How an island community banded together to save marine lifeIsla de Chira is a large island in the Gulf of Nicoya. The story of the community and the way they took conservation into their own hands with bravery and determination is inspiring to hear.
Traditionally, both men and women here made their living fishing from small boats, but due to long line fishing in other parts of the Gulf, the fish started disappearing. The women of Chira started raising pianguas, a small native shellfish. Then they built La Amistad Lodge, with spacious rooms and a restaurant decorated with colorful murals of island life. They learned how to build fiberglass boats and started giving tours of the island and the nearby mangroves.
Inspired by the women's efforts, local fishermen got together to protect the reef outside the island, a natural nursery for marine life. Already local fish stocks are returning.
Isla de Chira ToursTo take their wildlife observation tour or stay overnight on the island, you are met in Puerto San Pablo, located in the mangrove swamps northwest of Jicaral, by one of the fisherwomen of Isla de Chira. She will take you in a covered boat to see the aquatic birds and caimans that inhabit the mangroves, and to nearby Isla Paloma, a bird sanctuary. Once you get to the reef, she might buy some huge, freshly harvested shrimp, which will be added to the delicious fish stew you'll have for lunch.
Transport to the cheerful, open-air dining room at La Amistad lodge is by bike or bus. If you stay overnight, you can hike up to the mirador near the lodge, visit a women's craft cooperative, explore the island by bike, or play soccer with the islanders.