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Visiting Puntarenas Costa Rica

Puntarenas Costa Rica is the largest province and one of the most important tourist destinations of Costa Rica. It stretches from Guanacaste in the Nicoya Peninsula and Gulf of Nicoya right down to the Panamanian border the Osa Peninsula. It has many little islands, inlets, and fabulous National Parks to discover. Its capital of the same name was once a very important portal town. The main commercial port was recently moved to Calderas, and it is also an important cruising destination. Puntarenas enjoys many different mini climates; hot to cool and humid in the south and drier in the north.

Main tourist destinations of Puntarenas Costa Rica include the beaches of Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, Cabo Blanco and Jaco. Also Manuel Antonio National Park, Dominical, Uvita, Corcovado National Park and Osa Peninsula. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and even the famous Coco Island, belong to this awesome province!


City of Puntarenas

Puntarenas Costa Rica nightThe province capital is a bustling little port town with an interesting mix of higher culture and local energy. While not on the radar of many tourists yet, it definitely warrants a visit. Paseo de los Turistas features a rescue center with seahorses, turtles and crocodile. But one of the most interesting destinations is actually on a nearby island. San Lucas Island combines history with nature. In its past life, San Lucas was a prison island. Remnants can still be found scattered across the island and can be visited. The island currently serves as a National Park.

Beaches and surfing

Surfing at Jaco BeachWith so many incredible beaches and National Parks, Puntarenas is truly an exciting place to visit and explore. With its miles of coastline and beaches, Puntarenas is very much a surfer’s paradise and features some of the best surfing beaches of Costa Rica. Jaco, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, Esterillos, Dominical, and Pavones being the best ones. When in Jaco, also drop by the famous Tarcoles river to see hundreds of crocodiles!

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park Aerial ViewThe province of Puntarenas also has many protected areas, National Parks and Reserves that can be visited. Manuel Antonio has it all with white sandy beaches, rugged jungles and coral reefs. You can explore the hiking trails and spot three toad sloths, white faced capuchins and hundreds of different bird species. Go snorkeling to discover the colorful, underground paradise and relax at the stunning beaches.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Cloud ForestIf you want visit a place with a Tolkien like charm, Monteverde Cloud Forest should be on top of your list. Here you can ride the longest zipline in Latin America and explore the dense, humid forests. Many tours are offered in this area from ecological night walks to horseback riding, sky walking and birding. Book at least a couple of days at this gorgeous destination!

Osa Peninsula

Drake Bay Osa Peninsula BeachVisit the fabled Osa Peninsula for a stay in a true paradise. Osa is home to the largest population of Tapir and Jaguar. You can take jungle tours or visit the stunning Drake Bay. Because of its biodiversity and stunning beauty, the Osa is a prime destination for eco-tourists. In fact, the largest concentration of ecological projects and initiatives are centered in this area. All this to preserve the vast forests with all the trees, rainforest plants, and animals that call this Paradise home.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National ParkCorcovado National Park contains over five percent of the world’s animal population. A great location for whale and Dolphin watching, birdwatching, scuba diving and sportfishing, you can also enjoy the hiking trails laid on in the area. The habitats range from Pacific beaches and mangrove swamps to lowland and montane rainforests.

NATUWA Wildlife Sanctuary

MacawOne thing you should definitely do when in Puntarenas, is pay a visit to NATUWA Wildlife Sanctuary. This amazing project can introduce you to the huge conservation efforts made in order to protect Costa Rica wildlife. If you like, you can even work as a volunteer and get a real feel for the project, the animals and the region.


ParritaIf you favor a more off the beaten path location, how about Parrita in North Puntarenas? This little town is home to one of Costa Rica’s legends. A woman named Rita was said to have lived here before the arrival of the Spanish. As a local business owner, Rita would receive parcels along with the words “es pa rita” (it’s for Rita). The familiarity that came with using this phrase so many times, is said to have inspired the name of Parrita. Parrita is a popular eco-tourism destination and home to the Parrita river where you can enjoy class II and III rapids!


Visit between December and May: This is the Costa Rica dry season. Especially when you plan on heading south, this is the best time to visit. Osa Peninsula can have some real feisty weather during the rainy season!

Road trip: As we have demonstrated, Puntarenas covers most of the Pacific Coats and includes some of Costa Rica’s most desired locations. Why not fit them all into a trip and hit the main spots. It will add some wonderful diversity to your trip!

Prepare for altering weather conditions: The fact that so many miles are covered, also means that you will be confronted with ranging mini climates from dry and hot in the north to more humid conditions in the south.

Combine nature with culture: There are plenty of natural treasures to discover, but don’t forget about the cultural heritage. Visit the capital for the cultural center and art gallery, but also for San Lucas Island!

Getting there

Closest International Airport: Juan Santamaria (SJO)

sansa airline airplanesPuntarenas city is located at around 100 km from San Jose. It will you around two hours to get there. You can arrange for private transportation or shared shuttles to explore this area. The city is the perfect location to start and then head south the most iconic destinations in the province.


Gallo PintoLocal cuisine can be best enjoyed at Restaurante Caballo Blanco. Make sure to try some national dishes! The local breakfast consists of Gallo Pinto, a mix of rice and beans served with eggs. For lunch, have a Casado. Rice, beans, a salad and a choice of meat! For some of the best seafood in the area, pay a visit to Restaurante Los Toneles and El Shrimp Shack!

Where to stay

Hotel Fiesta Resort PoolThere is an endless list of hotels in Puntarenas Costa Rica with stunning accommodations, along with the coast by the beaches, or in the Cloud Forests. For a stay in the port city itself, book a room at the Fiesta Resort. This 3-star all inclusive resort is set along black volcanic sand beaches and features a big pool. You are also free to enjoy some of the amazing tours offered here!

Puntarenas - Get Info

Puntarenas Map

The city of Puntarenas is located at around 100 km from San Jose. The province includes most of the Pacific Coastline.

Click to Enlarge Costa Rica Map

Puntarenas Hotels

Enjoy 3-star luxury in this charming port city!

Fiesta Resort

Fiesta Resort

From: $125 - $200

Puntarenas Tours

Explore nature, beaches and cities!

Tortuga Island Cruise with Calypso

Tortuga Island Cruise with Calypso

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