Until the late 20th century, most of the tourists were unaware of Golfito. The only visitors who came to this Costa Rican town were the fishermen and adventurous surfers. What makes this town attractive is that it is located in a bay, which is nestled within a bay. Golfito is a thin piece of land, which sits comfortably between the sea and hills with an abundance of tropical greenery.
The town has a fascinating rustic charm and most of it is covered by dense wildlife refuge. The name ‘Golfito’ literally translates as ‘little gulf’. Golfito has an elevation of 5 meters and a total area of a little over 357 square kilometers.
Golfito has an interesting history, which tells you that it had a rapid rise of fortunes. This was mostly because of its prominence as a banana-growing region. Owing to this industry, it also became a major port in the southern part of Costa Rica. However, this didn’t last long.
A period of worker unrest, rising export taxes, banana disease, and declining foreign markets followed. This ultimately resulted in the closing of the United Fruit Company. After the closure of this company in 1985, the banana plantations gave way to palm oil plantations.
They were quite successful and this led to the utilization of more and more land for growing palm. Tourism began to make its presence felt in this part of Costa Rica during the mid-1990s. Sport fishing played a big role in making Golfito an important tourist destination in the country by mid-2006.
Golfito in recent times
A duty-free shopping center called Depósito Libre Comercial de Golfito came up in 1986. Today, it attracts shoppers from many parts of Costa Rica as well as the tourists visiting the country. This shopping center has 49 retail stores. You can get all sorts of household goods at this shopping center at attractive prices.
The difficulty in accessing this duty-free shopping center from other inland destinations makes an overnight stay necessary. As many shoppers stay overnight in the area, it gives a big boost to the economy. Besides the shopping center, there are beaches in the area that are a hub of tourist activities. People visit these beaches even during the tide fluctuations, which average about 3 meters.
Golfito is a popular destination for cruise ships and offers small marinas, boating and yachting services, and sport fishing. Tourism in this town mainly focuses on the sport fishing industry. You’ll come across many hotels and lodges here that have their own sport fishing boats.
Approval for permits was given for constructing a big new marina, but local residents and environmentalists opposed this project. One of the issues with the project was a lack of proper scientific study. There was also a lack of space to install a water treatment plant.
Besides this, an anti-fouling paint, sewage, and oil spillage was harmful to the environment. In 2010, the Regulatory Office for Marinas in Costa Rica ordered the withdrawal of all permits for this project.
Outdoor activities for tourists
Tourists would have an exciting time in Golfito with a wide range of outdoor activities to choose from. Among them are the dolphin and whale watching boat tours, horseback riding, and hiking.