- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Eleven kilometers north of Esparza on Highway 1, a side road winds east to the village of Miramar, on the western slopes of the Cordillera Tilarán. Gold has been mined hereabouts since 1815; you can still visit Las Minas de Montes de Oro, where guests are taken inside the tunnels and shown the old-fashioned manner of sifting for gold. It has a functioning waterwheel.
The sole concession to visit the mine is owned by Finca Daniel Adventure Park (tel. 506/2639-8303, www.finca-daniel.com), a 27-hectare ranch and fruit farm in the hills four kilometers north of Miramar at Tajo Alto.
It has horseback rides, ATV tours, and a rope-bridge treetop challenge course. A canopy tour has 11 cables, including a beginners’ line that runs in front of the restaurant, permitting dad to wave to the kids as he passes; a second, more-elaborate, zip-line system has 25 cables.
The 2,400-hectare Peñas Blancas Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Silvestre de Peñas Blancas), 33 kilometers northeast of Puntarenas, protects the watersheds of the Ríos Barranca and Ciruelas, on the forested southern slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán. The mountain slopes rise steeply from rolling plains carved with deep canyons to 1,400 meters atop Zapotal peak. Vegetation ranges from tropical dry forest in the southerly lower elevation to moist deciduous and premontane moist forest higher up. There are no visitor facilities and few visitors.
Orchid lovers should visit Orquitur (tel. 506/2639-1034, www.orchimex.com, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., $10), a huge orchid farm on Highway 1 about 20 kilometers north of Esparza. It breeds about 50 varieties, including hybrids, for export.
Hotels and Restaurants
Hotel Vista Golfo (tel. 506/2639-8303, www.finca-daniel.com, from $128 s or $196 d including breakfast, dinner, and one activity), at Finca Daniel Adventure Park, has 10 rooms and apartments (one has a kitchenette) with modest decor and balconies. There’s a swimming pool and a hot tub, plus a bar and restaurant, where you can dine beneath the shade of a huge spreading tree.
Far more intimate, the German-run Finca El Mirador B&B (tel./fax 506/2639-8774, www.finca-mirador.com, $32–54 s/d low season, $35–60 high season) is a red-tile-roofed mountainside home with two cabins with rich and inviting decor, terra-cotta floors, kitchenettes, and modern bathrooms. A smaller yet charming wooden cabin lacks a kitchenette. There’s a swimming pool with great views. Monkeys abound on the forested property. It’s two kilometers along a dirt road that begins about 600 meters before Finca Daniel.
Getting to Miramar
Auto Transportes Miramar (tel. 506/2248-0045, $2) buses depart Calle 12, Avenida 9 in San José at 7 a.m., noon, 4:30 p.m., and 5:40 p.m. (Mon.–Sat.), returning at 4:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. (less frequently on Sun). Direct buses depart Puntarenas for Miramar at 9:30 a.m. (at 10:30 a.m. on Sun.); return buses depart Miramar at 4:30 p.m. (at 5:45 p.m. on Sun.).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition