THIS IS OUR STORY: The true story of young adventurers David and Cecelia Reid, the owners founders of the number 1 and most popular tour in Costa Rica, Calypso's Island Cruise to beautiful Tortuga Island EST 1975. How did we get here? It all began while on vacation on the island of Kauai.
David and I were sitting on a blanket on the beach and looking at the blue water, surrounded by jungle and dreaming about how nice it would be to live and work there.
We didn't notice him at first, but a surfer was walking behind where we were sitting and had been eves dropping on our conversation. He said out loud "If you like Kauai you should see Costa Rica". The year was 1971, and the US was fighting a war in Vietnam a war we didn't believe in. When the surfer told us that Costa Rica was the only country in the world without an army we couldn’t believe it. Could a country he described really exist? The surfer told us also that Costa Rica has oceans on both coasts; that meant waves, a dream come true for a surfer. When we returned home David and I began searching for information about Costa Rica, the information was scarce. One day David came home from work all excited.
He found a small ad in the San Francisco Chronical newspaper; a reunion of fellow travelers who had traveled to Costa Rica - ‘bring your photos’ it read. Of course we went, we had to see for ourselves if everything the surfer had told us was true. I still remember seeing the beautiful photographs of majestic green mountains, volcanoes, tropical forests, exotic birds and animals and open spaces barren of big cities and roadways. It was a garden paradise and something we decided right then and there to go and see for ourselves. We spent the next few months getting ready to go on the biggest adventure of our lives. We outfitted and modified a 1969 Chevy Carryall Van into a camper.
We were young, inexperienced and a little scared; but we left our home and headed south. It took one month to get to Costa Rica; 3 weeks we spent in Baja California eating shrimp, lobster and digging for clams in shallow water. Once we got to La Paz, we boarded the overnight car ferry to Mazatlan in Mexico. Now we were more than anxious to get to our destination. We drove long hours traveling through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and then finally arrived at the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Our journey so far had been filled with adventures, close calls, laughs, frustrations, border crossings, detours, bad roads, meeting on the way lots of interesting people.
David and I got up early and he drove to the border. We were the first in line to cross from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. It was Dec 30, 1973. Stretched out in front of us was a dark brick red colored paved road, to our eyes it was the magical yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz. Tall green grasses waved to us as we drove and we passed Brahma cattle standing in the shade of giant Guanacaste trees with tall mountains lining the horizon on the left.
The next few months David and I traveled all around Costa Rica exploring and trying to find something that we could do to earn a living and stay in Costa Rica. We had fallen in love with the little country. It was so much more than what the surfer had told us on the beach in Kauai. It felt as if we had taken a time machine and went back in history 50 years. Trying to think of something to do to earn a living and stay, we even toyed with the idea of growing Macadamia nuts when we learned that the agriculture department was giving away small trees; until someone reminded us that we would have to wait 7 years for the first harvest. David and I thought we might have to return to California because we had to earn a living and after looking around we didn’t find any thing to stay in beautiful Costa Rica. To cheer ourselves up, we drove to Puntarenas and went to the Yacht Club where we rented a small sport fishing yacht to go fishing, something we both liked to do. Even though the fishing was great in the Gulf of Nicoya at that time the captain took us to where the Port of Caldera is located today and we fished for hours not catching anything. Frustrated because we didn’t catch any fish and since we could see the islands in the distance, David and I decided we wanted to go and explore. We asked the Captain to take us across the Gulf to someplace nice where we could swim.
The Captain took us to Tortuga Island. Stunned is the word to best describe our first look at the tropical paradise island of Tortuga. The water was crystal clear and a beautiful turquoise color, giant palm trees waved to us from shore. After the Captain dropped anchor, David and I swam to shore and sat on the beautiful white sand. Our’s were the only footprints. As we sat and talked, amazingly, three small deer came from the hills behind us and walked slowly in our direction to see who had invaded their home.
“Where was everyone”? we asked ourselves. This beach was the most beautiful beach we had ever seen, as beautiful as the beach in Kauai where we first heard about Costa Rica. All too soon it was time to swim back to the yacht. On our way back to port, the captain took us through the canal between the islands of Cedros and Jesusita where there was a small hotel. Once again he anchored o ff shore and we swam up to the little bar area. We met a retired American veterinarian and his family and while drinking a cold delicious Costa Rican beer he gave us information about the area. An idea started to develop and David and I got very excited that maybe we had found something we could do to let us live and stay in Costa Rica – a tour boat.
David found the original Calypso, a 52 foot wooden boat designed after a shrimp boat. With a little modification, he got it ready to take tourists to Tortuga Island. The only problem was there were no tourists for an island cruise; but there were plenty of fishermen who wanted to go fishing. At first we took fishing trips, but it was an island cruise we really wanted to do. It took planning. David visited Travel Agencies in San Jose to convince them they should send their tourists on our cruise.
Not enough people for each Agency to send on their own busses, David convinced each one to combine their customers and send everyone on our bus promising no one would sell another tour to another agency’s customer; and we became ‘The first Independent Tour Operator in Costa Rica'. He also promised that the tourists would return each night to their hotel in time for dinner. Thus the ‘Pacific Island Cruise' was born. Calypso took the first ever tour to Tortuga Island in January 5,1975.
Meanwhile I worked on a menu. Lunch at Tortuga went from a blanket on the beach to tables and benches made from the driftwood that floated to shore. We did this for a while and then decided we wanted to have more elegant dining on the beach and the drift wood tables were exchanged for real picnic tables and benches with white tablecloths and cloth napkins I had sewn. Umbrellas for each table and later giant parachutes were added for more shade especially during the dry season keeping with the Calypso theme of casual-elegant dining on the beach’.
Each day at the end of every tour, we had been asking our passengers if they could ask for anything more on the tour with Calypso what would it be? Most wanted a faster boat with more deck space, and a swimming pool plus more time on the beach. David began thinking of building a new yacht and he came up with the idea of building a catamaran. We started going in search of a new boat, attending boat shows in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.
When completed, and now having a name – Manta Raya. Our beautiful catamaran, designed and built by the famous marine architect Paul Lindenberg who took into consideration some of the suggestions of Calypso passengers over the years, was launched. It was a family a ffair and we motored our ‘dream boat’ on a 1000 mile journey from the city of Limon, down the east coast of Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal up the west coast to Puntarenas and her new home. Manta Raya, glides through the water just like the sea creature she is named after. The original yacht Calypso, that had carried thousands of passengers to Tortuga Island on an island cruise Calypso made world famous, was retired. There are lots of gaps in this story. There is too much to tell in a short amount of time. I am writing a book all about our adventures and what we did and how we survived to get where we are today. Each day that we take tourists out to Tortuga Island to spend the day where they are served a gourmet meal in ‘Casual Elegance’ and then escorted on A Tour of Discovery around the islands in the Gulf of Nicoya in the afternoon; every passenger becomes part of our history.
Calypso is not only transportation to a beautiful white sand beach; but a well thought out and orchestrated one day adventure filled with history and designed throughout the years to give Calypso passengers the best Complete Day Vacation in Costa Rica – A Perfect Day.
CALYPSO CRUISES pioneered and created the Tortuga Island Cruise in 1975.
CALYPSO's complete One-Day-Vacation is a tour-de-force of all that's magical about Costa Rica and is necessary before one can claim to have fully explored COSTA RICA.
One block north of Los Antojitos Restaurant.
300 west of Mercado Central in front of Parque Victoria.