When I saw the sign at the resort advertising for boat tours to Isla Tortuga, I had to laugh, immediately thinking of Jack Sparrow and Lonely Island. Little did I know that Aaron had actually booked us a trip to this white-sand-beach paradise.
I was excited, because I knew I’d have more photographic opportunities. What tropical island isn’t photogenic?
We really lucked out that day with simply perfect weather (perfect for chilling on a beach – not perfect for photography). While the sky left much to be desired as far as my camera was concerned, it was the ideal environment for relaxing and taking in some rays. This was ok, though, as I had failed to bring my big lens, anyway, for fear of damaging it on a boat ride. I should have known it would have stayed dry. Oh well. We just focused more on the experience.
The boat trip in was exciting and fun. Music thrummed us into a party mood while beverages flowed from the lower deck. I was too busy running from the front to the back to the top to see the captain’s view, shooting all along the way. The catamaran had ample space for its passengers to lounge on the spacious nets for the hour-long journey; others prepared for the ocean by dunking their feet in the twin pools on deck.
We passed many beautiful little islands on our mystical quest to the Isle of Tortuga, but I was surprised and saddened by the state of the water. While Costa Rica is known for its efforts in earth preservation, they counterintuitively have a major problem with people dumping garbage into the rivers. These, in turn, spill into the bay, leaving behind unsightly paths of trash. There are efforts to address this issue, but we still witnessed this sad marring of the otherwise beautiful ocean.
The island itself was as advertised: a quiet stretch of soft beach backed by private land and rainforest. It felt a bit touristy (as should be expected) with a gift shop and beach chairs for rent. Fortunately, everything was included in our tour, along with lunch under a pop-up canopy, our own private bathroom (this is important), and a calypso band (complete with marimba).
It also included snorkeling and a banana boat ride.
The former, of course, couldn’t compare to snorkeling in Hawaii. The water was somewhat murky, and the surface was questionable with sporadic debris. But I still had fun, especially when I found some particularly populated coral surrounded by schools of fish. I was able to play with Aaron’s GoPro, so I caught some awesome footage of the fish grouping and scattering in an elegant marine choreography. You can check out that video on our travel blog here.
The latter was a new experience, and it was far shorter than I was hoping. I was a bit nervous when I was the only one sans helmet and life vest, but I should have realized they were merely overcautious precautions. It was easy to hold onto the long, yellow inflatable, and we got some decent speed! But as with most exhilarating experiences, it was over far too quickly.
Back on land, we had some time to wander the beach, carving notes in the sand and chasing the local wildlife. I loved the friendly boar, and I was surprised to discover a resident peacock! I also quickly learned that a peacock’s cry sounds distressingly like my kitty’s mournful yowl – I was so confused at first. I chased that bird up and down the beach to ensure a solid shot, and the locals were helpful enough to try to corral it long enough for a click.
All-in-all, I’d chalk the day up as a success. I got some cool pictures and awesome footage, and we had an even better time just enjoying the peace and quiet of a remote beach. When things get stressful in my daily life, I just think back on that day. No, we didn’t find Captain Jack Sparrow, but I assure you the rum supply was more than adequate.
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!