Marinas in Costa Rica
The oldest marina in Costa Rica is the Los Sueños Marina, located at Herradura Bay, north of Jacó with 200 births. In 1994, another operating marina Playa Flamingo, south of Coco in Guanacaste, was closed for environmental violations, it is unlikely to be reopened soon.
In 2009, Papagayo Marina at Playa Culebra in Guanacaste with 350 births was opened, see fotos below.
A third marina, Marina Pez Vela, in Quepos (http://www.marinapezvela.com) with 308 births, has opened in 2010.
In the small Golfito Bay are/were planned no less than four marinas:
- Marina Bahia Escondida (see photo above) which has otained a concession for its 217 births in spite of environmental protests. Mangroves have been cut, an extensive area has been filled with gravel but construction is unlikely due to the 2008 recession, consequent lack of finance and dubious US project ownership.
- Marina Bahia Banana which wants to expand its present facilities.
- Marina Gaviotas, at the Hotel Las Gaviotas. In 2008, its Costarican owner sold 50% to a Jewish US investor for extensive development but due to non-compliance by the investor, the transaction was later cancelled. At this stage it is just an extended jetty.
- Marina Golfo Dulce Preserve, at the far south of Golfo Dulce, planned some years ago.
In the Golfo Dulce two other marinas are being planned:
Crocodile Bay Resort and Marina near Puerto Jiménez, Osa peninsula with intended 259 births. This is a huge and environmentally very destructive project - http://thecostaricamarina.com. 80 villas in buildings of up to 4 stories, a 74-room waterfront hotel and 259 births for luxury US yachts and fishing boats (average value $ 2 million each) are being planned.
International oceanexpert Guillermo Quirós Álvarez has warned that the environmental studies undertaken so far lack proper and scientific basis. In addition, it is feared that the huge quantities of gravel and other landfill required will be extracted from nearby rivers such as Rio Tigre which has already suffered from extensive gravel extraction. Sadly, in spite of hereof Setena has approved the project, possibly partially under pressure of political and foreign investor interests. Hope is now that the Tribunal Ambiental of MINAE will closely examine the matter and decide about its environmental viability. Meanwhile, environmental groups have challenged in court the zoning plan of Golfito where this allows the development.
- Osa Pointe, Playa Plantanares near Puerto Jiménez, a 900 hectares project with three golf courses and 600 births.
Other marinas in other parts of Costa Rica are:
- Marina Playa Flamingo, bidders are in court proceedings about its reopening.
- Playas del Coco Marina, a 300 birth marina covering 24 hectares, 13 ha in sea and 11 ha on land.
- Puerto Nuevo, south of Dominical at the Costa Ballena, a project dating back to 1989 which from time to time seems to revive. It is only in its very initial planning stages.
- Puerto Viejo marina, Playa Negra beach of Puerto Viejo, at the Caribbean coast. Fortunately, this project has been cancelled, it would have destroyed coral riffs and badly impacted on the largely unspoilt environment of Puerto Viejo bay.
Reasons for concern and caution about marinas are following:
- In the case of the Bahia Escondida project, this marina will severely affect the natural scenery and landscape of Golfito bay, in particular by the construction of 3-storey high condominium buildings, almost right in the middle of the so far unspoilt bay.
- For the construction of marinas large quantities of gravel are required for which equally large quantities of gravel and stone need to be extracted from riverbeds. Environmental groups such as EALA and Bosque Rio Tigre are opposing riverbed concessions. Fortunately, at times MINAET and/or its Environmental Tribunal close down a gravel extraction concession such as at Rio Baru near Dominical for too much environmental damage to the riverbed.
- Extensive damage and disturbance can be caused to the marine fauna such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, etc. around the projected marina, and also to the seabed.
- Marinas will cause contamination of the water by paint, waxes, and anti-fouling on yachts, gasoline and lubricant spills and various types of waste from the boats.
- Marinas generally entail large infrastructural works such as wharfs, quays, offices, hotels, housing, access roads, parking areas, etc. These can drastically change a peaceful town, coastline or bay. Landprices in the area will rise for the benefit of foreigners and rich costarican nationals.
The existing Marinas Law No. 7744 of 1997 is currently being revised. Minimum requirements for the constructions will be imposed, terms of approval procedures are shortenend, a coastal zoning plan must be in place, etc. In November, 2009 legislators who disagree with the new proposals (the political party Frente Amplio and some PAC members) have been succesful in obtaining for the second time a rejection by the Constitutional Court (Sala IV), this time on grounds that the draft law lacks a provision that the Government environmental watchdog SETENA must approve environmental impact statements (e.i.s) for new marina projects.