The Puntarenas tourist area and the Golfo Islands comprise 1517 sq. miles and 264 miles of coast line. Part of the area’s boundaries is undefined since a part of the Nicoya Peninsula, as well as the city of Puntarenas, fall within this area. The shoreline of both tourism areas is joined by maritime transport. The area extends from Punta Conejo south to Puerto caldera where the mouth of the Bongo River is located.
Puntarenas is one of the most important tourism regions in Costa Rica. Its coastline is full of islands, inlets, beaches, and very beautiful natural treasures, all which make it an excellent tourist destination. There is a multitude of attractions based around the beaches, as well as protected areas, both land based and around its islands. The area’s center is located at Puntarenas which acts as a place for lodging, distribution, port of call, and excursions. Within its tourism locales you can find a variety of hotels and traditional cabins close to the ocean as well as all-inclusive lodging facilities.
This spectacular area is very close to the Central Valley, around two hours by car and 74 miles from the capital.
The peninsula area has very important areas geared toward tourism like, Tambor, Santa Teresa, and Montezuma, all with very beautiful natural areas, specifically its beach areas. You can also find the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, San Lucas, Chira, Tortuga, and Coco Islands.
The Monteverde area, located north of Puntarenas, has both national and international significance because of its conservation efforts and life style centered around nature. Santa Elena is the hub for commercial services and tourism-based businesses. Other important communities are San Luis and Gerardo.
The primary attraction is the Monteverde Biological Reserve, however there are many other nature sites, picturesque trails, hanging bridges, as well as butterfly and frog exhibits.
PASEO DE LOS TURISTAS (TOURIST WALK)
This stretch is located along the main beach in Puntarenas and is one of the most heavily visited places because of its variety of high-quality services for tourists. It runs from the Marino del Pacífico (located by the historic train station) to La Punta. Around the cruise ship pier there are many little kiosks, and places to purchase local arts and crafts as well as traditional fruit salad and frozen drinks known as “Churchills.” Along this stretch, there are other services provided for tourists like sport fields, park areas, showers, restrooms, and everything else you need to enjoy the beach.
MARINO DEL PACÍFICO PARK
This park was established in 2002 and is located where the historic train station is. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Its main attraction is the fish aquariums where you can see species native to the Pacific Ocean, as well Cocos Island. There is also a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
HISTORIC MARINE MUSEUM
This museum is located in the historic Puntarenas barracks, which was restored in order to accommodate the Culture Museum, an amphitheater, and a public library. The first of these is used to exhibit monthly paintings and sculptures. The amphitheater has theater, dance, and music performances.
The archeological information provided explains the original settlements of indigenous groups from the area, how they got their food, took advantage of the surrounding natural resources, burial practices, and trading practices that they developed.
The historic information centers on the city of Puntarenas, because the province is made up of the Northern, Central, and Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica, with the latter of the three having shown significantly more growth and independence than the rest of the province.
The exhibit shows how the port area became one of the most important in the country, conserving the religious traditions and celebrations of Puntarenas, characterized by its diverse geographic and cultural origins.
The museum also shows the diversity of natural resources in the area, such as wetlands, forests, marine areas, land animals, and birds.
It explains the importance of the Nicoya Gulf and the islands found within it.
It also goes into the natural wealth of Cocos Island, as well as its treasures and pirates.
Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
In the same area, are the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús and the Puntarenas Cathedral, which was built in 1902.
“PURA VIDA” GARDEN AND WATERFALLS
This extremely beautiful area is located in Bijagual de Turrubares and can be reached by taking the turn off located on the left, after entering the Carara National Park. The waterfall is one of the highest in the country, reaching some 650 ft. There are also colorful gardens, trails, and pools for swimming in this area.
This island covers 968 acres and stands out among the other islands in the Nicoya Gulf because of its green ocean water. The inhabitants of the islands are farmers and fishermen. There are an abundance of marine birds that nest on the island or in the mangroves around the Jicaral estuary.
PAN DE AZÚCAR ISLAND
This little island is located south east of the San Lucas Island. Its ocean scenery is beautiful and is centered on its rock formation because of its shape, from which the name comes. There is a large population of marine birds, particularly brown pelicans.
MUERTOS ISLAND (GITANA)
Many years ago, there was a cemetery here, hence the name (the dead in English). It is also known as Gitana. The majority of its small land mass (some 60 acres) is covered by dry tropical forest, which is transitioning to a wet forest. Many marine birds come to the area and the surrounding scenery is lovely.
This island is located northeast of Cedros Island, which is very close by. Its 60 some acre land mass is made up of dry tropical forest, which is transitioning to a wet forest. Northeast of the island is a rocky coast and a beautiful beach. There is also another beach in the southern part.
This is the biggest and most populated island in the Nicoya Gulf (25 sq. miles). It also offers the largest number of services, including elementary schools and a high school. There is a big mangrove on the northeast side of the island. There is an eco-tourism area run by women from the island. Here they offer basic lodging, food, and tours for fishing and exploring the mangrove.
This island covers less than 400 acres and has a very beautiful landscape due to its irregular shoreline. There are two main beaches: Langosta and Gringo. There are forests with small trees, coconut trees, and plants. There are organized tours to this island.
This long island is less than 2 sq. miles. The Peter Harley Canal separates the Bejuco Island from this small isolated land mass, which is rich in trees and is surrounded by coral reefs and cliffs. Toward the center are the highest elevations of the island, which measure less than 650 ft. above sea level.
This island measures less land mass than Caballo Island, but is similar in its long shape and has a maximum elevation of 400 ft. above sea level. There is an irregular surface with an abundance of tree species.
VIRGEN DEL MAR FESTIVAL
Every 16th of July, colorfully decorated boats are created to remember the event many years ago when a group of fisherman, shipwrecked and nearly dead, were rescued shortly after calling on the Virgin Mary. During the festival, you can participate in many different kinds of water sport competitions, as well as other recreational activities for children and adults. It is also celebrated in Quepos.
This estuary is located in the Nicoya Gulf and covers some 5 miles. Its irregular shoreline is home to beautiful mangroves where many types of birds come to nest. This mangrove is part of the Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the estuary, due to its calm waters, there are all kinds of fishing boats, sail boats, and tour yachts, which give the maritime area a special appeal. It is also a good area for water skiing.
MATA LIMON ESTUARY
The waters here are used for jet skiing and water skiing. There are also some good areas for fishing. The Puerto de Caldera is nearby.
JESÚS MARÍA ESTUARY
This estuary is good for fishing and has a variety of flora and fauna. There are also many colorful birds that are easy to see.
TOWN OF COBANO
Cobano, located 518 ft. above sea level, has many commercial services and tourism businesses that offer lodging, food, and tours, among other things. It is a starting point for many interesting tourist attractions like Montezuma, Cabo Blanco Reserve, and Malpaís.
Orotina is a well laid out city with parks, a church, and many different types of commercial businesses such as the local market, where they sell local food and drinks. It is 751 ft. above sea level and a hot dry climate, which makes it good for fruit production, many of which are exported to the United States and Europe.
The last few years have seen significant urban growth with many colorful kiosks selling fruit along the highway that connect Jacó and Manuel Antonio.
Esparza is a historic city that was sacked various times by English pirates. It is the oldest city in the country that has never changed locations. There are many historic buildings such as the Esparza Church and the Torres Elementary School.
There are many services provided for tourists. It is a “must stop” to try the local dishes.
The city or port of Puntarenas is about 13 ft. above sea level with many wide open beaches to enjoy the sun and the ocean. Historically, it has been a recreation spot for national tourists. It provides many high quality tourism services that bring in international tourists.
Presently, there is a cruise ship port in the newly remodeled Muelle de Puntarenas, with many docks and moors, which are the departure sites for the ferry service to tourist destinations like Paquera and Cóbano, as well as islands and mangroves located in the Puntarenas Estuary.
Land transportation services to Miramar and neighboring communities of Montes de Oro and Santa Elena de Monteverde depart from here.
Puntarenas has rest stop areas where you can try local dishes and drinks. Much of the local cuisine comes from the ocean like the popular local ceviche in restaurants and hotels.
There are other buildings of interest and historical sites.
MIRAMAR AND MONTES DE ORO
Miramar is a historical city known mainly for its gold mining. Nowadays the cities are developed mainly around farming and also growing tourism attraction, especially in the mountains where small towns like Cedral and Zapotal have great landscape views of the gulf.
To get there, you must walk 20 minutes outside of the city. The fall is some 65 ft. high and a refreshing pool surrounded by lush vegetation.
This refreshing waterfall is located on the far northeast end of Playa Cocalito. It is 40 ft. high with a pool at the bottom for swimming and taking in the surrounding beauty like the lush vegetation and blue ocean. This is a very scenic and relaxing place.
Parades, concerts on the beach, and many other recreational activities create the perfect environment to join in and share the culture of the people from Puntarenas. These festivals are scheduled during February, when the weather is dry and ideal for enjoying the beach and all the events scheduled during those days.
BARRANCA RIVER MOUTH
This place is popular among surfers for its long left bending waves, one of the most famous in the world. It is also a great place for hiking and observing the ocean view.
This river is 387 ft. long and on its lower riverbed, particularly around the coastal highway, you can observe crocodiles. There are tours that go along the river to observe these large reptiles.
This beach is located some 5 miles past Puerto Caldera, along the unpaved road. There are strong waves here and is popular among surf enthusiasts. There is a large mangrove and its long beach is ideal for walking, horseback riding, and sunbathing.
This beach is located in Ballena Bay, with Playa Pochote at the far northeast end. It is a very beautiful and long beach and is great for swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and water sports. This bay has a special feature, which at its two far ends is the profile of two lizards. The area also possesses coastal vegetation and many types of tourism services, from cheap lodging areas to all-inclusive luxury hotels. There are all types of activities like golf, sport fishing, diving tours, water sports, horseback riding, mountain biking, and others.
This is a very beautiful scenic beach and to the far north is a cliff which offers a great view of the coastline.
These beaches extend all along the coast in Puntarenas, from the mouth of the Barranca River to the area known as La Punta, where the stretch ends. The area from the pier (cruise line harbors) to La Punta is used by swimmers with the Tourist Walk running parallel to it, which have a number of hotels, restaurants, bars, and other services. Besides swimming, you can participate in other sports and ocean activities like boat rides.
COCAL, COCALITO AND QUIZALES BEACHES
These beaches are located in a very scenic part of the coastal area, where sandy beaches are mixed with rocky areas and cliffs, all surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Playa Cocal is wide open and suitable for swimming, sunbathing, hiking, and horseback riding. North of Cocal is La Punta Balvina, which once boarded Playa Cocalito. This beach is wide and rocky and is outlined by high cliffs.
CALDERA AND MATA DE LIMON BEACHES
This beach extends from the Mata de Limon Estuary to the hill known as Roca Carballo. It is very popular, especially among national tourists that enjoy this area, as well as the area around Puerto de Caldera, where large ships dock. The estuary can be traveled by boat in order to enjoy the flora and the fauna of the mangrove.
PLAYA SANTA TERESA
This beach is very long with favorable waves for surfing. It is full of coastal vegetation. There are beautiful rock formations on the north end known as Peñon de Ario. From Playa Santa Teresa looking south, you can see the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve. Besides sunbathing and swimming, the beach is also good for hiking, horseback riding, as well as mountain biking and camping.
This beach is a small and beautiful inlet and is great for swimming and taking in the surrounding maritime scenery. Many fishing boats anchor here.
South of Manzanillo is Punta Ponchete, which is a rocky little inlet with lush vegetation and great scenic views. It is great for hiking, enjoying the ocean, sunbathing, and other activities.
This beach is located some 2 miles from Paquera. It is a little less than one mile and has an estuary (Óganos) and a mangrove on the northern end. It is very popular among locals from the surrounding areas. It has beautiful scenery and from its shoreline you can see the Negritos and Tortugas Islands.
This long beach is located 7 miles from the administration office of Santa Rosa National Park. At the northern end is a patch of dark sand surrounded by ocean waters and the mouths of the rivers that from a large estuary and a mangrove rich in plant and animal species. It is ideal for hiking and taking in the magnificent panorama that includes La Peña de la Bruja (Witch’s Rock), a little rocky island that is popular among surfers. Camping is also permitted on this beach.
This very beautiful coast is made up of a mix of rocky areas and white sand beaches. There is an abundance of vegetation that is home to numerous animal species like the howler monkeys, as well as a number of birds. The center beach of Montezuma is a small beautiful inlet. North of this area is the main beach, which runs a few hundred feet toward the rocky area, where a path begins that connects to other beaches like Cocal.
This beach has a very irregular rocky shoreline. There are areas of great natural beauty due to the fact that not only is there coastal vegetation along the shore, but there are also nearby forest areas. In the central part of the beach is La Punta Barrigona, which is a good place for hiking and taking in the surrounding ocean view. On the far southern end of Malpaís is La Punta Cuevas, an equally beautiful area that is part of the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve. At this beach, you can do activities such as surfing, horseback riding, diving, sport fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, and watching the sunset, etc.
This is a small beach surrounded by mountainous hillsides with lush vegetation. The waves are small and from its shoreline looking south, you can see La Isla Muertos a short distance away. There are very pleasant conditions for relaxing and hiking or horseback riding to nearby areas to observe the flora and fauna.
DOÑA ANA BEACHES
This beach, as well as the nearby mouth of the Barranca River is very popular for surfing. Doña Ana, because of its size, vegetation, views, and tourism facilities, is a great place to enjoy the ocean. This beach has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag, meaning it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
Located in the Curú Natural Wildlife Refuge is a small inlet with small waves. It has coastline vegetation, a mangrove, and various types of forests, where you can see howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys, raccoons, iguanas, and many other animals. The coastal landscape is very pleasant, which is enhanced by the Tortugas Islands a few miles out. This is a great place for swimming, observing the flora and the fauna and relaxing in the midst of this beautiful refuge.
This beach is located between Santa Teresa and Malpaís, right at the point where the access road to this coastal sector splits off north to Santa Teresa and south to Malpaís. Besides enjoying the sun and the beach, this shoreline is good for hiking and horseback riding, as well as mountain bike riding and taking in the landscape that has a variety of rich coastal vegetation. It is also popular among surfers.
This beach is located some 3 and a half miles south of Montezuma and a mile or so north of the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve. It is also connected to Malpaís by a picturesque road, which can be taken with a four-wheel drive vehicle. This is a rocky beach with a wide open ocean. There is an abundance of coastline vegetation and strong waves. It has a beautiful coastline, highlighted by the Cabuya Island, which is a Pre-Colombian indigenous cemetery. You can walk there during low tide since there is a rocky shore that connects with the coast. This beach is ideal for hiking and observing nature, especially at Cabo Blanco.
This beach is located in the Murciélago area of the Santa Rosa National Park. It is located in the Santa Elena Peninsula, the oldest historical geological area in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful bay bordered to the south by La Fila Carrizal, which runs up to El Cabo Santa Elena. There is an abundance of coastal vegetation and because of its openness and calm waters, it is ideal for relaxing, hiking, swimming, and observing the interesting flora and birdlife. There are other nearby beached like the Santa Elena Bays and El Hachel. There is camping 9 miles from this beach in the administrative area.
This is a beautiful and protected little inlet with a variety of coastline vegetation. It is good for swimming, relaxing, and watching the ocean.
MONTEVERDE, COFFEE TOUR
Take a tour of a coffee plantation and coffee processing plant of the Coop in the San Luis community to learn about the process, ending with a stop at the roasting facility to taste samples of the coffee.
TOWN OF SANTA ELENA
Nested in the Tilarán hills, is a town that is both rural and developing with cobblestone streets. It is 4,373 ft. above sea level with a very cool climate and pleasant views of the hilly topography.
Various commercial and tourist services are provided. You can get there from Tilarán, las Juntas de Abangares, the Sardinal-Guacimal highway, and the traditional route along the Lagarto River. It has a great view of the Nicoya Gulf.
SAN LUIS WATERFALL
Located in the town of San Luis, the waterfall is an impressive site at around 1,000 ft. To get there, you must walk a short distance where you can observe the surrounding natural resources.
MONTEVERDE MUSIC FESTIVAL
In order to take advantage of the first few months of the tourism season and dry season, different musical groups from the country are invited who are exponents of music in harmony with nature.
VISITING ART GALLERIES
There are a number of art galleries to visit where you can take courses on ceramics, sculpting, or painting, as well as purchase products on sale there. There are also photos available of the flora, fauna, and landscapes of Costa Rica.
CHEESE FACTORY, MONTEVERDE
The main attraction is observing the cheese making process and purchasing other products that derive from milk like ice cream and sweets. Hours are: Monday – Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The ethnic group known as the “Quakers” came to Monteverde in the 1950’s in order to carry on with their customs and lifestyle. They were dedicated to farming and livestock, which later led to the creation of a milk cooperative, which benefits local Costa Ricans in the area.
They built a school and shared teachings with local Costa Ricans from Santa Elena, which led to a bilingual culture that today is strength in drawing tourists to the area who are nature enthusiasts.
In fact, very few remain from the original colonies. They continue to uphold their customs and practice such as the “Meeting” where they get together and hold discussion and reading regarding world peace.
Their overall view is to protect the high areas of the Tilarán mountain range, which is one of the most visited protected regions in Costa Rica and where there is plenty of beautiful flora and fauna.
CASEM ARTS AND CRAFTS
The Committee for Santa Elena and Monteverde Artisans (CASEM in Spanish) makes available to tourists many types of work pieces made from wood, clothing, and souvenirs made from various materials.
Tourist activities raise awareness of the natural and cultural tourist attractions, as well as the close relationship with nature, adventure, and recreational and sporting aspects.
The diversity of flora and fauna in the natural areas, coastal landscapes, and cultural aspects, make photography and video taking one of the most popular activities among tourists.
The Quepos-Manuel Antonio area is well developed for tourists and has an array of interesting areas to visit like the mountains and their small local communities, as well as four-wheeling and all -terrain vehicle excursions (ATV’S).
There are also excursions to hanging bridges, boat trips through the mangroves, visits to the butterfly gardens, horseback riding, bird and dolphin watching, sport fishing, and hangliding.
Sport fishing is one of the main attractions in the Central Pacific, both commercial and recreational, with a large concentration in the Quepos area.
OBSERVING HISTORICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SITES
In Puntarenas, there is a small historic house that displays the city's history. There are interesting buildings and national monuments like the historic facilities of the Capitanía General del Puerto, Mora y Cañas Park, and the central church. There are also excursions to the San Lucas Islands where there is the historic San Lucas Prison.
There are many public and private areas for bird watching, such as: Negritos, Pájaros, Cabo Blanco, Carara, Curú, as well as other spots.
Throughout the year there are historical, religious, sporting, civil, or artistic festivals in the local communities as well as fund raising festivals for community development.
The area has picturesque trails, adventure sites, and space where you can go road or mountain biking. There are also trails to beaches and mountains that are very popular.
There are a number of trails to observe a range of tourist attractions like nature parks, beaches, eco-tourist trails, historic buildings, monuments, or excursions through interesting local communities to learn about the cultural side.
This activity is good to do along the coastal areas, communities, or mountainous areas. Horseback riding tours can be arranged through tourism businesses or local land owners who rent horses for this purpose.
RURAL TOURISM ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES
A wide range of attractions and activities center around the Orchids Eco-Tourism Shelter. To get there, go through Miramar until Palmital, and from there to Zapotal. The shelter is a mile beyond there. The main activity is hiking along the trails. From March to April, there are an abundance of quetzals.
BIOLOGICAL RESERVES: GUAYABO, NEGRITOS, AND LOS PÁJAROS ISLANDS
These islands have limited access because of their special ecological conditions and are separated by the waters of the Gulf of Nicoya.
Guayabo is one solid sedimentary rock measuring around 15 acres with maximum height of 165 ft. it is covered by trees, prickly plants, and Coyol palm trees. Various birds nest here such as seagulls, brown bobbies, the magnificent frigate bird, and the largest population of brown pelicans in Costa Rica.
The Negritos Islands are two volcanic rocks with high cliffs. Its 170 acre area is home to semi-deciduous forests, in which live the magnificent frigate bird, seagulls, brown bobbies, parrots, white-tipped doves, and brown pelicans. From these islands and Guayabo, because of their location in the Gulf of Nicoya, you can see shipping and tourist boats going to Paquera and the Tortugas Islands.
Pájaros Islet is round with a curved surface. It is only 9 acres made up primarily of rock sediment. There is a transitioning tropical dry to wet forest where pelicans, frigates, and brown bobbies nest. It is located a short distance from the Pájaros coast.
ALCATRAZ ISLAND BIOLOGICAL RESERVE (TORTUGA)
This island, whose real name is Alcatraz, but is known as Tortuga, is surrounded by waters of the Guld of Nicoya. There are no hotels or other tourist services so that those that come to visit for a few hours can observe it in its pure state.
Here you can relax under the palm tree shade or go sunbathing on its white sands, or, if you wish, there are other activities to do such as kayaking, or diving in its crystal clear waters, or take excursion in the canopy. There are several tourism businesses and water transportation leaving from Puntarenas, Montezuma, and Herradura.
CABO BLANCO ABSOLUTE NATURE RESERVE
This area is located in the far south of the Nicoya Peninsula, some 6 miles from Montezuma. It has 2,798 land acres and 3,400 marine acres within its protected area. There are both primary and secondary forests, meaning, recovering naturally. There are around 140 species of trees such as the evergreens and deciduous. Some of the wildlife animals that live here are deer, howler and white-faced monkeys, coyote, and squirrels. Types of bird species you can see are brown pelicans, brown bobbies, magnificent frigate birds, among others.
Cabo Blanco is a beautiful area with untouched beaches that can be reached by various existing trails. One of these islands is Balsitas. Facing and around a mile from the coast is the Cabo Blanco Island that has a white rock peak where a large number of frigates and brown bobbies dwell.
SAN LUCAS WILDLIFE REFUGE
The area measures around 1,000 acres and is surrounded by beaches and cliffs. There are water transportation services that make scheduled trips to the island. The main beach is called El Coco and is located between two points. From its grayish sandy beaches, you can see the city of Puntarenas. San Lucas is an excellent spot for relaxing, meditating, hiking, learning about its history and historic structures, like the prison, which is the most famous in the country.
CURU NATIONAL WILDLIFE RESERVE
Curu is private land which has been declared a national wildlife refuge. It is made up of beaches, mangroves, and beautiful tree-lined hills.
The refuge is flanked by rocky hills that form cliffs and inlets.
Some animals that you can find here are: garrobos (dark-skinned iguanas), iguanas, deer, howler and white-faced monkeys, raccoons, coyotes, pizotes, lowland pacas, and others. There are also more than 100 species of birds that have been identified here. Within the small pools that form in the rocky areas of Curu, you can find many kinds of mollusks and crustaceans.
COCOS ISLAND NATIONAL PARK
This national park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, because of its unmatched natural beauty and rich biodiversity.
The coastline of this island measures some 13 sq. miles with cliffs as high as 600ft. and has a seemingly infinite number of underwater caves. The two main bays are Wafer and Chatham. On the north end of the island are two unique sandy beaches that are part of this park that was created in 1978. The blue-turquoise water is extraordinarily clear and, along with the number of rock formations, these elements make for a great habitat for an abundance of marine species like fish, shark (hammer and white-finned), dolphins, manta rays, mollusks, and many other marine species that makes this island one of the most extraordinary places in the world for diving.
The island also has, due to its climate, areas of beautiful evergreen forests. It also has numerous and impressive waterfalls, as well as many historical legends of pirates and treasure hunters in search of buried treasure, supposedly hidden in this area. All of which makes this place an incredibly ecologically and historically important.
With respect to visitor services, there are: an information center, a park ranger’s station, trails, signage, restroom services, potable water, and several look out points.
CARARA NATIONAL PARK
This park was originally created as a biological reserve in 1978, however, years later, its classification changed. It is transitioning from dry forest to tropical rainforest. It presently measures 11, 532 acres and is made up of three different areas, where you can observe many different types of precious trees like breadnut trees, the Guanacaste tree, Brazilian rosewood, nazareno, and others.
Some of the parks fauna includes peccary, ocelot, white-faced monkey, and red parrots, which are the most common, and can be seen relatively easily here and in the Osa Peninsula. Some of the services provided here are: parking, an information center, potable water, restroom services, picnic areas, lookout points, and trails. Referring to the latter, the best ones are the Las Aráceas (3,937 ft.) and Quebrada Bonita (4,921 ft.).
Other services include an information center, a park ranger station, trails,signage, restroom servides and potable water.
BAJO DEL TIGRE TRAIL
This area is separate from the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, located in Monteverde and measures around 63 acres with a few miles of trails that make it easier to enjoy the flora and the fauna of the Bajo de Tigre. There is also an excellent view of the Gulf of Nicoya.
As part of the experience, you can also see white-faced monkeys, armadillos, a variety of butterflies, frogs, and many birds.
This is a wild life refuge that has a series of trails through the forest with excellent natural lookout points, waterfalls, and coffee plantations. You can also see mammals such as coatimundis, agouti, sloths, and around 150 bird species. It is primarily dedicated to eco-tourism and measures some 60 acres. It hours are 7a.m. to 5 p.m. There is also an interesting night tour from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
SANTA ELENA CLOUD FOREST RESERVE
The Santa Elena Reserve as it is commonly known, is dedicated to protecting the cloud forest and educating the locals of Santa Elena. It is run by the Colegio Técnico Profesional in Santa Elena. Proceeds are used to protect the forest and develop environmental programs.
There are various trails to enjoy the park and on clear days, you can see the Arenal Volcano.
It measures 630 acres and its business hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
The reserve has a diversity of flora and fauna, much of which is unique in the world and is becoming a “must see” tourist attraction for nature enthusiasts and scientists to study its habitat.
It has a number of trails to enjoy the cloud forest. There are 400 bird species, 490 butterflies, and more than 100 mammals that have been identified. There are also 2,500 plants species (500 of which are orchids) and thousands of insect species. Some of the animal wildlife that lives here are jaguars, tapir, calandra lark, the bare-necked umbrella bird, and the brilliant quetzal. The area covers 25,300 acres and its business hours are from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
CHILDREN’S ETERNAL RAINFOREST
This private reserve is the biggest in Costa Rica and the area that is visited inMonteverde is the San Gerardo Biological Reserve, which is located 4 miles from Santa Elena. There are 2-3 miles of trails through the rainforest and an impressive view of the Arenal Volcano. More than 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds have been identified here.
The total area measures 45,000 acres and it business hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.