13.01.2012 - 13.01.2012
Isla Tortuga is a gorgeous island on the Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. It's known for its white beaches and snorkeling. It was a "must-do" while visiting the beautiful town of Montezuma.
We went with "Cocozuma Traveller" tour company. Our hostel booked it for us. Cocozuma Traveller charges $50 for snorkeling equipment, drinks, and lunch. We were also told that there would be a bilingual guide. This is actually on signs around the tourist office -- a guide is to be included. This is important to know.
Our boat had 10 passengers. One guy was actually from Oakville, my home town! No... we did not know any of the same people since I am eons older than him. The tour operator told us that our guide would meet us at the beach. We climbed aboard the boat with our captain, who equipped us with life vests, and we were on our way!
The views were beautiful, the ocean was clear, and one passenger SWEARS she saw a dolphin. (On every snorkeling trip there is ALWAYS one person that swears they saw a dolphin!) We approached a gorgeous white sand beach where our captain loaded the boat with snorkeling equipment, but still no guide. One of the passengers spoke fluent Spanish but still had trouble understanding what the captain was trying to say. After the captain's feeble attempt of communication, he handed us our equipment and pointed to the water. We assumed that's where we were supposed to snorkel. Since there were other boats, EQUIPPED WITH GUIDES and snorkelers in the area, we joined in.
The visibility wasn't too bad in the water. I didn't see any live coral but there quite a few small but colorful fish swimming about. When all of us rejoined in the boat, our captain asked tour guides from OTHER boats to provide us with an explanation as to what was going on. The tour guides from the other boats asked us if we wanted to have lunch and snorkel in the afternoon or to snorkel now and have lunch later. Unanimously, we voted to snorkel later. Then the guides said that the snorkeling is much better now and not later. Since it seemed that we didn't have a choice, the captain literally drove us around the other side of a rock and pointed to where we were to snorkel. This venture took about 2.5 minutes. We all started laughing since we could have easily snorkeled our way over! Unfortunately there wasn't much to the snorkeling so everyone gathered on the boat and we were off to lunch. Maybe our guide was hiding on the island?
Of course not! We arrived on Isla Tortuga and were greeted by a guy that was to show us where we were having lunch. He confirmed that he was NOT our guide and proceeded to take our orders -- chicken or fish. No one offered us any drinks, but we were offered dessert which was fruit surrounded by a swarm of flies. Ew. We all ate our lunch WITHOUT refreshments and were told by someone (not our guide) that we were to go back to our boat by 3pm. It was 12pm and the island itself takes 5-10minutes to cross from end to end. We also enjoyed the island's domesticated pet:
Fortunately, Isla Tortuga is a gorgeous island to relax on. The sand is white, the water is pretty clear, and the water was warm and not too deep close to shore:
At one point while Derek was swimming, a guy approached me and wanted to talk. He had an accent like Ali G -- seriously. He claimed that he had met "the president of Central America" and Hugo Chavez while vacationing in Nicaragua. I asked him what Chavez was like and he replied ,"He's a super cool, chill guy! He talked to me and everything!" I disagreed with him and told him that Chavez is not very good to his people. The Ali G wanna-be responded with ,"Oh yeah! He's not nice! I told him to *&$% off and stuff!" I don't know why I attract these weirdos. Derek did not come to my rescue until much later -- he was enjoying my obvious discomfort. In that time I learned that this guy had "paid off a guard to attend a Central American President conference, that he's traveled all over the world and stays at all of the lavish hotels in rooms next to famous people, and that he loves drugs." Yay me, and Derek, you suck.
At 3pm our group rejoined at the boat. Unfortunately one of the passengers cut her foot pretty badly on sharp part of the boat. Luckily, there were 2 registered nurses who tended to her (yes one was me!) There wasn't a first aid kit on the boat and one had to be brought from another boat. Of course, we all were not surprised. With only half a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a piece of gauze, 12 inches of gauze/wrap, tape, and a zip lock bag, I managed to cleanse, bandage, and create a waterproof case. Here's the result:
The captain did not give us life vests on the way back and we joked about how suddenly it didn't seem to matter on the way back but on the way there it did!
When we returned to land, all 10 of us marched to the Cocozuma Traveller office in Montezuma. The guy at the office literally sneered at us as we demanded some money back for not being provided with a guide. After no apologies, a few heated discussions and 3 phone calls to "the boss", $10 was returned to each of us.
Overall we had a good time and we now have a story to tell! We also learned we can do just fine without guides, so maybe next time we'll just hire a boat for a fraction of the price
Here is a video from our trip: