The Flamingo Marina

Marina Construction

Back in the day the Flamingo Marina was the only marina between Acapulco and The Panama Canal.. After its closure in 2003 there had been several proposals, none of which could achieve governmental approval. The green light for the current redevelopment proposal was given in 2018. This has been a greatly anticipated project and construction finally got underway in 2019. 

This area has one of the most famous white sand beaches, good infrastructure, a major international airport, medical clinics, good schools, lots of entertainment and hotels close by. The marina is finally adding back to Flamingo what Flamingo for a very long time has been known for.  Luxury Homes, white and black sand beaches, sport fishing tournaments and a world class marina.

Flamingo Marina Scope:

The Flamingo Marina development includes approximately 175 wet slips, a dry boat storage facility, fueling station, heliport, and two mixed-use retail and residential sites totaling more than 15,000 m2.

By Fall 2021, 134 of the 175 slips should be ready. The target date for completion of Phase 2 is 2023. By then, Marina Flamingo’s developers expect to complete restaurants, shops, a hotel, and a conference center. It’s all “surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Costa Rican Gold Coast,” says John Matheson, president of F3 Marina. With the assistance of national and local government officials, the Coast Guard, and even the U.S. State Department, the property will be “a true destination marina.”

Marina Rendering
Marina Rendering

How Costa Rica came to be

Satellite Photo of Central America

Three million years ago, Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica, was on the bottom of the ocean, along with the rest of what would become Central America. And then three tectonic plates got into a shoving match. Violent tectonic upheaval forced one above the other, with a third jostling for position, and Central America rose above the waves for the first time between 1 and 3 million years ago.

This created a thin little isthmus between North and South America — an improbable land link that allowed a vast variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects to migrate between North and South America. The first evidence of human settlement in Costa Rica comes from around 12,000 years ago (10,000 BC)

Costa Rica became one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, rivaling central Africa or the heart of the Amazon. Representing just 0.03% of the world’s total landmass, Costa Rica boasts 5% of its biodiversity — meaning that of every 20 creatures on earth, one of them lives here. The collision of two continents became a melting pot for flora and fauna.

Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica: The perfect coastline

In Flamingo, it was our good luck that such a beautiful coastline emerged from the ocean. Flamingo’s most striking feature is the prestigeous North Ridge — a green, steep peninsula about 1 kilometer long, jutting into the Pacific Ocean and pointing like a bony finger at the uninhabited Isla Plata.

North Ridge of Flamingo
North Ridge of Flamingo

The steepness of the hills here didn’t make road-building or home construction easy, but it ensured spectacular ocean views. To the north, the ridge looks out on the picturesque Potrero Bay and Potrero Beach, and to the south, it overlooks Brasilito Bay and Flamingo Beach. Casa Las Brisas is built on the southern facing side of the North Ridge, with commanding views of the mountains and a stunning 180 degree panoramic view of the Pacific, with perfect sunsets every night.

As good fortune would have it, right at the base of this peninsula was a sheltered bay that turned out to be the perfect space to build a marina. A successful marina operated here from the early 1990s until 2003, when it ran afoul of government authorities for disputed reasons. Today a new, state-of-the-art marina is under construction that will be open by the end of 2021 and be welcoming yachts by mid-2022. For more details read my blog post on The Flamingo Marina.

Adapted from an article written for Special Places of Costa Rica by Karl Kahler, author of “Frommer’s Costa Rica 2017”.

Playa Flamingo
Playa Flamingo

Exploring Gold Coast Beaches by Boat

Map of Guanacaste

The best way to explore the many beautiful beaches along The Gold Coast of Guanacaste is by boat. Popular beaches are Hermosa, Coco, Ocotal, Flamingo, Conchal, Grande, Tamarindo, Avellana, Negra, Junquillal, Manzanillo and Ostional. These all have road access, hotels, restaurants, bars and water sport activities which can get busy with tourists during High Season. As you will discover by water, there are literally hundreds of tiny inlets with pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear water. These are often difficult to get to or totally inaccessible by land. 
Fishing boat and sailboat captains know every inch of the shoreline and can take you to remote spots along the coast to their favorite fishing places or ideal snorkeling locations. You can enjoy the quiet beauty of nature and be completely undisturbed by fellow travelers. You can also take a panga to shore to swim and have a private picnic on the beach. 

Playa Dantita

Playa Minas

Diving by the Catalinas

Some of the best diving in Costa Rica is right off the shore of Playa Flamingo at the Catalina Islands. About 3 million years ago the entire area was a huge volcanic crater and the remnants of that crater form a ring of basalt islands that are spectacular dive spots. 
What makes the Catalina’s a favorite among scuba divers is the chance of seeing the pacific giant manta ray. This is the biggest species of Mantas in the world. In addition to mantas, a huge variety of other marine life can be seen; white tip reef sharks, several other species of rays, a few types of turtles, lots of morays, sea snakes, and a plethora of fish.
Less common, but possible, there are sometimes whale sharks, tiger sharks, humpback whales, and in a few instances even orca whales have been spotted in these waters.
During your surface intervals you will be amazed by the devil rays which use the waters around the Catalina Islands as a playground. You will frequently see these creatures launching and flipping several feet out of the water coming down with a splash.
The location of the islands, paired with the currents, the shape and contours of the islets, as well as the depth, make these islands a fantastic spot for large amounts of marine life to gather, and well within recreational diving limits.

Devil Ray

Ridley Turtle

Beautiful Hardwood Trees of Costa Rica

Guanacaste Tree

Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, or states. Casa Las Brisas is located on the NW Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste, which is named for the national tree of Costa Rica. The Guanacaste, or Elephant Ear tree (pictured above), is majestic and immense, characterized by it’s spherical crown. Cows, goats and sheep will often be seen lying under it’s shade during the hot, sunny afternoons. History says it was chosen in part to symbolize the protection that the people of Costa Rica receive from their government! The wood’s stunning natural color and grain make it ideal for furniture but it is illegal to cut it without permits. We are proud to have designed a custom front door crafted from this beautiful hardwood as a welcoming entrance to our home.

The Pochote tree is distinguishable by a trunk that is covered in sharp spines that project

Pochote Tree
Pochote Tree

an inch or more, keeping hungry predators from climbing up its trunk. This native tree is cultivated for use as lumber as it grows straight and tall. The wood of the pochote is white as opposed to the dark grains of teak (see below). It is used to make furniture, cabinets and veneers.

The very popular Teak tree is not native to Costa Rica but grows very well

Teak Plantation
Teak Plantation

there, so it is frequently grown on commercial plantations. It is in high demand around the world, so it has become a major export for Costa Rica, attracting a lot of investors. One of the first things I fell in love with when we first looked at Casa Las Brisas was the soaring, beamed teak ceilings in the main room and the main floor Master Suite.

Bamboo
Bamboo

Costa Rica is the country with the largest woody bamboo diversity in Central America. Bamboo is known as the plant of thousand uses. It is versatile, flexible and very strong. It is mostly used in construction, gardening, fishing, furniture and utensils. We found it is ideal as a cane ceiling material. It is harvested, cut, soaked to kill insects, and then dried and treated. The outdoor cane ceilings on the upper terrace and around the pool are all bamboo.

Although mainly used for it’s timber, the Cortez Amarillo, or

Cortez Amarillo Tree
Cortez Amarillo Tree

Golden Trumpet tree, is found all around the grounds of the house and is a spectacular flowering tree in the dry season. It drops it’s leaves and the entire tree turns bright yellow until the flowers fall to the ground, creating a bright yellow glow.

A giant in the rainforest and one of the more unique trees is actually distinguished by it’s

Kapok Tree
Kapok Tree

unusual trunk. The Kapok can grow as much as 13 feet per year and tops out around 200 feet. It has multiple buttresses that sometimes extend 10 feet around its base. It’s wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings and canoes. Soaps can be made from it’s oils and other parts of it are used as medicines. Common in Costa Rica, we have also seen it in Brazil, and for indigenous tribes this tree was holy.

There are countless other interesting and beautiful trees but these are a few favorites because many of them are a part of Casa Las Brisas and contribute to the unique beauty of the beach house.

Costa Rica Stands Out As The Best Vacation Destination When Travel Resumes

Family Vacation at Casa Las Brisas

Needless to say, the last few months have been a huge struggle for everyone around the world.  Quarantine at home all alone or with extended family each pose challenges that we have never had to deal with in the past. We have all missed many activities we used to take for granted, and will be ready to embrace again once it is safe to do so. Travel is at the top of the list!

Renowned international media such as Lonely Planet,  Condé Nast Traveler, Matador Network, Canadian Traveler, Profession Voyages, Forbes, El Mundo de España, among others, have highlighted Costa Rica as a destination to consider once the crisis passes. Even Good Morning America highlighted the story of a British family who recreated the Costa Rican rain forest at home after canceling their trip to our country.

Costa Rica is the best country for travelers looking for great experiences. “We are the world leader in nature tourism and the second in adventure tourism, according to the World Economic Forum. The tourist who visits us has a variety of options to do throughout the country. Activities such as canopy zip lining, white water rafting, hiking, surfing and scuba diving are just a few, which are also combined with cultural elements and authentic unique experiences,” said Shirley Calvo, executive director of the National Tourism Chamber (Canatur). This was also reflected in a TripAdvisor ranking in which “Worldwide, Costa Rica proved to be the favorite destination for travel, ranking first in the list of countries”.  – CostaRicaNews.com

When You are Ready to Travel, Casa Las Brisas is Ready for You! Renting a private villa with stunning ocean views is the ideal spot for a family vacation. Having privacy and far less contact with other travelers and staff is a tremendous plus. Balance crowded hotel lobbies, elevators, hotel restaurants and community pool versus having your own spacious vacation home with a huge kitchen, private pool and little to no interaction with others required. Casa Las Brisas is the perfect beach house for your family vacation!

Without a doubt, Costa Rica is a small country that offers big experiences to all. Although we do not know when the social confinement will end, we can assure you that once this period passes, this beautiful country will welcome you with open arms and the warmth and kindness of it’s people.

Playa Flamingo Costa Rica Vacation Home Casa Las Brisas ocean side luxury home.

Best Beaches along the Gold Coast of Costa Rica

Playa Flamingo

The particular area of Costa Rica where Casa Las Brisas is located is known as The Gold Coast. There are countless beaches, each with their own unique features and vibe. Some are renowned for surfing, others are more secluded and calm, some are ideal for boogie boarding and body surfing and others are lined with palms and banyan trees to escape the sun to read a good book or take a nap. Many are covered with shells of every description, some have almost none. There are white sand beaches and black sand beaches. Whatever your mood, there is a perfect beach for you to discover and enjoy. 

I may be partial, but…Playa Flamingo embodies so many of the great things I look for in a beach; 1 mile of pristine, white sand, lava outcroppings on each end, gentle surf allows for paddle boarding, kayaking and body surfing, ideal for early morning walks before coffee, tree lined so I can set up my beach chairs and cooler, and very few other people to intrude on my serenity. It has been ranked as the #2 beach in all of Costa Rica, with Playa Conchal directly across the bay ranked #1. Casa Las Brisas is perched on a hillside directly above Flamingo and has stunning panoramic views of Brasilito and Conchal to the south.

But even I like to have a change once in awhile, so it’s easy to drive 5-10 minutes in either direction to find just the right one for the day. All the beaches are open to the public, but some are only accessed by driving down a twisted, bumpy dirt road in the middle of nowhere, but all of a sudden it opens up and you are in a pristine, lovely spot, frequently with only a handful of other people, and maybe a few dogs.

“It’s true. I’ve spent some time in Tamarindo and Playas del Coco, but if you look at the coastline between them — Playas Grande, Conchal, Brasilito, Flamingo, Potrero, Pan de Azúcar and Danta — you’ll find a microcosm of almost everything Costa Rica has to offer within a half-hour drive.”  – Travel writer for Tico Times 2016

The Resource Book at Casa Las Brisas has an entire section devoted to neighboring beaches and how to reach them. The beach house has coolers, boogie boards, beach chairs and towels so all you need is sunscreen, a good book, beer and ice!

 

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Day Trip

Volcan Rincon de la Vieja

On our very first visit to Costa Rica, way back in 2003, we hired a private guide who took us up to Rincon de la Vieja to the Borinquen Mountain Resort & Spa . It’s located in the mountain range just north of the Liberia airport about an hour drive from our beachfront vacation home, Casa Las Brisas. Since there are so many activities to choose from at the resort, it’s best to make a day of it.

We began with the Canopy Tour zipline which is a series of ziplines starting high above the jungle canopy, zigzagging over gorges and waterfalls before ending at the bottom. The guides are very experienced and reassuring. It’s an exhilarating experience that is a great family adventure suitable for older children and grandparents alike.

Once our feet were back on solid ground we rode on horseback up through the forest to a hidden waterfall. We then took a sauna in a hut perched over bubbling water heated by the volcano, then slathered ourselves with grey volcanic mud and ended up in warm mineral baths. This was all followed by a delicious lunch in their open air restaurant. What a day! My only regret was not having enough time to schedule a spa treatment, but that can be for another time.

For a cool YouTube video about the Borinquen Resort, click the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTLqa_nvAI8&app=desktop#searching

Rainbow from the terrace

Flamingo Rainbow

This perfect rainbow, puffy Cumulus clouds and shimmering Pacific signal brighter times ahead. Flashback to last May; this was taken from our upper terrace at Casa Las Brisas after a week of thunderstorms and high winds. Instead of sipping our customary morning coffee outside in the rocking chairs listening to the parrots chatter or watching whales frolic in the ocean, we spent our days indoors reading, playing cards, watching movies and cooking a lot of great food (and maybe lots of day drinking…) Hmm, this is sounding a lot like what we have all been doing for the past month during these difficult times of social distancing and quarantine. But then one morning we woke up to a lovely sunny day and this huge rainbow parked right over the ocean in Flamingo Bay off our terrace. It signaled the end of the stormy weather and the return to our normal beach life and days filled with hikes, golf, lunches at our favorite restaurants, lazing around the pool, and maybe more day drinking:)