Within hours of arriving at one Isla (island), we were making plans to explore more, with such enticing names as Islas Secas, Monitas, Viudas and San Jose who could resist.
Our gracious hosts at Isla Palenque know that their guests have not only a sense of adventure but also limited time in which to satisfy their cravings. The schedules are designed to reflect that. Each day has at least three options ranging in levels of difficulty and the time needed, varying from one hour to all day.
The manager already had us pegged as snorkelers (maybe the bag of fins and masks that arrived with us?) and suggested the next day’s trip to Isla Secas. How could we refuse a day on the ocean in a comfortable, fast boat, attentive crewmembers and great company?
The day dawned wet and gloomy with a promise of better weather to come. Our guide pointed out each islet and Island as we passed. Isla San Jose, unlike San Jose, Costa Rica is a tiny uninhabited islet.
As we sped across the glistening swells, a small pod of Spinner Dolphins joined us, racing alongside, riding the bow wave and leaping for joy at the fun of it all. I for one would have been happy if the day had ended there, more was yet to come.
We anchored in a calm, white sand bay, flanked by sea-smoothed boulders and overhung with frangipani and palms. Our crew escorted us ashore, along with all our cameras securely sealed in a waterproof tub.
While we enjoyed the warmth of the sea, they set up camp under the only sign of human presence, a thatch covered tilapa. By the time, our wrinkly fingers told us we had been there long enough, a table and chairs were set with a small smoky fire doing its best to dispel the hungry bugs.
Wrapped in big fluffy towels, we explored the beach. Fragrant frangipani blossoms, hermit crabs and the spiky bark of the giant trunk, still untouched by the oceans caress on the far end of the bay.
Enticing barbeque smells enticed us back to “camp” where glasses of Sangria were served. Lunch was the best “burger” I have ever had, fresh house made buns, all the servings and a perfectly cooked and seasoned burger. Chef Oliver not only knows how to make good burgers but also teaches how to cook them with only a small beach debris fire.
Another quick dip and we piled back on to the boat to a sheltered snorkelling spot. This place has the biggest triggerfish I have ever seen, with lots of puffer fish, sergeant majors and angelfish.
The weather was closing in once again as we headed for home, passing rocky fortresses with fascinating swell action (I wonder what a surfer would make of them?) more islets and a few turtles.
Tired, a little burnt (only a few degrees from the equator here) & a little bitten we ended our first full day with a seven-course gourmet dinner! Ah Paradise!