The white heron elegantly swooped past on its way to a higher branch on the mangrove tree. Sounds of scuttling legs betrayed the bright red crabs climbing over spindly roots half submerged in water. In the dense mangrove forest, with the hum of insects as a back drop, we gently paddled our kayaks, hesitantly at first before becoming accustomed to the movement as we glided downstream.
Our guide explained that the mangroves are the most efficient producers of oxygen, better than even the rain forests of the Amazon. Because of that the mangroves are a protected habitat in Costa Rica, with laws to keep the trees from being chopped down for development.
As we paddled on I was astounded by the absolute quiet and stillness of the mangrove forest. There were no sounds of vehicles, voices, industrial machines, construction, or any other sound typical of human life. The only sounds were those of birds, crabs, and insects.
At one point the guide pulled from the water what looked to be a fig, but was actually the seed of a mangrove tree. The seeds are dropped to the water where they float until the seed pod opens up with a baby tree inside. The beginning of the mangrove’s life is spent floating along the river, growing until the roots reach the muddy earth below and anchor in.
After kayaking, we were given a little time to explore nearby Playa Barú, a stunning expanse of yellow sand beach edged by almond and coconut trees. There we stayed to watch the sun make its decent down, the only people on the beach for miles.