Eager to New Adventures? Navigate Guanacaste’s Rivers in Kayak

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The Ora River is located on the way to the Camaronal Wildlife Refuge. A bailey bridge crosses it and a sign in the weeds spells out its name. It looks like any other river, but downstream is a beautiful scene for kayaking in Guanacaste.

They are calm waters, which makes it perfect for those who want to try the sport for the first time. Don’t expect to end the experience with the typical kayaking photo where water splashes your face and runs at full speed, kicking up rocks of all sizes. Totally the contrary. Here, you will find an embracing peace.

Navigating is easy and it doesn’t require formidable physical condition, but take into consideration that rowing can be demanding since it requires a technique that you don’t pick up immediately.

Left, right. It’s all synchronized. Downriver is just letting yourself flow. You can hear the sound of silence along the Ora River, and the sound of your own breath. The only noise is the paddle hitting the water as the kayak slides against the current.

You come out of the trance when you hear a monkey howl or suspect you saw a crocodile in the distance.

The tour along the river – which was done for this article with Samara company DondeJaviTours – is round trip. That means from where you departed with the kayak to mouth playa Camaronal, a roughly two hours trip.  

The more adventurous can take a more challenging tour, such as those offered by Javier Armijo, owner of  DondeJaviTours. It consists of rowing in the Ora River and finishing in Sámara Bay. Its four hours of exercise.

In Nosara and Tamarindo

The Nosara River is another spot in the province that will allow you to take an adventure in a kayak. It shares characteristics similar to those of the Ora River, starting with the serenity of its waters.  

Kayaking so silently and non-invasively allows you to slide along the river without disturbing your surroundings, which is why it is ideal for observing animals in their natural habitat.

The Nosara river is full of wildlife and birds that come to nest and fish, such as herons and kingfishers.

The excursion is relaxing and it passes without effort, riding along the Montaña River and ending at Nosara beach. The trip last approximately three hours and it’s appropriate for all levels of experience, including beginners.

Tamarind also has the option of kayaking in the mangrove swamps. Some of the trips are done in the estuary between Tamarindo and Playa Grande for up to two hours.

Out To Sea

If you prefer sea kayaking, you can navigate to Chora island in Sámara. It is recommended to do it during low tide.

If you prefer the sea, they also have options to kayak on the coast, but consider first that the tides and winds are more challenging.

Once again, Playa Sámara is one of the ideal destinations for beginners. Routes for more advanced kayakers can also be devised here.

Armijo, from DondeJaviTours, recommends entering the water during low tide, which will allow for easier maneuvering when you leave the beach with the kayak. In the case of Sámara, he suggests going out to Chora Island to enjoy the beach and coral reef.

Playa Potrero, Brasilito, Flamingo and Tamarindo are among the top five ideal beaches for practicing this sport for the first time.

Reporter Sarah Matusek contributed to this story