Costa Rica’s Sea World

The Washington Post Sunday - - Way To Go - By An­drea Sachs

We’re trav­el­ing to Costa Rica in June. Are there re­sorts where we can snorkel off the beach? Ted Eng­man Alexan­dria Coast Rica’s coast­line touches the Pa­cific and Caribbean, yet its shal­low wa­ters are hardly teem­ing aquar­i­ums. “Snor­kel­ing is not off the beaches like in Belize,” says Or­lando Bur­gos, the Costa Ri­can owner of Costa Rica Travel Guide (877-7866826, www.costar­i­ca­trav­el­, which spe­cial­izes in Latin Amer­ica. “You need to jour­ney a lit­tle bit.” Bur­gos adds that while many of the coun­try’s re­sorts have beach ac­cess and snor­kel­ing, the best marine life re­quires a drive or boat ride.

Some of the best snor­kel­ing, for ex­am­ple, rests inside na­tional parks. Manuel An­to­nio, in the cen­tral Pa­cific re­gion, has pock­ets of good snor­kel­ing, such as in the tidal pools of Playa Es­padilla Sur and around the coral reefs of Playa Manuel An­to­nio. In Cahuita, on the Caribbean,snorkel­ers can ex­plore a coral reef aswarm with sea fans, trop­i­cal fish, green tur­tles and other crit­ters.

Co­cos Is­land, nearly 345 miles off the Pa­cific coast, is the ul­ti­mate un­der­wa­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. A UNESCO World Her­itage Site, it has been com­pared to the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands. Reach­ing the park, which has no ac­com­mo­da­tions, is an ad­ven­ture unto it­self: The boat trip from Puntare­nas can last up to 36 hours. For a less ar­du­ous ad­ven­ture, take a snorkel tour to the Mur­cielago Is­lands in the Gua­nacaste re­gion, along the north­ern Pa­cific coast. The is­lands are rife with whale sharks, manta rays and dol­phins.

If you plan to spend most of your time in mask and fins, stay in the Tamarindo re­gion. Tamarindo Diria Beach and Golf Re­sort (011-506-653-0032, www.tamarindodiria. com), for one, is a four-star prop­erty that of­fers three-hour snor­kel­ing tours. Barcelo Lan­gosta Beach (800-227-2356, www. in­cludes snor­kel­ing equip­ment in its all-in­clu­sive price, and guests can snorkel off the beach or see more vi­brant sea life on a tour. For more in­for­ma­tion: Costa Rica Tourism Board, 866-267-8274, www.vis­it­costar­ My daugh­ter is trav­el­ing to Egypt. Are there ges­tures that can be con­sid­ered in­sult­ing? Robert Gau­thier

Glen Burnie

Egypt’s his­tory goes back many mil­len­ni­ums, but its cus­toms are quite mod­ern. For the most part, Amer­i­cans can eas­ily adapt to Egyp­tian mores, as long as they are sen­si­tive to the Is­lamic cul­ture. Women and men, for ex­am­ple, should dress on the con­ser­va­tive side, even in cos­mopoli­tan cities such as Cairo. Both sexes should keep their skin cov­ered — guys, choose pants over shorts; ladies, swap that mini for a prairie skirt — un­less they are in re­sorts that cater to Western­ers.

In so­cial sit­u­a­tions, op­po­site sexes rarely greet each other with kisses. Un­like Amer­i­cans, Egyp­tians ven­ture into each other’s per­sonal space, so don’t be alarmed if some­one talks or stands close to you. When shop­ping in out­door mar­kets, bar­gain­ing is the norm, but not in West­ern-style malls. And in cer­tain in­door set­tings, such as mosques and private res­i­dences, you may be re­quired to re­move your shoes. If so, don’t flash the soles of your feet, which is con­sid­ered an im­proper ges­ture. For a primer on Egyp­tian habits, check out “Cul­ture Smart! Egypt” by Jailan Zayan (Ku­per­ard). Send queries by e-mail (trav­elqa@ wash­ or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Wash­ing­ton Post Travel Sec­tion, 1150 15th St. NW, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 20071). Please in­clude your name and town.

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