Living in Costa Rica – Playa Hermosa just south of Jaco is blessed by waves, wildlife and the friendliest of local people. Travelers visit year round to see the natural wonder on display around each corner. People take guided tours to see monkeys and parrots but if you look closely enough the everyday beauty of Playa Hermosa is shocking and this is the real reason that travelers will return again and again.
These are also the reasons why conservation of this natural national treasure should be of utmost importance to internationals and Costa Rican’s alike.
The local people are giving. They will offer you their time, help and anything else a traveller may need purely for the sake of sharing the area they know so well. Once you have spoken with a local they will go out of their way to ensure you are safe and happy. The people of Playa Hermosa will invite you into their home where the strongest feeling of family is evident and infectious. If you are travelling alone then you can make life long friends in an afternoon. If you’re with companions then you will leave closer than ever to the friends your travelling with.
There are black flecks caught in a slight wind coming down the beach. As they draw near more and more appear. Like ash in the wind they move, caught in draughts, swirling around. Not ash but hundreds of butterflies. They are black with strong dashes of green or blue in wing’s centre. They move through a thin corridor between breaking waves and high tide mark. This is the small corridor they have chosen to travel, moving slowly south to north. These butterflies are not frightened of human contact, they will stop and rest on your hand or they’ll come so close to your head you’ll need to duck. Standing on the sand watching the sun set bright orange with hundreds of butterflies silhouetted against the sky is a once in a lifetime view.
Flying Manta Ray
Flying Manta Ray launch from the ocean in great packs during mating season. Standing on the beachfront these, chessboard sized, Manta Ray can be easily seen splashing and flying around. They have such impressive power they may be mistaken for miniature planes close to the ocean surface. There are hundreds in the water all along the beach jumping from waves and scaring surfers. The seasonal activities of the Flying Manta Ray compare to witnessing whales leap about, except they are far less rare and you don’t have to leave the beach for a great view.
After a full day of beach activities in fantastic weather you will wander back to your hostel or apartment thinking you can’t possibly see anything else to blow your socks off. Then amongst the post dusk darkened green trees there are sparks that grow and die as if from nothing. It will take a second, and third, look to register the phenomenon that is unfolding. It will appear like a mirage or a trick of the eye but when your eyes register you will recognise the fireflies. It’s not a white light or yellow glow. It’s the golden flash prospectors search riverbeds for, an explosion of untold wealth.
Like in most of Central America there are dogs everywhere but Playa Hermosa has the world’s friendliest dogs. All they want to do every day is play fetch (and they don’t discriminate who they play with), go for long walks on the beach and they are never aggressive. If you’re an animal lover then you will find a companion to share a beach walk with any time of the day. In the way only a dog can these animals seem to actually smile at you, they are happy and carefree.
For surfers, there is an array of waves for every skill level. There is also consistent swell to get practice in so that you’re not just having fun but improving your skill level every day. The local surfers will whistle you into waves and cheer when you get a good one. Having a local surfer be excited for you gives you a real connection to Playa Hermosa that lasts all the way home.
These sights, sounds and people of Playa Hermosa do not cost a traveller anything but a willingness to open your eyes. There is no need to pay for a tour or go searching for these amazing life affirming moments. Get to Costa Rica for the time of your life.
By Harry Patchett
Instagram – @harrypatchett
Website – hbpatchett.tumblr.com