Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica


If you’re staying on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, a trip to Cahuita National Park is a must. We were in Cocles, outside of Puerto Viejo, so we decided to take a day trip north to the park. We didn’t rent a car in Costa Rica, opting instead to use shuttles, a plane, boats and taxis to get around. On this particular day, we chose to try out the local bus. I had no idea how much it would be or what the schedule was, but luckily our bed and breakfast host had a schedule to offer us and the bus stop was only 80 meters from the B&B. It cost about 2000+ colones (or about $3.75-4) for both of us to ride to Puerto Viejo. When we arrived in Puerto Viejo, we walked around looking for a restaurant called Bread and Chocolate that had been recommended to us. The restaurant was booming at lunchtime; it seemed to be popular with tourists. We were told the mint brownies were to die for and that the sandwiches were cheap. Only one of those statements was true. … We ordered two sandwiches (which came with sides) plus two drinks (coffee and lemonade) that came out to $22. As we waited for our to-go order we also grabbed a mint brownie for the road.

We walked toward the bus stop with about 45 minutes left until the next bus. (It comes pretty much every hour.) We sat on a picnic table next to the beach and ate half of our sandwiches. We also took a short walk on the beach and admired our surroundings. 
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

This North Face Recon backpack was amazing to have on our trip. (Affiliate link included.)
We walked toward the bus stop, and I realized other passengers had tickets in hand. When we boarded in Cocles we just paid directly to the driver, but I wondered if we needed tickets in Puerto Viejo. A teen next to me instructed me to buy them at the Boleteria across the street from the bus stop. It was about another $2 for the rest of the ride to Cahuita. The bus took us to the bus station in Cahuita, and from there we walked down the main street until we reached a park. I asked a woman for directions to the national park, and she instructed me to walk east a few blocks. Just after I asked I saw a sign for the national park. Duh! 
When you walk into the park office, you sign your name on the register and record your time in. You don’t have to pay anything to enter, though donations are accepted. Also, guides like to hang out by the office offering you a tour of the park. It’s up to you if you want to hire them. We opted for our own leisurely hike. By this point we had gotten better at spotting wildlife in the trees. It doesn’t take long to see the fauna at the park. The trail goes through the jungle directly adjacent to the beach, so you’re surrounded by beauty the entire hike. At any time you can take a break from the heat and humidity to swim in the calm waters of Cahuita. 

This momma raccoon is actually yawning. It was not mean at all.

One of the most incredible things I saw was a lizard running on water. Its nickname is the Jesus Christ lizard for its talent.

Cahuita’s calm waters are great for snorkeling, and the park is said to be the best place to snorkel on the Caribbean side, but it had just rained, so we knew we wouldn’t see much.

An old well along the trail.

Watch where you step. We saw a venomous snake just off the trail.

Don’t forget to record your time out when you leave!

We spent about five hours here before heading back into town for to get some snacks. We caught the 6:15 bus back to Puerto Viejo for dinner and then took a taxi to Cocles for $4. It was one of my favorite days in Costa Rica. Have you been to Cahuita? What did you love most?

P.S. I used the Lonely Planet book gifted to us by relatives for planning. I highly recommend it.

*Affiliate links included. I am compensated for clicks and purchases.