Reserva Biológica Dúrika
A perfect example of sustainable tourism in action, the 75-sq-km Reserva Biológica Dúrika is home to a small but thriving community of about 100 Ticos and resident foreigners who are committed to local conservation, natural medicine and the preservation of indigenous culture.
Reserva Biológica Hitoy-Cerere
One of the most rugged and rarely visited reserves in the country, 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.
The Road to La Amistad
Covering 12 hectares and surrounded by 254 hectares of natural forest, lies about 6km south of San Vito. This world-class garden was established by Robert and Catherine Wilson in 1963 and thereafter became internationally known for its collection.
On the road to Bribrí, just north of the Sixaola turnoff, find the studio of this self-taught folk painter whose colorful acrylic landscapes are well known in Puerto Viejo and San José. Look for the brightly painted sign outside a small, one-story house. Call ahead to visit, as hours vary.
About 10km northwest of Cahuita, this wildlife sanctuary sits on an 88-hectare property bordering the Río Estrella. Here, proprietors Luis Arroyo and Judy Avery help injured and orphaned sloths – providing travelers with an opportunity to see these unique animals up close. (Irrefutable fact: there is nothing cuter than a baby sloth.
Halfway between Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Hone Creek, this botanical garden and chocolate museum has a couple of small museums devoted to indigenous and Afro-Caribbean culture, a lush garden bursting with bromeliads and heliconias, as well as an onsite chocolate factory where cacao is processed in traditional ways.
Bosque Protector de Palo Seco
This is a lush cloud forest, covering more than 160,000 hectares. It's set high in the Talamanca range, and the wildlife here includes monkeys, sloths, armadillos, butterflies, and great birdlife - including ashy-throated bush-tanagers; you won't find them anywhere else in Panama.