Central Pacific Coast Travel Guide
Manuel Antonio National Park © roaming-the-planet
The Pacific is more developed for tourism than the Caribbean, but it still holds a good mixture of luxury resorts and deserted beaches. Some of the Costa Rica's best beaches are in this region. Costa Ricans use the perfectly suited phrase 'pura vida', meaning 'pure life', to describe the country and examples of this are evident everywhere along the Pacific coastline.
Strung along the coast are scores of seaside villages and picturesque towns, exotic beaches and several protected reserves or national parks. Visitors will find an abundance of accommodation, seafood and local souvenirs. Puntarenas is the largest town and was the main port, but is now mainly used as a base to catch ferries to the Nicoya Peninsula. Further south, the Tarcoles bridge is a renowned spot for watching the alligators in the river below. Package-holiday tourists stream to the beach resort town of Jacó, one of the best places to surf and with a reputation for being a party town. There is plenty of accommodation and restaurants as well as a lively night scene after a relaxing day on the beach.
There are many activities in the area including surfing, kayaking and swimming in the azure waters of the Pacific. There is also hiking, birding and wildlife-spotting in the forests of the national parks as well as beach walks, volleyball and horseriding. Beautiful parks like Manuel Antonio National Park and Absoluta Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve have pristine white beaches as well as birds and animal life. The tiny fishing hamlet of Montezuma near the entrance to Cabo Blanco is surrounded by pretty coves and is a relaxed place to hang out for a few days.