Costa Rica’s South Caribbean region offers visitors beautiful beaches, lush tropical vegetation, superb birding, and a strong mix of cultures combining people of Jamaican, Indigenous, and European ancestry. The region has indigenous communities that visitors are welcomed to tour where they can enjoy birding, hiking, cacao (“chocolate”) plantation guided tours, viewing iguana farming and learning how the local residents live. In the seaside communities of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, the local culture and cuisine reflect the population’s Jamaican roots.
This area’s cuisine, quite different from the nation’s central and western regions, frequently uses coconut milk to favor the traditional dish of rice and beans. Also popular are dishes featuring local fish, lobster, shrimp, green fried plantains known as patacones; plantain tarts and rondon soup, and all are delicious! A local delicacy is “Pan Bon”, a tasty sweet bread and regional specialty Inland from the coast farms produce beef cattle and export crops of pineapples and bananas in vast plantations.
With light sandy beaches backed by lush jungle vegetation and bordered by coconut palms, the national parks of Cahuita, Gandoca and Manzanillo, offer visitors hiking trails, beaches for sunbathing, warm water for swimming and coral reefs to snorkel around. The parks and surrounding region also offer visitors great birding year-round (the late September-early November period during the North American fall migration period is a particularly rewarding time of year). The South Caribbean also has a unique sloth refuge where visitors can see these unusual, slow moving creatures up close!
Driving times from Puerto Viejo and Cahuita to:
Limon - 1 hour
San Jose - 4 hours
Sarapiqui - 3.5 hours
Arenal - 6 hours