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A Quick Guide to Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica Travel – Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast may not be as popular as areas like Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio, but it still has plenty of gems to offer. With Afro-Caribbean culture, food that can’t be found anywhere else in the country and beautiful crystal-clear beaches, Costa Rica’s Caribbean is not to be missed. Here are a few of our favorite spots to check out while you’re there:

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero, which translates to the Land of Turtles, is famous for being just that: a habitate for the many turtle species Costa Rica calls home. The National Park protects 22 miles of nesting beach where green sea turtles, hawksbills, loggerhead turtles and the giant leatherback sea turtle all nest each year during the summer months. You might get lucky and see one nesting on the beach during the day, but the best time to spot sea turtles is with a guide at night. Other popular things to do are kayaking and boating through the mangroves.

Limon

This port city is Costa Rica’s largest Caribbean City. This is where most of the cruise ships that stop in Costa Rica dock, so while there isn’t a ton to do in Limon proper, there are heaps of activities in the surrounding area.

The Veragua Rainforest Park is one of our favorites. Take the cable car across the canopy and keep your eyes open for all sorts of jungle dwelling wildlife as you travel effortlessly through the rainforest. Also check out their reptile exhibits as well as colorful butterfly gardens.

Cahuita

This cute little town is home to our favorite park in all of Costa Rica. Cahuita National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to spot wildlife like monkeys, toucans, and sloths in their natural habitat, all while hiking right alongside the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The main entrance to the national park is at the end of the road through Cahuita town; the fee is donation based. There is a second entrance that is along the main highway running along the coast which is $10 to enter. The two entrances connect via an 8 kilometer coastal trail.

Once you’ve taken in the wildlife on land, it’s time to see what’s under the sea. Go snorkeling in the world’s third largest coral reef system, right off Cahuita National Park. More than 500 species of fish call the reef home, along with large sea fans, brain coral and much more. Note that the reef was damaged from an earthquake, but it remains a great place in Costa Rica to explore underwater.

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is likely Costa Rica’s most famous tourist town on the Caribbean side. The road that runs through Puerto Viejo and along the coast goes past the beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva, and Playa Grande, all the way to Manzanillo near the border of Panama. There are no shortage of beaches here to explore, so we recommend renting a bike or car and making a day seeing how far down the road you can get.

One of the highlights of our trip to Puerto Viejo was the Jaguar Rescue Center. Though they’re not likely to have any Jaguars they are a great place to see animals of Costa Rica that are being rehabilitated to be released into the wild. The guides are all volunteers helping work with the animals and all proceeds go to helping feed and shelter the animals.

Puerto Viejo is also a great hub for surfers looking to catch some Caribbean waves. The surf at Playa Cocles is great for beginners. Under the right conditions, Punta Uva is a beautiful and uncrowded spot for longboarding. If you’re more advanced, Salsa Brava is said to be the biggest break in Costa Rica, when it’s on point.

From A CRUISING COUPLE

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