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Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Vancouver, Canada
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33 posts
17 reviews
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Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Hi everyone,

We've booked our honeymoon for Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo/Playa Chiquita area) in September for a total of twelve days. We like how laid back and rustic the area sounds. Everything I've read tells us we'll have quite the weather, we can't wait.

So I'm basically looking for recommendations on things to do on the southern Caribbean coast, including advice on a day trip to Bocas del Toro (worth it?). We like wildlife (jaguar rescue centre?), hiking, kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing, that sort of stuff. We'll still take some lazy days in the hammock, but we don't want to pay for a ton excursions either. Anywhere we can rent kayaks ourselves, hiking trails, all that would be very helpful!

What kind of footwear would you recommend for moderate hiking? I am getting conflicting info on whether the rainfall is significant enough in September to warrant full on waterproof hiking boots.

How is the humidity this time of year? I believe it will affect our packing list.

Thanks!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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48,221 posts
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1. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Maybe a couple days in BOcas…is a nice tour…avoid some opportunist trying to sell you everything…hotels…tours…bicycles…shuttles…and most of them with out any ICT credentials.. ( ICT Costa Rica board or tourism)

roadadiv sor

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2. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Hi there! You can´t miss Cahuita National Park. They just ask for a donation at the entrance in the town of Cahuita. There is a huge chance to see many exotic animals, such as iguanas, sloths, capuchin monkeys, jesus christ lizards, and even eyelash vipers.. You can rent a bike in Puerto Viejo (usually 5 USD a day) and go there. It is also a good place for snorkeling. You can enter the park without a guide. Enjoy!

Chicago, Illinois
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for Costa Rica
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3. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Forget waterproof hiking boots. September is the dry season on the Caribbean coast. If you want to hike deep into the Gandoca Manzanillo Reserve you can pick up a pair of rubber boots at minimal cost when you're there. For most hiking all you need are some sneakers with decent tread.

Bocas is a bad idea for a daytrip as it takes 1/2 day to get there from PV. If you really want to visit, look inot ending the trip in Bocas and flying back to San Jose on Nature Air. Snorkeling is better in Bocas but beaches are better south of Puerto Viejo. See www.puertoviejosatellite.com for more info on activities in the area and a map. You can rent kayaks on the beach at Punta Uva west of the point.

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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4. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Day trip to Bocas is not needed, in fact it is a waste of time, IMO. Too much hassle on the van and crossing the border and riding the boat for same thing you will have in and around Puerto Viejo.

Self-guided hiking in Cahuita, guided hiking in Gandoca-Manzanillo, kayaking, visiting BriBri and nearby Volio waterfall, maybe a trip to one of the indigenous tribes, Jaguar Rescue centre, a day at Manzanillo, ... and plenty of relax and those 12 days will pass by quickly.

I am a steady user of hiking boots but more for the safety, and my old(er) ankles then for a real need.

Congratulations, and enjoy the honeymoon in the land of Pura Vida.

Ontario, Canada
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5. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

As mentioned, Sept. -Oct. are the best months on S. Caribbean. If you feel comfortable in your hiking boots, wear them on the plane, as they are heavy and take up space and they will be your hiking shoes there.

Note that Cahuita NP does require a guide if planning to snorkel inside. Other than that - easy hiking trail, 8.5 km. You can swim without a guide and check out the water first on another day - the front part of the park, where the main beach is, by Cahuita, often has big waves and may have red flags in places. Tiny beaches with fallen trees farther down the trail are calmer/better for a dip/swim and will give you an idea on visibility. Since it is not rainy season, the water should be better (we were there in the wettest month, July, and the water was very murky). Watch your belongings on the beach, take turns swimming, + if you bring a snack with you, beware of crab eating raccoons (they are like "normal raccoons", but a bit different in colour and have tall legs)- raccoons can steal your snacks! Same goes for capuchins, though those were mainly by the trail and we personally did not see them when swimming farther in the park.

The Jaguar Rescue Centre has no jaguars, but it has other animals. You cannot touch them. Check which day they are closed, as I think they are open 6 days a week. Public tours at 9:30 and 11:30 ($20 pp) do not need to be reserved, but if you want a more expensive private tour, you need to reserve, and times for those vary. You can only enter the Centre with a tour.

If you walk from the Jaguar Centre to the right along the main Rd or the beach, you will be in Punta Uva pretty soon. The place called Sloth Point on the Punta Uva beach has river kayak rentals. The kayak rental ppl on the beach might be able to point out some wild sloths for you, too.

Between Punta Uva and Manzanillo, there is a road up the hill to the green Macaws reintroduction station - Ara project. See http://thearaproject.org/visit/ . You need to reserve your visit (4-5 pm) by phoning or e-mailing them.

Check out http://www.natureobservatorio.com . You can contact the owner or book online for a guided hike with a visit to the glass tree house, where you climb on a rope.

You mention wildlife in your post. In S. Caribbean, if you walk slowly and look around, you can notice wildlife, incl. sloths, monkeys, even right by the main road, as well as on the property of some hotels, depending on where you are staying.

Have a good trip!

Puerto Viejo, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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6. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

I thought these type of "drive by posts" were finally history.

If Roadadvisor has specific companies he is referring to he should make it clear in his post rather than make these blanket statements that imply many companies are not legitimate. ICT credentials mean very little in this country in reference to credibility.

Vancouver, Canada
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33 posts
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7. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

Thanks everyone for the great information. I laughed at raccoons stealing your snacks - they'll steal my snacks from my porch here if I'm not careful - can't escape them!

As for watching our stuff on the beach due to petty theft - I've read "horror stories" about robbery in the area, but we were just planning on being good travelers. Plastic bags, no jewellery, don't leave your things unattended, that kind of thing...hope that is enough. We do have a good camera I'd like to use but will forgo that for my phone if it's not recommended to carry an SLR in plain view. Thoughts?

Ontario, Canada
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8. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

@7,

We had literally nothing with us. No money on most days when on the beach / hiking, one cheap watch between the 2 of us, 1 small waterproof camera tucked in a pocket, cheap thin folding ponchos in other pockets, water bottles in our hands or in bottle holders over the shoulder, which were obviously just water bottles, no value; swimming suit under the hiking clothes. Sometimes a tiny sunblock or repellent wrapped in a ziplock back, also in a pocket. When we needed money afterwards, we went to the hotel to get $ first, then went out to eat, etc. If we needed $ for a guide, we had that, of course, + a bit extra, but in general, I kept asking myself - Will I be upset if I lose this? If the answer was "Yes, probably", that item stayed home or at least in a hotel safe.

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

A few years back I did the trip to Bocas from the east side. We took the shuttle that was very cheap . We did stay in Bocas for 3 nights and I could see how a day trip would just be too much travelling. The bridge crossing can be time consuming as it was that day. I don't think we actually arrived at our lodging in Bocas till after 3:00 and left PV quite early.

Rehoboth Beach...
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291 posts
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10. Re: Southern Caribbean Coast Recommendations

just got back yesterday, jaguar rescue is fantastic my wife is a sloth freak so she was in heaven, go on the morning tour when they bring out the babies and carry the monkeys out to the jungle for the day. baby sloths being fed by bottle..... bocas takes more than a day we did 5 days there LOVED IT.....so coo,l if u go that far south in CR and dont go to bocas u will regret not going its so close.....if u have any other questions just pm me

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