Its central location on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast invites visitors to travel the Central Pacific’s beautiful beaches, national parks, and refuges – all just a few hours’ easy drive from the capital of San Jose. Recently, the completion of the San José-Caldera highway (80 kilometers/50 miles), as well as the Coastal Highway, has further favored the region and improved drive times.
The Central Pacific, given its wet and rainy tropical climate, boasts a wide variety of vegetation along its beaches and hillsides. Therefore, areas closest to the coastline feature intense biodiversity, with habitats ranging from tropical dry forest to tropical rainforest. The region is home to many ecosystems that serve as habitat for numerous plant and animal species, many of which reside protected within wildlife reserves.
According to the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, this region, also known as the Middle Pacific, includes the cantons of Garabito, Parrito and Aguirre. Its coastline spans from the Grande River in Tárcoles south to the Barú River mouth. It combines long stretches of beach with open sea and small bays, running for 130 kilometers (almost 81 miles) from north to south.
To its interior, this region includes the Carara Mountains and the Chonta Mountains, as well as the middle and lower basins of the Tusubres River, Parrita River, Naranjo River, and Savegre River.
Its beaches, such as Manuel Antonio and Jacó, are among the most visited in Costa Rica – both by international and Costa Rican tourists. Among its biggest advantages is that several of its beaches, for example Jacó, are located less than two hours from the capital city of San José.
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Given its characteristics, the Central Pacific’s main tourism offerings are those related to the sun and sand, nature, adventure, honeymoons, relaxation, and aquatic sports, as well as excursions to visit and interact with rural communities.
The region is ideal for many activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, nature tours, photography, farming tours, swimming, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, tours of local protected areas (both private reserves and national parks), canopy tours, and sport fishing for marlin, sailfish, mahi mahi, and rooster fish. Additionally, ATV tours, horseback riding, and jet ski jaunts are popular activities in the Central Pacific.
The region’s primary destinations developed for tourism are Punta Leona-Herradura, Jacó-Hermosa, Quepos-Silencio-Londres, and Matapalo-Barú. The Central Pacific is known for its intense natural beauty.
The Central Pacific boasts both tropical wet and tropical rainforest climates. It is for this reason that the area’s beaches and inland zones offer a wide variety of ecosystems and biodiversity.
The region is covered primarily in tropical forest that transitions from dry forest into rainforest. There are numerous plant and animal species living in the Central Pacific; many are protected within conservation areas.
Kayaking tours and horseback rides are organized on a regular basis for the enjoyment of all visitors to the refuge.
Due to its exceptional natural beauty, this park is considered one of the most impressive landscapes in Costa Rica. Its beaches’ whites sands combine in perfect harmony with the area’s lush foliage and towering mountains.
Manuel Antonio National Park is surrounded by abundant wet forest. A hike along its trails is the best way to observe local wildlife, including many species of birds, sloths, coatimundis, raccoons, iguanas, white-faced monkeys, and squirrel monkeys – a species endemic to Manuel Antonio and only found in this part of the world.
The park also protects 12 islands that represent important refuges for several species of marine bird. The islands are home to magnificent beaches: Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio, and Puerto Escondido. There is also a 14-hectare (35-acre) lagoon and a mangrove swamp. Cathedral Point, which joins the beaches of Manuel Antonio and Espadilla Sur, is known for its spectacular natural beauty.
Regarding local services, visitor amenities include tourism information, park ranger station, trails, restrooms, potable water, signage and several natural lookout points.
The mangrove swamp, which spans approximately 18 hectares (45 acres), is home to three species: tea mangrove, white mangrove, and black mangrove.
The Damas Caverns, another popular destination in the Central Pacific, are part of 500 hectares (1,250 acres) dedicated to protecting pre-montane forest. They boast caverns of different sizes, featuring both stalactite and stalagmite rock formations.
Extending straight down 11 kilometers (almost 7 miles) of coastline, between the estuaries of the Naranjo and Savegre Rivers, Savegre Beach is ideal for surfing and other beach activities: sunbathing, walking, and relaxing. The Negro Estuary is a part of the Naranjo River estuary. Isla Mogote, an offshore island, is visible from Savegre Beach.
Currently, this is an alternate day trip for tourists visiting Garabito and Aguirre Beaches.
Quepos offers tourists a wide variety of services including lodging, restaurants, and tour operators. The town also boasts spectacular scenery along its coastline. Its pier serves as a departure point for tours such as sport fishing and other recreation boat rides.
Swimming should be done with caution, as Jacó’s strong currents may create riptides. Surfing is a very popular activity at this beach. On land, visitors are invited to go horseback riding, rent mountain bikes, and enjoy the go-cart and scooter track. From Jacó, it is easy to take a boat to Escondida (Hidden) Beach, a place well known in the surfing community.
Throughout the year, several events, most linked to certain communities, celebrate the historical, religious, sport, civic, and artistic aspects of life in the Central Pacific. Other events are held to raise funds for local communities
15. Costa Rican Independence Day
30. Commemoration of the deaths of Mora and Cañas. Elementary and high school parades. City of Puntarenas.