What to do in a trip to Cahuita, Costa Rica?

Costa Rica´s East Coast is very different from the West Pacific. Cahuita is on the Caribbean Sea and it is located 43 km south of Puerto Limón. A trip to Cahuita is a good way of  visiting this small village which has a very important Afro-American Heritage.

A trip to Cahuita is perfect if you are looking for peace, nature and silence. It is the home of approximately 4,000 people, mainly of Jamaican descent. You can feel the reggae vibe on its streets. Most of the residents speak Africanized-Creole English and, a few of them speak Spanish. It is strange because if you come from the Pacific Coast you might feel that you have left Costa Rica and entered a new country.

As we were looking for a quiet place, we went to an even smaller village called Playa Negra or Black Beach, which earned its name because of the black sand. The sea offers good swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also dive to the coral reef between the two beaches and find incredible marine life.

We stayed at the small hotel there called Nirvana by the Sea. The owner is from Germany and he is real charming. As we arrived late, he let us do the check-in the following day without any problem. Our room has a comfortable queen bed and a smaller one on the side. A very big mosquito net protected us from insects. The bedroom has two big windows and its own bathroom. There are cheaper rooms with a shared bathroom. In the corridor, there is a refrigerator and a table with coffee, a variety of teas, water and biscuits.

The first day we went to Cahuita National Park, one of the few parks in Costa Rica not to charge an admission fee instead relying on donations. Our visit lasted more than 5 hours. We saw 2 monkeys, 3 sloths and several spiders and even a snake. We also heard exotic birds like toucans, herons, macaws and parrots.

The nice thing about this trip to Cahuita was that the landscape changes along the way. At the beginning, you feel very small due to the large trees that surround the path; then you go just along the sea and towards the end, the path opens into a wider space.  There is an access entry for those who go on foot, called Kelly Cree. Punta Vargas, at the park’s south end, is for those who prefer to go by car.  Take into consideration that the tourist path has a length of more than 6 km, so I suggest going there early.

On the following day, we went to Puerto Viejo and we walked half an hour to Cocles Beach.  This beautiful beach is very popular with surfers, especially at the northern end, but is also good for swimmers. It is one of the few areas patrolled by lifeguards via the community-supported Playa Cocles Lifeguard Program.

Bus:  Several buses depart San José for Cahuita every day.
750 Cahuita Express departures daily from San José, Terminal Caribe, 10:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 hours, $US 6.00, Auto-Transportes Mepe S.A., Telephone (506) 2257-8129

Air:  NatureAir and SANSA have flights from San José to Limón airport (about 30 km north of Cahuita)

Sansa Reservations: Costa Rica:(506) 2290-4100, USA: 1-877-767-2672 http://www.flysansa.com/es/destinos/Limon

Nature Air: Costa Rica (506) 2299 6000  reservations@natureair.com