Virgin of the Sea Fiesta


Costa Rica is one big party destination. The festivals, carnivals, national days and concerts are events that take over the entire calendar one following the next and give its locals and vacationers from the world a flavorful taste of Costa Rican party any month of the year. Amidst all these days of merriment, Costa Rica celebrates a day famously called The Virgin of the Sea Fiesta.

This day mentioned to as Virgen del Mar or Virgen Del Carmen parade is hosted on a Saturday that comes nearest to the sixteenth of July at the port city of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The reason behind its celebration is to remember the incident that took place in early 1920s when many fishermen and their boats were overwhelmed by a storm. These mean prayed for their lives to Virgen Del Carmen and promised to remember her help by holding a festival in her honor every year. The fishermen were protected by the prayers of Del Carmen and to this day, the people of Costa Rica religiously cherish this day of happiness.

The day hits off by arrival of decorated and colorful fishing boats and yachts at the harbor of Nicoya Gulf. The boats are beautifully wreathed with flowers, festooned with lights and decked with streamers and flags. All the boats and yachts are then blessed for their safety and strength by the local priest and this occasion is seen by thousands of people that arrive to observe the historic moments.


This is followed in the day by people attending masses especially planned to honor their guardian Mount Carmel, where the minutes of the past are retold and gratitude among all is evidently observed. The festival then takes off as promised to the Mount in true Costa Rican colors. Musical performances, amusement rides, ox cart parades, dance performances and sporting events are conducted. The tourists take in the beauty of the harbor and beach while indulging themselves in exciting activities going on and about. To end the day, there airs a spell bounding display of fireworks that leaves the crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed through and through.

Food at this festival is something that should not be missed. Food vendors are dotted everywhere on the site serving classic Tico food. The favorite appetizer is Olla de carne, a wholesome yet impeccable soup that has a combination of traditional ingredients like beef, plantain, yucca, nampi and chayote. The popular main courses are Casado, a delicious meal that has rice, stewed beef and beans with light salad and cabbage, and Picadillo a stew made up of vegetables and meat. Moreover, to be on a beach and miss out on the sea food is held crime and thus, the festival offers a great variety of tasty and fresh sea food, a specialty of Puntarenas.

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When planning to arrive in Costa Rica for this month, make sure to arrange your accommodations beforehand, as all hotels and resorts are most likely to get packed in the week. Once there, you will have no difficulty in reaching the harbor as buses and ferries are organized at fixed times to take people to the site. Also, the event only gets better for all because it is free.

The fiesta of Virgin of Sea is a festival that is religiously attended by locals Ticos. It has a strong significance in the lives of fishermen and sailors. Be sure to check this unique festival out when vacationing Costa Rica in July.


Location: Nicoya Bay, Puntarenas, Costa Rica