Located along the long southern Caribbean coast, the beautiful white and black sand beaches of Cahuita are among the most relaxing and exotic in Costa Rica, in the province of Limón.
This tropical paradise is ideal for casual travelers looking for a place in a quaint and colorful beach community where you can enjoy Afro-Caribbean cuisine while listening to reggae music. The people are very welcoming and "Pura Vida". Don't rush, time is slow here!
The city is located next to one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica: Cahuita National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks because of its beautiful white sand beaches, lush jungle and plethora of wildlife. It's not too far from Puerto Viejo and it's free, making it one of the must-sees in the southern Caribbean. If you love wildlife, hiking and nature, then you must visit Cahuita.
Even with the national park, there are not as many tourists in Cahuita as in Puerto Viejo. You will see mostly locals and tourists going to the national park for the day. Many tourists choose to stay in Cahuita rather than Puerto Viejo because it is much quieter.
So get in your car and go !
Visit the National Park of Cahuita and Puerto Vargas.
Cahuita is the most easily accessible national park in the Caribbean. It consists of 2,732 acres of land and 55,200 marine acres and was created to protect the largest coral reef in the country. With its beautiful white sand beaches landscapes, abundant wildlife and well-maintained hiking trail, this national park is a must-see for anyone visiting the Puerto Viejo area of the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica.
The 600-acre reef has about 35 species of coral, over 100 species of fish and shellfish, crustaceans and sea turtles. There are also a few rivers in the park, allowing for a variety of wildlife sightings such as white-faced monkeys, herons, caimans, sloths, aras, snakes and lizards and basilisks... That little neon green lizard running on the water's surface!
Cahuita is not very touristy and is the ideal place for any traveler wishing to discover the fauna, the jungle and the beaches of Costa Rica in a virgin and peaceful area
Opening hours and entrance fees
The entrance to the Cahuita National Park is free, it is done by donation at the main entrance. However, if you enter the park through the Puerto Vargas sector, which is closer to Puerto Viejo, the price is $5 for foreigners and 1,000 colones for Costa Ricans.
The national park is open every day from 8 am to 3 pm.
The trails of the Cahuita National Park
The entire trail is 5 miles long. It is a straight line, so if you want to hike the entire park, you will have to retrace your steps. Most people walk to Punta Cahuita from Kelly Creek, or you can hike all the way from Kelly Creek to Puerto Vargas, then take a cab back to pick up your car (or vice versa). There is parking at the entrance to Puerto Vargas.
Cahuita National Park has a handicap accessible trail! It goes all the way to the beach so you can enjoy the rainforest and the beach!
Crédits : TripAdvisor @HJLameij
Excursions to Cahuita National Park
This park offers many activities, such as hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, swimming and canoeing… Adults and kids love it ! However, the two dry seasons are from March to May and from September to November.
We highly recommend taking a guided hike in Cahuita. There is a lot of wildlife, but they can be hard to see for the untrained eye, so it will be great to have a guide to find them and point them out.
Other excursions you can do in Cahuita are snorkeling trips. Since this park protects the coral reefs, the snorkeling is excellent but you have to join a tour, you can't bring your own equipment and go by yourself.
Cahuita National Park is also a critical nesting site for leatherback turtles between March and July. Three other species of sea turtles also use the beaches of Cahuita to lay their eggs.
What you should know before visiting Cahuita National Park
There are restrooms, showers and picnic tables at Kelly Creek Station. However, bring your own toilet paper and soap! And something to clean up after your picnic.
It is essential to use mosquito repellent and sunscreen. If you have a camera, make sure you bring a waterproof bag because the jungle is very wet. And you will need a telephoto lens if you want to take pictures of the animals.
You don't need hiking boots: the trails are all flat and well laid out.
There is parking at both entrances, but please do not leave valuables in the car.
Do not feed or touch the animals; there are wild animals or poisonous plants. Do not wander off the trail.
Enjoy local food
If you are a lover of Afro-Caribbean cuisine and good food, Cahuita's local cuisine is sure to ignite your taste buds. You will be able to taste "Rondon" made with fish, "Rice and Beans" beans and rice in coconut water and "Patis" spicy turnovers. And of course, the must is the fresh lobster !
Dessert pancakes are very popular and are made mainly from bananas and 100% natural chocolate.
How to get to Cahuita ?
You can easily get from Puerto Viejo to Cahuita with your Costa Rica car rental or by bus. or bus. From Puerto Viejo to Cahuita is about 17 kilometers (10.5 miles), by bus you can take the Limon - Puerto Viejo bus and get off in Cahuita.
How to get to Cahuita from San José by bus:
There is a bus that leaves from Terminal Atlantico on Ave 7/9, Calle 12 in San José every day. Arrive 30 minutes - 1 hour early to purchase tickets and it arrives at the Cahuita bus terminal !