Costa Rica’s Cahuita National Park

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is usually dominated by two places: the Amazon like jungle of Torteugero in the north and the party beach paradise of Puerto Viejo in the south. But traveling the Caribbean coast, there was one place I liked best: Cahuita. About an hour north of Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast, it’s a popular stop for many travelers but it is nowhere near as crowded as other spots along the coast. Most travelers visit to see the national park with the same name. The town is very small, with mostly restaurants and guesthouses, not tour shops and bars.

And the park? The park is amazing:

Unfortunately, the day I visited many of the trails were closed due to heavy rains and flooding. (I spent my first two days here indoors because of 24 hour rain!) The total trail from Cahuita town to the other end of the park is 8 km. When I went, only the first 2 km were opened. That was still enough to hang out on a beautiful beach, see howler monkeys, iguanas, whitefaced monkeys, tremendous amounts of birds, and beautiful butterflies. If I saw that in an area close to town, I can only imagine what it would be like further inland, away from most people.

Practical Information
Hours of Operation: The park is open from 6am to 5pm
Cost: The park is free but they do ask for donations.
Getting There: You can take a bus from San Jose or Puerto Viejo. Buses from San Jose are about $4 USD while it is $1.25 USD from Puerto Viejo.
Eating: I only found two places I really liked in town. Cafe Choco Latte which has fresh baked bread, huge breakfasts, great sandwiches, and coffee. The second was local “soda” (cheap restaurant) in the middle of town called Riconita de Sabor. Great local food for only a dollar or two.

If you are coming down the coast towards Puerto Viejo, stop in Cahuita for a few days. While the beach may not be as nice, the hiking and wildlife are much better. If I didn’t have such limited time during this trip, I would have stayed longer.

  1. That is what I like about Costa Rica. You can hike by yourself in the National Parks and you encounter tons of wildlife. This is great. I love to observe wildlife.

  2. Were there a lot of other visitors in the park while you were there?
    For me, one of the most annoying things when visiting a national park is when there are a lot of others talking and making noises. And as Costa Rica is a quite popular country, I think it might happen that it gets crowdy.

    Last year I’ve visited a national park in El Salvador and when we looked at the guest list in the evening, we noticed that we had been the only visitors of the park that day. That’s heaven.

    • NomadicMatt

      There were some but compared to other parts of Costa Rica, not that many. I would have noticed less if the trail was longer.

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