Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva
A 13km road winds east from Puerto Viejo, through rows of coconut palms, alongside coastal lodges and through lush lowland rainforest before coming to a dead end at the sleepy town of Manzanillo. The road was paved for the first time in 2003, dramatically shortening the amount of time it takes to travel this route.
Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo
This little-explored refuge – called Regama for short – protects nearly 70% of the southern Caribbean coast, extending from Manzanillo all the way to the Panamanian border. It encompasses 50 sq km of land plus 44 sq km of marine environment. The peaceful, pristine stretch of sandy white beach is one of the area’s main attractions.
This bustling, no-stoplight town in the foothills of the Cordillera de Talamanca lies at a bend in the paved road that connects Cahuita to Sixaola and the Panama border. The village is primarily an agricultural center and a spot for nearby indigenous communities to take care of errands; most travelers just pass through on their way to the border or on local tours.
Parque Nacional Cahuita
This small but beautiful park – just 10 sq km – is one of the more frequently visited national parks in Costa Rica. The reasons are simple: the nearby town of Cahuita provides attractive accommodations and easy access; more importantly, the white-sand beaches, coral reef and coastal rainforest are bursting with wildlife.
Reserva Biológica Hitoy-Cerere
One of Costa Rica's most rugged and rarely visited reserves, Hitoy-Cerere is only about 60km south of Puerto Limón. The 99-sq-km reserve sits on the edge of the Cordillera de Talamanca, characterized by varying altitudes, evergreen forests and rushing rivers. This may be one of the wettest reserves in the parks system, inundated with 4000mm to 6000mm of rain annually.