Wanderlust: Kayaks, crocodiles, and a pod of humpback whales

by Chandra Fowler

We were in Puerto Jimenez a month into our honeymoon when we had our first big fight. It was a blowout over something stupid – what, I can’t even remember. My husband Scott and I were only going to be there for a night and wanted to do a tour, but neither of us were willing to break the bad mood. When we reluctantly walked into some tour offices, they were either full or out of our price range.

I stormed toward the gulf, and we walked in silence down to the beach as the sun set. It was getting dark and a full moon was starting to rise over the Golfo Dulce. Scott asked what my plan was. I scanned the shore and my eyes stopped on two kayaks leaning up against the wall at a beach bar.

“We are going kayaking,” I answered sharply.

He looked at me in disbelief. The area was crawling in crocodiles and it was night time – would they even rent them to us?

I went to the bar and convinced them to rent us the kayaks. They didn’t ask for IDs or offer life jackets. They did stop us as we were dragging the boats away to make sure we didn’t need any beer. If we disappeared into the sea, no one would ever know.

As soon as we hit the water our tempers cooled. Our paddles dipped quietly in and out of the moonlit water as we crossed the bay toward an empty beach. Scott stopped me about 500 yards from shore. He thought he saw crocodile eyes glinting on the sand. As we bobbed in our boats, peering silently into the darkness, we noticed the water begin to move around us. Scott whispered, “I think there’s something… big… out here.”

There was a moment of total silence before the calm was broken by the breaching and spouting of three or four humpback whales surrounding us, the closest one less than a paddle length away.

I have never paddled so fast in my life.

We both shot away from the enormous sea creatures at full speed, but turned around once we were a safe distance away to watch them play in the warm waters of Golfo Dulce.

We returned to shore different people, laughing hysterically in the moonlight, yelling, playing, and excitedly reliving the incredible experience we had just shared. We were refreshed and ready for the rest of the adventures the trip held for us.

Chandra Fowler


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