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Top Things to Do in Cahuita

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Cahuita, Costa Rica is a quaint, unique village located on the Caribbean coast. For many years, Cahuita, located in the Limon Province, was an almost untouched piece of paradise, a secret gem famous amongst locals but virtually unknown on the travel circuit. Since it opened to tourism some 30 years ago, Cahuita has attracted travellers with its laid-back vibe and overall charm.

Although small, Cahuita is a village that packs a big punch. Home to more than 8,000 residents, this area also boasts some of the country’s most beautiful natural attractions. From its sprawling national park and coral reef to its black and white beaches and clear blue sea, Cahuita allows visitors to experience all the best of Costa Rica without leaving this small coastal city.

Whether you dream of a relaxing vacation, an animal-filled adventure, or an underwater excursion, Cahuita has something for everyone. Read on to learn more about Cahuita’s top attractions, listed here in no particular order.

1. Visit Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is situated on a 5 minute walk away from downtown.
Explore Cahuita National Park on a walk through the lush jungle.

No visit to Cahuita, Costa Rica would be complete without exploring Cahuita National Park.

Located just a five-minute walk from Cahuita’s downtown, the national park encompasses more than 55,000 acres of protected marine and land ecosystems, 600 acres of living coral reefs and 2,700 acres of land.

There are many activities for visitors to the park. Explore the jungle on foot by taking one of the many hiking trails. Covered in sand, these routes are accessible to hikers of all levels. Experience the beauty of the Caribbean Sea by swimming or snorkeling around the living coral reef. Or, grab a paddle and take in all the sights and sounds of the jungle as you canoe or kayak on the Rio Estrella.

The park is also home to hundreds of indigenous species of plants, animals and insects. Catch sight of mischievous monkeys, slithering snakes, beautiful birds and slow sloths as you make your way through one of Costa Rica’s richest forests.

Good to know: Cahuita National Park isn’t just one of Costa Rica’s most stunning natural attractions, but it also has the distinction of being the only national park with no admission fee. Instead, the park relies on donations for its upkeep and maintenance.

This family tour in Costa Rica takes you on a visit to the national park as well as the nearby sloth sanctuary.

2. Swim at Playa Blanca

If you’re looking for that picture perfect white sand beach, then look no further than Playa Blanca! Located within Cahuita National Park, Playa Blanca is a 3 km long quartz-cobbled beach. Situated within a sheltered cove, the waters off Playa Blanca are tranquil and temperate, making it the perfect location for a dip in the Caribbean.

Just a short walk south of the city, Playa Blanca is the perfect place to soak up some sunshine and while away the afternoon under a palm tree. As one of Costa Rica’s most underdeveloped beaches, you just might end up sharing your palm tree with a creature or two!

Good to know: For the best swimming, head to the lagoon at the centre of the Suarez River estuary.

3. Relax on Playa Negra

Rest, relax and revel in the beauty of the Caribbean on Playa Negra. Located just a ten-minute walk north of town, Playa Negra, Cahuita is famous for its black-sand beach and it’s blue flag status, indicating that this beautiful beach is also one of Costa Rica’s cleanest.

This secluded 1.5 km long beach boasts a pleasant atmosphere, warm water and the ideal conditions for swimming and surfing. It is the perfect place to spend a day, watch the sunset and admire paradise.

Good to know: If you’ve ever dreamed of riding the waves, Playa Negra is a great place to learn. The beach offers sandy breaks and small waves, which are ideal for those relatively new to surfing. The best conditions can usually be found between December and March.

This 15-day tour allows for some free time in Cahuita where you can opt to relax on the beach of your choice.

4. Go snorkeling

Snorkeling in Cahuita is the best experience to be had.
Cahuita is home to a 600 acre coral reef where the clear waters create perfect conditions for snorkeling.

Cahuita National Park’s clean shorelines and clear water make it a great location for snorkeling. The spectacular 600-acre coral reef that lies within the National Park is home to more than 25 species of coral and more than 240 marine wildlife, including tropical fish, crustaceans, molluscs and more.

Additionally, just off the coast of the park lie two shipwreck sites that are easily explored during a diving trip. These well-preserved wreckages give divers a window into Costa Rica’s historical relationship with the sea.

Good to know: Visit the park in February or April for the best underwater visibility. Snorkeling in Cahuita National Park without a guide is strictly prohibited, so if you’re keen to see the reefs or wreckages up close, make sure you book a guide or tour in advance.

This multi day tour includes snorkeling in Cahuita National Park.

5. Indulge in Afro-Caribbean cuisine

Trying the diverse cuisines is one of the things to do in Cahuita
Enjoy the best of Afro-Caribbean food prepared right at the beaches.

Cahuita’s cuisine is renowned as some of the best in the country and unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere.

The area’s Afro-Caribbean cuisine is characterized by dishes such as jerk chicken, curried goat, and an abundance of seafood. With each dish, you can expect a good helping of aromatic spices and zesty taste always leaving you wanting more.

Although it will be hard, make sure you leave room for dessert. Crepes made with local bananas, strawberries and chocolate are popular in the region. Adored by locals and tourists alike, this delicious dish will have you yearning for seconds if not thirds.

Good to know: For an unbelievable meal with astonishing views, visit Cahuita’s famous Sobre Las Olas restaurant. Located at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, Sobre Las Olas is guaranteed to wow your taste buds with its fresh seafood, local ingredients, and one-of-a-kind experience.

Best time to visit Cahuita

  • The best time to visit Cahuita, Costa Rica is during the region’s drier seasons: March to May and September to November, with the driest months being September and October.
  • Dry season or not, conditions in Cahuita are always hot and humid so it's best to prepare for rain showers, which can happen at any time.
  • Throughout the year, temperatures average in the low 30’s (80 – 85° F) during the day and dip down to the mid 20’s (70 – 75°F) at night.

Top tips for travelling to Cahuita

  • Cahuita is a small town, easily navigable on foot. Most of the top attractions are located within a 10-minute walk of the centre.
  • If you’d like to cut down on your transit time (or just work up a bit of a sweat), consider renting a bike, making trips to the beach and park fast, easy and enjoyable.
  • US dollars are accepted everywhere but it should be noted that each individual or business may have their own exchange rate.
  • Cahuita has all the amenities you could possibly need while on vacation. A small shopping strip, found next to the main bus, is home to a bank (with an ATM/ABM), a small grocery store, a butcher, a barber and even a doctor.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, an animal-filled adventure or an underwater excursion, this quaint and unique village has something for every type of traveller. From its national park to its postcard-perfect beaches, Cahuita, Costa Rica is the ideal location for anyone looking for a laid-back, rustic adventure in paradise.

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