Christopher P. Baker

Sights in the Port Town of Puntarenas

Puntarenas has long been favored by Josefinos seeking R&R. This sultry port town is built along a narrow spit running west from the suburb of Cocal and backed to the north by a mangrove estuary; to the south are the Golfo de Nicoya and a beach cluttered with driftwood. Though tiny, there’s plenty to see here from museums to festivals to mingling with the locals.

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Planning Your Time in South-Central Costa Rica

The south-central region is the Cinderella of Costa Rican tourism. A larger proportion of the region is protected as national park or forest reserve than in any other part of the country. Much remains inaccessible and unexplored. Herein lies the beauty: Huge regions such as Parque Nacional Chirripó and Parque Internacional La Amistad harbor incredibly diverse populations of Central American flora and fauna.

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Things to See and Do in Laid-Back Cahuita

The offbeat village of Cahuita is an in-vogue destination for backpackers and escapist vacationers who like things simple. What you get are golden- and black-sand beaches backed by coconut palms, an offshore coral reef, and an immersion in Creole culture, including Rastafarians, with their dreadlocks and a lifestyle that revolves around reggae, Rasta, and—discreetly—reefer.

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Diving Isla del Coco Marine National Park

The only true oceanic island off Central America, Parque Nacional Marino Isla del Coco is one of the world’s best diving spots, famous for its massive schools of white-tipped and hammerhead sharks, eerie manta rays, pilot whales, whale sharks, and sailfish. Snorkelers swimming closer to the surface can revel in moray eels and colorful reef fish.

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