Early this morning, we arrived at Golfito, the first port in Costa Rica. We cleared Customs before starting our activities bright and early. Guests chose between two options: kayaking through the mangroves or a guided Zodiac cruise along the edge of the forest. Both had fantastic outcomes. The kayakers had time to themselves to enjoy the calm waters and beautiful mangrove forest. They had sightings of every kind of shorebird: egrets, herons, ibises, turnstones, sandpipers, and a few more flycatchers and ospreys. Those of us on Zodiacs enjoyed a guided tour with our naturalists. We learned about the small town of Golfito and its history with the United Fruit Company. We also spent time near the mangroves, and we spotted shorebirds, howler monkeys, king vultures, and a common potoo. We came back on board for lunch and to get ready for the afternoon’s activities.

After repositioning the ship to our afternoon spot, we disembarked on a very pebbly beach that led us into Dolphin Quest, a family jungle project with cabins for rent, an array of trails, and a beautiful garden. We divided into various groups depending on interest and preference. Guests chose between a longer forest trek, a nature walk in the forest, or a walk in the gardens. Leafcutter ants, squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws, and yellow-throated toucans welcomed us into their home, though animals were not the only hosts. We also spotted figs, wild cashews, ylang ylang, mangos, water chestnuts, and various trees along the trails and in the garden. The complexity of the rainforest is sometimes difficult to grasp from photos or a book; seeing it in its full glory is a completely different feeling.

We went to bed tired but very happy and filled with expectations for our second day of exploring Costa Rica.