Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Costa Rica

Los Suenos Signature Billfish Series begins Wednesday off Costa Rica

The eighth annual Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series begins Wednesday off Costa Rica.

The eighth annual Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series begins Wednesday off Costa Rica, and the call of "Hookup!" will likely be heard often throughout the tournament.

The strictly catch-and-release competition, fished out of Los Sueños Resort and Marina in Playa Herradura, Costa Rica, takes place in two legs -- January 26-29 and March 2-5 -- and targets all species of marlin as well as Pacific sailfish. The event is sanctioned by both the World Billfish Series and the International Game Fish Assn.

Points will be awarded for each successful release -- 500 for marlin and 100 for Pacific sailfish -- with the top three boats per tournament awarded trophies and cash prizes based on overall points.

Registrants can still sign up for one or both legs of the series. The entry fee is $7,000 per boat per tournament or $10,000 per boat for both events.

Last year, 43 teams from the United States, Nicaragua and Russia entered the tournament and ended up releasing a total 1,014 billfish during the six days of competition.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The eighth annual Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series begins Wednesday off Costa Rica. Credit: Los Sueños Resort and Marina

Team USA poised to win ISA World Surfing Games in Costa Rica

Santa Ana's Courtney Conlogue in action at the World Surfing Games. 

When the rain cleared and power was restored Thursday after being knocked out by a falling tree, the United States emerged with a commanding lead in the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games at Playa Hermosa on Costa Rica.

With two days remaining in the competition -- waves are 4 to 6 feet today and the event concludes Saturday -- the United States can accumulate 19,080 points. Hawaii is in second place and the best it can do, if its remaining surfers win out, is earn 16,960 points. Next are Australia (16,720 points), South Africa (15,040) and France (14,040). (Note: Hawaii is a separate entity in this competition.)

"We're not there yet," said Ian Cairns, head coach of the PacSun USA Surf Team. "But the team did a great job and we're very well positioned as we move into the final two days of the competition."

Cory Lopez, Ben Bourgeois, Sage Erickson, Courtney Conlogue and longboarders Toni Silvagni and Steven Newton, among others, have helped the U.S. to the top position.

There is a live video link, but good luck; I could not get the player to work. And for a Costa Rican perspective, check out the story in the English-language Tico Times.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Santa Ana's Courtney Conlogue in action at the World Surfing Games. Credit: A.J. Neste / Surfing America

Costa Rica is happiest, greenest place on earth, survey says

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is for many outdoors enthusiasts the most magnificent place on earth. The Central American nation is blessed with good surf. It teems with more than 800 bird species. Its fishing fleets ply waters that abound with sailfish and tarpon. Its eco-lodges are watched over by tall green trees and monkeys.

Its volcanoes are sights to behold and with this in mind we share an image captured recently by Zach Smith of Arenal.net, a website promoting tourism to and around Costa Rica's spectacular Arenal Volcano.

Now Costa holds another distinction: happiest and greenest place on earth.

A survey by the New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, made the determination after looking at 143 countries that are home to 99% of the world's population and using an equation weighing life expectancy and happiness against environmental impact.

Costa Rica, whose rich biodiversity is breathtaking, emerged just ahead of the Dominican Republic and well above the United States with its 114th ranking. Australia was third.

The survey found that Costa Ricans, with their pura vida or "pure life" outlook, have a life expectancy of 78.5 years, and 85% of those interviewed said they were happy. That combined with the nation's tiny ecological footprint helped place it atop the Happy Planet Index.

The happy part is somewhat surprising as I've been there many times and witnessed poverty and know that lots of women and even girls there are drawn to prostitution, which sadly is also a primary tourist attraction for some. 

As sociologist Andrea Fonseca said in an Agence France-Presse story about the survey, Costa Rica's rise to the top of the happy list "has a lot to do with social imagination." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Credit: Zach Smith

Honduras earthquake rattles nerves of divers, anglers throughout Caribbean

Turneffe Flats Lodge Picture
When the 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean region at 2:24 a.m. today, scuba-diving tourists near the epicenter on the island of Roatan fled from dwellings and those on the island's low-lying west end ran into the hills.

Residents and employees did too.

"Everybody got out of the house instantly, " said PJ Rowntree, owner of Coconut Tree Divers on the small island beyond Honduras, which received the most damage. "Many of them ran off in their night clothes."

The earthquake, centered offshore beyond Honduras, reportedly killed at least two people and toppled more than two dozen homes in Honduras and Belize to the north. It also collapsed a bridge spanning Honduras' largest river, the Ulua. However, in Belize, which also is a diving and fly-fishing paradise, tourist areas seemed to weather the shaking. 

Jake Sinna, general manager of Turneffe Flats resort on a small offshore atoll, said,  "I thought it was a thunderstorm moving in, but when the house shook for about 10 seconds I realized that it must be something else, like an earthquake. After inspection of my surroundings, I quickly turned to others who might be in need of assistance."

Sinna said, "Everything is back to normal" on Turneffe Atoll (pictured) and seemingly throughout Belize City.

In Honduras and remote areas in Belize, however, residents were being urged not to panic. The earthquake, which was felt elsewhere in Central America as well, occurred four months after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake killed dozens of residents and stranded hundreds of tourists in remote areas of Costa Rica.

Thankfully, the Honduras quake, because it was centered offshore, was not so destructive. Outposts will try to update this item later today.

— Pete Thomas

Photo of Turneffe Atoll courtesy of Turneffe Flats resort

Swine flu hysteria spanning global outdoors realm; is any place safe?

Costa Rica's Saint Teresa beach.

The swine flu scare is now global and some of the world's premier outdoors destinations have become swept up in the hysteria.

So if you're a bird-watcher with plans to visit, say, Costa Rica, you may wonder whether it's safe. Of course it is, but there are no guarantees, just as there are none while staying home.

People are contracting the virus in Southern California and New York and in U.S. points between. The virus reportedly has been detected in Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, Spain and numerous other countries.

There are wonderful destinations where it has not yet surfaced, among them Hawaii, Cuba and Costa Rica. Oops, check that: Two hours ago the Tico Times reported that "a 21-year-old Costa Rican woman has become the country's first case of swine flu and is in stable condition."

This does not mean that tourists should avoid Costa Rica, just as they should not strike every single location in Mexico off their travel list. But don't step onto the airplane with a cough, or you might be turned away after you land. Seriously. It's happening.

Continue reading »

Is Costa Rica becoming a new major theater for drug traffickers?

Costa Rica's Arenal volcano, situated along Lake Arenal, flares up in this 1992 handout file photo.

Costa Rica, one of the world's most beautiful countries and a paradise for all manner of outdoors enthusiasts, is concerned about increased drug trafficking and its ability to effectively deal with the issue.

A story in this week's English-language Tico Times cites a series of recent incidents and arrests and suggests that drug cartels, which may be finding it more difficult to move product into the U.S. via Mexico, are seeking new arenas in which to operate.

Could it be that Mexico's war on drug trafficking is having this unfortunate side effect? Perhaps. Cocaine seizures in Costa Rica, for example, increased from 2,955 kilos in 2002 to more than 32,000 kilos in 2007.

Bruce Bagley, editor of the book "Drug Trafficking in America," and the department chair of International Studies at the University of Miami, told the Tico Times: "Drug traffickers are finding Mexico to be too dangerous, violent and risky, which has caused them to look for other routes through Central America and the Caribbean."

What will this mean for tourism in a land renowned for surfing, fishing, bird-watching and whitewater rafting? It should not be a major issue, but consider what's happened in Mexico. Many have stopped visiting that country because of a perceived danger to tourists.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Costa Rica's Arenal volcano, situated along Lake Arenal, flares up in this 1992 handout file photo.

Jeremy Lusk Foundation keeps memory alive and helps FMX move more safely forward


The period of mourning may not have ended but the Metal Mulisha has been pressing forward since the falling of one of its stars, freestyle motocross rider Jeremy Lusk, who died Feb. 9 as a result of injuries suffered during a crash in Costa Rica.

On Wednesday, the Jeremy Lusk Tribute Exhibit will open at the San Diego Hall of Champions at 2131 Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park. The San Diego-born rider's bike, gear and trophies will be on display. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is at 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Lusk Legacy Foundation is accepting donations and has numerous items for sale, including a Jeremy Lusk action print signed by the Temecula-based Mulisha.

The foundation will attempt to achieve a higher standard of safety at freestyle motocross events and "embodies positive values, such as courage, individualism and family."

It "recognizes the value of an involved membership and seeks to encourage that involvement with accurate and transparent communication."

Last among its core values: "The Jeremy Lusk Foundation embraces the values of which it was founded upon in recognition of Jeremy Lusk -- friendship, camaraderie, enthusiasm for each other and the spirit of freestyle motocross."

Lusk was 24. He'd recently become a Christian and had the words "In God's Hands" tattooed across his chest. You can buy T-shirts stamped with those very words from the foundation and Mulisha websites. The $25 cost, Lusk's thousands of fans will agree, is money well spent.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Metal Mulisha

'Kingdom of the Blue Whale' to air Sunday night on National Geographic Channel

National Geographic's 'Kingdom of the blue whale'

Marine mammal enthusiasts on Sunday can journey to the wintering grounds of the planet's largest and perhaps its most majestic creature: the blue whale.

"Kingdom of the Blue Whale," which will air at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time on the National Geographic Channel, will feature remarkable footage, including what is believed to be the first-ever underwater footage of a newborn blue whale, which is no minnow, measuring 25 feet. (See video below.)

The documentary will chronicle the efforts of scientists as they locate and tag blue whales off California -- where the mammals spend summer months -- and rejoin the graceful leviathans at the Costa Rica Dome far beyond the shore of the Central American nation.

These experts have spent years observing and filming courtship and feeding behavior of blue whales and part of their mission for the documentary is "to find and record the Holy Grail of blue whale science -- the breeding and calving grounds of the biggest mammals in the sea."

Also touched upon are the fairly recent vessel-strike fatalities of four blue whales in one season off California, and what can be done to help prevent these accidents in the future.

The show is a must-see for anyone interested in nature and its many wonders. Below is just a taste:

-- Pete Thomas

Photo courtesy of National Geographic Channel

Fred Hall fishing show opens today at Long Beach Convention Center


Employers throughout Southern California take note: If you have workers who enjoy fishing and have called in sick today, chances are good you'll find them inside the Long Beach Convention Center after 2 p.m.

Today marks the opening of the 63rd Fred Hall's Fishing Tackle and Boat Show, and for anglers it's not to be missed.

The world's largest fishing show runs through Sunday and features more than 3,000 exhibits and nearly nonstop seminars.

For many, it's a place to choose and book their next big fishing vacation, as concessionaires from Alaska to Argentina, and points far beyond, will be on hand.

For others, it's a place to load up on the latest fishing supplies at a time when springlike weather is beginning to beckon them back onto the ocean and to their favorites mountain streams and lakes.

Continue reading »

Witchcraft believed by some to be affecting villagers in Nicaragua


I've been to Nicaragua and explored its narrow jungle rivers by night on a jon boat. I got stuck on a sandbar and had to get out and push. A large crocodile came into focus beneath the light of the moon, and I walked on water.

Thankfully, I never contracted grisi siknis, also called "crazy sickness."

Nor had I ever heard of an ailment that is currently affecting Miskito communities along the Río Coco, leading to an influx of doctors and indigenous healers, who are not sure what causes a disease that generates collective hysteria among its victims.

Some are convinced it's a curse or the result of witchcraft, and there are many in the area who believe in such things. When I was there, a local shaman, who lived near the San Carlos River on a stilted house, was said to possess remarkable healing powers.

Continue reading »

Economic worries won't stop Fred Hall show from ushering in fishing season


Sales might not be as brisk during this year's Fred Hall Fishing Tackle and Boat Show at the Long Beach Convention Center, but thousands will attend regardless of the beleaguered economy to help usher in the spring fishing season.

The 68th rendition of the show will run March 4-8 and boast more than 3,000 exhibits, and offer almost nonstop seminars. Trucks, boats, kayaks and trailers will be for sale, along with every type of fishing excursion and modern fishing product known to man.

You can subscribe to any of numerous fishing magazines -- Fish Taco Chronicles has nothing to do with Mexican food but is crammmed with stories and photos -- and meet such radio/TV personalities as Pete Gray, Philip Friedman, Dan Hernandez and Ronnie Kovach.

Continue reading »

Jeremy Lusk funeral forecast calls for rain, lots of tears and a fond remembrance

Jeremy Lusk flips his motorcycle during a competition last Saturday in San Jose, Costa Rica. The popular rider from Temecula died Tuesday of injuries suffered in a crash during the competition.

The forecast calls for rain Monday, but that's not likely to prevent fans of Jeremy Lusk from attending the freestyle motocross star's funeral.

If reaction to Lusk's death days after a horrific accident last Saturday is any indication, hundreds, perhaps thousands will be on hand for the 1 p.m. service at the Revival Christian Fellowship Church at 29220 Scott Rd. in Menifee, Calif.

"WE WOULDN’T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD. WE WOULD EVEN HITCH HIKE IF WE HAD TOO," reads one of hundreds of comments Metal Mulisha website.

Another reads, "I wish all the boys will fire up their bikes for you one last time and lead you to your final resting place."

This website had more than 200 comments related to the Lusk tragedy, and Lusk items had more than 150,000 viewers from all over the world. An overwhelming majority expressed sympathy, shock and  good  wishes to Lusk's wife, Lauren, his family, and the Metal Mulisha group.

Continue reading »

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.