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Caribbean Coast: Tortuguero / Puerto Viejo & Cahuita

A wild and beautiful region with pounding surf and prehistoric rainforests, Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is a beach lover’s delight. Set apart from the rest of the country, this region of Costa Rica offers tourists some of the most gorgeous white sand coconut tree lined beaches that one has ever seen. Actually one of the country’s most geographically diverse regions with inland rainforests that stretch right up to the coastline, the Caribbean expanse of Costa Rica has beautiful swampy lagoons to the north and is bordered by the towering Talamanca Mountains to the south.  Running for some 125 miles between the borders of Panama and Nicaragua, the entire of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast lies inside of Limon province. First discovered by Christopher Columbus who landed here in 1502, this province is one of the least traveled areas of the country. Almost always hot and humid throughout the year, this part of Costa Rica receives the highest amount of rainfall, with major downpours taking place between May and August and then in between December and January. One of the lushest regions in Costa Rica, when the weather is good Limon offers tourists a plethora of activities to enjoy from some outstanding diving opportunities to awesome surf breaks, superb sport fishing and an excellent chance to get up close and personal with nature.

Puerto Viejo: Located in Limon province on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a beach lover’s paradise. Here amidst the exotic flora and fauna, lies a vibrant seaside town with gorgeous beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and some of the most amazing surfing opportunities. Fast becoming one of Costa Rica’s premier tourist hot spots, many international surfers come here from all over the world to ride the famed Salsa Brava waves, making this Caribbean influenced town is a ‘must visit’ place when in Limon. This bustling town lies 34 miles south east of Puerto Limon, and 10.2 miles south of Cahuita. Formerly a quiet little fishing village, Puerto Viejo has a charm that is all its own. Becoming increasingly popular, especially with the young hip crowd, this town is among the top rated surfing destinations of the world. With its relaxed atmosphere and its own unique blend of Latino, Afro-Caribbean and Bribri indigenous cultures, Puerto Viejo is a lively place to have a fun relaxing vacation.

Cahuita: Located along Costa Rica’s amazingly beautiful and exotic Caribbean Coast, Cahuita is a relaxing paradise some 43 km south of Puerto Limon. A stunning black sand beach town with warm calm waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling, Cahuita sits just south of the Cahuita National Park. Among the most visited national parks in Costa Rica, the Parque Nacional Cahuita offers tourists not just great beaches, but a lush coastal rainforest and some fabulous coral reef to explore and discover.  A fantastic place to relax away, Cahuita’s popularity is rapidly increasing as its neighboring town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is fast becoming Costa Rica’s top party destination. With a number of hotels, local sodas and restaurants in town, Cahuita has plenty to offer in the way of spending some quiet tranquil time alone or with a loved one.

Tortuguero: Located inside the Parque Nacional Tortuguero in Limon province is the tiny town of Tortuguero, one of the most important turtle nesting site in Costa Rica for the Green Sea Turtle and the perfect place to discover the secrets of exuberant biodiversity and extensive maze of fresh and salt water canals that intertwine through the jungle. Within the area of Tortuguero you can find different habitats, including rainforest, swamps, beaches, and lagoons.  Situated along a network of narrow canals some 70 miles north of Puerto Limon, there are no roads to get there only a plane or a three and a half hour boat trip from Puerto Limon which is part of the beautiful Tortuguero experience. This boat ride takes you through the Canal de Tortuguero, a formation of lakes, channels and marshes, which are home to a plethora of fish and marine life, past stunning patches of rainforests towering over swamps teaming with wildlife.   Turtles are main attraction here which includes the Green Sea Turtles, the Leatherback and Hawksbill sea turtles all nest along the beaches here. Peak turtle nesting season is from late July through August.  A completely isolate region of Costa Rica there are hardly any human settlements here which makes this such a special destination so close to nature.

Activities Cahuita & Puerto Viejo

Cahuita National Park: Lying on Costa Rica’s stunningly beautiful Caribbean coast and facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Cahuita National Park is one of the most amazing national parks in the country. Created in 1970 to protect Costa Rica’s biggest coral reef, this national park is located in Limon province, 42 km south of Puerto Limon, and some 211 km east of the capital city of San Jose.  Encompassing a land area of just 1,067 hectares, this national park protects over 22,400 hectares of ocean and marine life, and is one of the most gorgeous regions in the entire country. The main attraction of the park is not so much its land, but rather its underwater world, which is home to a fantastic array of marine life and the largest coral reef in Costa Rica. Tourists from all over the world flock to this national park because the fantastic snorkeling and underwater diving opportunities, as well as because of the park’s white sand palm tree lined beaches and crystal clear blue waters, which are ideal for swimming.

The Cahuita National Park is the habitat of several ecological zones, including a swamp forest, rainforest, littoral woodlands and costal flora. Home to a huge variety of marine life, some common underwater inhabitants here include; sea urchins, angel queen fish, blue parrot fish, green turtles, eels, barracudas, sea cucumbers, shrimps, lobsters, sponges, manta rays, remoras, 3 species of sharks and Carey turtles. Among the many mammals found on land are sloths, possums, monkeys, coatimundis, frogs, pacas, iguanas, basilisks, porcupines and several bird species including ibises, herons, gulls and kingfishers.

Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park

This park encompasses 1,300 hectares (3,212 acres) of tropical rainforest with enchanting views of the seemingly endless mountains of the Talamanca Range. The region’s consistently pleasant climate makes a visit to Veragua Rainforest a fabulous experience all-year-round.  Explore the natural wonders of Costa Rica’s breathtaking tropical rainforest at the all-in-one total rainforest adventure at Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park! Surrounded by 100% rainforest, Veragua borders the spectacular La Amistad International Park (“Friendship International Park”) that is shared by Costa Rica and Panamá; it is the largest and most remote nature reserve in Central America.  Experience the vibrant rainforest canopy on an aerial tram or a zip-line (“canopy tour”). Enjoy the world´s largest nocturnal-ambience frog habitat. Journey into the forest on diverse walking trails, admiring the sights and sounds of wild flora and fauna. Feel the thunderous spray of a spectacular waterfall almost at your fingertips. Learn about exciting new species with researchers at the Veragua Biological Research Station.

The Sloth Sanctuary: The Center promotes and implements the protection and rehabilitation of sloths in Costa Rica, through the observation, study, care and analysis of animals in recovery; to promote actions that raise people’s awareness and to facilitate education in order to improve the welfare and quality of life of Costa Rica’s two species of sloth.  The tour offers a delightful introduction to the wonderful world of the sloth. It includes a one-hour guided canoe ride through the bayous of the Estrella River Delta where, if you watch carefully, you may see wild sloths as well as other inhabitants of the rainforest. Enjoy a delightful, award-winning video “Hardly a Deadly Sin” by filmmaker/conservationist Jeri Ledbetter, which describes the delights – and the plight – of sloths in today’s world. Learn more about the extraordinary sloth through a fascinating presentation on its natural history, from the prehistoric Giant Ground Sloth to our present-day tree sloths, and an opportunity to meet and photograph some of our permanent residents, including the world-famous queen of the Sanctuary, Buttercup, and of course meet the tiniest residents, the orphan baby sloths.

Surf Outings & Lessons: Know to be one of the world’s best surf spots this areas is a surfer’s paradise.  Whether you are an experienced surfer or just beginning you don't need to be a professional surfer to experience the thrill of riding a wave and the warm Caribbean Sea.  Whether you are interested in escorted multi-day program or just a day of lessons we can put together the perfect program.

Yorkin Indigenous Reserve: An exciting day to explore the Natives of Bribrí en Costa Rica. The day will start with an exciting boat trip in canoe from Bambú to Yorkin through an exotic landscape (1 hour). After arriving in the village of Yorkin you will be told the history of their organization and community. Afterwards will be a guided tour through their plantations where you will learn about medicinal plants and trees of great importance to the Yorkin people. You will be served a traditional lunch with ingredients all produced organically in the reservation. In the afternoon you will learn the secrets of chocolate making and how to weave palm roofs. At the end of the day there will be time for a swim in the Yorkin River followed with a boat ride back to Bambú.

Kayaking Punta Uva: At the beautiful beach of Punta Uva, with the help of a trained guide, you will kayak in the ocean with a sea kayak. Then you will slide towards the Punta Uva River that unwinds into the jungle into a paradise of birds, wild animals and tropical plants, leaving behind you nothing but ripples. After the kayaking, the options are: exploring the Punta Uva promontory for 1 hour or sunbathing at the beach - either way, this is a day full of adventure and wonders!

Cahuita Kayak or Boat Snorkel Expeditions:  Via kayak or boat explore the underwater wonders of the coral reef.   Cahuita National Park has the largest system of coral reefs in Costa Rica, including 6 species of coral, a wide range of colorful tropical fishes and the occasional encounter of a harmless reef shark or sting ray. This beach has a horse shoe shape, with the entrance of the park at one end and beautiful Punta Cahuita at the other end. We start with a scenic 20-minute boat or kayak ride to two snorkeling spots. Fruit and snacks breaks can be taken  at the beach, followed by a 1-hour guided hike in the adjoining coastal forest: monkeys, sloths, birds, poison dart frogs, iguanas and other interesting encounters are common.

Whitewater Rafting: Paquare River Day Trip - The Pacuare River is world famous for its beauty. A true river gorge, it is flanked by steep, green walls. You will see waterfalls cascade into the river from both sides. Wildlife is abundant: sloth, toucans, parrots, coatis, butterflies and colorful frogs are common sights. Other inhabitants of this jungle:  monkeys, jaguars, peccaries and tapirs generally stay more hidden. The 18-mile-one-day-run includes a total of 38 rapids. Few rivers in the world can offer you so many rapids in such a short stretch of water. The first 4 miles consist of class II-III rapids, a great time to test your new river skills, gain confidence in your team, and have fun. After about 40 minutes you will enter the 5 miles long Pacuare River Gorge. After the gorge the river opens up to a 5 mile stretch called the "Pacuare’s Valley." The river becomes wide open, giving you the opportunity to rest a bit and watch the varied wildlife. The final 3 miles are filled with class III rapids that will carry you all the way to the end.

Horseback Riding at the Beach: Well-trained horses and an expert guide will accompany you in this adventurous excursion on the wild beach of Cahuita National Park. Explore the jungle’s trails then move to the beach where the horses can keep walking, trot or take you for a breathtaking gallop. A stop for swimming and resting on the beach is included on the day's program.

Baula Turtle Egg Laying in Gandoca (from March to June): Just a two hour beautiful ride from Cahuita, this night time tour is sure to be unforgettable. You will arrive in Gandoca where a local guide will be waiting to take you to a family’s house for a traditional Costa Rican dinner. After dinner there will be a discussion about the sea-turtles and the egg-laying process followed by the exploration on the beach for the Baula (leatherback turtle), the biggest sea turtles in the world. You will observe the laying process and learn about the Anai Association research group who work for the Baula turtle protection program. 

Activities Tortuguero

Canal Tours:  The Canal tour is part of your package traveling by boat to Tortuguero or if you are still interested in exploring more of the canals or transferring by plane this is the tour for you.   Enjoy the Caribbean tropical lowland rainforest habitat with experienced, knowledgeable naturalist guides. The boat tour of the tree-lined rivers and canals through the national park affords awesome views and close encounters with the jungle wildlife from the comfort of cushioned canopied fiberglass riverboats. The tour enables you to appreciate the lush flora and abundant fauna of the Caribbean coastal waterways, the "Amazon of Costa Rica". The animals we often see while on tour are two and three fingered sloths, crocodiles, caiman, river turtles, iguanas, basilisk lizards, monkeys (howler, spider and white-faced capuchin), bats and innumerable tropical, shore and seasonal migratory birds. We also sometimes see river otters, coatis, anteaters and even manatee, jaguar, tapir and macaws!

Turtle Watching Tour: Tortuguero is considered the most important place in the western Caribbean for the Green Turtle nesting. The green turtle nesting is one of the most interesting natural phenomena. The process is considered the most critical period in the biological cycle of the turtle since the females have to go to the beaches in large quantities and during more or less fixed times. These concentrations and the difficulty of travel on the sand, make these species very vulnerable to man and other predators. This is an experience that you should not miss when visiting the Tortuguero area during the months of March through early October.  This nesting period known as the Arribadas occurs when the moon is fading. Therefore, if you wish to see these turtles nest, it will be after 6:00 pm with a guide, as no one is allowed to explore the beach unaccompanied after this time. A great way to see the turtles nest is from a boat, canoe, or kayak off shore, so as not to disturb the turtles during their nesting or mating period.

Fishing:  Tortuguero is one of the most amazing places on earth for fishing!  It is extremely rare to find a place that allows you to fish for both ocean fish and river fish in the same day- but Tortuguero offers both in a spectacular setting!  Relatively undiscovered, sport fishing in Tortuguero is just now developing into a popular activity in the area.  With some of the best fishing areas on the Caribbean coast located just to the north and south of the Tortuguero National Park. Some of the most interest species one can find in the fresh waters of the canals are Snook and Tarpon. Includes or captain, boat for 2+, equipment and tackle.

Night Hikes: Enjoy the magic of Tortuguero at night. Guided trail hikes into the National Park will provide a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of the tropical rainforest at night.

Kayaks tour:  Experience the natural wonders of the Tortuguero Canals by kayak.  Slowly and quietly you drift through the canals, the sounds of nature almost deafening as your naturalist guide take you on a natural exploration like no other.

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