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Overview

The Caribbean coast is unique in Costa Rica for its Afro-Caribbean culture and laid-back airs centered on the funky villages of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. Surfers flock to Puerto Viejo for a killer wave called Salsa Brava. The big hotels found along the Pacific coast haven't yet arrived here, where the mood is barefoot and button-down, and everyone walks around shirtless in the sultry heat. Most other visitors arrive to "ooh!" and "aaah!" over wildlife. Tortuguero National Park is a watery world where green turtles come ashore in their thousands and all manner of birds and beasts (including crocodile, caimans, river otters, and even manatees) ...

The Caribbean coast is unique in Costa Rica for its Afro-Caribbean culture and laid-back airs centered on the funky villages of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. Surfers flock to Puerto Viejo for a killer wave called Salsa Brava. The big hotels found along the Pacific coast haven't yet arrived here, where the mood is barefoot and button-down, and everyone walks around shirtless in the sultry heat. Most other visitors arrive to "ooh!" and "aaah!" over wildlife. Tortuguero National Park is a watery world where green turtles come ashore in their thousands and all manner of birds and beasts (including crocodile, caimans, river otters, and even manatees) can be seen on guided boat trips from the many nature lodges. Feisty tarpon and snook fight to get a bite on the hook at Barra del Colorado and Parismina, where dedicated fishing lodges cater to anglers. Cahuita National Park — teeming with wildlife — is mere steps from the village, while more remote Gandoca-Manzanillo thrills for its adventure hikes and boat trips to see freshwater dolphins. Remote Indian reserves are finally opening up to eco-tourism, but the experience is usually rugged. The only town, Limón, is a place to pass through.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    September-October and February-April tend to be least rainy. August/Black Culture Festival in Limón