Costa de Pájaros
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At San Gerardo, on the Pan-American Highway, 40 kilometers north of Puntarenas, a paved road leads west to Punta Morales and the Golfo de Nicoya. There’s fabulous bird-watching among the mangroves that line the shore—known as the Costa de Pájaros—stretching north to Manzanillo, the estuary of the Río Abangaritos, and, beyond, to the estuary of the Río Tempisque.
The mangroves are home to ibis, herons, pelicans, parrots, egrets, and caimans. You can follow this coast road through cattle country to Highway 18, five kilometers east of the Tempisque bridge.
La Enseñada National Wildlife Refuge (La Enseñada Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre) is near Abangaritos, two kilometers north of Manzanillo, 17 kilometers from the Pan-American Highway. The 380-hectare wildlife refuge is part of a family-run cattle finca and salt farm, with nature trails and a lake replete with waterfowl and crocodiles.
The Birds Island Biological Reserve (Isla Pájaros Reserva Biológica) is about 600 meters offshore from Punta Morales. The 3.8-hectare reserve protects a colony of brown pelicans and other seabirds. Access is restricted to biological researchers.
Parque MegaFauna Monteverde (tel. 506/2638-8193, www.acmcr.org/parque_megafauna.htm, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $7 adults, $5 children), on the Pan-American Highway at Chomes de Puntarenas, has re-creations and exhibits relating to dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Kids might get a thrill from the rather crude life-size cement renditions along a 1.7-kilometer trail. At least there’s a splendid restaurant adjoining, and it has a butterfly exhibit.
Getting to Costa de Pájaros
Buses depart Puntarenas for the Costa de Pájaros from Avenida Central, Calle 4.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition