CARIBBEAN

Caribbean

Capitan Suizo Hotel

The Hotel Capitán Suizo, located on Tamarindo Beach

In the northern region, the main attractions are the nesting beaches of green sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park, and sport fishing for snook, tarpon, and other species in the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. These are complemented by the waterway system that connects the Port of Moín with Barra del Colorado, which is both a unique attraction and at the same time the only means of transportation in the area. The Caribbean North is especially renowned for its wildlife as a world-renowned site for viewing sea turtles and birds.

The Costa Rican Caribbean extends from the San Juan River, on the northern border with Nicaragua, to the Sixaola River on the southern border with Panama. Limón, the capital of the province, is located in the center and is the main distribution point for tourism.

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The South Caribbean uniquely combines stunning beaches with natural resources and Afro-Caribbean culture in the towns of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Gandoca-Manzanillo. Highlights include coral reefs, multicolored sandy beaches (black, yellow, and gray), coastal vegetation, and dense forests.

Costa Rica’s Caribbean region stands out for its extraordinary natural and cultural richness. There are many activities available: fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, turtle and bird watching, dolphin watching, horseback riding, sea and river kayaking, among others. Additionally, you have direct contact with various local cultures.

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MAIN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF THE CARIBBEAN

Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge

Barra del Colorado consists of channels, lagoons, rivers, swamps, forests, hills under 250 meters, continental and river islands. There is a rich biodiversity of plants and animals, with some endemic species. The flora is composed of three types of vegetation: humid forest, wetlands, and mangroves. The fauna includes crocodiles, alligators, endangered Trichechus manatus, tapirs, jaguars, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, and three-toed sloths. The area is considered a paradise for sport fishing for tarpon, snook, and gar fish, which is considered a living fossil. There are several world-class fishing grounds in these waters. To reach Barra del Colorado, you can travel by boat from Moín, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, or Sarapiquí, or by domestic flight from San José.

Tortuguero National Park

This famous national park represents one of the natural spaces with the greatest biological diversity in Costa Rica, offering one of the lushest landscapes in the country. It was primarily created to protect the nesting area of the green sea turtles. Tortuguero possesses a very humid tropical forest, as it receives between 5,000 and 6,000 mm of rainfall per year. These climatic conditions favor the existence of more than 400 species of trees and around 2,200 varieties of other plants, as well as over 400 types of birds, 60 types of amphibians, 30 species of freshwater fish, and various endangered mammals such as tapirs, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, manatees, and sloths. The canals, lagoons, and rivers of Tortuguero represent great scenic beauty and can be navigated by boats, canoes, and kayaks to enjoy the wonderful landscapes. In addition to the green turtle, three other species of sea turtles nest on the park’s beaches; there is a visitor center that offers exhibitions, information, drinking water, restrooms, trails, and other facilities.

Barbilla National Park

This area is composed of very humid primary tropical rainforest and tropical humid forest. There is a rich biological diversity due to the altitudinal differences ranging from 110 to 1,617 meters. Making their home in the forests are pumas, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, monkeys, and many types of birds.

Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve

The private reserve is surrounded by the three indigenous reserves of Telire, Tayní, and Talamanca. It is part of the La Amistad Biosphere Reserve. The names «Hitoy Cerere» in the indigenous Bribri language mean «clear waters» and «covered with moss,» respectively – the names of the two main rivers that run through the reserve. The area is rich in flora and fauna; for example, you can find about 230 species of birds. There are rivers and streams where you can swim, and a beautiful waterfall can be visited by walking a trail along the river.

The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

The beaches along the coast of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge are incredibly beautiful and perfect for hiking, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling on coral reefs, and observing flora and fauna. The leatherback turtle is protected in the refuge. You can take a boat ride to the Gandoca Lagoon, a habitat of abundant tropical vegetation and also West Indian manatees.

Cahuita National Park

Cahuita is home to spectacular beaches and the largest and most important coral reefs in Costa Rica. Here, you can see many different types of marine life. It is one of the most picturesque areas of the country with its white sandy beaches, thousands of coconut palms, turquoise sea, and coral reefs. In the national park, you can hike, swim, snorkel, dive, observe wildlife, sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or simply do nothing and contemplate the wonderful landscape.

MAIN BEACHES OF THE CARIBBEAN, RIVERS, AND CHANNELS

Barra del Colorado Beach

The north Caribbean coast is long and open, leading to strong waves and dangerous currents for swimming. However, Its main attractions are the canals and lagoons that run parallel to the beach, offering interesting boat tours through a picturesque landscape to observe abundant wildlife.

Barra del Colorado Beach

The north coast of the Caribbean is long and open, leading to strong waves and dangerous currents for swimming. However, its main attractions are the canals and lagoons that run parallel to the beach, offering interesting boat excursions through a picturesque landscape to observe abundant wildlife.

Tortuguero - Colorado Canals

This area is one of the rainiest in the country (5,000 to 6,000 mm annually), which contributes to its biodiversity richness. Visitors come here for this combination, to explore the extensive network of waterways in boats, canoes, and kayaks. This astonishing world is known for its tranquility and its lush, unique nature. It’s very relaxing to navigate these canals and admire the exquisite greenery of its incredible tropical vegetation, reflected in the water mirrors that form everywhere.

Tortuguero Beach

This beach is also long with strong waves and tropical vegetation. It’s most suitable for strolling and observing the diversity of flora and fauna in Tortuguero National Park, which borders the town of the same name, near the beach. Along this coast is where four species of sea turtles come to nest – the most abundant being the green sea turtle, which arrives from April to August; the leatherback turtle, arriving from February to July; the hawksbill turtle, coming between April and October; and the loggerhead turtle nesting in a short season from April to May.

Parismina River

En its lower stretches, the Reventazón River, one of the largest in the country, joins the Parismina River. This river, particularly the areas near the mouth, has a great reputation for remarkable fishing. There are several fishing lodges that offer everything needed for fishing in this area, which borders the north and south boundaries of Tortuguero National Park. Caño Blanco pier is the starting point for trips to this area.

Pacuare River

This river boasts lush tropical abundance and is renowned worldwide among rafting enthusiasts and experts. With Class III-IV rapids, the Pacuare is considered by many as one of the most beautiful rivers in the world for rafting and kayaking. During a rafting trip, you can enjoy waterfalls and tributaries of the Pacuare, complemented by dense vegetation. This journey is famous for its exceptional value.

Colorado River

A beautiful navigable river, the Colorado is protected by the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge. The river is internationally famous for its phenomenal tarpon, snook, and other species fishing.

Bonita Beach

Easily accessible, Bonita Beach has strong waves, making it ideal for surfing. The beach is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, especially coconut palms that add to its scenic beauty. Due to its appeal and proximity to the city of Limón, Playa Bonita is a favorite spot for residents and tourists to enjoy the sea. There are often events such as concerts and surfing tournaments. Playa Bonita is perfect for sunbathing, hiking, swimming (with caution), nature watching, playing beach volleyball, picnics, family fun, etc.

Blanca Beach, Cahuita

Known for the white color of its sand, Playa Blanca is part of Cahuita National Park. A small beach, it slopes steeply with strong waves at the beginning; this section is not recommended for swimming. Towards the middle, and before reaching the mouth of the Suárez River, it is ideal for swimming. After crossing the stream, the presence of the outer reef completely transforms the coastline into a vast lagoon. Here, the sands are white and the reef is close, so you can easily swim out for snorkeling and diving.

Puerto Vargas

Here, the water is crystal clear and calm, due to the presence of a coral reef. The other side has dark sand and moderate to mild waves.

Puerto Viejo Beach

These beaches are mainly composed of coral rock shelves; for this reason, many areas are not suitable for swimming. However, there are other places with white sand and cafes ideal for enjoying the sea. Pirripli Point is one of the best places along the entire Caribbean coast for surfing. International surfing tournaments are held here periodically.

Cocles Beach

This beach is ideal for enjoying sunbathing, swimming, walking, horseback riding, playing beach volleyball and soccer, etc. There is a small coral reef at Punta Cocles (Cocles Point). Along the beach, there are many services for tourists, including surfboard and bicycle rentals. In Puerto Viejo, you can rent horses and motorcycles to explore Cocles and other beaches further south.

Chiquita Beach

This is another ideal beach for sunbathing, swimming, walking, horseback riding, and playing beach volleyball and soccer.

Punta Uva

A wide sandy spit, Punta Uva stretches northwestward to the promontory at the end of Playa Chiquita. Bordering this point, there is a coral reef where you can practice diving and snorkeling.

Negra Beach

It’s notorious for having truly black sand due to its high manganese content.

Mona Beach

This coastline is exceptionally beautiful, especially in the vicinity of Punta Mona (Mona Point), where the presence of a small island completely covered in vegetation adds great appeal. The coastal landscape is complemented by lush forests and coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling.

Manzanillo Beach

Yellowish sand and moderate to strong waves characterize Playa Manzanillo. It’s ideal for walking and horseback riding, as well as sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling, especially in the waters facing the village and near Manzanillo Point. The Manzanillo Community is located at the end of the road that connects all the beaches south of Puerto Viejo (about 12 km from this point). Manzanillo offers many services: equipment rental for diving and snorkeling, and excursions for dolphin watching, diving, etc.

Gandoca Beach

Here, the beach is gray sand with strong waves. Gandoca stretches south of the mouth of the Sixaola River, which serves as the border with Panama. This final stretch of the coast is just over 8 km long and is very suitable for hikes to observe the rich biodiversity of its ecosystems. Gandoca is also ideal for observing sea turtle nesting from April to August.

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