Flowing out of San Juan Lake in Chirripo National Park, this river becomes the Grande de Terraba River before emptying into the Pacific. The longest (196 km) and one of the mightiest rivers in the country, this river offers rafting trips through rapids in certain stretches, such as Las Juntas de Pacuar al Brujo.
Located some 12 kilometers from Dominical on the highway to San Isidro de El General, these lovely waterfalls are also known as the Santo Cristo or Don Lulo Waterfalls. Visitors arrive on horseback to enjoy the beautiful falls surrounded by greenery, and to swim in the large, safe pool.
The big waves here are ideal for surfing. This beach is also popular with campers. Tours and excursions from Dominical allow guests to marvel at the scenic beauty of the Nauyaca Waterfalls and nearby hills overlooking the coast. Dominical also has a variety of services and shops.
The moderate surf here is perfect for swimming and other water activities. At the south end of the beach lies Punta Dominical, which features a lush tropical wet forest. This, and the spectacular surrounding landscape, offer great views for nature-lovers.
The viewpoints on this rocky hill swathed in vegetation offer views of Dominicalito, Roca Arbol Island and the stunning mountain and maritime landscape stretching southwards.
This beach can be explored at low tide, when different species of crab, fish, mollusk and algae may be observed.
One of the most stunning beaches on the Southern Pacific coast, Uvita features moderate surf safe for swimming, as well as estuaries and mangrove swamps, especially at its north end. South of the Quebrada Villegas estuary is a lovely line of coconut palms. Near the south end of the beach is Quebrada Colonia. This beach is ideal for walking and horseback riding, as well as observing the marine life around Punta Uvita.
Rich in marine life, this tongue, or tombolo, features a reef that shelters it from dangerous currents and strong surf, making it a perfect place for swimming and cooling off. It’s also a popular spot among divers.
Located behind Punta Uvita, this mangrove swamp is rich in typical coastal flora and is home to several species of seabird, including the little blue heron, the white ibis and the osprey.
Accessible only by small boats, this island is an extraordinary place for diving and observing the variety of marine species.
Featuring little surf and fine sand, this beach is set in a breathtaking coastal landscape that includes Isla Ballena less than three kilometers offshore. Ballena Beach, along with Ballena Island and Rocas Tres Hermanas, make up part of Ballena National Marine Park, which stretches from Punta Uvita to Punta Piñuela. The park’s waters are visited by humpback whales every year from August to October and from December to April.
A beautiful, small cove with moderate surf, Piñuela is great for swimming, especially at its south end. Behind the beach is a steep, mountainous slope covered with greenery. A small promontory lies north of the beach, close to which the Quebrada Piñuela empties into the sea. Ballena Island may be viewed from here.
Though small, this beach is surrounded by lovely scenery. Ventanas (“Windows”) gets its name from the rocky promontory at its north end featuring holes in the rock that can be explored at low tide.
Located south of Boca Brava, this beach is not suitable for swimming; however, its waves are excellent for professional surfing.
This small community lies 15 kilometers from Palmar Norte and Sur, on the banks of the river of the same name. Sierpe offers commercial services and accommodations, as well as water transportation companies that can take visitors out to sea to visit Isla del Caño, or to fish or dive nearby. A good number of tourists access Corcovado National Park via the Sierpe River, and many bird, animal and reptile species can be seen on this trip.
This beach is made up of highly scenic rocky areas and coves. Frequent rains nourish a very wet tropical forest rich in biodiversity. Many sportfishing and diving tours to Isla del Caño depart from Drake, as well as tours to Corcovado National Park. Visitors can hike or ride horseback to nearby attractions. Every February, the landing of pirate Sir Francis Drake at this spot is commemorated with official and local celebrations.
At the south end of the Osa Peninsula, close to several stunningly beautiful coves and beaches set in a very wet tropical forest, lies Cabo Matapalo. Home to several species of exotic birds, monkeys and other animals, Matapalo has waterfalls and other natural features that make exploring this rich biodiversity a delight. Beaches popular with surfers include Matapalo, Backwash and Pan Dulce, all of which offer excellent conditions for this sport.
Located south of Puerto Jimenez on the road to Matapalo, this long beach is shaped in a half-moon, and features rocky coastline to the south and the mouth of the Tamales River near its center. The surf is gentle to moderate depending on location. Birds are abundant among the coastal greenery.
Situated at two meters above sea level, this community is the best place from which to access Corcovado National Park. Services include leisure, adventure and sport-fishing companies. Jimenez is reached via Chacarita on the Interamerican highway or by daily boat service from Golfito.
A large, pleasant beach featuring coastal vegetation, mangrove swamps and the mouth of the Platanares River, this is an excellent place for sunbathing and enjoying the ocean. Stretching south from Punta Arenitas, Platanares is very popular with the residents of Puerto Jimenez, as well as with the visitors who come here on their way to Corcovado and other destinations on the Osa Peninsula.
Located two kilometers form the village of La Palma, this beach features moderate surf and is popular with the village’s residents. Set on Golfo Dulce and surrounded by mountains perennially clothed in green, Blanca Beach is a lovely spot.
The only city in the country found inside a protected area, Golfito rests on a long strip set in a small cove on Golfo Dulce. The place is characterized by the architectural style of the houses of the Banana Company, which for many years managed every aspect of banana production. The town features commercial and tourism services, a hospital, airfield, wharf and other government services.
Among the city’s main attractions is the Deposito Libre Comercial de Golfito, a shopper’s paradise where many items can be purchased duty-free. Golfito is the perfect departure point for visits to other coastal communities such as Puerto Jimenez and Zancudo, as well as tours to the Gulf, Colorado River, Drake and Cacao Beach, among other destinations.
Though Cacao Beach is located just two kilometers from Golfito, the best way to get here is by boat (panga). The gentle surf makes it a very safe place to swim. Green with plant life, Cacao is a great place for walking around and observing the flora and fauna. The town of Golfito can be seen from the beach.
A long beach with fine sand and moderate surf, Zancudo features a lovely estuary and plenty of coconut palms and tropical greenery. It’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing and walking, as well as other recreational and sporting activities. Sportfishing and whale and dolphin watching tours are available through local tourist services.
This rocky stretch of coast offers beautiful scenery and is ideal for swimming. Set on a small cove, Pavones’ main attraction is its open ocean surf, which forms the world-famous long left wave that draws many surfers to this beautiful and remote spot. To the south, horseback rides and long walks to the least explored stretch of coast in Costa Rica may be enjoyed.
Formed by the El General and Coto rivers, which are fed in turn by tributaries originating in the Talamanca Range, this river runs 160 kilometers and forms the country’s largest hydrographic basin at 2,171 square kilometers. Its many mouths and deltas make up part of the largest wetland in Central America. The Grande de Terraba River is considered the most important river in the Southern Zone due to its socioeconomic significance.
The Southern Pacific region is home to several indigenous groups: the Cabecares, Guaymies and Borucas.
Terraba Indigenous Group. Found in the Buenos Aires canton, Puntarenas province, in Terraba and other hamlets in the Boruca-Terraba Reservation, these indigenous people have similar agricultural and domestic practices and wear similar clothing as the area’s other country people.
Handicrafts fashioned by this group include wooden masks made of balsa or cedar. They also make large, beautiful baskets, called javas, triangular at the bottom and round at the top, out of a type of bejuco (a kind of liana) called hombre grande. Musical instruments including drums, maracas and flutes are fashioned as well. In Boruca and Rey Curre, visitors can acquire handicrafts fashioned using traditional techniques and enjoy traditional dances such as Danza de los Diablitos and Danza de los Negritos.
La Fiesta de los Diablitos: Representing the fight to the death against the Spanish culture invading indigenous territories, this festival displays indigenous traditions, customs and beliefs. The tradition dates back to colonial times and has been handed down orally from generation to generation.
La Fiesta de los Negritos: Another important activity that takes place every December 6-8, this event’s preparations are similar to those of the Fiesta de los Diablitos. Participants paint their faces with soot, but use no special costume.
Until just a few years ago, this indigenous group was semi-nomadic. They are mainly found in Villa Palacio de Brusmalis en Coto Brus, on the banks of the Limoncito River, Alto Conte, Peninsula Burica, Bajo de los Reyes, Abrojo and San Miguel de Ciudad Neily.
The Guaymi fashion necklaces made of plastic beads in red, white, blue, yellow and black, called nuñungas. The Guaymi are also skilled at making drums, maracas and flutes. The double drumheads are made of peccary or armadillo hides, and the wood used to make the drums is mainly balsa or cedar. They also are known for their handcrafted bags of bark, pita fiber and even nylon.
This building is a prime example of a typical, traditional ranch used by the Boruca, very few of which remain today. The meeting place for the artisans’ committee, it is also used as a craft workshop for training and reviving the community’s traditional activities. The natural techniques and dyes used to fashion handicrafts are exhibited and are examples of an important occupation and indigenous tradition.
This museum is part of the Terraba Culture Center, made up of the House of Indigenous Health, the Cultural Ranch, Medicinal Plants Cultivation and the Indigenous Community Museum. Exhibited items include an old stove and bed, bows, arrows and other implements that are part of the Terraba indigenous community’s history.
San Vito is the seat of Coto Brus, one of the country’s newest cantons. In 1951, the Italian Agricultural Colonization Society (SICA) established an agreement with the Costa Rican government by which an Italian colony would be founded to develop the region. The process has been so rapid that today San Vito is a booming city offering various commercial, health and tourism services. It has two interesting communities: Sabalito, on the border with Panama, and Agua Buena. Coffee is a product par excellence of the region.