After leaving Panama, we returned to Costa Rica. Since we arrived in the morning, we picked up our rental car (again paid an exorbitant amount in insurance) and drove straight to our vacation rental in Cahuita, a small town just a few kilometers south of Limon, on the Caribbean side of the country. While modest, our rental was just steps away from the entrance to the Parque Nacional Cahuita, a fantastic 9 km long reserve of mangrove and beach where we spent a lot of time.
Cahuita itself was a sleepy little town, packed full of tour guides and tourists. It’s quieter than Puerto Viejo, which is the more well-known tourist spot in the area.
We spent two days exploring Cahuita National Park splitting the 9 kilometer trail into two parts. There are two entrances to the park. The first, a block from our doorstep with an entrance fee of a free-will donation to get in. The second, a few kilometers down the highway with a cost of $5 a person to get in.
The first side is low-key: a bridge over a stream, a ranger station, bathrooms, showers at the entrance and then the trail winds through the mangrove just next to the beach so all along the way there are spots where you can head over to the beach or walk along under the trees and catch animal sightings. The trail goes all the way through to the other entrance, but it’s a ways, especially if you take time to pause, peer into the trees, or take a break to swim in the ocean.
The second side is a bit fancier with a new bathroom and shower area, a nice parking area, and a very well maintained boardwalk through a more marshy portion of the mangrove for a km or so and then a sandy walk along the beach with bright white sand and numerous coral areas.
The animal sightings were absolutely unlike anything we had seen on our entire trip so far. howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, basilisk lizards, raccoons, spider monkeys, iguanas, golden orb weaver spiders, hermit crabs, sand crabs, sand dollars, sea urchins, black hawks, various insects, and more.