More Than a Cruise, Calypso is also a Tour of Discovery
Each year in January, Calypso proudly celebrates her anniversary, more than 40 years, since taking the first and unprecedented Pacific Island Cruise in Costa Rica in 1975.
Manta Raya, a world class yacht whose sleek design and space age materials was designed and built in the same manner as the catamarans that participate in the World Cup sail boat races, giving passengers a truly unique cruising experience available only to Calypso guests. Manta Raya glides gracefully on the waters of the Gulf of Nicoya, much like the gentle sea creature for which she is named. Departing from the pacific port of Puntarenas, only Calypso Island Cruise’s passengers have an exclusive opportunity to observe and learn more about Costa Rica – a real Tour of Discovery.
Passengers who depart from Jaco Beach or Manuel Antonio will have the opportunity to see many interesting sites as they travel to Puntarenas, the oldest port in Costa Rica. Imagine being able to truly see more of the countryside- the ability to take in these natural wonders that are not available on any other tour!
Crossing the Tarcoles River, you could observe some of the largest crocodiles in the world, wallowing in the muddy waters. No worries – you are safe within your tour bus. Continuing towards Puntarenas, the bus passes by Carrara National Park, a protected eco system of Rain Forest and home to the endangered Scarlet McCaws. These amazing birds mate for life. Pairs of these brilliantly red - feathered birds, with their distinctive squawk, can be seen flying in and out of the park. Look closely - early morning and late afternoon seem to be their peak flying hours!
Passengers departing from San Jose will have the pleasure of traveling the new highway 27, a construction feat that took over 40 years to complete and shortened a once three hour journey into only 1 ½ hours. Marvel at the gorgeous valley of spectacular scenic green rolling mountains. During the dry season the area is dotted with magnificent flowering trees, impressive coffee plantations and mango orchids. Braman cattle, famous for their big floppy ears mingle along the hillsides. Be sure to observe the wetland along the Jesus Maria River. Interestingly this land is purposely flooded each year to be planted with different types of melons for export. Due to the enormous variety of tropical fruits available within the country, numerous fruit stands have popped up along the highway to sell their harvests.
Don’t miss the Port of Caldera on your left. Large cargo ships from around the world arrive to deliver goods, grains and cars. You may also see a luxury cruise ship or two, making one of their scheduled calls to Costa Rica. Visible from Caldera is the first look at the unusual peninsula of Puntarenas. A port city whose name means sandy point is an 8-mile stretch of land with an estuary and mangrove forest on the northern side and the Pacific Ocean on the southern side. Puntarenas is the oldest port on the pacific side of Costa Rica and home base for the country’s fishing fleet and Calypso’s yacht, Manta Raya.
Awaiting you at Casa Calypso is a hot typical Costa Rican breakfast, served buffet style beneath a giant spectacular stained glass ceiling. Rescued from destruction by Calypso’s owners and founders, this work of art is proudly displayed in Calypso’s restaurant, El Shrimp Shack. Dining in a 100-year old house, a lovingly preserved and restored treasure, is a truly memorable way to continue on your adventure. Following breakfast you will board Yacht Manta Raya for the magical Cruise to Tortuga Island.
Once aboard, and after introductions to Manta Raya’s uniformed white clad crew they will release the yacht from her mooring and then the Captain will set sail for Tortuga Island. As you leave the estuary behind and sail to the entrance into the Gulf of Nicoya, your guide will highlight the interesting sites along the way. Visible are the Costa Rican Coast Guard vessels and boats of different sizes and shapes that comprise the fishing fleet of Puntarenas. The larger boats are shrimp trawlers and the smaller artisan boats fish for local fish: corvina, red snapper, grouper, to name a few. Manta Raya will glide past the amazing mangrove forest where the shallow water is a natural spawning area for fish and shrimp that stay protected until they grow large enough to swim out into the Gulf of Nicoya. Look closely. You might have the opportunity to see crocodiles swimming and fishing close to shore. Wading through the mud you can look for the pink long-legged Rosiett Spoonbill, White, Green and Blue Herons, Terns, White Egrets and more – It is a very colorful site to behold. Near the point of Puntarenas are the bigger boats that take tourists to Coco’s Island, the largest un-inhabited island in the world and a favorite dive spot for avid divers, and also the ferries that cross the Gulf of Nicoya transporting both cars and people across to the other side.
Once Manta Raya enters the Gulf of Nicoya, it is time sit back, lie on the nets or sit in one of the deck pools and enjoy the cruise en route to beautiful Tortuga Island while the Manta Raya crew pampers you with fresh fruit and tropical drink favorites. Surprising discoveries await you as you pass the various islands in the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya.
After only a 90 minute cruise across the gulf, Tortuga Island becomes visible directly ahead and the palm trees wave from shore welcoming you for the day. Watch as your Captain slows the catamaran Manta Raya and gently glides her up and onto the white sand beach for a safe landing.
The crew will unload the many ice chests and begin to change an ordinary camp site into a casual elegant dining area and prepare lunch while you explore the island.
After a wonderful 5 hours at Tortuga Island filled with activities included in your tour package: swimming, snorkeling and a banana boat ride plus a BBQ lunch - truly an exquisite dining experience featured in Gourmet Magazine, it is time to leave paradise.
Calypso Cruises 'Tour of Discovery'Different route returning to port:
Manta Raya’s Captain will escort his passengers on a different route to return to port in the afternoon; for a Tour of Discovery unique to Calypso Cruises; giving our clients a chance to see and learn more about Costa Rica. Calypso's Captain will pass through the water-way between the Island of Cedros and Peninsula Cuchillo. On the port or left side is the protected Private Reserve of Punta Coral and on the starboard side is an aquaculture project for red snapper. Further down along the shore of the peninsula is a small one-room school house for the children who live in the area and a nearby oyster farm.
Just before the Captain makes a right turn to go between the islands of Jesusita and Cedros he will cruise past Bahia Nicoyana, where private yachts from around the world anchor when visiting Costa Rica. Once through the passage of the two islands, another oyster farm is visible on the right and the famous Pelican Rock on the left.
Crossing open water again, Calypso’s Captain will now take her passengers close to the Bird Sanctuary islands of Guyabo, Pan de Azucar and Isla de Aves, passing close enough to see the nesting sites of Brown Pelicans, Scissor Tailed Frigates and Brown Footed Boobie birds all living in harmony. Have your cameras ready.
Pelicans are excellent at catching fish, but very sloppy and the frigate birds are always right behind them in the hopes that the pelican will drop a fish and they can swoop in to catch a free morsel before it hits the water.
The last island you will see up close is the famous now closed prison island of San Lucas, once home to the most dangerous criminals in Costa Rican history. A book written about San Lucas, "La Isla de los Hombres Solos" (by José Leon Sanchez), describes the horrors of San Lucas and terrible living conditions the prisoners suffered, as awful as the prison in the movie Papion or the prison in the famous book Count of Monte Cristo. When constructed, the waters surrounding the island were shark infested and kept the prisoners from escaping. The prison was shut down in 1992.
The day ends with another spectacular sunset. While Manta Raya’s captain and crew prepare for disembarking, it is time to gather your personal belongings. Because Manta Raya is equipped with jets instead of a propeller it is amazing to watch the captain ‘walk Manta Raya sideways’ and pull up to Calypso’s private dock and restaurant, where the busses are waiting to take happy passengers back to their hotels. - Ice Cream and snacks available.