Cuahita offers an off the beaten path national park in Costa Rica. While the highly visited Guanacaste region of the West coast is known for its Pacific beaches, we recommend exploring on the East coast as well if time is in your favor. From the Carribean culture to a quieter park, let’s explore!
Table of Contents
Location: Cuahita National Park is located within the town of Cuahita on the Caribbean coast not too far from Panama. This can be a first stop from San Jose if you plan to make your way north towards Tortuguero.
How many days: One day if you are basing yourself in only Cuahita, and two if you would like to visit Puerto Viejo (nearby beach town) as well
Parking: If you stay in the town of Cuahita, you can likely leave your car at your accommodation parking lot. There is a parking lot right outside of the visitor’s center to the park- believe it’s a small fee!
Accomodation: Absolutely LOVED our stay at the Marfi Inn. Value for the money was HUGE! Our apartment style accommodation with one room air conditioning was a welcome change-up offering two bedrooms (one was a converted living room), a mini refrigerator, and gated parking. Perhaps the best part was our ever so kind host who lives on site and the delicious, fresh breakfast she provided each morning. It’s a bit difficult to find at first without a sign, and is located within the dark green fence across the street from another Inn and restaurant. You can give the accommodation a call and the host will help wave you right in.
Things to Do
Hike the Trails
Cuahita National Park offers one trail in the lush jungle on a flat path with no incline. Accessible for hikers of all ages.
From just the start of the trail, we met several monkeys swinging through the trees above. Remember not to feed them, and keep your valuables secure- these fellows are known to reach for your shiny electronics or food items at the beach! It’s so important to respect their home and ensure not to feed them and allow them to continue their daily lifestyle.
Hit the Beach
Explore the aqua serene waters and mountainous backdrop to this incredible area. It was not very crowded any part of the day during a June visit.
Snorkel the Reef!
I honestly do not have another reef to compare as this was my first snorkeling experience, but absolutely LOVED it! It’s so amazing to get to explore another home of a new region via waterlife. From a sting ray to tropical schools of fish, I haven’t ever experienced anything quite like this. For $30 and two different snorkeling stops in the turquoise waters, I could do this tour again and again.
Take a Surf Lesson
Not to be mistaken with the Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo, there is a Playa Negra right in the town of Cuahita as well where we decided to try our balance at surfing. As a first time surfer, this may be my ONLY time surfing! I don’t think it’s my sport, but the views were incredible and my friend had an absolute blast! The calmer waters (than other beaches) and approximate 4ft depth of the lesson (not including when waves come through) provides it as an opportunity for many ability levels.
Cuahita is a small, quieter, and chill town. With shops and restaurants in a non-crowded neighborhood, it’s hard not to relax here! We also spotted some sloths hanging out in the various trees.
Explore Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is a bit more crowded with a wider variety of beaches. Playa Puerto Viejo backs up to restaurants and bars and is a popular beach for entertainment. At around 6:00pm it actually became a bit too crowded and I decided to leave. Attached is Playa Negra- absolutely beautiful but located off of a main road. Check out this spectacular sunset!