As far as cruises go, I am of the belief that if you’re looking for a personalized, luxurious experience, you should look no further than Windstar Cruises. I am lucky that I can say that I have been on four voyages with them to date and each one has been no less than perfect in terms of dining, service, excursions, and overall experience. I sailed through Costa Rica and Panama with Windstar not too long ago, and today, I want to share highlights of my trip … both to convince you to take a Windstar cruise AND to entice you to visit these two countries.
But first, a few notes about Windstar Cruises.
Windstar caters to a specific type of traveler. If you’re a person, couple or small family looking for a relaxing, luxurious cruise and money isn’t an object, you will love Windstar. If you’re a budget traveler or group of friends looking for a trip packed with exploration and/or partying, you may want to look elsewhere.
I say this because, while there is no shortage of excursions and activities available on a Windstar voyage, it is not a huge ship packed with movie theaters, dance clubs, 5+ restaurants and 3+ bars ( I see you, Royal Caribbean ). Windstar’s yachts carry only between 148 and 310 people and have two restaurants, a sports deck, one small shop and one casino. The wonderful thing about Windstar is while there are a range of activities and excursion to keep you entertained, the small size of the ship allows for entry to places unaccessible by larger cruise ships.
That being said …
Our cruise began with a transit through the Panama Canal, a 48-mile waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic to the Pacific.
While the journey through the canal takes most of the day, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll want to witness out on the boat deck.
Our first stop on the Panama/Costa Rica voyage was at Isla Parida, a small island in Panama boasting a 1,300 ft. long white sand beach and turquoise waters.
Visiting this island was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had with Windstar to date and the perfect way to begin the week. Once anchored close to the island, Windstar’s small motorized rafts shuttled guests to the island. Windstar prepared a barbecue lunch on the island and served cocktails & refreshments all day long. We spent the day laying out in the sun, paddle boarding in the crystal clear waters and hiking around the small island. It was a day in complete paradise.
GOLFO DULCE / PUERTO JIMENEZ
The next day, we arrived in Puerto Jimenez, where we opted for on a kayaking excursion in Golfo Dulce. Golfo Dulce is one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse ( and HUMID ) areas, packed with beautiful Jurassic Park-like foliage and lush mangroves.
The town of Puerto Jimenez is small but perfect for grabbing a quick bite before heading out on a kayaking excursion. I recommend Los Delfines because it’s located right on the water and serves delicious Costa Rican food.
After lunch, it’s time to kayak! I recommend Aventuras Tropicales. The tour starts paddling from shore, through Golfo Dolce’s open water and finally reaching the mangroves.
Floating peacefully through tunnels, we were surrounded by towering trees and chirping birds. At the end of our tour, we stopped at a secluded beach to swim and enjoy pineapple & coconut that our tour guides cut from nearby trees.
The next day, we stopped at UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bahia Drake. This island has dense rainforests, colorful wildlife and an abundance of activities. You can zip line with Corcovado Canopy Tours, hike through the green landscapes of Osa Biological Corridor or horseback ride with Pirate Cove Hotel.
We chose the latter and it was incredible! We rode our horses along the beach and up into the rainforest, where we enjoyed sprawling views of the water and landscapes below.
After horseback riding, we headed to Aguila de Osa Inn and enjoyed Imperial beers in an open-air restaurant and beautiful views of the bay. After exploring the resort’s property, I have to say … should I find myself in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula again anytime soon, I may head back to this luxurious eco lodge for a couple of nights!
Another area of Costa Rica filled with vibrant, lush rainforest, the town of Quepos was the perfect next stop on our Windstar voyage. Here, we decided to go on a zip line adventure with Titi Canopy Tour.
With 12 zip line cables and 22 platforms, the two hour tour is a wonderful way to see Costa Rican rainforests in a new and exhilarating way! Titi Canopy Tour even has a line that is 1,475 ft. long and as you soar through the air, you can spot monkeys and toucans in the trees.
During your tour, it is also very likely you’ll spot a sloth! They’re difficult to spot in the trees because they blend in, but keep your eyes open. Seeing a sloth was easily the biggest highlight of my trip …
Soooooo, have I convinced you yet that you need to explore Costa Rica and Panama with Windstar Cruises? Or just convinced you to visit these countries on your own? 😉
If so, here are some things you might need for your visit:
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I love cruises and I really want to do one through the Panama Canal. I visited Panama City for work and go to watch the boats go through the locks and was just fascinated. I have only done the big cruise ships but maybe it is time I try one of the smaller ones. This sounds lovely!
Definitely check out a smaller cruising option! It’s a totally different experience that I’m sure you would love 🙂
My husband and I love to cruise. We have been loyal to one company for many years but are looking to expand. This has been on our horizon for awhile now – thinking maybe in 2018.
Those kayaking photos look amazing. Like a rain forest <3
Definitely check out Windstar 🙂
What a gorgeous trip you had! We’ve cruised on larger ships a couple of times now but love the look of the smaller ones too. I’m well jealous of you passing through the canal too – I love that kind of stuff!
You should try out the smaller experience if you have a chance to! It’s a great experience 🙂
Looking forward to this cruise in December. We sailed on the Wind Surf in 2019 for a 10 day cruise in the eastern Caribbean. I agree with your view of Windstar.. first class all the way. It was nice being so pampered.. We knew we would book another trip with this cruise line after our great experience