Costa Rica

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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Featured Central America Travel Guide

Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Photographer and Moon author Al Argueta

Al Argueta

At the age of three, Al Argueta first traveled to Guatemala with his father and was utterly captivated by the country’s landscape and its Mayan inhabitants. He would later live in Guatemala for two years, allowing him to formally learn Spanish and to experience Guatemala’s culture firsthand. During summers in high school and college, Al often took a month off to travel to Guatemala, exploring its jungles, ruins, and villages.

In college, Al majored in Journalism and Latin American Studies, managing to squeeze in two study-abroad programs—one in Manchester and one in Maastricht—and traveled through much of Europe. After college, he interned with Costa Rica’s Tico Times, getting his first exposure to travel writing and photography, in addition to covering then-President Bill Clinton’s visit to Guatemala. Al worked briefly for a newspaper in the Virgin Islands before moving on to photography school in Hawaii. He also taught English to college students in Thailand for a time, continuing to satiate the travel bug that bit him years back.

Al now lives in Austin, Texas, where he’s managed to stay put for an unprecedented six years. In addition to writing, he does freelance travel photography for clients that have included National Geographic Adventure, Caribbean Travel & Life, Condé Nast Traveler, Outside’s GO, and Continental.

Follow Al on Instagram @alargueta75.