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Golfito is located on Costa Rica's South Pacific coast, about 340 highway kilometers from San José.
This small port city is a narrow strip along Golfito Bay backed against steep green hills covered with pristine rainforest, with the Golfo Dulce lying seaward outside Golfito Bay.

Literally “Little Bay,” this small port town near the border of Panama. The banana plantations that once blanketed the region later gave way to the production of African palm oil. Today, Golfito is better known as a center for sportfishing and duty-free shopping. Admire the excellent beaches set against the backdrop of the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Golfito (Golfito Wildlife Refuge), part of Costa Rica’s national parks system, featuring steep hills carpeted with pristine rain forest.
The city has a variety of hotels and restaurants, many of which also now provide free wireless Internet service for customers. To help remedy the resulting impoverishment of the region, the government established a duty-free zone.

Golfito is a major sportfishing center and a popular gateway to a slew of nature lodges spread along the quiet waters, isolated bays, and lush rainforests of the Golfo Dulce, or “Sweet Gulf.” In 1998, much of the rainforest bordering the Golfo Dulce was officially declared the Piedras Blancas National Park, which includes 12,000 hectares (29,640 acres) of primary forests, as well as protected secondary forests and pasturelands.
 
Golfito Port of call is located south of Costa Rica on a bay that is surrounded by the larger Golfo Dulce. This small bay’s water is often calm and is famous among local fishing sports aficionados. Over the last few years, this port town has slowly developed into a cruise port. Golfito cruise port is located on a strip of land bordered by the bay and a series of hills. Beyond and around this port town, there are protected rainforests and national parks, and long stretches of beach.
 
One of the major enhancements to Golfito is that cruise lines have now added this location as a stop for unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Major lines such as Paul Gaugin, Windstar, and Azamara Club Cruises now make Golfito a port of call and add access by sea to the ways to visit this former banana exporting center.

 
Where You are Docked
There is a port located at Drake Bay. Golfito cruise terminal is located just a walking distance from the downtown area and a few minutes drive from the airport. A taxi boat is the commonly used local transport around the bay’s numerous beaches.

Things to See
The beaches are the main attractions in Golfito. Pavones beach located south of Golfito near the entrance of Golfo Dulce is famous among surfers. The best time to surf is usually from April to October when the beach benefits from the best surfing waves of the Pacific. Pavones is just a two-hour drive from town.
 
The less adventurous traveler may visit the beaches of Cacao and Zancudo. Cacao is located in front of Golfito across the bay and accessible by taxi boat or by 4x4 vehicles during the dry season. Zancudo on the other hand, is located south of Golfito and can be reached by bus or boat depending on the tides. There are bars on both beaches so guests may get a drink while enjoying the beach.
 
There are hiking and sightseeing opportunities at the Refugio Nacioal Golfito, the protected wildlife area. Trails start from the town and may lead to several landings with scenic views of the ocean and the dense forest. There are no public facilities within the wilderness area.

You won’t find any really good swimming beaches right in Golfito. The closest spot is Playa Cacao, a short boat ride away, although this is not one of my favorite beaches in Costa Rica. You should be able to get a ride here for around C3,000 per person from one of the boat taxis down at the public docks. However, you might have to negotiate hard because these boatmen like to gouge tourists whenever possible. If you really want some beach time, I recommend staying at one of the hotels in the Golfo Dulce or heading over to Playa Zancudo.
 
Botanical Gardens -- About 30 minutes by boat out of Golfito, you’ll find Casa Orquídeas ?? ((tel) 8829-1247), a private botanical garden lovingly built and maintained by Ron and Trudy MacAllister, who settled this remote piece of land in the 1970s. Most hotels in the area offer trips here, including transportation and a 2-hour tour of the gardens. During the tour, you’ll sample a load of fresh fruits picked right off the trees. If your hotel can’t, you can book a trip out of Golfito with Land Sea Tours ((tel) 2775-1614). If you decide to do it yourself, the entrance and guided tour is $10 per person, but it will cost you between $80 and $100 to hire a boat for the round-trip ride; the gardens are open daily from 8am to 4pm, and are closed on Fridays. Regularly scheduled tours are on Thursdays and Sundays at 8:30am (three-person minimum).

If you have a serious interest in botanical gardens or bird-watching, consider an excursion to Wilson Botanical Gardens at the Las Cruces Biological Station ((tel) 2524-0607 in San José or 2773-4004 at the gardens; www.threepaths.co.cr), just outside the town of San Vito, about 65km (40 miles) to the northeast. The gardens are owned and maintained by the Organization for Tropical Studies and include more than 7,000 species of tropical plants from around the world. Among the plants grown here are many endangered species, which make the gardens of interest to botanical researchers. Despite the scientific aspects of the gardens, with so many beautiful and unusual flowers amid the manicured grounds, even a neophyte can’t help but be astounded. All this luscious flora has attracted at least 360 species of birds. A 4-hour guided walk costs $38; a shorter, 2-hour hike will run you $28. If you’d like to stay the night here, 12 well-appointed rooms are available. Rates include one guided walk, three meals, and taxes, and run $77 to $98 per person. Reservations are essential if you want to spend the night, and it’s usually a good idea to make a reservation for a simple day visit and hike. The gardens are about 6km (3 3/4 miles) before San Vito. To get here from Golfito, drive out to the Interamerican Highway and continue south toward Panama. In Ciudad Neily, turn north. A taxi from Golfito should cost around $40 to $50 each way.
 
Hiking -- With a trail head located just on the outskirts of town, the Golfito National Wildlife Reserve ? is the closest place to Golfito for a hike in one of the area’s typical local lowland rainforests. This reserve is home to much of the same wildlife and flora you’ll find in other, more famous national parks. A well-marked trail begins near the ranger station, just beyond the city’s airstrip. You can hike it yourself or go as part of an organized tour with Land Sea Tours ((tel) 2775-1614). Admission is $10, and the refuge is open daily from 8am to 4pm.
 
About a 20-minute drive over a rough dirt road from Golfito will bring you to the Cataratas y Senderos Avellán (Avellán Waterfall & Trails; (tel) 8633-4768; www.avellancr.com). Admission to the site costs C2,500 and includes a 2-hour guided hike through the forests and a visit to a beautiful forest waterfall, with several refreshing pools perfect for swimming. A taxi should cost around $25 one-way. Horseback riding (C12,500) is available, and they even have a zip-line canopy tour (C20,000). Camping is allowed, and meals are served by the friendly owners of the land, the local Gamba family. However, for most folks, the best way to visit this site is to go as part of an organized trip with Land Sea Tours .
 
Sportfishing -- The waters off Golfito also offer some of the best sportfishing in Costa Rica. Most game fish species can be caught here year-round, including blue and black marlin, sailfish, and roosterfish. November through May is the peak period for sailfish and blue marlin. If you’d like to try hooking into a possible world record marlin or sailfish, contact Banana Bay Marina ((tel) 2775-0838; www.bananabaymarinagolfito.com) or Fish Hook Marina ((tel) 800/353-0678 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2775-1624 in Costa Rica; http://fish-hook-marina.com). Both of these operations boast a full-service marina, a few waterside rooms for guests, and a fleet of sportfishing boats and captains. A full-day fishing trip costs between $950 and $1,800. You can also try the Zancudo Lodge ((tel) 800/854-8791 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2776-0008 in Costa Rica; www.thezancudolodge.com), which is based out of the Zancudo Beach Resort in nearby Playa Zancudo. The lodge can arrange pickup in Golfito, and I greatly prefer the Zancudo lodgings and scenery to what you’ll find in Golfito.
 
Eating Out
For a small port town, Golfito has several dining choices. Restaurant Mar y Luna offers seafood dishes in alfresco dining with a view of the bay, Banana Bay Marina cooks seafood in American style, Rio de Janiero serves barbecue, Restaurant Los Maderos has a view of the forest, while Resturant Hong Kong serves Chinese food.
 
There is also a restaurant near the airport for travelers who want a quick meal before or after flights. Bar la Pista serves burgers, sandwiches, beer, casado (a Costa Rican rice plate) and homemade soup.
 
Drinks are served at Le Coquillage located inside the Samoa del Sur hotel building. In addition to the restaurant and bar, the place also has pool tables and dartboards.
 
Shopping
There is a supermarket just near the port that sells basic commodities. Shopping is best done at the duty free center located north of the town. Foreigners will need to present a passport while Costa Ricans may need to present their cedulas (i.e. national ID card). Before shopping, travelers need to familiarize themselves with the restrictions (dependent upon status of cedula). The duty free center sells electronics, clothing, toys, wines and liquors and household items among others. 
 
Tierra Mar small but excellent selection of painted wood masks made by the Boruca indigenous group. It also has one-of-a-kind local crafts, such as woven straw hats, cloth dolls, cotton purses, painted gourds, and local paintings. Located main street, next to Banana Bay Marina, Golfito, 60701, Costa Rica
 
After the abandonment of banana plantation by the United Fruits the government of Costa Rica decided to improve the economic live of Golfito and opened in 1990 a duty free zone.
This duty free shopping attracts many Ticos and foreigners from other parts of the country. To benefit this devolpment a special rule was adopted.
One day previous of purchase, by presentation of ID or passport, the TAC (Tarjeta de autorizacion de compras) must be request. The TAC is free and given at the entrance to the duty free zone and permit to purchase up to $1000.- (twice a year)
 
Opening time for TAC: Tuesday to Saturday 8am- 8pm, Monday 1pm- 8pm
Opening time for shops: Tuesday to Saturday 8am- 4.30pm, Sunday 7am- 2pm
 
In the about 40 shops of the duty zone a wide variety of products are offered. Cosmetics, liquor, car accessories, electric appliance, clothes, toys and much more. Compared to San José you save up to 50%
It is being offered from many parts of the country`s special bus trips for duty free shopping.
The purchased good can, if not enough space in the vehicle, be conveniently transported by specialized companies back home.




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