For this year’s family vacation, we choose to spend New Year’s at the Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica. Crocodile Bay Resort is known for its fishing and eco tours which is perfect for everyone in the family. Dad and the kids (Henry, age 7, and Maya, 10) go fishing while Mom stays behind at the spa or to read a book near the pool while birds fly around and monkeys move about in the trees above.
Getting To Crocodile Bay Resort
Booking Crocodile Bay Resort was very painless. Go to their website, click on PACKAGES and choose one. Fill out the form and you’ll get a call from their travel agent David Kanski. David was awesome to work with and when my flight got cancelled he let me know within minutes of finding out and already had a backup plan for me.
I choose a red-eye flight out of San Diego with a quick lay over in Phoenix, AZ, while the kids were still awake before the 4.5 hour flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Instead of sleeping the kids were wired and kept us up the whole flight, arriving at 4:50am. We hopped on a 12-passenger puddle jumper for 50 minutes before arriving in Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula, which is the north side of Gulfo Dulce from the Costa Rica / Panama border.
After that it was a quick 3-minute shuttle to Crocodile Bay where we were greeted by the host and heart of the operation, Olimpya, who donned cold drinks and the keys to our room.We headed off to our room for a quick nap to make up for the loss of sleep. We woke up to the kids screaming about seeing scarlet macaws in the trees outside the room.Then, we took a dunk in the pool to chill off and have some fruit smoothies.
This became the normal routine over the next 4 days – in the morning take an eco-tour or go fishing, then return to the pool to relax through the afternoon.
Even if you are a hard-core fisherman you owe it to yourself to take an eco-tour while in Costa Rica. The tours out of Crocodile Bay Resort are very well coordinated and we felt were worth every penny. The local guide that works at the resort takes you in one of their newer 4×4 Toyota Land Cruisers for a private tour through the rainforest of Corcovado National Park, which is the largest primary rainforest on the Pacific coastline. The park has huge trees, leaves, heavy vegetation and tons of animals to be seen.
The Crocodile Bay Resort Tours we took were: Monkey Tour, Chocolate Farm Tour (a must-do), nighttime tour around the property (another must-do), beach tour where we got to hang out at Pan Dulce, Backwash and Matapalo, and the wildlife sanctuary tour.
On a daily basis we saw 4 types of monkeys, 40+ bird species, butterflies, lizards, 2- and 3-toed sloths, big snook under the pier, lots of rodents of unusual size, spiders, leaf cutter ants, fire ants, frogs, crabs and much more. One day while we were at the pool we even got to see howler monkeys, raccoons, scarlet macaw, butterflies, lots of small multi-colored birds, big predator birds and more.
Crocodile Bay Resort offers half day and full day inshore trips as well as offshore all day trips in their bigger 33’ Strike yacht. We fished from a 24’ Boston Whaler Outrage this time. The boats are newer, very well kept and loaded to the gills with electronics and PENN reels/rods.
I took the kids out for the first full day inshore trip while Mom went to the spa for a chocolate treatment that all the women at the pool were talking about.
Maya, my oldest, loaded us quick on bait and off we went to fish Matapalo Rock. We arrived at the rock, caught a couple snapper right away (one for each kid), and I got to land one as well while the kids weren’t paying attention.The surge around the rock made for a rocky ride in the boat and the kids were starting to feel ill so we opted for fishing a reef known for roosterfish further inside the bay where the waves didn’t reach.
We switched out the rigging for roosterfish and I got to play with poppers over shallow rock reefs. I lost a few poppers to snappers that would take me right in to the reef and snap me off. We had the kids rigged up for chancho (trigger fish) and other critters so they could keep busy. They only caught 19 triggerfish, 2 grouper and a handful of other small critters!Day 2 fishing I had invited Brad Baron to join me. He drove down from his house in Dominical, 3 hours away, and we shut down the bar at Crocodile Bay Resort talking for hours about all the fishing trips we used to do together. Morning came, we made bait quickly and shot out to Pavones to fish reefs up past Punta Blanco.
Brad landed a dorado by sight-casting to it with a sardina and we also landed a couple snapper. After donating a lot of gear to caves and sharp coral we made a move back to Matapalo Rock and up to Agua Buena looking for roosterfish. The current was slack and we saw no signs off the beaches, so we moved back to Matapalo Rock where there were more signs and current.
The last hour of the day we lost multiple fish to the reef and rocks 8’ below us. We had bites but couldn’t get a hook in some smaller yellowfin and watched the boats next to us land wahoo and a 60lb yellowfin, all in 8-20 feet of water. It was like fishing a mini Alijos Rocks. Although we didn’t catch any glory fish the opportunity of catching a big roosterfish or Cubera Snapper mixed with some yellowfin and wahoo kept us energized throughout the day.
A smart business knows it can’t control the animals or fishing but it can control the food. I went to Costa Rica thinking we would be eating ceviche, gallo pinto and fruit every day – I didn’t expect there to be a medium-high end restaurant that we ate at 3 times a day.
I think I gained 8-10 lbs in 6 days from gorging myself on everything they put in front of us.
All the fish is fresh, usually caught that day and cooked hours later. The anglers go out, catch fish and the crew cleans and ices down the fish quick. Upon returning to the dock they send all the fish to the kitchen in coolers. You have the choice of eating the fish you caught or the fish that is left over from other anglers. We ate fried whole snapper 2 days in a row and gave the rest away. There is a full menu and we never got bored with the selection.
Notes about Costa Rica
- The country is so beautiful that it would be a shame to just show up and fish. Get in to the rainforest and see things you haven’t seen before. The trees are home to tons of animals, so always be looking up.
- Everyone in the country speaks English. They are well educated and some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of being around. They are all eco-minded and you won’t see any trash anywhere in the country. I drove half of the country and saw no trash.
- If you drive anywhere there are no street signs, so Google Maps or Waze are your best bet if you can get cell signal. I did not have signal most of the trip using Verizon International plan. The paper maps that we got at the rental car place were worthless. If you get lost call a taxi and follow him to where you are going.
- Take cash. Crocodile Bay Resort takes credit cards but everywhere else I visited was cash only.
- Drive aggressively. There is no such thing as courtesy on the road, it’s just the way they drive. Cut everyone off, they would do it to you.
To see more photos and chat about doing this trip check out my post at https://www.bdoutdoors.com/forums/threads/crocodile-bay-Resort-new-years-family-vacation.675433/