The influence of Afro-Caribbean culture, Rainforests and sandy beaches, make this one of the most unique routes of Costa Rica. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is completely different from the rest of the country. The main reason for this is because the area was never inhabited by the rest of the country until well into the 1900’s The original Spanish settlers came to Costa Rica on the west Coast from Panama and never migrated to the Caribbean because of difficult access due to heavy rains, steep slopes and dense forests. In 1872 a group of Jamaican migrants were brought to Limon to clear the forests and lay the railway tracks. Afterwards, these workers became the main inhabitants of the region and were joined by more Jamaican migrants in the 1900’s when the Banana plantations were established.
Because of its location and touristic services, Puerto Viejo is the perfect hub for the whole south Caribbean region. This small village also represents well everything that the Caribbean is all about: colorful houses, palms, lot of restaurants and small hotels, and this characteristic Jamaican style cool ambiance. Puerto Viejo, and its surrounding hotels, is also very convenient, as you will also find all kind of stores, supermarkets and banks. Some of the best beaches, like Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, are located less than 20 minutes of driving distance. Cahuita, the other main attraction of the South Caribbean, is only 30 minutes. Many activities are available from this town, like fishing, snorkeling or diving tours, kayak, horseback riding tours, one day excursions to the Talamanca indigenous communities, and even to Bocas del Toro in Panama.
About 30 minutes north from Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and its National Park is one of the highlights of the Caribbean ! The town is small, but full of the Caribbean taste. Some very good restaurants and nice hotels are located here or in the surroundings. The Cahuita beach is spectacular, and very appreciated by surfers. At the east point of the beach, begins the coral reef of the National Park. Hiking and snorkeling tours are the most popular activities. At the other side of then point, on the Puerto Vargas beach, the National Park offers a wide diversity including iguanas, coatis, monkeys and many bird species.
Long sandy beaches, a quiet peaceful ambiance and a great National Park awaits you in the Gandoca Manzanillo area, 30 min south from Puerto Viejo. This is the less known, but not less beautiful part of the Caribbean coast. Hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, or just enjoying this beautiful beaches, are among the things you can do in this little piece of paradise.
This town is the entrance to a whole different angle of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica: the indigenous villages and reserves of the Yorkin valley and the Talamanca mountains. Whether you visit the region on your own, or you take one of the one-day tours offered by local tour operators, you can discover the magic world of this unique communities that still live at the rhythm of the rain forest, the river and the cacao culture.