he state of Puntarenas stretches along the central and south Pacific Coast of Costa Rica., it is also known as Pearl of the Pacific. It covers 4,350 miles (11.276) kilometers. It is the largest province of Costa Rica, extending from the cloud forest of Monteverde in the north, all the way through the perfect beaches of Jaco, Manual Antonio/Quepos and Dominical, all the way to the secluded beaches of the OSA Peninsula. The major attraction is its Pacific coastline, expanding over 500 miles down to the Panamanian boarder.
This large province provides a variety of beaches, natural reserves and national parks of highly ecological importance, since it is a change over area between the dry tropical lands of Guanacaste and the lush forests of the Central Pacific. It is located about 120 kilometers west of the capital San Jose. It is located in the gulf of Nicoya and has played a very significant rule in the history of Costa Rica. With construction of the new highway, it is just 1.5 hrs from the San Jose Airport to Jaco, making Puntarenas as accessible as it is remote.
The city of Puntarenas and the port of Caldera entertain hundreds of tourists every day, from numerous cruise ships making stopover on its coasts. Several of these ships are traveling with the Panama Canal as destination that permits passengers to discover Costa Rica’s inland, only to meet their cruise ship a few days later at the port of Limon, in the Caribbean. Puntarenas attracts several thousand tourists every year. The visitors are frequently used this place as a central point when traveling around the scores of beautiful beaches and islands in the adjoining areas. The City of Puntarenas, Costa Rica has 14 national parks and reserves and several beaches, more than in any other province of the country. Few are Playa Naranjo, Playa Mal Pais, San Lucas, Cedros and Jesuita. Many national parks and nature reserves are also close at hand, like the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Santa Elena Forest Reserve, the Cabo Blanco Reserve, Corcovado National Park, the Carara’s Biological Reserve and the Manuel Antonio National Park. Visiting Puntarenas on the weekend or during local holidays is also an old tradition among Costa Ricans themselves. Puntarenas is an ideal holiday getaway, and several hundreds of real estate deals are available in this tropical paradise.
Puntarenas continues to be one of the most important tourist regions in Costa Rica. A lively and attractive city, one of most interesting features is the Paseo de los Turistas. This is a tree-lined on walkway adjacent to the beach. This area becomes into a vibrant street on weekends, as people from all over gather the popular restaurants, cafes, discos, bars and hotels that are established here. The beach is not safe for swimming because the water tends to be pretty dark, it is still a great place to go around and relax with the local Ticos.
It is definitely significance travel around this city, as there are several beautiful old extraordinary buildings available all over the place and several wonderful restaurants and hotels. Puntarenas also has an attractive old church, which is a must see. During highest tourist seasons, visit the Casa de la Cultura for several exceptional plays and concerts. It is a home of festivals and carnivals, the best time to visit the city is during the Festejos Populares in November, and the Fiesta del Virgin del Mar in July. Every year during the months of February and March, the city becomes active with annual carnival celebrations.
Tourism is an important aspect of the provincial economy. The country’s most popular beach resorts, Puntarenas, Jaco, and Manuel Antonio, and several others are all available in this province, including Dona and Barranca beaches.
There are several hotels, resorts, cabinas and private accommodations in Puntarenas, with lots of facilities and services with bars and restaurants. Some hotels have Casino. The visitors will also find many small inexpensive restaurants, bars, cabinas and gracious locals that make Puntarenas a great destination. Puntarenas has a normal climate and many pleasant places to enjoy.
Best Western Jaco Beach Resort
Enjoy beachfront views, a relaxing tropical atmosphere and outstanding customer service all for a great value at the Best Western Jaco Beach Resort. Located in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region, this Jaco Beach hotel is minutes away from the fun-filled surfing town of Jaco and a variety of outdoor activities such as tennis, volleyball, horseback riding and kayaking.
Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas
The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Costa Rica – Puntarenas is a modern, full-amenity, all-inclusive resort hotel. This beachfront Costa Rica Hilton hotel is perfectly situated on the Central Pacific region outside the port city of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. It is located 50 minutes west of Juan Santa Maria International Airport (SJO) and the Costa Rican capital city of San Jose. The hotel offers the perfect vacation lodging and home-base for exploring the wonders of Central America’s beautiful Costa Rica.
Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort
Recognized by Travel & Leisure magazine readers as one of the “World’s Best”, the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is a luxury Costa Rica resort nestled between the warm waters of the Pacific and a 1,100 acre tropical rainforest. A memorable Costa Rica beach resort vacation waits, gliding from tree to tree on a canopy tour or just sitting back and relaxing along our palm lined
Activities / Tings to do in and around Puntarenas
This large province carries a variety of beaches, natural reserves and national parks of ecological importance, since it is a change over area between the dry tropical lands of Guanacaste and the lush forests of the Central Pacific, Costa Rica.
1- Penas Blancas National Wildlife Refuge
2- Curu National Wildlife Refuge
3- Guayabo, Negritos and Pájaros Biological Reserves
4- Carara Biological Reserve
5- Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve
6- Manuel Antonio National Park
7- La Amistad International Park
8- Ballena Marine National Park
9- Corcovado National Park
10- Golfito National Wildlife Refuge
11- Cano Island Biological Reserve
12- Cocos Island National Park
Other Point of interest
1) Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve:
Monteverde is well-known for its Cloud Forest reserves and prolific birdlife place in Costa Rica. This very rural, rustic area is perfect for hard-core birdwatchers. Monteverde has grown in popularity because there are few places on Earth with this kind of rainforest still intact. Proper planning is required for a visit to Monteverde. You must hire a 4-wheel drive vehicle, because ALL roads in and out of Monteverde are dirt. If your vacation time is short, only keen hikers and birdwatchers should consider visit to Monteverde. There are few activities that include:
The Canopy Tour – The Canopy Tour near Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has 11 platforms. This tour is exclusive because you climb up the inside of a strangler fig tree to a platform. The strangler fig is the larger tree. It grows upward around the outside of a host tree and eventually “strangles” it. The host tree eventually dies and decays, leaving the hollow strangler fig. This tour features more rappelling, and was the first Canopy Tour location in the World.
Hiking/bird watching in the Cloud Forest Reserves – This is what Monteverde is famous for. We suggest guided hikes, because guides have the knowledge about the trails and where to get the animals. Early morning hikes are useful as the birds and wildlife are more active. Monkeys, birds, and other mammals can be found at Monteverde. Two-toed sloths like this one are primarily nocturnal. Costa Rica has 5 sloth species divided into two categories: two-toed and three-toed sloths. Sloths are solitary and slow-moving creatures. Because their diet consists of leaves, they have slow metabolic rates and low body temperatures. A sloth will change trees only once every two days on average.
2) Santa Elena Reserve:
In response to the growing numbers of visitors to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, this reserve was formed in the early 1990′s, just a few kilometers to the northwest along the same mountain chain. The cloud forest habitats are quite similar to that available at the neighboring reserve, as is the associated wildlife, including magnificent Quetzals.
One unique option at the Santa Elena Reserve, if the clouds allow, is to view Arenal Volcano. Even though the active volcano is some 20 kilometers away from this points, it is still an impressive sight on clear days.
The reserve is owned and managed by the Santa Elena Agricultural High School. The tracks were constructed by high school volunteers from the Canadian Youth Challenge organization. To reach here, take the dirt road out of Santa Elena towards Tilaran and stand right at the first junction beyond the soccer field. Four-wheel is necessary during the rainy months from February to May.
3) Robert & Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden (San Vito):
This Botanical garden was started during 1963 by its namesakes and sections were landscaped by the famed Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle-Marx. Presently it is owned and controlled by the Organization for Tropical Studies, The Wilson tried to grow tea on the property, but coffee was an established crop in the region, local people were not interested in the alternative crop.
The Wilson’s’ affection for certain plant families reveals itself in the large collection of palms, bromeliads, heliconias, marantas, aroids, and ferns collected through the years on the 10 hectares of cultivated area. An adjoining 145-hectare tract of premontane wet forest, the largest remaining patch in the region, adds to the garden’s attractiveness. Over 220 bird species, 80 mammal species and 71 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recognized on the property.
It is about 1,000 meters above sea level, the temperatures in the garden are warm during the and evenings are cool. The area gets an average of four meters of rain per year, generally during May to November. The garden is 5.6 kilometers from San Vito. To reach here from the town of San Vito, drive south to the village of Agua Buena. Meals and lodging are available at the gardens.
4) Gulf of Nicoya:
This extensive bay of sea water is the consequence of geological changes that has caused the land to go under water; leaving uncovered only the tops of what were previously low hills. These are the assorted islands that dot the gulf and include Chira Island which is country’s largest with an expansion of 52 square kilometers, San Lucas Island (previously a prison island) and the biological reserves of Guayabo, Negritos and Pájaros Islands.
The protected anchor ages near Caldera and the discharge of land that is now the city of Puntarenas offered important entrance to the Spanish colonists who came first from Panama and later from Guatemala and Nicaragua. These and many other parts of the coastline that are protected from the direct impact of ocean swells support mangroves, which are breeding sites for several marine life. The local fishing industry is flourishing due to these mangroves swamp. All mangroves areas in Costa Rica are protected by law.
There are several fully stocked dive shops with certified instructors and dive masters are available in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Most of the diving is around rock formations, in 20 to 100 foot depths. Visibility ranges between 20 and 80 feet and water temperatures a steady 75 to 85 degrees, with 80 to 90 degree air temperatures year-round. As well as coastal diving in Cocos Island.
About halfway down Costa Rica’s Pacific coast at Herradura is an area known as El Jardín that is famous for its configurations of soft coral and sea fans. This is easily accesses by dive operators from Puntarenas or Quepos.
Getting to Puntarenas
The drive from the San Jose airport to Puntarenas will be around one hour on the new highway and it’s about 120 kilometers to the west of San Jose. There are great means of transportation running to and from Puntarenas; the traveling is easier and more convenient. With a good network of bus services connecting the city to the other major destinations in Costa Rica, Getting to Puntarenas should not be much of a concern. Puntarenas transportation helps you in exploring the city even better.