From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 10/12)

Well it´s great to see you here sailor. Let´s dive into Nicaragua, Costa Riiiica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Naturally. Let´s get to it!


Nicaragua´s 490 nautical miles of coastline was avoided for a long time, but this is no longer the case. The shallow reefy Miskito coast has lots of great anchorages, though navigation can be difficult and you might want to stick to the Corn Islands.

Head directly to an official port of entry since the Nicaraguan authorities are strict on illegal fishing and have confiscated boats and arrested their crews, and you wouldn´t want to be mistaken for an offender!

Otto Beach, Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

There are restrictions when it comes to visas, which can be sought after once you enter Nicaraguan waters. You are generally given 90 days to cruise around the C4 countries, which include Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and they´re strict on this. Avoid the fine for having exceeded your stay by leaving the area and then returning and you will usually be granted another 90 days.

On the Atlantic coast, check out El Bluff and Puerto Cabezas. On the Pacific coast, explore Corinto, Bluefields, Marina Puesta Del Sol, Puerto Sandino (or Samoza), and San Juan Del Sur.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua by Gerardo Gomez

Where to Spend the Night

In a marina! Sailors had good things to say about Marina Puesta del Sol. San Juan del Sur is reported to have a good mechanic and facilities if you need to have some work done with your boat out of the water.

Costa Rica

The Pacific side of Costa Rica is reported to be most attractive for cruisers. Some sailors even say forget the Atlantic coast completely.

Sunset, Costa Rica

While Cost Rica is safer, it´s also more expensive. You´ll need to apply for a permit to explore the Costa Rican coast when you arrive. You´ll still want to stay on your boat at night and lock down any valuable loose items on deck and elsewhere, especially in Golfito, on the Pacific coast. You might also have to deal with some awesome paperwork missions!

There are some good guides, but you´ll probably need to buy one. Here are a few articles on the ins and outs of cruising in Costa.

Where to Spend the Night

You have Puerto Limon (Atlantic coast), Golfito, Marina Papagayo, Playa Herradura, Playa de Coco, Puntarenas and Quepos marinas available to you, plus a few others. The marina that´s part of the Los Sueños Resort, is a great jump-off point to explore the country, according to

Golfito, Banana Bay, Bocas del Toro (just across the border) and Bahia Ballena (near Puntarenas) on the west coast has been recommended by sailors. Here´s some more information on Putarenas, and a sailing video.


For most sailors, the main cruising attraction associated with Ecuador is the 13 main and six smaller Galapagos Islands, which make up an archipelago of volcanic islands 489 nautical miles west of continental Ecuador. These islands have fantastic wildlife, and barren volcanic scenery.

The marine iguana at Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands

The Ecuadorian coast is best cruised from south to north, due to prevailing winds and currents. The time between December and June tend to have the calmest seas. Late August and September have the roughest!

Check out this guide, and this article.

Where to Spend the Night

Preferably on the Galapagos Islands, and only at one of these inhabited ports. Check out this page for all the details a sailor could need J

We´re getting close to our final destination. But sometimes the sailing is even better than arriving, isn´t it. The next article looks at sailing through Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 11/12)

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 9/12)

From The Northeastern U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 5/12)




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