Home Costa Rica Study Abroad Adventures: Bioluminescence and Waterfalls in Curu and Montezuma

Study Abroad Adventures: Bioluminescence and Waterfalls in Curu and Montezuma

by Mackenzie Hudson
bioluminescence curu costa rica plankton

Visiting Curu and Montezuma this past weekend was such a different experience. We left early on Saturday and got to Curu around noon, checked in to the hotel and went immediately to the beach in Curu. There were monkeys all around us and lots of trails to walk around the park and see different animals. The beach was very nice and the water extremely warm. It felt like bath water and was probably the warmest ocean water I have ever swam in. A few other girls and I went to go for a walk after the tide came in. We saw more monkeys, deer, and different birds before we were forced to turn back because the high tide had taken away the trail.

A few hours later it was finally time to do what we came to Curu to do: see the bioluminescence. Think fireflies except in the ocean – fish, plankton, jellyfish, bacteria emit a visible light “as a result of a natural chemical reaction” according to Wikipedia. We couldn’t decide whether we wanted to kayak or take a boat. So why choose? To get the best of both worlds I split it with a friend so I would kayak out while she took the boat, then on the way back she would kayak while I took the boat. My friend Sam and I kayaked out to a private beach further out in clearer water as the sun went down. We all swam in the warm, light blue water and ate fresh fruit as it got darker. The guides told us a little bit about the area and the bioluminescent plankton we were about to see. As soon as they let us go we all went running into the water, eager to see the glow.

Splashing and moving in the water is what makes the bioluminescence visible. It was like nothing I have ever seen before and it didn’t even seem like what I was seeing was real. We thrashed around and our bodies glowed a light blue color! They gave us masks and seeing it underwater was even more amazing. The water was beautiful and everything was sparkling, both the clear stars above us and the glowing plankton below. As I looked over the side of the boat on the way back, the water we were cutting through glowed as it splashed. The night was unforgettable.

The next day we headed to Montezuma, gearing up for a different kind of day. We hiked through the woods and along a little river until we reached a waterfall that ended in a 50 foot deep pool. Immediately we jumped into the water and were refreshed. There was a small cliff and a few of us jumped off. Let me tell you, it looks small in the picture but standing at the top it looks a lot taller. It was fun though- taking a leap of faith and jumping off. I thought what we were doing was good enough until the local boys showed up. They have grown up with the waterfall and would scale up the slippery wet rocks halfway up, and even to the top of the waterfall, and then do what all of us thought was a death wish. They jumped, swan dove, cannonballed, and even flipped from those spots. It was crazy.

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