Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Reserve
Uvita Island, or Isla Uvita (Spanish: "little grape island"), officially Isla Quiribrí in front of the port of Puerto Limon - Costa Rica
Isla Brava is an island located between Caño Bravo and Colorado river near the Caribbean Sea.
Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge
Tortuguero, Costa Rica, tourists by boat looking for wildlife.
Cahuita - National Park with beautiful beaches and rainforest at caribbean coast of Costa Rica
Tortuguero, Costa Rica - May 05, 2014: Sightseeing boat with unidentified people visiting National Park in Tortuguero, Costa Rica on May 05, 2014. Tortuguero is the third-most visited park in Costa Rica
Impressions from sunny and green Costa Rica
Rafters ride the class three rapids of Rio Pejibaye
Photo of pinned Limon on a map of South America.
Main Street Boulevard Limon
Caribbean Coast Costa Rica Main Attractions
Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge
Created in 1985, this refuge is located at the north end of the Caribbean Coast Costa Rica, on the border with Nicaragua. Its 78,977 hectares shelter canals, lagoons, rivers, marshes, forests, hills under 250 meters high and continental or fluvial islands. Receiving some 5,500 to 6,000 millimeters of precipitation per year, the region has no dry season to speak of. The refuge is home to a wealth of biodiversity in plants and animals, some species of which are endemic to (found only in) this protected area. The region’s plant life is made up of three types of vegetation: flooded forest, yolillo palm and tall grass. With regard to wildlife, there are crocodiles, caimans, manatees, tapirs, jaguars, Congo and white-faced monkeys and three-toed sloths, as well as Gaspar fish-considered living fossils. Barra del Colorado’s abundant fish life makes it a sport-fishing paradise. A permit is required. There are several fishing camps in the area, where record-breaking catches have been taken. To get to Barra del Colorado, tourists can take a boat from Moín, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí or other points, or a plane from San José.
Tortuguero National Park
Established in 1975, Tortuguero National Park is one of Caribbean Coast Costa Rica’s most biologically diverse wildlife areas. Featuring one of the most verdant landscapes in the country, the 26,156-hectare park was created with the main purpose of protecting the western Caribbean’s most important green sea turtle nesting area. Tortuguero owes its very wet tropical forest to the 5,000 to 6,000 millimeters of rain it receives per year. These climatic conditions are favorable to more than 400 tree species, around 2,200 species of other plants and more than 400 bird, 60 amphibian and 30 freshwater fish species, as well as several endangered animals, including tapirs, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, manatees and sloths. Tortuguero is characterized by beautifully scenic canals, lagoons and rivers that may be toured by boat, canoe or kayak. In addition to the green turtle, three other sea turtle species nest on the park’s beaches.
Barbilla National Park
First declared a biological preserve in 1982, this protected area became a national park in 1998. Sheltering a large tropical wet forest, the park’s 11,994-hectare territory is an important water resource. Located some 20 kilometers from the city of Siquirres, the park is difficult to access. For this reason, and because necessary facilities are not available, visits are only recommended for those accustomed to hiking and should be led by local guides from the community of Las Brisas de Pacuarito, where the national park’s administration office is located. Pumas, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, monkeys and many bird species inhabit the park’s forests.
Hitoy Cerere Biological Preserve
Created in 1978, this 9,949-hectare preserve is surrounded by three indigenous reservations-Telire, Tayni and Talamanca-and is part of the La Amistad Biosphere Preserve. Hitoy Cerere, whose indigenous names mean “river of moss-covered rocks” and “river of clear waters,” respectively, is located in the Estrella and Telire river basins. The altitude here ranges from 100 to 1,025 meters above sea level. Swimming is possible in rivers and streams, one of which features a lovely waterfall that may be visited by hiking a natural trail alongside the river. To get to the preserve, visitors must travel to Valle de la Estrella; five kilometers after Finca Cartagena is the administration office.
Cahuita National Park
Established as a national monument in 1970 and made a national park in 1978, this wilderness area protects 1,067 hectares of land, 600 hectares of coral reef and 22,400 hectares of marine territory. Its two main areas, Cahuita and Puerto Vargas, feature highly scenic beaches as well as the largest fringing coral reef in the Costa Rican Caribbean. Various species of marine life may be seen here, including coral (brain, moose- and deer-horn, fire, rose and lettuce), mollusks, crustaceans, turtles, multicolored fish (angelfish, isabelitas, etc.) and many others. The park also protects its distinctive plant life, both marsh and coastal, as well as wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, squirrels, coatis and many birds and insects. Light-sand beaches, thousands of coconut palms, turquoise-blue seas and a coral reef make this one of the most scenically beautiful areas in the country. The park offers various activities, such as hiking, swimming, diving, sunbathing, beach volleyball, observing the wealth of biodiversity or simply doing nothing and enjoying the marvelous scenery.
Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
This beautiful refuge has an area of 9,449 hectares (4,436 marine and 5,013 land). Located in Talamanca, its coastline stretches from the mouth of the Río Cocles near Puerto Viejo to the mouth of the Sixaola on the Panamanian border. Its highest point is the Manzanillo hills at 185 meters above sea level. Its wooded floodplains and hills are home to tree species such as cativo, caobilla, yolillo palm, mangrove and mountain almond. Monkeys, including spider monkeys, crocodiles, peccaries, agoutis and other animals make up the predominant wildlife. There is also a large variety of birds, such as parrots, harriers, toucanets and more. Beautiful beaches cover the entire coast, excellent for walking, sunbathing, swimming, nature-watching and diving in the reefs. Trails, viewpoints, drinking water, restrooms and other services may be found all along this corridor and in towns such as Manzanillo, where the refuge’s administration office is located. The giant leatherback turtle is protected in the Gandoca area. Boat tours are available to Gandoca Lagoon, lush with tropical vegetation and habitat to the manatee.
Calero and Brava Islands
These are continental or fluvial islands; unlike maritime island territories, these islands are surrounded mainly by fresh water from the rivers that demarcate their flat, alluvial areas. Calero is the largest island of this kind in Costa Rica, with an area of 156.1 square kilometers. Brava is the second largest at 44.4 square kilometers. These adjacent islands are located on the far-northern Caribbean coast within the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge.
Protected by the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge, this navigable river’s watershed is abundant in breathtakingly beautiful natural places. The Colorado is famous worldwide for its magnificent sport-fishing; tarpon and other fish (bass and mackerel) inhabit its waters.
Barra del Colorado Beach
Long and open, the northern Caribbean coast is characterized by strong surf and dangerous currents for swimming. However, its main attraction consists of the canals that run parallel to the beach, with natural landscapes and abundant animal species observable on tours. Delimited on the north by the mouth of the Río Colorado and on the south by an estuary, Barra del Colorado beach is suitable for hiking, nature- and wildlife-watching, fishing and contemplating the sea. Boat trips may be taken through the highly interesting and naturally scenic canals and lagoons in the area. The village of Colorado is a peaceful fishing and farming community divided in two by a landing strip.
Due to its geologic origins, the region containing the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge and Tortuguero National Park forms an extensive floodplain made up of highly scenic, interconnected canals, waterways and lagoons. One of the rainiest areas in the country (5,000 to 6,000 millimeters per year), this region is rich in biodiversity. These factors allow visitors to this extensive network of waterways the opportunity to tour and explore this marvelous world-unique for its peacefulness and natural luxuriance-by boat, canoe or kayak.
This long beach with its strong surf and lush tropical greenery is a great place to hike and take in Tortuguero National Park’s diverse flora and fauna. The park is adjacent to the village, also named Tortuguero, where the beach is located. Four species of sea turtles nest here: green turtles, most numerous, from April to August; leatherbacks from February to July; hawksbills from April to October; and loggerheads from April to May. Tourism is the main source of income for Tortuguero village, followed by fishing and subsistence farming. This has produced an interesting mix between the village’s indigenous origins and the many tourism services and facilities that are shaping its present and future, and which allow tourists to enjoy a wide range of activities by day or night: walking and sunbathing on the beach, observing the biodiversity, boating or kayaking the canals, socializing with the locals, sampling typical Caribbean fare or dancing to the beat of tropical or modern music.
This hill is located at one end of a long fluvial peninsula stretching north to south and ending in a point off Tortuguero village. The peninsula is surrounded by Tortuguero Lagoon on the east and Penitencia Lagoon on the west. At 119 meters in height, Tortuguero Hill is the only raised ground in this whole coastal area; thus, an unparalleled panoramic view of canals, village, coast and surrounding area may be enjoyed from the summit.
Río Parismina Mouth
In its lower stretches, the Río Reventazón-one of the mightiest in the country-joins the Parismina. This river, particularly the areas around its mouth, has a big reputation for its fabulous fishing. Several fishing lodges offer everything a visitor needs for sport-fishing in this region, which borders Tortuguero National Park to the north; the wharf at Caño Blanco is the starting point for many trips to the national park.
World famous among rafting fans and experts, this lush tropical river is considered one of the most beautiful in the world for enjoying whitewater activities. The Pacuare is rated class III-IV on the international whitewater scale. Those running it can enjoy waterfalls and tributaries complemented by the luxuriant and always green vegetation that adds so much value to the trip.
History records that in 1502 Christopher Columbus landed in Costa Rica at the place known as Puerto Limón. The country’s port par excellence thanks to import and export traffic, Limón now has the facilities to receive cruise ships as well. The city’s old quarter has the characteristics of a historical center and is currently under urban renovation with restoration of buildings and a pedestrian walkway from Parque Vargas to the market.
Celebrated every year during the week of October 12, which commemorates Cultures Day, this event is of great interest to tourists and generates much local and national excitement. A Carnival Queen is chosen beforehand, and in the afternoons costumed groups may be seen rehearsing in the barrios. Other activities include a parade of costumed groups and floats, masquerades, marching bands, national and international concert groups and a traditional dragon dance put on by the Chinese community.
The Caribbean region is also distinguished from the rest of the country by its traditional dishes. Examples of delectable and highly popular food and drink include rondón (a mix of various vegetables with beef, chicken, fish or turtle meat), fish (stewed, in marinade or fried), sancocho (chicken and pork with tomatoes, yucca, potatoes and sweet potatoes), rice and beans (cooked in coconut milk and accompanied by chicken, fish, pork or beef), patí (meat pastries with chili pepper), plantintah (a pastry made with ripe plantains), bread fruit (pureed, in pudding or fried), turtle meat (in rondón or fin soup), beef tripe (with tubers and spices), Johnny cake (coconut bread), ginger cookies, ginger beer, guarapo (an alcoholic drink made from fermented corn) and agua de sapo or agua de hiel (a very popular drink made with ginger, lime and brown cane sugar).
Caribbean Cultural Expression
The Caribbean enjoys a diversity of cultures: Afro-Costa Rican, Bribri and Cabécar, Asian, Italian and Central American, among others. Besides food, the region features a collection of cultural activities and traditions that also differentiate it from the rest of the country. One such tradition, very well known, is the region’s music, which combines various elements and influences: calypso and reggae. As for traditional dances, the cuadrilla (square dance) is one of the most typical. Games and legends occupy a special place in the region’s culture as well.
This beautiful pedestrian walkway takes up four blocks of Avenida 2 in the city of Limón. It starts in the west at Calle 4 and ends in the east in front of the seawall. Built in 1941, the central market is on the boulevard; opposite it on the corner sits a beautiful building: Banco Nacional de Costa Rica. Another lovely edifice, the Pensión Costa Rica, is located a block and a half to the east. Parque Vargas is on the last block. Opposite its north side is the Limón municipal building; on the other side is an old structure that once belonged to the Banana Company and today houses offices and shops. The boulevard ends at the seawall, where there is an amphitheater from which Quiribrí Island may be seen. The seawall is well frequented by Limón’s residents and by tourists. Bordering the shore, it stretches several hundred meters to Hospital Tony Facio.
Quiribrí Island (Uvita)
This island territory was declared a National Monument in 1985 for having been the first place visited by Christopher Columbus when he landed on this Caribbean shore during his fourth voyage in 1502. It was precisely because of the wealth exhibited by the indigenous people with whom he came into contact that Columbus-perhaps also inspired by the tropical luxuriance of the land-named the place “Costa Rica” (“Rich Coast”). On September 25, Columbus’ arrival is commemorated with a brilliant flag parade and school bands from the Limón central canton.
Home to a mix of cultures, this community features varied local and international cuisine and all kinds of facilities for touring the National Park located here. Companies offer tours to the reef and to other parts of Talamanca and the surrounding area. Places for enjoying music are also available.
Playa Blanca (Cahuita)
Named “White Beach” for the color of its sand, Playa Blanca is part of Cahuita National Park, stretching some three kilometers from the park entrance to Punta Cahuita. The initial stretch of this narrow beach features a shelf and strong surf; swimming is not recommended here. Toward its middle stretch, before the Río Suárez estuary, however, swimming is ideal. After crossing the estuary, the presence of a fringing coral reef offshore transforms the beach into a vast lagoon. On the point, the sand is very light in color. Here the reef is close in; visitors can dive in its waters, or continue some two kilometers more to Puerto Vargas.
Like Cahuita, the town of Puerto Viejo offers many facilities to ensure an enjoyable visit. Lodging and travel companies and a tour guide association offer trips to other areas of Talamanca. There are also excellent restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, as well as varied nightlife offering traditional music and dancing from the Costa Rican Caribbean.
Puerto Viejo Beaches
Puerto Viejo sits on a point or cape made up mainly of coral platforms, so several areas here are not suitable for swimming. However, there are other spots with white sand and convenient cafes that are ideal for enjoying the ocean. These places are referred to by the names of certain people or establishments residing or situated on the beach; thus, the beach in front of Manuel León’s property is called Chinese Beach, and the beach in front of Stanford’s Restaurant is named after this establishment. Though small, both these beaches are well frequented by ocean lovers. From here to the south, at a place called Punta Pirriplí, is the famous Salsa Brava wave, one of the best surf spots on the entire Caribbean coast and host to international surfing contests. Dive shops and companies offering tours to the reef can also be found in front of these beaches.
KEKÖLDI Indigenous Reservation
Located close to Puerto Viejo, this reservation is of great importance due to the activities it promotes. The Bribri indigenous people who live on the reservation offer several facilities and items of interest to tourists, including a green iguana farm and indigenous handicrafts such as wooden bows and arrows, handbags, nets, hammocks and baskets. The reservation features trails for enjoying its lush vegetation and wildlife, as well as two observation towers for bird-watching, particularly of raptors migrating north and south during the months of January, February, October and November. A total of 17 raptor species have been observed here, including eagles, sparrow hawks and falcons; sightings of thousands of birds per day make for a spectacular phenomenon. Finally, the stunning Río Cocles waterfall is located within the reservation and may be visited with local guides.
YORQUÍN Indigenous Community
Yorquín or Yorkín is the name of a river with its headwaters on the Panamanian side of La Amistad International Park. Up this river is the Yorquín indigenous community, where visitor facilities allow for a unique experience that combines the beauty of the river with learning about and integrating into this exemplary community, which grows its own food and trades bananas and cacao for other products. From here, other places may be visited such as Cerro Buena Vista, hot springs and waterfalls. The Yorquín also make handicrafts that may be purchased as souvenirs.
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