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Even as tourism has mushroomed on Costa Rica’s southern coast, Cahuita has managed to hold onto its laid-back Caribbean vibe. Dirt roads remain off the main highways, many of the older houses rest on stilts, and chatty neighbors still converse in Mekatelyu.

Cahuita proudly claims the area’s first permanent Afro-Caribbean settler: a turtle fisherman named William Smith, who moved his family to Punta Cahuita in 1828. Now his descendants, along with those of many other West Indian immigrants, run the charming eateries and brightly painted bungalows that hug this idyllic stretch of coast.

Situated on a pleasant point, the town itself has a waterfront but no beach. For that, most folks make the five-minute jaunt up the coast to Playa Negra or southeast into neighboring Parque Nacional Cahuita.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Cahuita.


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