Costa Rica’s Caribbean
Even many repeat visitors to Costa Rica have missed out on the Caribbean Coast. That’s a shame.
Those who do make the trip find long, wide beaches shaded by coconut palms and lapped by clear waters.
The Caribbean Coast is friendly, funky, and relaxed. Think Bob Marley, hammocks, and rum.
Puerto Limón: Heart of Afro-Caribbean Culture
From the surfing and snorkeling to on-demand tranquility, we rarely find ourselves leaving here without wishing we had more time.
Puerto Limón is Costa Rica’s main Caribbean port and the heart of the country’s Afro-Caribbean culture.
Visitors–most of whom arrive by cruise ship—can raft the Pacuare and Sixaola rivers, sport fish, zip-line, and visit a sloth sanctuary.
Cahuita National Park
About an hour south of Limón, Cahuita National Park protects the country’s largest coral reef.
Divers and snorkelers can enjoy crystal-clear visibility, observing manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, and more than thirty species of coral.
This park’s beaches are a perfect place to laze away a day.
Playa Negra to Manzanillo
The string of beaches continues south of the park, extending 20 miles from Playa Negra to Manzanillo. The main beach town is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, home to the powerful Salsa Brava surf swells.
Waves here can reach heights of 40 feet from October to December, peaking again from June to August.
Other area attractions include:
- Tirimbina Rainforest Center’s Cacao Plantation
- Bribri Kikoldi Iguana Project
- Jaguar Rescue Center in Playa Chiquita
Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
Farther south, the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge protects another six miles of beach–nesting grounds of four species of sea turtles.
The refuge’s waters shelter a coral reef, West Indian manatees, and dolphins.
Limón can be reached by road from San Jose, which passes through the verdant mountains of Braulio Carillo National Park.
This drive reminds us of coming over Ko’olau Range from Honolulu to Kane’ohe. En route, visitors can stop at the Rainforest Aerial Tram’s 1,200-acre private reserve.
Two additional routes reach the Southern Pacific: one through Sarapiqui and another through Turrialba. Fights also connect this region to San Jose and Bocas del Toro, Panama.
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