Sunset Sailing Cruises
Last time we went off the beaten path, we found ourselves down a road that wasn’t a road at all. It was the Tamarindo estuary tour. You can read all about it here.
Today we are going to stick to the water theme, but we’re going a little deeper and farther. Grab your sunscreen and your best sarong. We’re going on a sunset tour.
As of this writing, there are three main boating outfits for sunset tours in Tamarindo. Many others have come and gone over the years, but these three have the most staying power.
If you’ve been on one before, you may remember these names… Hibiscus was a sexy catamaran that was rumored to have moved north, to Playas del Coco. To date, there is no word on her current operation. The Seabird catamaran arrived in 2013 but was left moored after the mast broke. Sadly, she sank in the bay in 2014.
Apparently, that bit about salt-water doing damage is no joke, but salt-water isn’t the only thing that can hurt a boat. Poor service, bad food or a lack of safety can also sink a boat’s reputation. Thankfully, Tamarindo has three boats which are top notch on everything.
Today’s options are two catamarans (double-hulled) and one schooner (single-hulled). All three offer somewhat similar experiences. They load up just after noon, have an open bar, feed you, hit a snorkeling spot and return in time for a blazing sunset on the open sea. They also all have a couple of kayaks for non-snorkelers. All told, the variances in the experience are subtle, coming down to personal preference. Rest assured, all of them are interested in your excellent Trip Advisor review. They are counting on it. Keep your expectations high.
The Marlin Del Rey may not be the oldest boat in Tamarindo, but its reputation is extensive. In fact, the Marlin crew has three custom catamarans they sail between Tamarindo and Playas del Coco. Their site indicates that the Marlin Tres (as in the third boat) lives in Flamingo, but it’s often parked in Tamarindo with the original Marlin.
The Marlin catamarans are the biggest of the bunch. If you count all three boats, they really crush the competition for total-standing-room. On the Marlin and the Marlin Tres, you can expect to find seating room, both in the shade and outside. They have a modern feeling compared to the other options.
The Marlin has a central bar, but servers also make rounds to be sure you have a drink. There is also pasta and some sort of dessert served on this cruise. As is the case on all the boats, if you are a big eater, bring a snack.
Because of all the space, the Marlin crew really packs ‘em in. If you’re accustomed to the private catamaran experience, then you may find the sunset cruise to be… busy. On the upside, this is a great place to socialize. Every time this author gets on a boat he comes away with new connections.
At 40-feet in length, the Blue Dolphin is a little smaller cat than the Marlin. Once you’re onboard you won’t notice the size difference. There are ample shade and sunshine for everyone. Because it’s smaller, the Blue Dolphin crew loads fewer passengers on their boat so everybody has enough room.
Likely because of the intimate space, the crew on the Blue Dolphin is known for being interactive with the passengers. You may not even realize they are working the whole time, but they are no doubt on the clock. They may be fun, but these guys have your safety in mind first.
To eat on the Blue Dolphin expect fajitas, chips, and dip. They’ll serve you a dessert too, like banana bread or carrot cake. The bar is always open so plan to stay hydrated. Rest up too. This boat has a reputation for being a party. In truth, all the boats can get a little wild. That’s what sailing is all about.
A.K.A. “The Pirate Ship.” The Antares is definitely the saltier dog amongst the three. It’s the only single hull vessel like it in Tamarindo. From the shore, with its two-toned black and white paint job, you may actually confuse it with a pirate ship. There may be swashbuckling aboard the Antares, but there are no recorded incidences of the crew attacking the Marlin or Blue Dolphin in search of booty.
They do, however, have a reputation as the boat to go on for good food and great service. The crew of the Antares, which often includes live musicians, is just about the most attentive water-side servers in Tamarindo. You can barely finish one drink before they bring your another. (Case-in-point, the boats can all get a little wild.)
The crew of the Antares is Tamarindo locals, but the pièce de résistance is the chef, Candy. She prepares six rounds of gourmet food for each tour, with features like smoked salmon, veggies with quinoa, and a layered dessert of some sort. Antares spreads the food out over the whole tour so you are never stuffed but never hungry.
So which one is the right boat for you? They will all provide something wonderful, but if a fast a modern boat with lots of fun people is your thing, go Marlin. If you want a more intimate party, go Blue Dolphin, but if you like music and you’re kind of a foodie, Antares is the boat for you. Whichever one you book, you will find aspects you love. Most passengers really enjoy the snorkeling. It may not be the crystal clear water of the Caribbean, but Guanacaste has some great fish.
It’s worth repeating if you get antsy about eating or have specific food requirements, bring a snack. Just don’t bring a banana. That’s a boating taboo you don’t want to do, but that is a whole ‘nother blog.
Horizon Pacific Management & Rentals is located in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Horizon Pacific offers vacation rentals, property management, long-term rentals, as well as a complete concierge service. Providing you with a local contact during your stay, Horizon Pacific is a company you can trust, with the experience you need.