By Dave Ferrell
I’ve just recently returned from a little piece of paradise that was the result of one man’s dream over 20 years in the making. But first, a little back story. I first met Ron Kawaja, owner of the Pelagic clothing brand, in a crappy Miami hotel room during the Miami Boat Show in the late-90s. Ron was getting ready to launch a new company that meant to capitalize on the surf style boardshorts that were popular with a lot of mates in the sportfishing world. I was the editor of Marlin at the time and told the crew that I thought it was a great idea and supplied them with as many names of well-regarded fishermen as I could. Now, 20 years later, Pelagic is a world-wide brand bringing the West Coast style and much more to the sportfishing community.
Luckily, Kawaja’s vision didn’t just stop with cool clothes; he immersed himself and his company into the big game lifestyle, sponsoring events and eventually staging his own international fishing tournaments, all with the same exuberant, and hard-driving, rock-and-roll vibe. In the midst of this fishing-branding-whirlwind, Kawaja’s latest effort, the Club Pelagic resort in Quepos, Costa Rica, is just a continuation of his desire to bring the fabulous life that fishermen enjoy to the masses. Building the Pelagic brand over the last 20 years, Kawaja never sat on the sidelines, he went to the best places and fished with great captains and crews all over the world. He knows the challenges and triumphs that come when running a first-class fishing operation and he’s more than up to the task.
“I’ve always had this dream in the back of my mind,” says Kawaja. “To have a string of Club Pelagic’s in all of the world’s best fishing destinations. So, this is the first one, and I think we couldn’t have picked a better spot for it.” Kawaja spent more than 18 months updating and perfecting a beautiful hillside property just a mere five-minute drive from Marina Pez Vela, where his two lodge boats, the 58-foot Garlington Pelagic, and the 32-foot Regulator RockStar, bob at your beck and call.
Stone pathways crisscross the nearly two-acre property, connecting the cabanas to the main house and allowing guests to fully immerse themselves into the surrounding jungle environment; including the several packs of monkeys that come through the property every day, along with a pair of colorful scarlet macaw parrots that have a nest on-site. The lodge features six private bedrooms with nine beds, plus a large ocean-view loft area in the main house that can accommodate three more guests, bringing the total of beds to 12.
I stayed in the Dolphin cabana during a week-long stretch and I’ve never visited a fishing lodge anywhere that matches the accommodations found at Club Pelagic. Of course, everything is still brand new, but Kawaja’s attention to detail shows throughout the property, from the marble floors, to the designer sheets, stocked mini-fridge, Wi-Fi and American TV in each room. He knows what traveling fisherman want, and he makes sure they have it.
Aside from the excellent rooms, the lodge also boasts a huge, covered outdoor bar and dinner area that can seat your entire group in one sitting. And it all flows around a stunning pool area and overlook that offers breathtaking, uninterrupted views of the Pacific and its striking sunsets.
Another unique aspect of the Club Pelagic experience is the complete privacy offered by the resort. The lodge books the boats and house in one package; you’ll never share the lodge or the boats with other visitors. In this day and age, I can’t think of a better option for those wanting to fish and travel but limit their exposure to the public.
Of course, the fishing in Costa Rica is world-renowned and Quepos holds a particularly bright spot in an already blinding fishery. Offshore, you’ll find staggering numbers of sails, tuna and other pelagic species year-around, including blue, black and striped marlin. There’s even a FAD fishery here that can almost guarantee a blue marlin bite during the summer months. You couldn’t ask for a more comfortable ride and a more professional crew onboard Pelagic, which is arguably the plushest charter boat available in the country.
For those wanting to mix it up a bit and do some inshore fishing, Quepos excels once again. Giant roosterfish, snook and snapper come out of the area’s waters every year and with limited pressure, it looks to stay that way for a long time. I enjoyed some amazing bottom fishing during my visit on the Rockstar and the Regulator’s speed and range made sure that we got on the spot, got our fish, and got back to the lodge in time to enjoy a delicious snapper dinner.
Kawaja handpicks the staff and chef that come with the property, but you can choose to cook all your own food in the expansive kitchen if you so choose. I’d opt for the chef…I never had a bad meal the entire week. If you don’t want to cook or have one at the lodge, there’s no shortage of great restaurants in the area, again all just minutes from the property. The entire area surrounding Quepos offers a tremendous amount of outdoor activities. It’s easy to take the day off from the fabulous fishing and find something for the entire family to enjoy and because you’re in Costa Rica, you’ll never feel safer or more at ease.
You can check out Club Pelagic at pelagic-adventures.com and see for yourself what a magical space that Kawaja and his team have carved into the jungle…a traveling fisherman couldn’t find a more perfect place to bring his buddies, or his family!