Puerto Caldera

 A beach resort town on the western coast of Costa Rica, Puerto Caldera is a cruise ship destination in the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya. The country of Costa Rica lies between the other Central American countries of Nicaragua and Panama, and it is a land with an eco-friendly government that protects its natural resources. Costa Rica has rainforests, wildlife and a rich indigenous and colonial history. The town of Puerto Caldera has shops, restaurants and entertainment for visitors. Besides being a welcoming port town, the area has beaches for surfing and other water sports, wildlife watching opportunities and nearby national parks.

Puerto Caldera, Central Pacific, Costa RicaPuerto Caldera is important to the economy of this small country, openhearted to travelers from around the globe and encouraging them to explore the wonders of Costa Rica. The name of the country means “rich coast.” Port areas like Puerto Caldera help to enrich the coast, but it is the natural setting and environment with wildlife in the waters and the nearby cloud forests and rain forests that makes the coastline wealthy.

Then, the history and culture of the region also make the west coast wealthy. Before the conquistadors from Spain moved into the area, the Nicoya Peninsula was inhabited by Nahuatl people, and other nations lived inland. The cuisine today is much as it has been through the centuries, a simple diet using local ingredients like fresh fruit as well as rice and beans, beef, poultry and seafood. The flavors are mild.

When it comes to hotels and places to stay, the town has a highly rated hotel, Costa del Sol Restaurante & Hotel. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and a bountiful breakfast buffet is served with local foods. The restaurant also provides delicious lunches and dinners. Other accommodations are found nearby in the towns of Orotina and San Ramon.

A true tropical paradise, Puerto Caldera offers a great getaway destination. The climate is definitely tropical as the country lies only around ten degrees north from the Equator. The two seasons are the dry that lasts from December to April and the wet season lasting during the other seven months of the year. Carara National Park is the closest national park, but five other parks are within drives of about two hours. Water sports and boat trips around the gulf are only a few of the great ways to experience Costa Rica around Puerto Caldera.

Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa RicaTortuga Island is located just off the southeastern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula in the Golfo de Nicoya. The island is named after the Spanish word for turtle. Tortuga Island is actually made up of 2 uninhabited islands that lie in front of the Curu Wildlife Refuge. Clear turquoise water, white powdery sand beaches lined with palm trees has made Tortuga Island one of the most thought after and popular destination in Costa Rica. The turquoise waters make for unforgettable scuba diving, snorkeling and just a lazy day of swimming.

The only way to reach the Tortuga Islands is by a tour, with most tourists coming from San Jose to the port city of Puntarenas and then taking one of many boats to the Islands, tours can also be arranged from Montezuma and Tambor. Since the only way to get to the Tortuga Islands is by tour groups, weekends and during the winter months can find the island paradise a little crowded. Every so often a cruise ship will pull into the waters of Tortuga Island. Tour operators will usually supply snorkeling equipment and will include a lunch on the beach.

Manuel Antonio

For those who need a fabulous getaway, guests need look no further than the beautiful shores of Costa Rica. This exotic country suits visitors of many tastes. Manuel Antonio makes for a great destination when traveling to Costa Rica, Pacific sea side village, Manuel Antonio is about a 2 1/2 hour drive south from San Jose.

Whether one enjoys great views, long walks, sandy beaches, or intense sporting opportunities, the city of Manuel Antonio has options for every person. For explorers and hikers, Manuel Antonio, which sits on a biological peninsula, provides a multitude of parks. One of the most well-known and gorgeous parks in Costa Rica is the Manuel Antonio National Park. This fantastic park dwells amid a section of the city that is dedicated to various productive activities, such as agriculture and tourism development. Manuel Antonio National Park hosts a plethora of plant-life that is displayed in not only one but two forests inside the park.

Manuel Antonio Costa RicaThe most prolific species of plants in the primary and secondary forests are guácimo colorado, cedro maría, guapinol blanco, surá, guapinol negro, lechoso, cenízaro, and ceiba. Aside from the plants, the park also houses a myriad of wildlife. Several of the most common species that reside here are raccoons, coatamundis, agoutis, two-toed sloths, scarlet macaws, and white-faced monkeys as well as squirrel monkeys.

The spectacular views are speckled with many clear paths and quaint trails that are interlaced among the wildlife and plant-life to give visitors the most authentic view of Costa Rica.

In addition to the incredible sights in the Manuel Antonio National Park, the city of Manuel Antonio also provides other exceptional ways to relax. For those who would rather sit than walk, luscious water and bright sand lie close by. In fact, one can enjoy the warmth from several different beaches in the Manuel Antonio area.

Also, Manuel Antonio is completely unique in that it offers breathtaking scenes in conjunction with wild entertainment for the truly active person. Though the city is small, the events held here are anything but tiny. Manuel Antonio provides excellent connection to the great outdoors through surf tournaments, hiking, kayaking, sport fishing, and rafting.

Indeed, Manuel Antonio has a little something for everyone, from the outdoor trailblazer to the rainforest sightseer to the lover of warmth and sunlight.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Rated among the world’s most beautiful national parks by Forbes Magazine in 2011, Manuel Antonio National Park of Costa Rica hosts over one hundred fifty thousand visitors each year. Established in 1972, this four thousand acre preserve is well known for its beautiful beaches and numerous walking trails. There is a small open air museum of natural history near the entrance. Manuel Antonio is the second most visited national park in Costa Rica.

The three main beaches attract visitors because of their pristine, white sand. Tourists can snorkel in the tidal pools that form near the Manuel Antonio and Espadilla beaches and traverse the “tombolo” or sand bridge that connects the two sandy stretches. The coastline offers visitors the opportunity to see dolphins and migrating whales. Active water enthusiasts will also enjoy other recreational opportunities such as scuba diving, sea kayaking or deep sea fishing.Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Those eco-tourists looking to explore the rich biodiversity of this Costa Rican treasure will enjoy the one hour hike along the trail from Espadilla to the summit of Punta Catedral. During their mesmerizing trek through the mangrove rain forest, they will have the opportunity to see an unparalleled diversity of wildlife. The park contains over one hundred species of mammals and one hundred fifty types of birds. These include three species of monkey, two types of sloths and four variations of iguana. Patrons will also observe toucans, woodpeckers, parakeets and hawks. The network of trails provides guests with amazing panoramic vistas of the park and the Pacific Ocean.

Reaching the park from the capital of San Jose is easy. You can drive the 3 ½ hours by all terrain vehicle or take one of three large comfortable buses that depart daily from the Coca Cola bus terminal or a local bus from the main terminal that leaves every half hour. A twenty minute flight is also an option through regularly scheduled air service. The nearby town of Quepos and Manuel Antonio have a myriad of dining and hotel accommodations as well as many cultural activities and an exciting night life.

From its pristine beaches and lush green rain forests to its magnificent flora and fauna, Manual Antonio National Park epitomizes everything that tourists love about this Central American country.

Carara National Park

 A haven to hikers and birdwatchers, Carara National Park offers an amazing diversity of fauna and flora that any nature-lover will appreciate. Nestled along the Central Pacific Coast of beautiful Costa Rica, the park was established as a biological reserve in 1978. Due to its increased popularity, it was upgraded to national park status in 1998.

Bring Your Binoculars

Travelers from around the world venture to Carara National Park in hopes of seeing one of the few Scarlet Macaws left in existence. The part protects one of the last wild colonies as there are said to be around 150 of these gorgeous birds that can be seen at dusk as they head to the coastal mangroves to roost at night.

Scarlet Macaw, Carara National Park, Costa RicaThere are also more than 400 other species to be spotted in this delicate ecosystem. Other birds that enthusiasts are always delighted to spot include the Collared Forest-falcon, Boat-billed heron, Mangrove Black-hawk and the endemic Mangrove hummingbird.


You don’t have to be a bird-lover to enjoy spotting other wildlife at Carara National Park. Crocodiles can be found along the river in abundance which you have a good chance of seeing up close if you take one of the park’s touring boat rides.

The collection of forests, lagoons and marshlands attract an array of wildlife. Hiking on one of the two trails through the park may grant you photo opportunities of monkeys, armadillos, boas, jaguars, Margay cats, white-tailed deer, opossums, tayra, kinkajou and more.

Marvel at the Flora

Carara National Park offers one of the world’s most diverse tree collections. Tall species can be found, draped in creeping vines and epiphytes. Then, when the dry season arrives, the land transforms into a blanket of brilliant yellow flowers.

Getting Here

Carara National Park is in a fairly central location with Jaco about 15 miles south and San Jose roughly 30 miles to the east. You can take a bus from either location but you need to make lodging locations near the park or be prepared to take the last bus back as no camping is permitted on the grounds.

If you are driving in from San Jose, you will follow Avenida 10 to Highway 27. Take this west 34 miles until you reach the town of Orotina. Continue 3 miles and turn left on Highway 34. Follow this scenic, coastal highway 11 miles to the Tarcoles River. Cross the bridge and you are at the boundary of the park. The ranger station can be found 1.8 miles into the park.


The forests of Carara National Park are hot and humid, even in the drier season. Regardless when you visit, be prepared for mosquitoes and other biting insects. Long sleeves and pants as well as a quality repellant are strongly recommended to ensure that you enjoy your visit without being bothered by pests.

Playa Esterillos

Playa Esterillos, Costa Rica is one of the country’s less-developed beach areas. visitors who want to go to a beach that hasn’t seen a lot of commercial development often prefer this area. It’s about 20 minutes away from the town of Jaco, which makes it very convenient for most visitors. The southern part of the beach is home to an estuary, which is what the beach is named after. The northern part contains an active fishing community. The beach has western and eastern divisions called Esterillos Este and Esterillos Oeste. Esterillos Oeste is home to some of the best surfing spots in the area.

Playa Estrillos, Central Pacific, Costa RicaPlaya Esterillos has a history of being a fishing community, and with most of the area being relatively undeveloped, you can see a lot of beautiful, tropical forest in the area. There are a lot of palm trees and almond trees dotting the beach areas. Many tourists choose to stay in eco-tourist hotels that are located further into the forest areas. Some of the national parks that are within reasonable driving distance of this community are Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Marino Ballena National Park. This area is largely unaffected by human interference.

This area of Costa Rica was originally inhabited by the Chibcha people. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, a combination of conflicts with the Spanish and disease epidemics contributed to a major loss of the original culture. During Spanish colonial times, Costa Rica was a part of Guatemala, and was considered to be a poorer colony. The country gained independence in 1889, and the central area made most of its income from fishing in the coastal areas and raising crops further inland. A rise in eco-tourism has made this area very popular with visitors from around the world.

Playa Esterillos generates much of its income from tourism. Two hotels are found on the beach, as well as vacation houses. These accommodations provide guests with great amenities. However, they are of a size that does not disturb the area’s ecological habitats. There are also a number of fun water and outdoor activities for visitors that generate necessary income. Kayak, raft and catamaran tours are very popular with tourists. These tours provide unique opportunities to see local wildlife, including colorful tropical birds and playful monkeys. The water is also ideal for snorkeling, and several outfitters rent out snorkeling gear.

One reason to visit Playa Esterillos is the fact that the climate is warm all year long. The water is always warm, although January and February are considered to be the best times to visit for water sports. This is because the water is at its most calm during this time. Temperatures stay consistently warm, with coastal breezes. The months of December to April are considered to be the dry season. This area of Costa Rica sees most of the rain between May and November. Visitors can easily plan their activities around the seasonal changes.

Playa Bejuco

Surrounded by farmland, sand and palm trees, Playa Bejuca is an ideal location for those seeking a more solitary spot to relax. Located in the Central Pacific Region of Costa Rica, Playa Bejuco is small but represents a large picture of typical life in this tropical paradise. Loved by surfers, Playa Bejuco is known for quality waves and has earned a Blue Flag award for it’s clean beaches. Best for the experienced surfer, waves can reach 16 feet during high tide. For those who want an area free of large resorts, noise and population, Playa Bejuca is becoming a major destination throughout the entire year.

Playa Bejuco, Costa RicaOffering simple, yet enjoyable activities for the whole family, the area is also famous for bountiful shells. clean water and superb sunsets. Named by Spaniard Gil Gonzalez, Costa Rica means, “Rich Coast.” Not long after being colonized by the Spanish, the original inhabitants contacted smallpox which wiped out thousands. Largely unpopular as a prosperous area, Costa Rica offered few easily obtained resources although gold was presented to Christopher Columbus when he arrived in 1502. As a result, adventurers seeking their fortunes were greeted by unfriendly inhabitants and disease. Later, small settlements found that tobacco and wheat were profitable as exports.

Today, Playa Bejuco is primarily a fishing and agricultural village. Although it is off the beaten path, there are tours and activities offered by the locals and in surrounding towns and villages. Plan a tour with a local fisherman to experience everyday life firsthand. Visit one of the most active volcanos in the world. On any given day or evening, watch as lava spews from Arenal Volcano at Arenal Volcano National Park and Hot Springs. For a canopy tour and glimpses of monkeys, ocelots and jaguars, the Los Angeles Cloud Forest will bring guests past waterfalls and natural swimming pools. Canopy tours lend a different view from abovethe forest using cables between 7 platforms.

At the end of the day, visitors will appreciate the quiet and natural beauty of Playa Bejuco while watching the sunset from the warm sand. Offering 2 choices for accommodations, visitors to Playa Bejuco will find friendly service and peaceful surroundings.

Central Pacific

The Central Pacific Region begins in the north, with Punteranas and heads south to Dominical.  The region offers the closest beaches to San Jose and is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Costa Rica. In early years, the Central Pacific was used as a weekend getaway for the people of San Jose; with drive times of 1 to 2 hours the local Ticos were able to reach some of the finest beaches and vacation getaways. Over the past decade, North American tourists have found the area to be a quick destination experience while still being able to get a taste of all Costa Rica has to offer.

Central Pacific Coast Line Costa RicaPuntarenas to the north, once a thriving port town for world exportation, is still used today as a local vacation spot for Costa Ricans.  Several cruise ships a month make Puntarenas a port of call.  The town has become a more transient point for the non-local tourists. Ferry boats to the Nicoya Peninsula provide a quick and easy way to access the southern portion of the peninsula.
Traveling further south along the Central Pacific one will find Playa Herradura, one of the closest beaches to the capital, San Jose, Herradura is also home to one of the largest and finest marinas, Los Suenos Marriott. Farther along the coast is Jaco, with some of the best surfing in all of Costa Rica.  The town has become a “must” experience destination for the surfer looking for constant waves year round.  Plenty of restaurants, affordable hotel accommodations and sun filled beaches make this a fun and easy to get to destination.

Continuing farther south along the Central Pacific the coastal road leads you through small villages, banana plantations and palm farms, with unbelievable mountain backdrops and spectacular ocean views. Arriving next into the Costa Rican town of Quepos, a small fishing village, which tends to cater to the locals and the fishing industry. Local restaurants, small hotels and shops make this a great place to spend the day.  Quepos is also located just 5 miles north of the city Manuel Antonio and Manuel Antonio National Park.

The sea side village of Manuel Antonio offers a wide range of sleeping accommodations, throughout the winding road leading in from Quepos one will find numerous hotels, inns and a variety or restaurants lining the hills leading into Manuel Antonio.  The spectacular ocean views have contributed to this area becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio National Park is a must see destination, picture perfect  white sand beaches surrounded by tropical jungles teaming with Howler monkeys and other wildlife make this a must see national park.

Leaving the Quepos area south along Highway 34, one will travel over bone rattling, pothole dirt roads that depending on the season can make the road unmanageable at times.  The ride south to Dominical takes on average of 1 ½ to 2 hours and will take you through large banana plantations and palm oil tree farms.  Dominical, a quiet laid-back surfing village has become a destination for the hardcore surfer, with drive times from San Jose of about 5 hours. Dominical has been spared the influx of tourists, offering unbelievable waves, long uninhabited stretches of gray white sand beaches the area caters to the surfer, backpacker and people just wanting to “chill out”.

The Central Pacific, with its influx of North American tourists is experiencing the fastest growth in all of Costa Rica. As the influx of tourist increase, so does the amenities they are looking for; chain restaurants, hotels and strip malls. Not to mention the people.

Playa Ventana

If you want a vacation to be a real getaway, you might want to check out Playa Ventana. This picturesque beach does not receive a lot of visitors and the area is not highly developed.

Playa Ventana, or Playa Ventanas, is located on the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The name means “window beach” and it was so named because of two large rock formations there providing windows to the sea. It is a lovely beach where the beautiful lush forest comes right down to the coast, which is covered with golden sand. It is one of the best beaches in all of Costa Ricaand has a reputation of being the best family beach in the area.

Playa Ventanas, "Window to the Sea" Costa RicaWhen you visit Playa Ventana, you will definitely not have to fight the crowds. It is a great beach for snorkeling in the clear southern Pacific waters. You can also fish, surf, kayak, go horseback riding, walk and enjoy the scenery, or just take it easy.

Playa Ventana is not too far from civilization as the small town of Ojochal is nearby. Since this quaint town has not yet seen a lot of tourism, it retains its charm, but had certain amenities.

Things to Do

North of Playa Ventana is Marino Ballenas National Park which can be accessed from the town of Uvita. This park is known for its biodiversity in animals and plant life. At this park you can watch the humpback whale migration if you are there at the right time between December and April. You can snorkel, join a snorkeling tour, of take the boat tour to Ballena Island.

Not far from Playa Ventana are the Nauyaca Waterfalls which have been called the best falls in Costa Rica. You will probably be bird watching as this area has hundreds of species of birds.

Boat tours on the Río Terraba are available that take you through the mangrove trees. This will allow you to get a good view of animals and plant life. Some boat tours on the Pacific include snorkeling along with viewing wildlife.

On a fishing tour, you can fish for either a half a day or a full day. Some of the offerings of the Pacific Ocean are mahi-mahi, marlin, sailfish, and yellow fin tuna. While you are fishing, you may be able to spot many kinds of sea animals, like whales, birds, dolphins, or turtles.

Playa Herradura

Verdant nature comes to mind when one thinks of Costa Rica, and the area of Playa Herradura on the Central Pacific Coast is beautiful and has an abundance of natural attractions, as well as a tranquil beach for swimming and snorkeling. Playa Herradura is located about 6 km north of Jaco. The bay, shaped like a horseshoe, gave rise to the name, which means horseshoe in Spanish. Sport fishing, golf, and visits to nearby Carara National Park are just a few of the attractions in Playa Herradura.

Playa Herradura was featured in the film as the set for the movie, 1492 Conquest of Paradise, and it became more popular after that time. Once a sleeping quiet beach town, it is now visited by more tourists but still has a tranquil beach. With black sand and a shore lined with palms, it appears like paradise.

Los Suenos Marina, Central Pacific, Costa RicaWith Jaco as your destination, the nearby rainforest provides an abundance of tours and excursions, with awesome views and adventure. Zip line can move you through the diverse and spectacular canopy of the forest and an aerial tram is also part of a tour designed to enable visitors to more slowly move through the tropical forest and lush landscape, high above the forest floor. There is also a tour for families and children, which explains and teaches about bio-diversity and the sites within the rainforest. Given the task of designing a tropical shirt or painting a fossil, this tour will inspire curiosity about nature in children. Bird species abound, and a visit to a heliconia garden and snake exhibit is on one of the tours. A 40 foot waterfall and views of the Pacific are all part of the aerial tram experience.

The Carara Biological Reserve, north of Jaco, offers horseback riding and hiking, as well as an abundance of scarlet macaws. The birds are most active at sunrise and sunset, which makes that the best time for hiking the hour-long trail at the reserve.

Golf is a favorite sport of some vacationers. The 18 hole golf course at Las Suenos Resort is La Iguana, and boasts three-toed sloths, monkeys, and toucans as inhabitants who watch the players. Guides here give tours about the surrounding nature, as they go through the course. Alongside a rainforest, with spectacular ocean views, this golf course is challenging and a golf experience to remember.

Surfing is a popular sport at some of the beach area around Playa Herradura. Jaco is a popular surfing spot, and Playa Herradura is rapidly becoming popular with surfers as well.

A visit to Playa Herradura is an amazing holiday in nature, with beaches, rainforests, and wildlife, as well as perhaps, an occasional game of golf.

Playa Hermosa

Nestled along the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in Puntarenas Province is the lovely Pacific haven of Playa Hermosa. Unlike many of its neighbors, Playa Hermosa is not overcrowded with tourists or the subsequent commercialism found in most resort towns. It is a lovely escape for those seeking to enjoy some quiet relaxation although there are several good restaurants to choose from with live entertainment at some of the hotels.

Though Costa Rica was first visited by Christopher Columbus on his final voyage to the New World in September 1502, evidence of Costa Rican civilization has been found dating as far back as 8000 BC. The name Costa Rica comes from the golden jewelry worn by the indigenous people of the region and means Rich Coast. It was given to this beautiful land by Gil Gonzalez Davila.

Playa Hermosa, Central Pacific, Costa RicaAlthough not highly commercial, there is plenty to see and do in Playa Hermosa! Surfing is a favorite pastime here and the coast along Playa Hermosa is famous for its amazing and consistent surf breaks. Not for the beginner to be sure due to the strong currents, but for the experienced surfer the outstanding waves offer world class surfing. For the beginner, a short trip to nearby Jaco is ideally suited for all surfing abilities. Playa Hermosa is also the home of the annual International Quicksilver Surf Championships each August that brings the best surfers from around the world to compete for the title.

The adventurous traveler will surely enjoy ziplining through the forest canopy, a fun and exciting way to spend a morning or afternoon. Imagine gliding along high above the forest floor, sailing through air along the tree tops of the lush Costa Rican forest.

For those who enjoy the challenge of ocean fishing, the waters off Playa Hermosa offer world class sport fishing. This particular region is home to some of the largest fish found in the Pacific Ocean including bill fish, marlin, tuna, sailfish and more, attracting fisherman from all over. Outstanding fresh water fishing is also widely enjoyed in Costa Rica.

The Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge offers a number of activities available for visitors to enjoy. Wildlife and bird watching are favorites due to the abundant and varied species found within its mangrove swamp and lush forest lands. Hiking trails wind through the forest presenting great opportunities for a photo safari. Scarlet macaws, herons and many colorful bird species inhabit the refuge along with snakes, crocodiles, raccoons and many other species.

The refuge is also home to a protected nesting beach of the Olive Ridley sea turtle, the smallest marine turtle in the world, as well as several different habitats that include mangrove estuaries, ocean, beach and secondary forest areas.