With its border located fairly close from the capital of San Jose, Puntarenas is Costa Rica’s largest province. North Puntarenas stretches past the southern border of Manuel Antonio National Park along the Pacific Coast, and South Puntarenas hugs the Panama border. From exciting outdoor adventures to a relaxing getaway, North Puntarenas has a little something to offer every traveler. This province is home to everything from small fishing villages, to surfing towns, and luxury resorts like Los Sueños Resort & Marina; there’s something in North Puntarenas for everyone.
Home to a fantastic array of diverse flora and fauna as well as stunning biodiversity, North Puntarenas is an ideal location for outdoor adventure. From challenging white water rapids down the Cordillera de Tilaran to surfing along one of the Nicoya Peninsula’s top rated beaches, travelers can break a sweat however they’d like here.
Jaco is one of the most popular destinations in North Puntarenas, as it is both a beach community and hub for exciting nightlife. Jaco Beach is known for its stunning black sand and prime surfing conditions. Experienced riders can take a short drive from Jaco Beach to Hermosa, which is the site of several international surfing championships and boasts some of the best waves in the region.
Carara Biological Reserve is another prized destination, known for its extensive population of birds. Scarlet macaws reside in this wildlife reserve and are a top draw for many travelers coming here.
Known for its sprawling white-sand beaches, emerald green forests and diverse wildlife, Manual Antonio National Park is one of the most beloved parks in Costa Rica. Created in 1972 to preserve the dense natural beauty, Manual Antonio is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Although it only encompasses about 136,000 acres, 109 mammal species and 184 bird species call this national park home, including the endangered squirrel monkey.
Manuel Antonio is home to four beaches: Manuel Antonio, Espadilla Sur, Escondida and Playita, which offer an array of aquatic activities, including snorkeling, surfing and swimming. The park’s exhaustive trail system makes it possible to catch a glimpse of an array of animals, including coati, mantled howler monkey, two-toed sloth and common tink frog in their natural habitat. The park also includes 12 small isles just off the coast, mangrove wetlands, lagoons and both primary and secondary forests.
The Nicoya Peninsula is also partially located in North Puntarenas. Mal Pais, a quaint beach town is located here, as well as several other uncrowded shorelines that make it easy to find seclusion and have a relaxing getaway. Just north of Cabo Blanco (White Cape) National Park, the tiny village of Mal Pais (Bad Country) is a quietly laid back beach lover’s paradise. Its rocky coastline and strange volcanic formations alternate with pockets of beaches, some made up entirely of tiny seashells. This stretch of the Pacific Coast offers some of the country’s most compelling scenery. Old growth jungles, full of mischievous monkeys and colorful birds, grow down to water’s edge.