Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region is a highly popular tourist destination, especially for its easy access to the Central Valley. Only one to two hours from the capital city of San Jose, you have beautiful beaches, fun coastal resort towns, the country’s most important Pacific ports, and fantastic surfing, sportfishing, sailing, scuba diving, and other water sports. Lined with a stunning mountainous coastline, the Central Pacific is a transition zone from tropical dry forest to tropical rainforest. It is not as humid as the Caribbean Coast or the South Pacific; however, it is rainier than Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.
The Central Pacific region extends from the port city of Puntarenas to the mouth of the Barú River, where Costa Rica’s South Pacific begins at Dominical. Its main towns of tourism interest are Puntarenas, Jacó, Quepos and Manuel Antonio.
The Central Pacific also includes the Nicoya Gulf islands, which are accessed from the ferry port at Puntarenas. The port of Caldera, just south of Puntarenas, is the country’s main Pacific port for cargo and cruise ships. Driving down the coastal highway from Puntarenas to Dominical, you will be enthralled with the stunning scenery.
The Central Pacific’s national parks and other wilderness areas are its biggest attractions. It is a region with great biodiversity of abundant species of plants and animals. Considered the “crown jewel” of Costa Rica’s national parks, the Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest yet most-visited of all of the parks.