (we unfortunately cannot sell the license directly or purchase it for you).
- Our charters include coffee and pastries at our “Reception Area” at the office before your charter as well as drinks during the charter such as bottled water, soft drinks (Coke, Diet Pepsi), and Imperial Light beer. On full day charters, you also get a delicious lunch of grill chicken on baguette, pasta salad, fresh baked muffins, and cookies and cut fruit prepared by “THE HOOK UP” restaurant. All meals are served by one of your mates on plates with silverware. Charters leave around 7am and return at 4pm. You are welcome to bring snacks if you would like to.
- Each boat comes with a Captain experienced in the local fishing areas and a bi-lingual 1st and 2nd mate. The 1st mate will assist the captain by setting all the rods and reels out with baits on the waters and will normally set the hook on the fish while you get your fighting belt on and get into the fighting chair. The 2nd Mate is there to assist the 1st Mate with the fishing duties but is also there as your personal waiter, butler, or assistant and will attend to your every need. THE BOAT AND CREW ARE AT YOUR DISPOSAL FOR THE DAY. You simply tell them what you want to do and they are there to get it done! They will discuss with you what you would like to do during the day. You are free to return to the marina at any time. Just let your Captain know if you are ready to return early if you like. All of our boats have satellite GPS tracking systems that send our office updates of their position every 10 minutes automatically. Our office tracks all boats constantly throughout the day. They can also notify us of fish caught or in the event of an emergency, they can notify us as well as any rescue personnel directly via satellite.
- WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR DAILY FISHING CHARTER? As was stated above, we provide most everything needed for your day on the beautiful blue Costa Rican waters. You should bring a good sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, camera, and any other specialty beers, wines, or liquors you may want. Bring enough cash for your fishing / transportation license and crew tips.
- HOW MUCH SHOULD I CONSIDER FOR TIPS? We recommend tipping the boat crew the same as you would at a nice restaurant. 15% - 20% is customary depending on how you feel your service was. The crews primary income comes from your tips, so they are here to please! All tips are split equally among the crew (Captain & Mates). Simply leave one tip with the Captain and he will distribute it with the other crew members. Tips are cash only please.
- WHAT ARE THE FISHING SEASONS? Here in the protected waters of the Pacific Ocean in central Costa Rica, we get an amazing variety of fishing opportunities year round. We catch Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna (Yellowfin), Mahi Mahi (Dorado), Rooster Fish, Cubera Snapper, Grouper, Wahoo, and Red Snapper at varying times of the seasons. Marlin are here year round (resident) but the last several years have really been strong May - August and again through January but many times the bite remains strong through February. Sailfish are also caught here year round and very seldom is there a day of fishing without a Billfish (Marlin or Sailfish) being caught! Tuna and Dorado (Mahi Mahi) can be caught any day of the year and make for some great eating (ask us about the local restaurants that will prepare your catch for you!). Rooster fishing is great fun (though not good eating as they are a member of the “jack” family) in-shore around the rocks as well as are the big Cubera Snapper and Grouper. The best times for these are during the summer, fall, and early winter months but they can be caught year round.
- WHAT IS THE NORMAL DAY'S FISHING PROCEDURE? A normal day of bill fishing will begin with your either meeting us at our “Reception Area” at our office in the morning around 6:45 and having some of our complimentary coffee and pastries before your charter at out Reception Area at our marina office right at the charter dock. You will be met in the Reception Area by out staff and the Captain of your boat and if you haven’t already done so, each passenger will first sign a Liability Waiver at the Reception Area and pay any balances. Your Captain will personally escort you to your boat stopping at the dock entrance for you to purchase your boat transportation license of $15 (cash only). Your crew will be waiting for you and you will shove off around 7:00. Depending on where the Captain feels is the best fishing area for the day, you will have an hour to a 1-1/2 hour ride to the fishing grounds. During the ride you can feel free to sit up top on the “flying bridge” or “tuna tower” with the Captain if you like…..or sit up on the bow and watch the porpoise, turtles, and whales that are commonly seen ……or you may go into the cabin and relax before or after the fishing for a nap. Most of our boats are air-conditioning (but NOT guaranteed except on Hatta Dreams), flush toilets, and fresh running water. Once in the fishing area, the mates will get all the lines and “teasers” (lures) in the water behind the boat and you will “troll” at around 6-7 knots while looking for billfish. Depending on the time of year, billfish such as marlin and sailfish can be seen “rising” on the baits. With luck they will “strike” the bait. You crew members will be alert watching for the rising fish and let you know (usually quite excitedly!) when they spot fish. Once the fish takes the bait, the mate will hook it for you while you are getting prepared to “fight” the fish by getting a rod holder belt on and getting to he fighting chair. In Costa Rica, all billfish are catch and release and we also use “circle hooks”. These special hooks will normally only hook the fish in the mouth and takes some practice using them. Once hooked they will hand you the rod and help you by coaching you in the proper techniques of fighting and landing the fish. Once the fish is worn out and to the boat, the crew can try and grab the fish by the bill on the side of the boat (in the water) so you can take a photo of it. Costa Rica law will no longer allow any billfish to be brought onto t he boat for the purposes of a photo, so we will do our best to get a good photo of you with your fish This is quite exciting and makes for a wonderful picture to send to friends back home! Many times while fishing for billfish, you will catch tuna and also Dorado (Mahi Mahi), which are both excellent eating fish. All our boats have lighter spinning tackle that is great fun when catching Tuna or Dorado.
- DO YOU PROVIDE BOTH INSHORE & OFFSHORE FISHING: All of our boats are equipped to fish “Offshore” (out where the Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Dorado & Wahoo are found) or “Inshore” (close to land where fish such as Rooster fish, Spanish Mackerel, Grouper, Snapper, etc. are found) fishing. Inshore fishing is normally done around the shorelines around either submerged or out of water rock formations where these fish tend to stay.
- WHAT TYPE OF TRANSPORTATION SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?
- To The Marina If you are staying inside the gates of Los Suenos, we offer FREE transportation services to our office each morning you are going out fishing, in either one of our golf carts or in our air-conditioned van. If you need a ride, please let us know at the office no later than 4:00 PM the day before your charter so we can place you on the pick-up schedule.
- To Airports, Local Attractions, Restaurants or Jaco If you need transportation from the Airport to Los Suenos, we offer a van service that will transport you door to door. We also offer transportation services for excursions or van and drivers for the day. They will also take you to town (Jaco, Hermosa Beach, etc) or just to a local restaurant. Inquire with one of our Customer Service staff at the front desk in our office for cost, etc..
- WHAT TYPE OF FISH WILL WE CATCH THAT WE CAN EAT? If you are fishing Offshore your likely to catch Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi (Dorado) or Wahoo (Ono) depending upon the season. If you are Bottom Fishing while Offshore you may catch Tile Fish, Red Snapper or Grouper. When fishing Inshore you may catch Spanish Mackerel, Red Snapper and an wide assortment of other eatable fish. Our crew will be more than happy to filet your catch and have it ready for you to take with you by the time your arrive back at the marina. Several local restaurants will gladly prepare your “fresh catch” for you for dinner. Ask us at the office for information and directions.
- CAN WE SHIP FISH BACK HOME WITH US? We recommend checking with your airline, however most airlines will allow you to ship your fish back home with you if it's packaged correctly. The fish must be vacuumed packed sealed. There is a very nice provisioning store (Jimmy-T's) right next to us here in the Los Suenos Marina Village that will vacuum pack your fish and freeze it for you. After returning from a fun day of fishing just take your fish to Jimmy-T's and they'll take care of if from there. You'll need to purchase a suitable shipping container (i.e. hard plastic cooler) to put the fish in when you pick it up. You can purchase coolers at Jimmy-T's or one of the local grocery stores. We also suggest purchasing a few freeze packs to place around the fish inside the cooler. Taping the cooler shut is a good idea to help seal and prevent it from accidently opening during transport. You will simply check the cooler full of fish along with your standard luggage. Most airlines are very accustom to seeing this, however they will require the fish to be vacuumed packed sealed to ensure no leaking in the event the fish were to unthaw.