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Overview

Hemmed hard up to the shore by rugged, thickly-forested mountains, this region has some of the nation's prime national parks full of monkeys, sloths, and other critters. Tourists flock to Manuel Antonio National Park like scarlet macaws, where visitors get a three-in-one package: great beaches, fantastic wildlife, and the best hotels in the region. Carara National Park is another easy option for nature lovers. Most beaches are brown-gray and attractive for being overhung by rainforest. Riptides preclude safe swimming, and every blue moon one reads of a swimmer attacked by crocodiles. You can safely view crocs on the Jungle Safari, at ...

Hemmed hard up to the shore by rugged, thickly-forested mountains, this region has some of the nation's prime national parks full of monkeys, sloths, and other critters. Tourists flock to Manuel Antonio National Park like scarlet macaws, where visitors get a three-in-one package: great beaches, fantastic wildlife, and the best hotels in the region. Carara National Park is another easy option for nature lovers. Most beaches are brown-gray and attractive for being overhung by rainforest. Riptides preclude safe swimming, and every blue moon one reads of a swimmer attacked by crocodiles. You can safely view crocs on the Jungle Safari, at Tárcoles. Consistent surf fuels activity at half a dozen prime surfing spots. Jacó, the largest resort, buzzes with a salacious nightlife and is desultory, despite its popularity with surfers and a budget crowd. Dominical — a funky village with a laid-back vibe — is ground-zero for the board set. Farther south, the newly-paved coast road reaches into Whale Marine National Park, a great spot for kayaking with mating humpbacks. And rivers cascade from the mountains, providing great whitewater options.

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

  • Location: The Central Pacific Coast region of Costa Rica is a narrow strip of coastal land that stretches from north of Jaco to south of Manual Antonio. Sandy beaches and protected wildlife are two primary draws to this area.
  • Language: Spanish, English
  • Currency: Costa Rican Colon
  • Research: Puntarenas Province | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December-April dry season