This tourism area covers 5027 sq. miles with 200 miles of coastline. It makes up the Costa Rican Caribbean, which extends from the San Juan River to the Sixaola River along the Panamanian border. The city of Limón is located in the center of the tourist sector with a port and many tourism areas.
In the northern sector, the main attractions involve the green tortoises nesting grounds along the beaches of the Tortugero National Park and the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge. This area is known for sport fishing of sea bass, shad, and other species. The aforementioned is complemented by a river system that joins the port of Moín with Barra del Colorado, which is both an attraction, as well as the only means of transportation. Its offers are nature-based, particularly fauna observation, since it is known worldwide for its bird and turtle observing activities.
The area exhibits a unique mix of beach, natural resources and Afro-Caribbean culture in the surrounding areas like Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Gandoca-Manzanillo, which are located in the southern sector of the tourism area. Here there are high-quality beaches where you can find a mix of activities involving adventure and natural history, which uniquely complement the local culture, gastronomy, and music. The area is also known for its coral reefs, multi-colored sand beaches (black, yellow, and grey), costal vegetation, and medium-high forests.
CALERO AND BRAVA ISLANDS
These islands are known as continental or fluvial islands, which, unlike other isolated marine territories; they are mainly surrounded by fresh water that is fed by the rivers that demarcates its flat and alluvial surface. Calero is the largest island of this type in Costa Rica and measures 97 sq. miles. Brava is the second largest that measures 27 sq. miles. Both are located next to each other in the far northern part of the Caribbean coast and both belong to the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge.
PLAYA BARRA DEL COLORADO
The northern Caribbean coastline is large and open, which makes for strong waves and dangerous marine currents for swimming, but its main attractions are the canals that run parallel to the beach and offers natural landscapes and an abundance of animal species that can be observed along the way. The Barra del Colorado Beach is demarcated in the north by the mouth of the Colorado River, and in the south by an estuary, which is good for hiking, flora and fauna observation, fishing, and watching the ocean. You can take boat trips through the interesting and scenic canals and lagoons. Colorado is a peaceful town of fisherman and farmers, and is split in the middle by a landing strip.
TORTUGERO CANALS - COLORADO
Due to its geological origin, the area where the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge and the Tortugero National Park are located form an extensive plain filled with small rivers, canals, and beautiful lagoons that are all interlinked. The area is also one of the rainiest parts of the country (30 – 35 cubic inches), which explains its rich biodiversity. All these factors let visitors explore this extensive water system in boats, canoes, or in kayaks. This wonderful area with its peacefulness and lush nature makes it unique in the world. It is extremely relaxing to explore these canals and observe the exquisite greenness of its incredible tropical vegetation which is reflected in water surrounding it. One example of this is the Palma tributary that joins the Penitencia Lagoon in Tortugero with the Samay Lagoon in Barra del Colorado. This tributary is extremely beautiful, and is given its name from the many Yolillo Palms that are found along it.
This beach is also very extensive with strong waves and tropical vegetation. It is a suitable place for hiking and observing the diversity of flora and fauna in the Tortugero National Park which is joined to a town with the same name, where the beach is. The coast is a place where four species of sea turtles nest: the Green Turtle, between April and August, is the most prevalent, followed by the Leatherback sea turtle, between February and July; the Hawksbill sea turtle, from April to October, and finally the Loggerhead sea turtle, from April to May.
Tortugero is a town where tourism is the principal form of income, along with fishing and subsistence farming. Therefore, there is an interesting mix of autonomous elements that defines itself, along with a variety of tourism services and facilities that shapes its present and future. These characteristics let tourists enjoy a variety of daytime and nighttime leisure activities: hiking and sunbathing on the beach, observing the biodiversity, excursions in boats or kayaks through the canals, socializing and spending time with the locals, enjoying typical Caribbean dishes or dancing to tropical or modern music.
This hill is located at the far end of a long fluvial peninsula, and runs north to south ending right before the town of Tortugero. This peninsula is consistently surrounded by the Tortugero lagoon on the east side, and the Penintencia lagoon on the west side. The Tortugero Hill measures almost 400 ft. high and is the only existing elevation throughout the coastal area. Therefore, from its peak you can see an incomparable view of the canals, the town, the coast, and the entire surrounding area. This area, comprising 61 acres, is completely covered by vegetation. To get there, you must arrange for a tour in Tortugero. The climb to the top takes around 30 minutes.
PARISIMINA RIVER MOUTH
Its riverbed below the Reventazón River, one of the largest in the country, joins the Parismina River. This river, particularly in the nearby areas or close to its mouth, has a big reputation for its abundance of fish. There are many fishing shops that offer all that you need for sport fishing in this area, which is bordered in the north with the southern edge of the Tortugero National Park. That’s why the mouth of the Caño Blanco is the starting point for many excursions to the national park.
This tropically lush river is world renowned among rafting enthusiasts or experts, meaning, navigating the rapids in rafts or kayaks. It is considered by many as one of the most beautiful rivers in the world for this type of sport. It is a level III and IV river. While rafting, you can admire the waterfalls and tributaries of the Pacuare, which is complemented by lush green vegetation that adds an incredible value to the experience.
This is a navigable river whose basin, which has an abundance of natural scenic beauty, is protected by the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. This river is internationally famous for its Shad fishing, as well as other species of fish (sea bass and mackerel).
This is the launching point for boats through a network of canals that carry merchandise and passengers to Barras de Matina, Parismina, and Barra del Colorado and interlinks the many river towns located along this 70 mile stretch. This is a very scenic route that lets tourists enjoy contrasting and extremely beautiful scenery, particularly at the Jalova lagoon where the Tortugero National Park begins (the southern end).
Located 3 miles north of Limón. It is very easy to access and has very strong waves, which is ideal for surf enthusiasts. It is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, and the coconut palms give it an especially scenic beauty. Due to its beauty and proximity to Limón, it is the preferred destination for tourists and locals alike to enjoy the ocean. There are many types of activities and events that happen at this beach like concerts and surf tournaments. Bonita Beach is deal for sunbathing, hiking, swimming (with caution), nature observing, playing volleyball on the beach, picnicking, family fun, etc.
In order to get there in the least amount of time, it is preferable to take the Braulio Carrillo Highway. It is also possible to take the old highway, the Turrialba route, which is about 100 miles. History says that Christopher Columbus arrived to Costa Rica in 1502 to what is now known as the Port of Limón.
Limón is the most important port in the country because of its arrivals of imports and exports and its capacity to easily receive tourist cruise ships.
The historic area of the city has the characteristics of an old town and is currently undergoing renovation of its buildings and a walkway that goes from Vargas Park to the Market.
Punta Uva is a wide, sandy, breakwater that runs northeast to the headland where Chiquita Beach ends. The coast runs curvy south to Manzanillo. There is a coral reef at the border of this point where you can go diving. Because of its curvy coast, it is ideal for hiking to Chiquita and Manzanillo Beaches.
This beach is very beautiful and is also part of the Cahuita National Park. It runs several miles from the point with the same name to the mouth of the Carbón River. There are three distinct areas and each one is beautiful for its abundant vegetation. The first sector, running north to south, goes from the tip to the ledge known as Puerto Vargas.
The water here is crystal clear and calm because of its coral reef. The second stretch has darker sand and waves that are weak to moderate. It runs from Puerto Vargas to the beach entrance. The third stretch starts at this last point to the mouth of the Carbón River and its coastline has strong waves. This beach has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag Award, which is given to beaches that are clean and safe.
This beach is located along the roadway to Cahuita. It’s extensive, open sea and grayish sands. There is an abundance of coastal vegetation, specifically coconut palm trees. It is very popular among locals from Limón and national tourists who come with their families or friends. The mouth of the Vizcaya River is suitable for swimming as well.
THE BEACHES OF PUERTO VIEJO
This area is located on a point (or tip) that is made up primarily of coral reef shelves. That’s why there are various areas on this point that are not appropriate for swimming. However, there are other areas that have white and brown sandy beaches that are suitable for swimming. These places are named after some well known person or business in the area and are used as a reference point. Therefore, the beach located in front of the Manuel León commissary is known as Chino Beach, and the other located in front of the Stanford’s restaurant is named after the restaurant.
Both sites are fairly small, but very suitable for enjoying the beach. From this point, heading south is the famous “Salsa Brava,” at Punta Pirripli, which is one of the best places for surfing. There is international surfing competitions held here. Along these beaches you will also find businesses that cater to diving enthusiasts and organize dives around the coral reef.
PLAYA NEGRA (PUERTO VIEJO)
This beach runs from the town of Puerto Viejo to its northern entrance. It is known for its very dark sand, which is due to the high level of magnesium in the sand. It has a curvy coastline and its waves are moderate to strong. There is very little vegetation because the main highway runs along the beach.
This place is ideal for sunbathing as well as swimming and hiking northward where the Carbón River empties in to the ocean.
PLAYA NEGRA (CAHUITA)
This place is known for its dark sand and is located north of Cahuita. It is very long and has an abundance of tropical vegetation. There are different areas where you can find inlets, coral reef shelves, coves, and sandy beaches. Waves are moderate to strong. This beach is ideal for relaxing and watching the ocean, as well as exploring the area along the trails on foot, by horse, or mountain bike.
PLAYA BLANCA (CAHUITA)
This beach is part of the Cahuita National Park and is named after the color of its sand. It extends almost two miles, from its entrance to Punta Cahuita. The beach is narrow and the edge of the coast is steep with strong waves, therefore it isn’t recommended for swimming. Toward the middle and before arriving to the estuary of the Suaréz River is ideal for swimming. After crossing the estuary you can see the exposed coral reef strip, which turns the entire coastline into a huge lagoon. At the tip, the sand is very clear and the coral reef is very close, making it good for diving, or, you can continue another mile or so toward Puerto Vargas.
In order to get to this beach, you need to hike a little over 2 and a half miles between Manzanillo and Punta Mona. The coastline is very irregular. Because of the forest and the surrounding scenery, this coastline is exceptionally pretty, particularly around Mona Point where you can see a small island completely covered by vegetation and adds to the coastal scenery. It is complemented by evergreen forests and patches of coral reefs that are ideal for diving.
From the town of Manzanillo, this yellow-sand beach extends north, some 2 miles to Punta Uva. The waves are moderate to strong. The beach line itself is irregular and curvy. There is a lot of coastal vegetation as well as a large number of palm trees. This beach is ideal for hiking or horseback riding, as well as, sunbathing, swimming, or diving, of which, there are several areas facing the town and close to Punta Manzanillo. In the town of Manzanillo the street that connects all of the beaches south of Manzanillo ends, which measures about 7 miles from this point. Manzanillo offers many services: diving equipment rental, dolphin watching tours, or diving tours, etc.
Beyond the town of Punta Mona, this irregularly-shaped beach starts curvy then opens up in to a regular beach up to Gandoca. The beach sand here is grayish and the waves are strong. From Gandoca to the south the beach runs up to the opening of the Sixaola River, which borders Panama. This last coastal stretch about 5 miles long and is great for hiking and observing the rich biodiversity of its ecosystems. Gandoca is also ideal for sea turtle nesting observation between April and August. Walking from Gandoca toward Manzanillo takes around three hours. This beach has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag Award, which is an award given to those beaches that are kept clean and safe.
This beach is very long and wide. The waves are moderate to strong. Toward the north and in front of Punta Pirriplí, there is a beautiful small rocky islet with the same name that adds a special something to this area of the coast that has very few islands.
This beach is perfect for activities such as: sunbathing, swimming, hiking, and horseback riding, volleyball, beach soccer, and others. At Punta Cocles there is a small coral reef. All along the beach are many services for tourists including surfboard and bicycle rental shops. In Puerto Viejo you can rent horses or motorcycles to explore this, and many other beaches located to the south.
This is a very long beach, bordered by Punta Cocles to the north and Punta Uva to the south, with strong waves. To the south, it has a headland from which it is possible to observe small coral reef colonies. Its white sand is due to the remains of the coral reefs. This beach is rich in vegetation along its coast which complements perfectly with it sun and beach activities, as well as with the diving because of its crystal clear waters.
There are a variety of cultures in the Caribbean including, Afro-Costa Rican, Bribris and Cabécares (indigenous groups), Asian, coolies, Italians, and Central Americans, among others.
Besides traditional dishes, there are a variety of cultural traditions and events that differentiates this area from other parts of the country. One of the more well-known is the mix of diverse elements and influences in music like calypso and reggae. With respect to dance, traditional square dance is one of the most common. Games and legends also hold a special place in the culture. The Creole English that the majority of those from Limón speak, who are of Afro-Caribbean descent, is also very particular to the region. Faith and religious beliefs are much more diverse in this area due to large number of religious backgrounds.
Finally, the vernacular architecture from Limón must be mentioned, which is the result of the lifestyle of the society, its shapes and spaces are designed in response to climate, cultural, technological, and economic conditions. The historic area of Limón came about through banana production, and its commercial and residential buildings are influenced by Victorian Caribbean and Art Nouveau.
The Caribbean region also stands out from the rest of the country because of its traditional dishes. There are many popular and exotic dishes and drinks. Some of them are: Rondón (a mix of vegetables with beef, chicken, fish, or turtle meat), fish (in a stew, pickled, or fried), Sancocho (chicken or pork with tomato, yucca, potato, sweet potato, etc.), Rice and Beans (rice with cooked beans and coconut milk, along with chicken, fish, pork, or beef), patty (a fired bread pocket with meat and spicy peppers), plantintah orfried bread pockets made from plantains, fruit bread (puree, corn meal, fried, etc.), turtle meat (rondón, fin soup), mondongo (tripe with root vegetables and hot spices), johnny cake (coconut bread), ginger cookies, ginger beer, guarapo (sort of corn liquor), agua de sapo or hiel (a very popular drink made with ginger, lime, and panela).
CARNIVALS IN LIMÓN
There are always carnivals during the week of October 12th, of every year. This date commemorates Culture Day. It is a great tourist attraction and is highly anticipated by locals and nationals. Before the carnivals, someone is chosen as carnival queen for the year and around the local neighborhoods, those comparsas (band which plays a conga during the carnival) that are participating in the carnival rehearse. Other events that are organized are: comparsa and carriage parades, mascaradas (giante masked figures), band parades, national and international musical groups, and traditional Chinese dragon dance parade can also be seen. Everyone from the Limón area participates as it is the most highly anticipated event of the year. During this celebration, there are floats, bands, musical groups, and the pageantry that make up this tourist attraction, which is complemented by: games, shops, traditional Caribbean food and drinks, arts and crafts, carnival souvenirs, fireworks, etc.
This beautiful boardwalk is four blocks long along 2nd Avenue in Limón. It begins on the west end at 4th street and runs east until the breakwater, in other words, until the central market in Limón, which was built in 1941. On the corner, facing the market is another beautiful building: Banco Nacional de Costa Rica (the Costa Rica National Bank). A block and a half east of there is another attractive building: Pensión Costa Rica.
In the last block is Vargas Park and on the north side of the park is Limón City Hall and on the other side is a historic building that belonged to the Banana Company, which today is occupied by offices and local businesses. The boulevard ends at the breakwater, where there is an amphitheater from which you can see the Quiribrí Island. This breakwater is also often visited by people from Limón and tourists. It runs along the coast for a few blocks until the Tony Facio Hospital.
BLACK STAR LINE
This historic building was built in 1922 and is located in Limón (5th Street and 5th Avenue). It is two floors high and has a large hall called Liberty Hall, as well as a restaurant specializing in Caribbean food. It was declared an architectural historical landmark in 1988. Its name comes from a shipping company that was established by Marcus Garvey, who fought for African-American rights. Garvey visited Limón twice, where he set up an association whose headquarters was in this building, and where various cultural events have been held like the coronation of the first carnival queen in 1949 and other civic festivals.
QUIRIBRÍ ISLAND (UVITA)
This isolated land was declared a national monument in1985, by virtue of having been the first place that Christopher Columbus visited in 1502 during his fourth visit on the Caribbean coast. Due specifically to the rich culture of the indigenous tribes that he came into contact with, as well as the lush tropical nature is perhaps what led him to name this land “Costa Rica.” The island, therefore, became known as Quiribrí. This is a gorgeous island because of its lush tropical vegetation as well as its rocky cliffs and coral reefs. Around its pier is a lovely beach. It also offers great conditions for surfing and diving. There is also a trail that goes around the island to appreciate its beauty.
On September 25th, the arrival of Christopher Columbus is celebrated with a brilliant military-type parade as well as high school and elementary school bands from the Limón area.
KEKÖLDI INDIGENOUS RESERVE
This reserve is located close to Puerto Viejo and is important for the activities that it promotes. The Bribris indigenous tribes that live on this reserve offer interesting services for tourists. Here you can find a green iguana nursery, and handmade arts and crafts, like wooden bow and arrows, handbags, nets, hammocks, baskets, etc. There are hiking trails throughout the reserve to enjoy the areas rich flora and fauna. There are also two towers for bird watching, particularly predatory bird migrations from north to the south during January, February, October, and November.
There are a total of 17 predatory bird species that have been documented, among them are: eagles, sparrow hawks, and falcons. The sight of thousands of birds migrating daily is a spectacular experience.
Finally, within the reserve is a beautiful waterfall that is fed by the Cocles River and can be reached with a local guide.
TROPICAL AMERICA FESTIVAL. EARTH. GUÁCIMO
Held on the third weekend of April, this festival promotes the involvement of all the people, both national and international, in the Escuela del Trópico Húmedo (Tropical Rainforest School). Some of the events held are: cultural presentations from various countries, food festival, and visits to points of interest in the school such as the botanical garden, an orchid garden, and livestock farm.
The idea is to promote newcomers to visit the school.
SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN FESTIVAL
This is held the first two weeks of April in order to take advantage of the tourism and dry season. Many musical groups from around the country participate. The event is held on Playa Chiquita.
PUERTO VIEJO COMMUNITY
The town of Puerto Viejo, as well as, the town of Cahuita offers many services for visitors. There are places for lodging, travel agencies, and a tourist guide association that offers tours and excursions to other areas in Talamanca. There are also excellent places to enjoy national and international fare. At night, there are traditional Costa Rica Caribbean dances and music to enjoy.
YORQUÍN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
Yorquín or Yorkín is the name of a river that begins in La Amistad International Park, but on the Panamanian side. Going up river you arrive to the Yorquín indigenous community, where visitors can have a unique experience that combines the beauty of the river with the knowledge and assimilation of this exemplary community that grows its own food and trades bananas and coco beans for other goods. Other places that can be reached from this area are: Cerro Buena Vista, hot springs, waterfalls, etc. Traditional arts and crafts are also made in Yorquín which make for good souvenirs to remember the trip by.
This community is a mix of cultures where visitors can experience a variety of national and international cuisine. There are many services offered while visiting the national park, which is located here. There are businesses that provide tours to the coral reefs and other sectors of Talamanca. There are also places to enjoy musical events.
CARIBBEAN BIRD SANCTUARY
This beautiful place is located less than a mile north of the Estrella River. There is a private reserve of around 250 acres, where it is possible to walk or take a boat tour along the canals to observe its flora and fauna, especially the birds.
The Caribbean is known for its extraordinarily rich culture and nature, which makes for a variety of activities: sport fishing, boat tours, diving, surfing, turtle and bird watching, dolphin watching, horseback riding, ocean and river kayaking, among others. Visitors can also experience firsthand the local cultures. The following describes the main tourist activities that can be done in the Caribbean tourism areas:
Photography is one of the highly valuable activities due to its cultural, architectural, and scenic options, as well for its flora and fauna, waterfalls, rivers, its many banana, ornamental plant, and coco bean plantations, and others.
ADVENTURE ALONG THE NATURE TRAILS AND CANOPY
Many businesses have developed facilities to take advantage of adventure activities along nature trails and the canopy. Among them are: the Puerto Viejo Botanical Gardens, the Samasati Biological Reserve and Yoga Center, and the Terraventura Canopy (in the Carbón River Valley).
EXCURSIONS TO INDIGENOUS RESERVES
Visitors to this area have many services and facilities available to make the existing attractions along the coast and wildlife areas more enjoyable. Examples of other points of interest to visit are: a butterfly sanctuary, coco bean plantation, and the Keköldi and Bribri indigenous reserves.
VISITING ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORICAL SITES
The architecture of the Caribbean has very important buildings that have been declared historical or architectural landmarks. In the center of Limón are: the Black Star Line, the Post Office, and the Municipal Palace.
The cuisine from Limón is influenced by many different ethnic groups, but the most influential is the Afro-Costa Rican ethnic group and the Chinese, who create unique dishes that contain a large number of plants and root vegetables.
Among the traditional dishes are: Rice and Beans, Dokonú or Bluedress, patties, Plantintah, Pan Bon (traditional Caribbean bread), Socosí, among others. The coastal towns have many small diners, eateries, and restaurants, where visitors can enjoy Caribbean cuisine. They also offer a wide variety of international cuisine.
EXCURSIONS THROUGH THE CANOPY( RAINFOREST AREAL TRAM)
Located next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park, after the Zurquí Tunnel, 13 miles along the highway to Guápiles, is an areal tram created to enjoy activities on the canopy top of the rainforest where visitors can observe a number of monkey and bird species, many types of orchids, bromeliads, pineapples, tree climber vine, and insect communities.
There are commercial areas in Limón for purchasing objects or souvenirs; however, in the areas with higher tourist traffic (Tortugero), you can find arts and crafts shops with more authentic products.
The area has picturesque trails, adventure sites, and space for bicycling or mountain bike riding. Surrounding beaches and mountains are also good places to explore.
Guided or non-guided hikes can be done throughout the communities, nature areas, and coastal areas, to observe many natural, historical, architectural, social, artistic, and cultural attractions.
Tourists can go horseback riding in communities like Tortugero and Limón, and observe architecture, scenic views, local flora and fauna, as well as visit indigenous communities and places for photography, and other activities.
DIVING IN THE CORAL REEF
Cahuita and Puerto Vargas have beautiful beaches that are complemented by coral reef strips, which are the most important in Costa Rica, not to mention others that are located in Punta Cocles, Punta Uva, Manzanillo, and Punta Mona.
These sites are perfect for observing different types of coral (light yellow brain, Elkhorn and Staghorn, Fire, Rose Lettuce, etc.) mollusks, sea fans, crustaceans, turtles, brightly colored fish, among others.
PRIMITIVE ART FROM LIMÓN
This is an important movement of paintings and sculptures in the country because of its large number of artisans who authentically and symbolically express the culture and exuberance of nature. These works can be purchased or viewed in galleries in Guápiles, Limón.
The Caribbean celebrates historical, cultural, sport, civic, or artistic events throughout the year as well as hold festivals to raise money for community development.
BARRA DEL COLORADO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
This refuge was created in 1985 and is located in the far northern region of the Caribbean, along the border of Nicaragua. It measures almost 200,000 acres with canals, lagoons, rivers, marshes, forests, hills (less than 150 ft. high), as well as continental and fluvial islands. Precipitation in this region averages 335-365 cubic inches per year; therefore, a proper dry season does not exist.
There is a rich biodiversity of plants and animals, some of which are native to the area, meaning, they can only be found within this protected area. The flora is made up of three types of vegetation: marsh, yolillo palms and aquatic plants. With respect to the fauna, there are: crocodiles, caiman, manatees, tapir, jaguar, howler and white-faced monkeys, three-toed sloths, and tropical gar, which is considered a living fossil.
Because of its abundance of fish species, it is considered a paradise for sport fishing, which can be done after obtaining a license. There are a variety of schools of fish that have been caught in these world-renowned waters. In order to get to Colorado, you need to take a boat from: Moín, Tortugero, Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí, or other places. You may also take a plane from San José.
TORTUGERO NATIONAL PARK
The Tortugero National Park was established in 1975 and is one of the most wildly biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. It is one of the largest biologically diverse areas in the country. It covers some 64,000 acres and was created specifically to protect the Green Sea Turtle nesting grounds, one of the most important such areas in the western Caribbean. Tortugero has a very wet tropical rainforest, due to the fact that it receives between 300-350 cubic inches per year. These conditions make it possible for the existence of more than 400 tree species and around 220 species of other plants, as well as more than 400 bird species, 60 amphibian species, 30 species of fresh water fish, and different endangered mammals: tapir, monkeys, jaguars, manatees, sloths, and others.
Tortugero is characterized by its canals, lagoons, and beautiful rivers, which can be traveled by boat, canoe, and kayak in order to appreciate its beautiful scenery. Besides the Green Sea Turtle, there are three other such species that nest in the park’s beaches. The park offers an exhibition room, information, potable water, restroom services, trails, and other services.
BARBILLA NATIONAL PARK
This protected area was first declared a biological reserve in 1982 and later in 1998 it officially became a national park. It holds an important tropical wet rainforest and its 30,000 acres is an important water source.
It is located 11 miles from Siquirres and is difficult to access. That’s why there aren’t any of the necessary facilities, so visitors must be used to hiking and use a local tour guide from Las Brisas de Pacuarito community, who can be found in the national park’s administrative offices.
The area has primary forests, both wet and very wet tropical rainforests. There is a great diversity of biological wildlife due to the many different altitudes ranging from 360 ft. to 5,300 ft. above sea level. It rains on average between 213 to 280 cubic inches per year. In the forests you can find pumas, jaguars, ocelots, tapir, monkeys, and many bird species.
HITOY CERERE BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
This reserve was created in 1978. It covers around 25,000 acres and is surrounded by three indigenous reserves: Telire, Tayni and Talamanca. It is part of the La Amistad Biosphere Reserve.
Hitoy Cerere, whose indigenous names mean: moss covered stone river and clear water river, respectively, are located along the banks of the Estrella and Telire Rivers.
This is a reserve that is made up of different altitudes that range from 300 to more than 3,000 ft. above sea level. Its forests belong mainly to very wet tropical rainforests and premontaine rainforest. Some of the species found here are: palm trees, wild cashew, Maya nut, large guava, and many others. With respect to fauna there are amphibians, frogs, reptiles, raccoons, white-faced monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, ocelots, etc. There are around 230 bird species. There are also rivers and streams where you can go swimming and one of them has a beautiful waterfall, which you can get to by a trail along the river.
In order to enter the reserve, you must first go toward Valle de la Estrella, which is 2 and a half miles after the Cartagena Estate, where the administrative office is located. There is parking, potable water, restroom, services, information, trails, lookout points, and swimming areas provided.
GANDOCA WILDLIFE REFUGE - MANZANILLO
This beautiful refuge covers 23,348 acres (11,000 water and 12,000 land). It is located in Talamanca and its coastal border runs from the mouth of the Cocles River, close to Puerto Viejo, to the mouth of the Sixaola River on the Panamanian border. Its maximum elevation are the Manzanillo hills at 610 ft. above sea level.
There are wetland forest areas and hills with plant species such as: cativo, Fine-leaf Wadara, yolillo palms, mangrove, mountain walnut, etc. The fauna here is known for its monkeys, including the spider monkey, crocodiles, peccaries, lowland paca, etc. There are also a great variety of birds: parrots, Ornate hawk eagle, rainbow beaked toucans, etc. Beaches cover the entire beautiful coast and are great for hiking, sunbathing, swimming, diving among the coral reef, and wildlife observation.
There are trails, lookout points, potable water, restroom services, and others that are provided throughout the area and in towns like Manzanillo, where the administrative office is located. The Gandoca area protects the Leatherback sea turtle, and you can also reach the Gandoca lagoon by a boat tour, which has an abundance of tropical vegetation, and is also home to the manatee.
CAHUITA NATIONAL PARK
This wildlife area was created in 1970 as a national monument and turned into a national park in 1978. It protects 2,636 acres of land, 1,482 acres of coral reef, and 55,000 acre of water. It is composed of two main areas: Cahuita and Puerto Vargas, which have beautiful beaches and a fringing coral reef, which is one of the most important in the Costa Rican Caribbean. Here you can find many types of marine life, such as: coral (light yellow brain, Staghorn and Elkhorn, Fire, Rose, and Lettuce), mollusks, crustaceans, turtles, brightly
colored fish (Angel fish, Blue angel fish, etc.), and many more.The park also protects flora, from swamp to coastal, as well as land animals such as, monkeys, sloths, squirrels, White-nosed coati, and many birds and insects. It is one of the most scenically beautiful areas in the country because of its white-sand beaches, thousands of coconut trees, its turquoise colored water, and coral reef. In the park you can go hiking, swimming, diving, observe the wildlife, sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or simply do nothing and take in the wonderful scenery.
Cahuita provides many services to make your stay more comfortable: information, potable water, restroom services and showers, picnic tables, trails, camping areas, and others.