Cahuita National Park

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Cahuita National Park

No one ever gets tired of spotting a Three-Toed sloth in Cahuita National Park
No one ever gets tired of spotting a Three-Toed sloth in Cahuita National Park

A combination land and marine park, Cahuita National Park protects one of the few remaining living coral reefs in Costa Rica. Cahuita National Park rests on approximately 1,000 hectares and is located on the Caribbean shore, southeast of the city of Limon. Lush vegetation, white sandy beaches, coconut trees, coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and marshes are just a few of the park’s attributes, but Cahuita is best known for its fine sand beach and coral reef.

The thick, tropical foliage is home to pacas, raccoons, Northern tamanduas, Capuchin monkeys, Southern opossums, Three-toed sloths, agouties, armadillos and Mexican tree porcupines. The marsh land provides shelter to iguanas, basilisks, yellow-crowned night herons, magnificent frigatebirds, green ibis, little blue herons, gulls and other species. Red land and fiddler crabs inhabit the coastline of Cahuita National Park.

The coral reefs and marine life of this protected area are rife with various species of coral and the underwater habitat abounds with sea urchins, lobsters, turtles, moray eels, sharks and innumerable brightly colored fish of all shapes and sizes. In all, the reef contains approximately 35 species of coral and as previously mentioned, provides a haven for hundreds of brightly colored tropical fish. The reef extends 500 meters (1,500 ft.) out to sea from Cahuita Point and offers great snorkeling, although the point of the reef was drastically dislocated during an earthquake. The southern beach is a known nesting ground for several varieties of sea turtles.

Cahuita definitely provides a visitor with a certain flavor. The Caribbean region provides a natural and cultural habitat that is vastly different from the rest of Costa Rica. Coconut trees, magnificent reefs, and the grooves of Bob Marley and Alpha Blondie, and tourists sporting dreadlocks and Birkenstocks flourish in this region. Not the Rasta type… that’s okay, you still shouldn’t miss out on the natural beauty of the forest and reefs of Cahuita.


There’s a nice scenic trail from the Kelly Creek Station along the coast to the beach camping area and subsequently to the Puerto Vargas Station. Restrooms and drinking water is available at both ranger stations. The beach camping area also has restrooms, as well as showers and picnic tables.

Getting to Cahuita National Park

From San Jose

• take the main highway to Limon

• then south to the town of Cahuita

• the Kelly Creek Ranger Station is located on the south side of town by walking across a foot bridge

• the Puerto Vargas Ranger Station is 4 miles past the town of Cahuita