Paddling Crocodile Infested Waters....

I will be taking the family to Costa Rica next summer and plan to do some flat water canoeing or kayaking in coastal estuaries. These areas are the habitat of large numbers of American Crocodiles. I know very little about these reptiles, never having seen a crocodile and giving the Alligators a wide berth when in Southern waters.

Costa Rica leads the New World in Croc attacks and I have read that they have been known to take a canoeist or kayaker before. (Reportedly they always go for the person in the back of the canoe.)

With that being said, should I…

  1. Forget it and have a good time,

  2. Don’t go canoeing/kayaking in Costa Rica; or…

  3. Go, but always make sure I put my least favorite kid in the back of the canoe?

    Any advice from you more worldly paddlers would be appreciated.

#3…but use p.netters

Hey LeeG! Want to go to Costa Rica?

in 04…
stayed at a place in zancudo beach on the W coast over by osa peninsula.

the shore was the dumpiest i’ve ever seen and there wer so many coconuts and logs on shore that you were pretty much risking your life at high tide. at low tide it was still dumping and my wife pretty much hated it BUT you had to do something as it was about 100F.

we rented SOT’s from local expat and they took as up the river a ways and then we floated down (pretty much the only thing they offered). the boats were huge and slow, the paddles you wouldn’t bring to a pool session to let a stranger use and certianly no one handed you a pfd…the gear, in a word stunk.

we saw a few small crocs in the river…they were pretty shy and we gave them room when we saw the few we saw.

tons of monkeys, lotsa toucans, saw a couple sloths (none in the water, that woulda been great) and a huge # of really big honkin spiders. all kinds of lizards (the baselisks were really neat looking)

while paddling downriver i heard this really loud buzzing…and being curious, i HAD to try to find it, right? never mind what it could ahve been but…hummingbirds…a few of them darting this way and that…it was very cool.

and they have the most amazing land crabs that come out at night! orange and purple and green…they look like a kid colored them in, not knowing or thinking about what colors “adults” think crabs ought to be!

You “should be” ok in most places,
however, and a very big however to you, is avoid the water under the InterAmerican highway of the Rio Tarcoles. They feed the crocs there, often dropping chickens, whole or in part. Any low altitude people are upping the ante a bit more than is responsible. They get big on the Tarcoles. A local professor was in the Okavango delta in Africa a year or two back and he got the air jaws treatment by a Nile croc. American crocs are usually much more laidback than the Nile or Indo-Pacific crocs, or even the Cuban jumping crocs. But as you noted, CR has a few folks get taken out from time to time. You might want to be leery of the Barra Del Colorado region, as well. There are several outfitters that do canoe journeys there, so do look into that.


I have one or two visit my canal nightly, people still swim in it… daytime. No problems yet or anywhere around here but I’m not in CR… and we don’t feed them.

shy animal
we’ve got american crocodiles in the Everglades, chances of seeing one there very slim…if really worried get a marine grade shotgun off the costa rican black market…most reptiles respect anything larger than they are, most seakayaks are larger–well except during the rut…just choose smart swimming locations and relax

Does anything scream “Family Vacation”…
more than Costa Rican Black Market shotguns???/

Send lawyers, guns and money, Dad…

Forget the Lawyers…
Won’t do you any good… even if you could find one to go…

makes me reflect back to time in
Cairo,Egypt…borrowed the roommates car for a trip to the shopping bazaar downtown, he told me that if i got into a wreck to keep driving-no matter what saying that you do not want to get involved in the legal system in Egypt…probably the same everywhere!

Don’t pee in the water.

Use a solo canoe.
that will confuse the hell out of them, and by the time they figure out what to do, you will be long gone.



I think
the lawyers would be a good thing. I hear Crocs like bottom feeders! Also, I’d learn to swim real fast. You won’t outswim the Croc, but all you have to do is outswim the rest of your family!

Sounds like fun. Be careful.

Do not practice Eskimo rolls there.

small crocs
I’ve paddled in Costa Rica and saw incredible amounts of wildlife.

The small shy crocs which are plentiful and what most people see are actually Caymen. They are a small crocedilian and not aggresive. Costa Rica also has some of the largest crocadiles in the world in its estuarian areas. They can be very large and aggresive, so keep your eyes open wide.


The crocs in north Australia
are best planned for when thinking about paddling up there.

Here’s some Aussie trip reports about some encounters.


… and they’re growing bigger.
Yes, and they’re only getting bigger and bigger (since being protected in the early '70s).

I’ve had 3 lovely paddling trips up the east coast (1st & 3rd Syd->CpYork), and have been lucky not to run in to these monsters.

Looking forward to next trip (same waters) in '09.


I rent canoes and kayaks and we have alot of alligators around. I tell people that you only have to swim faster than the slowest person in your group. Seems to work. Happy Thanksgiving. Vaughn Fulton

Dittos, Greyhawk…
I consider myself lucky to have seen a few of our crocs here in Florida in Whitewater Bay and the Flamingo area. The one I saw in WW Bay was quite large but as the aussies say, “No worries, mate.” since there’s never been a recorded attack on any human from any croc in our state. I do worry about human-habituated large gators (the one I saw at Hell’s Bay chickee comes to mind) as they are far more dangerous than any of our crocs.

La Pura Vida!!
Get a local Guide!!

I was in Costa Rica last year and did not kayak b/c I had too much photography equipment but I went on a small motor boat with guides. The guides were extremely knowledgeble and loved their job. We saw lots of monkeys and stopped on an island and saw a rarely seen aunt eating creature, I don’t remember the name!!,we also saw a small boa by the river shore. I have to tell you without a guide we would have missed it! They are used to looking for wildlife and know where to find them. It was an awsome trip!! Next time I definitely want to kayak and would hire a guide!

I saw huge crocodile but not paddling, people were in fact feeding them with chicken from the bridge!

I’m jealous!! I want to go back!