visit to the national park and coral reefs

visit to the national park and coral reefs

Central America

O Cahuita National Park is located 43 km from Limón, in the south of Costa Rica, and is one of the main coastal destinations for those seeking contact with the country's rich biodiversity. The place is a natural refuge of coral reefs, home to a multitude of native plant and animal species, marine ecosystems and untouched beaches with white sand and warm Caribbean water.

In the local indigenous language, “Kawe” means sangrillo – a very common tree in the area – and “Ta” means tip. Thus, Cahuita means Point of Sangrillo.

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How to get to Cahuita National Park

The most common base for exploring the National Park is the small town of the same name, Cahuita. The Park has two entrances and this is the best known. It's not difficult to find, as the place is small and the park is the main local attraction. The entrance is about four blocks from the center.

Who leaves Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. you just need to take a bus from the center to Cahuita. The journey takes around 40 minutes. From there, just walk to the Park entrance.

To enter, you just need to leave a voluntary contribution (the suggested amount is five dollars, but you can donate as much as you want. The money goes to local preservation and research), and the place has free parking.

The other entrance is in Puerto Vargas, but there the entry has a fixed price of 10 dollars.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

Travel insurance for Costa Rica

Travel insurance is optional for Costa Rica. But it's important that you never travel without one, especially if you intend to do activities such as diving and snorkeling.

Insurance protects you in the event of any medical emergency, theft, lost luggage or the need to interrupt your trip due to some major unforeseen event. See below some recommended plans for Central America, with an exclusive discount for blog readers using coupon 360MERIDIANOS05:

What is the visit to Cahuita National Park like?

The park was built on an area of ​​23,290 hectares inland and involving 1,102 hectares of tropical rainforest. Therefore, it brings together different types of habitats, for a large number of species. Those who only arrive at the park entrance may be disappointed by the dark sea water there, but this is just a marshy area of ​​the reserve, which is home to four different species of crabs (see the official website).

Within a few minutes of walking, the swamp gives way to the blue water that everyone dreams of finding in the Caribbean. There is also a mixed forest that serves as home to two species of monkeys, two sloths, raccoons, coatis and nutria, as well as birds and snakes. This is one of the best places in Central America to observe native fauna in their natural habitat, without much human intervention.

Inside the park there is a 7 km trail that connects one entrance to the other. That's another advantage of entering from Cahuita: in this area, the trail runs parallel to the sea until you reach Punta Cahuita. From there you can return to the entrance or follow the trail for another 2 km to Puerto Vargas. But be aware that at this point the trail enters the forest and is not so interesting, as most of the time you will be walking on wooden bridges.

The best places to swim are in the first 2 km from Cahuita, before the trail crosses the Suárez River. If you arrive in Puerto Vargas, you can catch a bus at the stop in front of the park to return to Cahuita.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

At the entrance, you can hire local guides for from 25 dollars per person. They are experts in finding the species of plants and animals that inhabit the park and carry telescopes to make it easier to observe birds and sloths at the top of the trees.

It is not mandatory, however, to hire someone to accompany you on the trail, as the difficulty level of the trail is quite low, the entire route is very well signposted and you will certainly see some animals even if you go alone.

Activities in Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

In addition to the natural trail and use of beaches, the Cahuita National Park offers various activities, such as a marine trail for snorkeling and diving and observing marine species.

If the diversity on land is already impressive, it is in the sea that the reserve holds most of its beauty. There are 600 acres of coral reefs, which, despite the efforts made in the region, are threatened by ocean pollution and have already suffered a significant reduction in recent years. There are 35 species of coral found within the park's protected area, including the brain coral, exclusive to the Caribbean, and the colorful soft corals.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

Extremely venomous, the Oropel snake is one of the native species of Cahuita National Park. Its vibrant yellow color causes prey to mistake it for a flower and approach it. Photo: Shutterstock

If you are interested in these activities, you will need to hire a guide or a tour with an agency, as It is prohibited to travel the marine route without the company of an authorized person. It is also not possible to practice these types of sports outside the designated areas. There are several agencies in the city that will take you by boat to the diving area.

Parque Cahuita also has beach soccer and beach volleyball courts.

Where to stay in Cahuita National Park: Cahuita village

The municipality of Cahuita is a small village, one of those beach hippies, that lives off the tourist activity generated by the park. It's worth staying there if you plan to visit the park more than once, as there are no beaches suitable for swimming in the center of Cahuita.

You can do it all in one day, but you might want to spend some time just enjoying the shade and cool water facing the sea. In that case, see a list of accommodations in Cahuita, for all budgets and travel styles.

I stayed at the Hakuna Matata Hostel, which is right next to the main bus station, which saved me from carrying my backpack around. The park entrance was about four blocks away. And the hostel even had a pool, kitchen and pancakes for breakfast.

Accommodation in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

If you only intend to visit the National Park in one day, however, I recommend that you stay in Puerto Viejo, which is a larger city. There are also better public beaches in the center and it is only 40 minutes from Cahuita. You can take a bus in the morning to Cahuita, visit the park and return to Puerto Viejo in the evening, easily.

From Puerto Viejo it is also easier to visit the region's attractions. See a list of hotels and hostels in Puerto Viejo.

As I also spent a few days there, I stayed at One Love Puerto Viejo, a small hostel with comfortable rooms and an inviting backyard that is a three-minute walk from Playa Negra and has shared rooms for from 8 dollars and private rooms for 19 dollars.

In the city center there is the trendy Selina Puerto Viejo and the Lion Fish Hostel, as well as several options ranging from backpacker hostels to luxury resorts. Check them all out here.

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