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New hope for retired expats who want to live in the Golfito area

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New hope for retired expats who want to live in the Golfito area
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There are some expatriates who live around the port of Golfito on Golfo Dulce Bay.  Despite being sort of drab and somewhat abandoned. It remains a place of tico homes, colonial buildings, a few small hotels, and several large parcels of land outside town.

The surrounding scenery is beautiful. There are several restaurants and gringo hangouts in town where you can strike up a conversation with local expats.  Sport fishing and surfing attract many tourists to this area. As one local foreign resident points out, “The town has basic services like banks, a hospital, courthouse, a couple of supermarkets, butchers and doctor’s offices. Transportation is decent with a small airfield and ferry transportation to Puerto Jiménez and Zancudo and plenty of taxis and buses. Panama is not far away and is a great place for good shopping.”

Golfito, is synonymous with the United Fruit Company. In the late 1800s, the company established banana and pineapple plantations in the area to produce export products for its U.S. market. United Fruit was by far the largest employer, and the local economy came to rely almost entirely on this “father figure” to provide them with work, medical care, and public works infrastructure.

Despite starting out as a banana port the town was virtually abandoned when the United Fruit Company closed down its operation. Over the years, the government  made attempts to help the local economy. In 1990 it opened the Depóstio Libre or Duty-Free Trade Zone. The depósito was opened in Golfito because the banana company left; otherwise it would be a virtual ghost town. Many ticos and expat retirees make the long journey to Golfito since some appliances and other items may be purchased for less than in the Central Valley or other parts of the country.

 About ten years ago plans called for a world-class marina and condo complex that would improve infrastructure and change the face of this area.  The Banana Bay Marina was to have slips for boats up to 150 feet.  However, like its predecesors this project never came to fruition. 

To make matters worse in 2016 another project, the Golfito Marina, was expected to revitalize this area and cause a major land boom. But plans came to a standstill when investors lost interest, left and never returned. The marina was expected to play a principle role in defining the fortunes of the area’s real estate market. Because of this some people expected the Golfito area and the town of Puerto Jiménez to be the sites of the next land boom in Costa Rica. 

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Good news! In August of 2020 and in spite of the world-wide Pandemic, the Enjoy Group, took over this project. They assumed the debt from the previous owners and invested 3 million dollars in repairs and renovation. The project is now be called, “Marina Bahía Golfito.” Plans call for a new beach restaurant, shops, a hotel, condominiums an event center and slips for 45 yachts of all sizes. 

Such a large infrastructure investment is extremely important for a region trying to leverage its tourist potential and, of course, help create jobs for the locals. 

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