Beating the Heat in Bahia Drake, Costa Rica
Cocktail of the Day: Sea Breeze. Vodka, cranberry & grapefruit juice, garnished with a grapefruit.
This morning, Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze dropped anchor in the emerald-green seas off Bahia Drake, Costa Rica. Bahia Drake – or Drake Bay – is thought to have been used by Sir Frances Drake in the 16th century as a sort of pirate cove. It’s a good place to stash some loot; the bay is entirely inaccessible by road during the wet season, and most of the village’s 1,000 inhabitants use boat transportation to get around.
Picture Costa Rica: you’re probably envisioning Bahia Drake. With its swaying palm trees, brightly-coloured boats and houses inset into hills obscured by vegetation, this is the quintessential idyllic paradise.
This is where the Star Breeze comes in. If you take a look at Windstar’s marketing, you’ll see references not to your cruise ship, or your ship, or even the horrifically-incorrect term, ‘boat.’ Instead, Windstar refers to their ships as yachts. Star Breeze plays the part by looking every bit like a millionaire’s yacht; a playtoy in the Pacific for the independently wealthy.
But moreso on this itinerary, Star Breeze reveals herself to be perfectly adapted to small, out-of-the-way ports of call like this. You’d never see some massive ship like Oasis of the Seas rolling up on the small town of Bahia Drake; Columbus did that back in 1502 and things went south in a hurry. Instead, we’re just one of a handful of yachts anchored in the bay to spend a day in paradise – though paradise is arguably found here onboard Star Breeze herself.
Sweating It Out In The Bay
When Christopher Columbus, the geographically-challenged father of North America, landed in Costa Rica in 1502, locals presented him with gifts of gold. Because blind assumption had worked so well for him up until that point, he once again incorrectly concluded that the native Costa Ricans were flush with untold wealth. Hence the name. Costa Rica: the rich coast.
After a leisurely breakfast in The Veranda on Deck 7 aft, I took one of the Zodiac rafts ashore to do a bit of independent exploring. Bahia Drake is little more than an assortment of rustic houses and open-air bars tucked up in the hills, but it sure is beautiful. It’s also worth your time, even if your idea of paradise is only ambling up to the bar and ordering an ice-cold cerveza (beer), or doing some souvenir shopping.
Bahia Drake has a number of coastal trails that you can explore, including miles of beach and coastline to either end of the tender pier. The main beach is a bit of a hike, though, so bring appropriate hiking boots; your flip-flops won’t be able to cope with the uneven, sometimes muddy terrain.
I absolutely loved Bahia Drake for the short time I was there. After about 90 minutes, I returned to the tender pier, beaten into submission by the unrelenting heat and humidity that pushed the mercury past 34°C with some of the highest humidity I’ve felt since I was in Southeast Asia last November. My sunblock literally slid off my face, and I suspect my bug spray made things worse; I’ve got some fabulous burns on my arms where I applied it.
If you want to take part in an organized excursion, Windstar offers four separate ways to spend your day here. You can go ziplining through the Corcovado Canopy; spend a full day exploring the Osa Biological Corridor by land and sea; tour the Terraba-Sierpe wetlands and mangroves; or, go horseback riding along the coast of Bahia Drake, including free time to go for a swim in the beach.
Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze continues tomorrow from Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez), Costa Rica! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.