To reach the Costa Rica beaches on the Caribbean coast, you must cross the Central Mountain Range and the lowland plains beyond the mountains. If you make the journey by car and take Highway 32 (the Guapiles Highway), you will also pass through the Zurqui tunnel, the only highway tunnel in Costa Rica. The scenery along the way changes dramatically from tropical forests, to banana plantations, to modern farms and highways along the coast lined with coconut palms, so if you can manage to make the drive from the interior it’s definitely worth your time.
Once you reach the Caribbean coastline, you will find some of the most beautiful Costa Rica beaches available. Cahuita National Park offers stunning coral reefs and fabulous surfing. The Cahuita National Park is also a good place to snorkel and see colorful tropical fish, or you can hike the many nature trails and watch for exotic birds like toucans, kingfishers, herons and the Central American currasow. You can also spot many rare mammals unique to Central America and this tropical paradise, including amandua, paca, coati, and agouti.
The Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica were settled by Africans, and so have much the same flavor and local customs and cuisine as other Caribbean nations like Jamaica. Excellent French and Italian cuisine are also available here. The nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is home to 400 different species of birds and the only mangrove estuary in Eastern Costa Rica.
The Costa Rica beaches of the Carribean coast are remarkably clear, white sand beaches, very similar to the ones you will find on any of the Caribbean islands. The best places to stay when visiting Costa Rica beaches on the Caribbean are the towns of Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo, small settlements have managed to avoid the garish overdevelopment that often happens when white sand beaches and National Parklands are opened up to tourism.
Generally referred to as the Tortuguero region, the Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica have an entirely different feel than the more commercial beaches on the Pacific coast across the mainland. The Tortuguero National Park is one of the world’s most important nesting areas for the endangered green sea turtle.
The rainfall in Tortuguero is one of the heaviest in all of Costa Rica, but because it is evenly spread out throughout the year, it does not seem excessive, giving the region an evergreen quality that is both temperate and beautiful.
Other activities available at or near the Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica include canopy tours (which take you through the jungle treetops to witness exotic birds and wildlife), kayaking, horseback riding, swimming, and surfing. Hotels range from exotic and very rustic tent camps like the Almonds and Corals Lodge, to the Selva Bananito Lodge, a family owned rain forest hotel with traditional amenities, queen beds, and solar heated water.
Wherever you decide to stay, whatever you decide to do, you almost certainly never forget the time you spend at the Costa Rica beaches on the Tortuguero coast. Once you come for a visit, you will have to return, and probably again and again. But then, there are worse things in life than an addiction to paradise. Be forewarned that once you visit here, you may develop such an addiction.