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Costa Rica rolls out the welcome mat to the yachting world

March 22, 2021

One of the most spectacular ways to see Costa Rica is from the water.

Gentle waves roll toward the shore, turning from blue to emerald green, and finally a rainbow mist as sunlight hits the spray as water crashes on the beach. Coconut palms dot the shoreline, washed in from faraway places decades ago, and turtle tracks can be seen in the sand.

Behind the palm trees, the landscape rises into a dense jungle, inhabited by monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and scarlet macaws cruising the sky overhead. The water depth from shore drops quickly, allowing for safe navigation of larger vessels, making it possible to see many of these wonders with a naked eye.

The Costa Rica Legislative Assembly (Congress) recently voted 47-0 in favor of the marina reform law, which will make it easier for foreign mega-yachts to visit and work in the country. It removed many of the hoops yacht owners had to jump through to enter the country and allows them to do charter tours, which people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a week to enjoy. Costa Rica will collect 2.5% percent of each charter in fees.

Some of the highlights of the law reform are:

  • The law was approved in second debate last week, 47-0 in favor.
  • One of the first reactivation laws to come out of the Costa Rica Congress.
  • Law allows yachts to now visit Costa Rica for 6 months under the temporary import status (instead of the current 90 days).
  • Allows foreign flagged non-fishing luxury charter vessels over 24 m (78 feet) to receive an annual license from ICT and perform high end weekly charters legally.
  • Allows yachts that are chartering for visiting for six months to bring in parts and do repair work in Costa Rica. Something called “Ship Spares in Transit,” which is allowed almost everywhere else in the world, and Costa Rica was losing these jobs to Mexico and Panama. 
  • It also makes investments in marinas more attractive, as concession periods were increased to 40 years and 20 year renewal terms (up from 35 years and 15 year renewals in the old law).

Jeff Duchesneau, General Manager of Marina Pez Vela commented:

“We (Costa Rica) have been working over a decade on the infrastructure, building marinas in Papagayo, our marina in Quepos and also in Golfito and we all will all benefit greatly in employment opportunities.”

Marina Pez Vela will be able to moor yachts to 200 feet, Papagayo 250 feet, and Golfito up to 350 feet.

Two more marinas are scheduled for the country: Flamingo is scheduled to open in January 2022 with 90 slips and will also handle yachts to 125 feet, and Crocodile Bay in Puerto Jimenez will open with limited services in December of this year. When finished, the marina in Puerto Jimenez will moor yachts up to 250 feet.

“The country is set up to offer the facilities for yachts to week-long tours encompassing the entire Pacific Coast and they can also moor in exotic places like Tortuga Island, Drake Bay and the Golfo Dulce on their tours,” Duchesneau said. “Many people are getting tired of the Caribbean islands and now have the option of Costa Rica.”

In a recent issue of SuperYacht Times, Costa Rica was named as the top spot for yachts to visit in 2021. Megayachts will also visit the other coast using Limón as a home port. So soon we may see the mega rich and famous cruising Costa Rican waters quite frequently.

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