When travelling long-term as we do, we are always on the lookout for
that perfect beach resort. You see, we need vacation too! Since we
left our last real beach paradise in Placencia, Belize in February, we had looked
in vain for another. We tried a couple of Nicaraguan beach resorts, but none
fitted the bill. Then at last, in the middle of April, 2004 we found it.
View of Descartes Peninsula from La Cruz
Hotel Bahia Salinas is just behind the island.
Muriego Peninsula is on the horizon.
We're at the Bahia Salinas Hotel on * you guessed it — Bahia Salinas, or Salt Bay.
After two nights in La Cruz, the closest town in Costa Rica to the Nicaragua border,
we drove over here thinking to go to the beach for a morning swim before heading farther south in Costa Rica.
We'd seen a small sign pointing out the beaches, 16-19 kms away, we were told, on a well-graded dirt road.
We decided to put the old Escort to the test again and were well rewarded.
XX Island and Bahia Salinas
XX is about 1.5 km offshore — too far for this crew to swim.
Much in the distance is Parque Natiocional Rincon Vieja.
At the end of the road, just before our destination of Jobo Beach,
we discovered this hotel and decided to ask the price.
On going in it became clear that almost nobody was around --
nobody at the pool (which we loved immediately),
nobody in any of the six-room cabanas, nobody at the front desk.
Shore of Bahia Salinas below Hotel
The Hotel pool and dinning room are nearest here.
Finally the manager was found.
The price was $42 a day per person, including three meals.
We bargained and got it for $25/day/person, including only breakfast and lunch.
We guess that our offer was accepted because the place is deserted
-- although two weeks ago, in Semana Santa (Holy Week) we were told it was packed.
White Shore bird
Is it an egret? It walks with a funny waddle.
The place was very windy — it probably averaged about 20 mph. It was so strong that opening the door to the
dining room can be very difficult. This morning (Tuesday) Gerry watched an egret standing near the pool and it
had trouble remaining in place.
Bahia Salinas Hotel Dining Room
We have our choice of tables because we are the only guests.
We always take the second from the left.
In the afternoon, Gerry was reading outside our room and noticed a single ant
come over the edge of the concrete and make toward our room. The wind was such that it
reflected off the door, and before the ant had gone two inches, the ant was blown off
the concrete and back down onto the dirt. About a minute later the same ant re-appeared
and made two inches toward the door before being blown off again.
On the third time the ant appeared it got less than half an inch before being blown off the concrete.
After a fourth time seeing the ant blown away he quit looking. But I don't suppose ants give up.
They certainly don't say "Hell. I think I'll just go to a movie instead."
Bahia Salinas swimming pool
This is about the best pool ever. About 25 m long.
But the wind had several side benefits for us. It kept the temperatures within bearable
limits; it made it possible to sit outside in the evening with no fear of mosquitoes; and it dotted
the bay with foaming whitecaps. Towards the end of our
6-day stay, the wind dropped, the temperature rose to a point where we were happy to have an
air-con room, the mosquitoes returned, and the bay returned to almost flat calm.
Gerry leaving swimming pool
We gradually built up from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
Our typical day started around 6. We ate breakfast at 7 but usually spent a half hour before
that watching news on the satellite TV system in the restaurant building. After breakfast we
repaired to our room to read, work on computers, or simply gaze at the view. Around noon we
would take a dip in the pool to give us an appetite for lunch at 1:30. The food was pretty
good. More than enough for our appetites and rich with fresh vegetables, fruit, and juice and even
Jan reading in bed
Our time is passed eating, reading, and computing.
Here it was too hot to be out on the terrace.
The afternoons were a reprise of the morning and again finished off, if we had the energy, with
another swim in the pool and a snack in the room. We usually spent an hour or two each day
watching TV. We were happy to find that the satellite service included BBC World and
CNN in English and Spanish. Iraq and Israel both offered lots of riveting news.
Our room was small by U.S. standards with only two twin beds rather than two doubles or queens.
But it did have some touches of luxury, like the hot water and the bidet in the bathroom. The
fixtures and fittings were modern and clean. Our room faced the bay across a lawn area that
may be green in the rainy season, but when we were there was brown and dry. Our little patio
area had a pair of rattan chairs and a table and, wonder of wonders, an outdoor electric socket
so that we could sit out with our laptops.
Along the high water mark there are small dead
fish every five feet or so. Many are blow fish.
1 cm to 8 cm crabs are here and there,
scurrying from larger photographers.
We ventured down to the beach once or twice, but found the sea a bit murky and even colder
than our swimming pool, which was always a shock to the system on first entering the water.
But the beach was rich in the detritus of the ocean. Dead fish and live crabs were some of
our finds, but we also saw a dead sea-horse and a myriad of conch shells.
Yellow bellied bird
We've seen six or so of these.
We think they are female kiskadee flycatchers.
Apart from the seabirds, gulls, pelicans, and frigate birds mostly, there were also
one or two colorful smaller birds. We think they were kiskadee flycatchers. The male
was bigger and more brightly colored than the female that you see in the photo.
Fishermen gutting fish
Our longest outing was a six km walk to this bay.
The gulls crowded around are awaiting the eviscera.
Our daily routine was broken once by a walk from
our bay to the next one over, where we watched fisherman cleaning their catch and feeding the
result to the pelicans and other seabirds. It was there that Jan snapped a picture of a boat
named after our friend Paloma.
Two pelicans on a fishing boat
Fishing boat named Paloma
But in the end, we had to give up our little bit of paradise to move on and see more of Costa Rica.
After all we had come barely 120 kms in 10 days! We were going on to Liberia, planning to visit
one of Costa Rica's many national parks. This one encompassed the Rincon de la Vieja volcano
which was visible from our hotel.
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
It is about 1600 m (5300 ft) and 30 km away.