The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is normally dominated by two places: the Amazon-like jungle of Tortuguero in the north and the party/beach paradise of Puerto Viejo in the south.
But traveling the Caribbean coast, there is one place I liked best: Cahuita.
About one hour north of Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast, it’s a favorite stop for most travelers, nonetheless it is nowhere near as crowded as other spots along the coast. Most travelers go to the national park with the same name. The city is quite small, home to under 10,000 people. It’s predominantly made up of small restaurants and guesthouses – not tour shops and bars like you’d find in Puerto Viejo.
And the park? The park is amazing.
Covering over 2,600 acres on land and with a marine area of55,000 acres, it’s unsurprising that the park houses an unbelievable amount of nature and wildlife. There are over 35 types of coral in the reefs within the park (which span around 4km).
There remain 135 various kinds of fish (that you can see in the event that you go snorkeling in the region) and the beaches certainly are a nesting ground for sea turtles.
The park itself opened in 1970 and obtained national park status by 1978. It’s the only national park in the united states that will not charge admission.
My Experience at Cahuita National Park
To provide you with a feeling of what the park is similar to, here’s a brief video from my time there:
Unfortunately, your day I visited, lots of the trails were closed because of heavy rains and flooding. (I spent my first two days here indoors due to 24-hour rain!)
The trail from Cahuita town to the other end of the park is 8 km. When I went, only the first 2 km were open. That was still enough to hold out on a lovely beach, see howler monkeys, iguanas, white-faced monkeys, tremendous amounts of birds, and beautiful butterflies. EASILY saw that within an area near town, I could only imagine what it might be like further inland, from a lot of people.
In the event that you ask me, it’s just about the most underrated places to go to on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
When you are decreasing the coast toward Puerto Viejo, stay in Cahuita for a couple days. As the beach will not be as nice, hiking and wildlife are far better. EASILY didn’t have such limited time in this trip, I’d have stayed longer.
Tips for Visiting Cahuita National Park
That will help you take full advantage of your visit, here are several helpful tips and points to consider:
- Wear decent shoes – The primary trail is a 5km loop, so you’ll want to wear good footwear in the event that you plan on walking the entire trail (it’s flat in order to do it in sandals if you wish, but shoes are most likely best).
- Bring your swimwear – It’s likely that you’ll want to swim or snorkel while you’re here so don’t forget your towel and bathingsuit.
- Don’t forget water – It could get quite warm in the event that you hike the trail or lounge from the beach, so bring a lot of water (at least 2 liters).
- Adhere to the road – Avoid damaging the ecosystem by staying on the trail. Don’t make an effort to touch the wildlife, either.
- Bring bug spray – The mosquitos can quite pretty bad, so be sure to bring bug spray!
- Bring your own wc paper – The toilets in the park often won’t have wc paper, so bring your own merely to be safe!
- Stay dry – The rainiest months to go to are June and November, so stay away from those if you’re seeking to avoid the daily downpours.
Practical Information: 3 Tips for Visting
Hours of operation : The park is open daily from 8am to 5pm.
Cost : The park is free however they do require donations (your donations help to keep the park open so please give generously!).
Getting there : You may take a bus from San José or Puerto Viejo. Buses from San José are about $8 USD each way and take around 4-5 hours. The bus from Puerto Viejo will need around thirty minutes and cost $1.30 USD.
Book Your Visit to Costa Rica: Logistical Guidelines
Book Your Flight Look for a cheap flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite se’s because they search websites and airlines around the world which means you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation For the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com because they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld because they have the most comprehensive inventory. A few of my favorite places in which to stay Costa Rica:
- Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo) – The coolest hostel in every the united states. This hostel on the beach may be the prime spot to meet up other backpackers.
- Secret Garden (Cahuita) – That is a quiet, peaceful hostel near to the bus stop and park entrance. It’s an excellent spot to relax after visiting the park!
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Want MORE INFO on Costa Rica? Make sure you visit our robust destination guide on Costa Rica for a lot more planning tips!
Photo credit : 1, 2, 3