Costa Rica Central Pacific
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There is a certain atmosphere that permeates the mid Pacific region. It wraps itself around you and frees you from stress and troubles. The Costa Rican salutation of 'pura vida', pure life, describes the area perfectly.
The Pacific Coast ranges over 500 miles from its northernmost tip to its border with neighboring Panama. This vast extension holds countless beaches and picturesque towns and villages. There are also several protected areas and national parks to visit in the region so prepare yourself for a full itinerary of sights to see.
The peak season for the mid Pacific region is from December to April. Puntarenas is the largest town on the coast and served for years as one of the country's main ports. Today Puerto Caldera is the primary location for both cargo vessels and cruise lines. While containers are being loaded with exportation goods, cruise line patrons can take a few hours or days for shore leave.
The seafood found in area restaurants is varied and as fresh as it gets. Locals make their living from the big blue and fish for tuna, wahoo, shrimp and lobster Seafood is available at most restaurants and is offered in several tasty dishes typical to Costa Rican fare.
Activities abound and even the most discriminating traveler will find an adventure to participate in. Surfing, kayaking, rafting and hiking are just a few of the activities visitors will find.
Traveling along the coastal road will take you through many seaside towns. They have a lot more to offer other than beaches. You can tour through mangroves and estuaries, horse back ride to tucked away waterfalls and hike through the world of the tropical forest.
Every traveler can enjoy taking in a small town. Not only can you visit the local church or town half, but you can take in the market and pick up a few supplies. With water and a few ripe mangoes, you'll be ready to hit the streets. The market is always a good place to visit when in search of typical items such as colorful woven bags or hand-dipped candles. Have a blended fruit juice with either water or milk at a local "soda". Bear in mind that it's a good way to practice your Spanish.
You'll pass over the Tarcoles River. The bridge is renowned as a spot for watching crocodiles. From the safety of the bridge's span, you'll be able to see several good-sized ones warming up in the sun on the sandy beach along the river. A number of cows also share the water source and are quite comfortable slacking their thirst with rather large reptiles in plain view. The spot is ideal for both videos and cameras.
Jaco will soon come into view. This small seaside town is casual and laid-back. Activities at Jaco include horseback riding, fishing and kayaking. An added natural benefit? The waves. Surfers enjoy the town for its surfer friendly atmosphere as well as the accessibility of several surf spots just minutes away. Further down south, you'll pass Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Este and Parrita.
Carara Biological Reserve
Made up of 4,700 hectares, Carara has been under protection since 1978, This reserve works much the same as others in Costa Rica and was created specifically to protect prime forest environment, In this case, Carara is made up of dry forest and wet tropical forest. The park lies straddling two life zones thereby possessing an enormous diversity of wildlife. There are two main trails through the park and both afford you a pleasurable hike. The trails are easy and safe providing a great experience for visitors traveling with children.
Manuel Antonio & Quepos
Everyone who travels through the mid Pacific zone, must visit Manuel Antonio. Not only is it easily accessible, but it is truly one of the most beautiful parks in Costa Rica. It sits along the Pacific Coast and boasts an estuary, mangroves, a lagoon, beaches and winding paths. All this on 638 hectares of land and 55.000 hectares of protected marine environment. Take a walk through the tropical forest and find mosses, ferns, flowers and epiphytes growing thickly on every tree. One trail leads you to an observation tower with a breathtaking 360° view.
Throughout the park, you will find the famous wildlife Costa Rica is known for. By following logical eco-sensitive advice, you can enjoy the park to the fullest. Ensure you don't scare away the furry residents by keeping voices low and stepping quietly. Although the capuchin monkeys are quite comfortable in coming close and gazing at you quite inquisitively, refrain from feeding them.
Take along a small pack and make a day of it! There are fresh water showers and bathroom facilities along the trail as well as picnic areas. You can hike for a while and stop for a refreshing swim at Third Beach or Gemelas Beach.
Even when walking or driving along the road, keep your eyes open because chances are you'll spot either capuchin monkeys or sloths in the surrounding trees.