Known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” Puntarenas is the largest province of Costa Rica, with an area of 11,276 Km2. The main attraction is its Pacific coastline, extending more than 500 miles down to the Panamanian boarder.
This vast province offers a variety of beaches, national parks, and natural reserves of an extraordinary ecological importance, since it is a transition area between the dry tropical lands of Guanacaste and the green forests of the Central Pacific.
The Port of Caldera and the City of Puntarenas in season receive hundreds of visitors daily from cruise ships which make port calls on its coasts. Some of these ships are traveling with the Panama Canal as the destination, which allows passengers to disembark and explore Costa Rica’s inland, only to meet their cruise ship some days later at the port of Limon, in the Caribbean.
Carara’s Biological Reserve constitutes one of the best showcases to the natural heritage of Puntarenas. This reserve includes an extension of 11,600 acres of forests and mangroves. Today, only some portions of the reserve are available to visitors, but professional guides, who are allowed to explore some restricted areas, may be hired.
Manuel Antonio National Park is another destination in the province of Puntarenas. With its impressive white-sand beaches, blue waters of the Pacific and hundreds of hectares of rainforest, this park is one of the smallest in Costa Rica, but at the same time, one of the most highly visited.
Manuel Antonio is one of the few places in Costa Rica where the spider monkey (titi) still lives. Within the park there are over 100 species of mammals and an equal number of bird types.
Also belonging to Puntarenas is the Corcovado National Park - located south and constituting the habitat of important endemic species such as the gold frog. The exotic Tarcoles River is here also, whose banks are guarded by hundreds of American crocodiles.
Good food – especially seafood – as well as the well-known carnivals held each summer, and the warmth of its people, are some of the nice surprises awaiting visitors in this province. ;