The shimmering white sands and calm blue waters of the Caribbean lure travelers to the quiet shores of Punta Cahuita. The morning sun casts a golden glow upon the sand of the park’s entrance, while an upbeat Bob Marley tune echoes through the palms.
Cahuita is a quiet, laid back, and vibrant village bordering the Caribbean. While there are several beach towns along the Costa Rican east coast, this tranquil little town seems the most unspoiled. The beautiful white sand beaches are serene and uncrowded, and the typical beach town bars and souvenir shops are replaced with small sodas and guest houses.
Cahuita National Park (Parque Nacional Cahuita) protects more than 57,500 acres of land and sea. Included in that is almost 600 acres of living coral reef – one of only two reefs in all of Costa Rica. The reef is home to hundreds of species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as 35 different types of coral.
A hike through the park will take you on a 5 mile trek through jungle, marshland, and pristine white sand beaches. The hike is flat and easy, but proper walking shoes are a good idea.
If you keep a close eye out along the trail, you are sure to see plenty of wildlife; howler monkeys, capuchins, sloths, green iguanas, raccoons, agoutis, and coatis are commonly spotted. Be sure to keep your snacks secured, and don’t be tempted to feed the cute capuchins – at one point on our hike, we spotted a tourist on the run from an militant capuchin; he had shared his snack with the innocent looking monkey, who proceeded to aggressively stalk him down the beach when the treats ran out.
While we did not hire a guide for our hike, several guided tours are available.
Additional Things to Do in Cahuita National Park:
Turtle Watching: We were not at the park during turtle season, but if you happen to be in the area from March – October, keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures. Loggerhead, Leatherback, and Hawksbill sea turtles commonly nest on the beaches of the park’s southern tip.
Swimming: There are two beaches in the park that span for almost nine miles. The beaches are gorgeous, and the water is warm and inviting. However, like many beaches on the Caribbean side, riptides can be strong.
Snorkeling: Some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean can be found in Cahuita. The best visibility can be found between February and April. There are lots of hotels and shops by the park that rent equipment.
Scuba Diving: Several tour operators in the area offer scuba excursions. In the waters of Cahuita, you can spot parrot fish, urchins, sea fans, and stingrays, as well as tiny colorful reef fish. Two sunken ships are also waiting to be explored.
6am – 5pm
Free, but donations are encouraged.
There are toilets, showers, and picnic tables available at the Kelly Creek entrance to the park.
What to Bring:
Rain gear (just in case), sneakers or hiking boots, bug spray, bathing suit and towel, camera
Like this post? You may want to check out some of our additional posts about the area:
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