Parque Nacional Cahuita

Southern Caribbean

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, and the park has white-sand beaches, a coral reef, coastal rainforest and a small lagoon, all bursting with wildlife. The arrival of cruise ships and weekenders detract from the tranquility: plan accordingly and go early, if possible.

There are north and south entrances to the park. Visitors who enter the park at Kelly Creek to the north are not required to pay the US$5 entrance fee, but donations are welcomed. The park service is habitually underfunded, and tourist dollars provide important support for education, conservation and maintenance programs.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Caribbean attractions

1. Playa Blanca

0.03 MILES

At the entrance to the national park. A good option for swimming.

2. Playa Negra

1.15 MILES

At the northwestern end of Cahuita, Playa Negra is a long, black-sand beach flying the bandera azul ecológica, a flag that indicates that the beach is…

3. Cacao Trails

4.78 MILES

Halfway between Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Hone Creek, this botanical garden and chocolate museum has a couple of small exhibits devoted to…

4. Aiko-logi

6.05 MILES

Nestled into the Cordillera de Talamanca, 15km outside Puerto Viejo, this private 135-hectare reserve is centered on a former finca (farm), on land…

5. Finca La Isla

7.75 MILES

West of town, this farm and botanical garden has long produced organic pepper and cacao, along with more than 150 tropical fruits and ornamental plants…

6. Playa Cocles

8.89 MILES

Playa Cocles has waves for surfers who aren't keen to break skin and bones at nearby Salsa Brava (Costa Rica's biggest break). Instead, it has steep lefts…

7. Jaguar Centro de Rescate

10.08 MILES

Named in honor of its original resident, a jaguar, this well-run wildlife-rescue center in Playa Chiquita now focuses mostly on other animals, including…

8. Punta Uva

11.87 MILES

Off a dirt road marked by Punta Uva Dive Center is a quiet, idyllic cove that could double for a scene in the film The Beach. When the water is calm, it…