As resorts go, Flaming Beach Resort and Spa was beautiful. It had the large pool, the pool bar, the spacious rooms with balconies and the long sand beach with views of the Catalina Islands. It was the type of resort you would expect in the Carribean, although we were on the Pacific Ocean. There were palm trees and coconut trees (we have fresh pipas from the tree picked by a local man who climbed the tree and knocked it down for us).
Breakfast continued to include fresh fruit, to which was added bread baked on premises and a new twist — an omelette station – Yum
In the Morning
In the morning we rented a tandem sea kayak from the hotel. We declined the offer of a guide for the sea kayak — looking out to sea it was hard to imagine getting lost (or seeing anything interesting). However, we did take a recommendation to paddle south to a small island, around the bend and out of sight which was reputed to have a private sand beach.
With some assistance, we breached the waves and were out on the open ocean. The sea was calm with a slight breeze. We rode high on top of the ocean, and moved quickly when we paddled in unison. The hotel palms swiftly shrank on the horizon as we progressed to the cove pointed out by the guide. We never felt the sun as a cool breeze wicked off our sweat (more on that later).
Around a rocky point, another beach, even longer emerged. There we no hotels on this stretch of beach, only green jungle hills and a narrow sandy strip. A small group was touring by ATV vehicles. Another family was frolicing in the water, but the beach was otherwise devoid of humans. In the middle of the cover was a rocky outcrop, towering 50 feet above the water with waves crashing around rocks that ringed it. It was less than half an acre all around and seemed forbidding.
We paddled around the island searching for a beach head. Hidden from view, 3/4 round the island was a sand beach, big enough for two … our private beach. The beach was a distance away. There was nothing but the sun, our island and us. Time to take a break and a private swim.
The return was “against the wind” requiring some effort. Previously we had stressed our legs. Now it was time to fully exercise our upper bodies. It did not seem like much of an exertion, but we certainly felt it later. Here we were in the opening of Hawaii Five-0 — kayaking on the open ocean, with a jungle and a beach in sight.
The Lazy Lizard
We returned in time to rest at the pool before our afternoon adventure aboard the Lazy Lizard sailboat. The Lazy Lizard is the product of a Canadian expatriate from Calgary, Canada. This large catamaran sailboat was the source of a messy divorce (and midlife crisis). For us, the sailboat was clean, spacious and very well organized. The staff kept us lubricated with drinks for our hour and half long sail to a private cove for snorkeling. Once in the cove, we donned our snorkeling gear and headed to the rocks.
Most of the time, you avoid the rocks when travelling. However, when snorkeling, you go where the fish are, and the fish go where the food is, and that is one and around the rocks. We were able to see a blow fish, a porcupine fish, a trumpet fish and several colorful angelfish, even a sting ray. Observation is for the patient. The waters of Costa Rica, while clear, did not match the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea off Eilat, Israel. You could only see a few yards in front of you. Nevertheless, there was a profusion of wildlife once you found where they were hiding.
After a while the salt water gets to you. It gets in your eyes through the goggles. It gets in your mouth and burns your throat. Your arms get tired propelling your through the water. It was at last time to go in. Rose and I had outlasted most of the other passengers of the ship, despite our 50 years of existence (a century combined). Back on board, the drinks resumed. There were sandwiches, tortillas and fruit. Somehow, after ingesting salt water, the food didn’t taste quite so good. Rose and I sat on the leeward side of the ship, with the sail protecting us from the sun as we got underway.
We traveled back to Flamingo Beach and halted off the coast of our Hotel in the lagoon. It was then that I noticed more closely the beauty of the Catalina Islands. I tried to find out any legends about these unusual shaped islands, some only a few yards in diameter that look more like figures dropped into the ocean. None could be found except that one island looked like a sombrero.
Fresh Fish Fry
Back on shore we set out for an “authentico” restaurant for fresh fish on the beach. We stopped in Brasalito, en route to Tamarindo, a largish resort town south of our hotel. We were drawn by the lights and the sound of crashing waves. There was fish on the menu (whole red snapper and mahi mahi). Rose stretched out on a hammock to enjoy a Margarita. Local music entertained us and we could see the white crest of the surf. At last, fresh fish. And … for Rose, a hammock to swing in while we avaited our food.