The first time I heard of Golfito, I thought it was some golf resort – not a sport that many (if any at all) Costa Rican’s knew about.
Golfito, literally meaning, “little bay” in Spanish, is referred to as the last frontier. It is considered a remote and secluded region of the country, Southern Pacific portion of the province of Puntarenas that’s separated from the open Pacific Coast by the famous Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce. It is about 360k from San Jose and about an hour plane ride in a 16 seater that lands on a single runway, flanked with tropical vegetation. A unexplored rugged wilderness, where the amenities are basic, but the where one can experience an alternative Costa Rica compared to the hustle and bustle of the more popular touristy destinations.
When you think of Golfito, think of Tarzan country, think of peace and quite, and think of old world customs and cultures.
When I took my kids there for two days of sport fishing, they were totally blown out how cool the town was. We ate at a local restaurant next to the hotel. Three of us had full meals of chicken, shrimp and beef, watched a soccer game and after nine Imperial beers the bill was only $20US and that included a 20% tip … Golfito at this writing had not been plague by the greedy buck of tourism!
If you want nightlife, surfing, throng-clad women and all night action, Golfito is not the place to go!
The town, (which takes about 30 seconds to drive through even in traffic) is only a quick drive to Panama and lies on a narrow strip of land on Golfito Bay.
Back in the mid 20th century, Golfito was a major banana growing region (also resulting in it being the major port of southern Costa Rica), but a combination of worker unrest, declining foreign markets, rising export taxes and banana disease led to the closing of the United Fruit Company in 1985. Golfito suddenly was on the verge of becoming a ghost town if it wasn’t for three main tourist attractions, surfing, eco-gurus and sport fishing.
“Surfing? … there is no surf in Golfito,” you say “ … it’s on a ‘fricken’ bay!”
Your right, there is no surfing, but Golfito is the gateway to the very remote area (about 20 miles south) on southern end of the Golfo Dulce, called, Pavones. I don’t know who discovered the break, but rest assure it is considered the 2nd longest left break in the world. The discovery brought surfers swarming from all over the world.
On a south swell, Pavones turns into perfect lefts that get hollow allowing surfers on a good day to ride the waves for over 3 minutes at a time! The wave rides are so long that you literally have to get out of the water and walk back to the line up.
With surfers came a small steady flow of tourists that begun to arrive in the mid 1990s and by mid 2006 sport fishing has become the most important tourist attraction. The Duty Free Shopping Centre (Deposito Libre Comercial de Golfito) that government officials set up a tax-free sales depot area has attracted shoppers from other regions of the country helping the local hospitality business. And now with eco-tourism a hot item, Golfito also became another eco-hotspot flaunting and promoting the beautiful rainforest and the Golfito Wildlife Refuge.
Now the picturesque port city of Golfito overlooks the calm, blue Golfito Bay. It now has marinas, a free port, yachting and boating services, and is a destination for cruise ships and another gateway to the newest attractions of Eco-Lodges.