Nature meets adventure in Costa Rica

Blessed with large amounts of sunshine and warmth. Puntarenas is one of the most important tourist regions of Costa Rica.

  • Jan. 31, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Blessed with large amounts of sunshine and warmth. Puntarenas is one of the most important tourist regions of Costa Rica.

Its coasts are decked by plenty of islands, inlets, beaches and beautiful natural treasures, which makes Puntarenas an excellent tourist destination.

At just four meters above sea level, the city or port of Puntarenas features extensive beaches for enjoying sea and sun. These beaches stretch along Puntarenas’ entire coast between the mouth of the Río Barranca and the place known as La Punta (The Point), where this extensive length of shoreline ends. The area between the wharf (cruise ship terminal) and La Punta is the preferred place for swimmers.  Besides swimming, visitors can enjoy other water sports and activities, such as boat tours.

Costa Rica is known as a great place to catch a wave. Among the most recommended beaches in the Central Pacific are Escondida Beach and Boca Barranca. The latter is one of the favourites because of its long wave measuring around  950 metres. Another noteworthy option is Hermosa Beach, which is known for having some of the most consistent waves in the world.

When you are done playing in the waves, book a day-long excursion highlighting the most important aspects of the Central Pacific culture of Costa Rica. First stop includes a wildlife safari boat tour — famous for its large crocodiles, the Tarcoles River forms the northern border of Carara Biological Reserve. Cruise in the flat-bottom river boat while the guide describes the birds, animals and habitat as you make your way to the mangrove estuary. Here the guide stops to show you parrots, iguanas, monkeys and other interesting species. The next stop on the tour is a nature history walk on the trails of Villa Lapas Reserve. Experience the raw power of the rainforest as you walk over five suspended bridges at more than 180 feet above the ground. The third stop is at Santa Lucia Village where guests can relax and stroll the area, a quaint replica of a Spanish settlement. The next visit is to Orotina farmers market to gnosh on amazing tropical fruits. After leaving Orotina, the countryside drive down to sea level will have guests admiring the sweeping views, green rolling hills, colourful homes, mango plantations and ocean in the distance.

While in Puntarenas, make sure to experience the Villa Lapas canopy tour, built in a transitional forest between the dry and rain forest. After hiking 15 minutes across the Tarcolitos River using small suspension bridges, you arrive to a bio-diverse area. The tour has six cables that go from 180 to 900 feet in length, four single platforms and three double platforms. This combination of nature and adrenaline will make this experience an unforgettable memory of your trip to Costa Rica.

Running parallel to Puntarenas’ main beach, the tourist strip is highly frequented for its variety of quality tourist services. It stretches from the Parque Marino del Pacífico (the old train station) to La Punta. Next to the cruise ship terminal there are handicraft shops and stands where visitors can enjoy traditional fruit salads and crushed-ice drinks called Churchills. Along the strip, tourists can make use of other facilities such as fields for playing sports, green areas, showers, restrooms and all the necessities for beach enjoyment.  On the weekends this area turns into a colourful street as people flock to the popular restaurants, discos, cafes, bars and hotels.

Parades, seaside concerts and many other recreational activities create an ideal environment for sharing culture with the people of Puntarenas. The carnival takes place in February, during the dry season — perfect weather for enjoying the beach and all the carnival’s events.

For more on where to stay, build your own itenerary or find out more about Costa Rican culture visit www.visitCostaRica.com.

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