Costa Rica Cahuita is located in the Limon Province on the Southern Caribbean coast, about 4 hours by bus from San José or 30 minutes from Puerto Viejo.
The main entrance to the park is located in the beautiful town of Puerto Vargas and is one of the most underrated parks in the country.
Parque Nacional Cahuita was founded in 1970 as a national monument in order to protect the coral reefs located on the Caribbean coast.
A few years later it was transformed into a national park and today is home to an impressive number of species of animals and plants.
The name of the park comes from “Kawe” and “Ta”, where Kawe means Sangrillo and Ta means point.
The Sangrillo tree is being present in this habitat, especially on the last part of the trail, where you can see them standing along the path from Punta Cahuita to Puerto Vargas.
During the 80s, Cahuita National Park Costa Rica was a very popular destination for tourists from all over the world, especially for those passionate about marine creatures.
A massive earthquake destroyed a large part of these coral reefs by the early 90s, so the park lost its popularity and tourists slowly headed to more trendy destinations from the Costa Rican Pacific Coast.
But Cahuita Costa Rica is still one of the most spectacular destinations from the country but less crowded than Manuel Antonio or the beaches from the Pacific Coast.
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Entrance to Costa Rica Cahuita Park
Cahuita Costa Rica has 2 entrances: Kelly Creek Ranger Station that is located at the eastern part of Cahuita’s main street and Puerto Vargas that is located near the eastern part of the peninsula.
There is an 8.5 kilometres (5.5 miles) hiking trail that goes along this part of the peninsula and connects the 2 ranger stations of the park, a great way to admire this Costa Rica rainforest.
If you choose to enter the park via Kelly Creek Ranger station you don’t have to pay any entrance fee but you have to make a donation for the park.
Entering the park via Puerto Vargas Ranger Station implies the payment of a 10 USD entrance fee for visiting the same park.
No matter at which ranger station you choose to enter the park, the opening hours are between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. and Punta Cahuita closes at 2 p.m.
For those of you interested in observing wildlife we recommend you to hire a guide from the hotel or from a local tour company as these are more knowledgeable and speak English fluently.
Best time to visit Cahuita Parque Nacional
What is interesting about Cahuita Costa Rica is that there is no dry or wet season and it does not follow any normal tropical climate.
This is a region of Costa Rica that has its own microclimate mainly because of the Costa Rica rainforest that dictates the weather.
The best months of the year to visit Cahuita National Park Costa Rica is in September and October when you have the best visibility for snorkelling and just a few drops of rain.
On the other hand, June and November are the wettest months with a lot of humidity, low chances of seeing wildlife and poor visibility for snorkelling.
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Coral Reefs from Costa Rica Cahuita
This national park from Costa Rica is home to one of the largest coral reefs in the country with more than 600 acres of reef that host more than 36 species of coral, more than 125 species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
Sea turtles, manta rays, sea urchins and about 3 species of sharks call the reefs around the park their home, too.
Unfortunately, in the last years, about 7 species of these beautiful arrecifes de coral or coral reefs have disappeared most probably because of the increased quantity of pesticides that are washed into the ocean from the banana plantations located in the vicinity of the park.
There are many snorkelling tours that you can take from Cahuita so don’t hesitate and bring your snorkelling equipment to enjoy a short drive along these beautiful coral reefs.
Most of the guided tours you will find at your hotel start from Punta Cahuita and include a snorkelling session and a guided hike along the park.
It is one of the best ways to explore the whole park, especially if you don’t have enough time to go on your own.
Cahuita National Park Costa Rica rainforest
The rainforest from this park is as spectacular as the marine section and covers about 1.000 hectares of lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife.
Among the animals, you might see in this rainforest are: two-fingered sloths, pacas, howler monkeys, northern tamanduas, as well as Jesus Christ lizard, coatis, raccoons, capuchin monkeys, iguanas, toucans, green ibis and the list can go on.
In the park, there are also viper snakes hidden between the trees so make sure you don’t get off the path or get very close to bushes and trees.
And there is also an extremely rich flora with some unique species of plants that you cannot see anywhere else in Costa Rica.
From the beautiful orchids to the very mysterious mushrooms, you can find here thousands of species of plants and trees that hide all the wildlife mentioned above.
Costa Rica Cahuita beaches
Inside the park, there are two beautiful beaches: Puerto Vargas and Playa Blanca located right near the jungle with palm trees hanging along the white sand and with crystal clear waters.
Both beaches are incredible, with white sand, calm waters and beautiful coral reefs full of life and a lot of colourful fish roaming around.
The waters around these beaches are great for swimming and snorkelling but be careful not to touch or stand on the corals as you destroy them.
The beaches from the park are not awarded with the blue flag award as it is Playa Negra from the northwestern part of the Limon Province, but they are wild and secluded, perfect for spending a quiet day in the middle of nature.
Things to know before visiting the Cahuita National Park Costa Rica
- Wear comfortable shoes as the trails along the park are quite long
- Take your swimming suit with you as you will most probably want to take a bath in the ocean
- Bring bottles of water to stay hydrated during the day
- Don’t exit the paths to avoid damaging the wild area
- Take with you insect repellant
- Bring toilet paper as the toilets from the park don’t have it
- Pack a raincoat to stay dry as the rain might start in any moment
- Don’t leave valuable items in the car
- Don’t feed or touch wild creatures
There are a few options for your overnight stay close to the park and the ones with the best price-quality ratio are:
- Hotel El Encanto is a small hotel with bungalows and classic rooms located close to the beach, only 5 minutes from the Cahuita National Park Costa Rica with a great on-site restaurant and amazing massage area
- Bungalows Ache Cozy House is located close to Puerto Vargas and features beautiful bungalows with a private patio, kitchen fully equipped and dining area.
Costa Rica Cahuita National Park is famous not just for its Afro Caribbean culture but also for its incredible wildlife and beautiful sceneries.
It is a wonderful place to visit if you are looking for close encounters with wildlife and to observe marine creatures hidden in the coral reefs.
The place might get a little bit crowded during the dry season, but it still keeps the traditional and laid back atmosphere.
Plan your trip to this beautiful place: Logistical tips and tricks
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Rentalcars. com as they have free cancellation 24 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.