Backpackers Guide to Cahuita National Park
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Cahuita National Park is a nature lovers paradise, snakes and lizards crawl along the damp forest floor, Howler Monkeys swing from the trees and birds occupy the sky above. Visitors to the park get the unique experience of seeing some of the most beautiful wildlife in their natural habitat while supporting their conservation. No trip to Puerto Viejo or Costa Rica as a whole, would be complete without a visit – here is our detailed guide to Cahuita National Park.
Getting to Cahuita
The town of Cahuita is walking distance from the park, however, if you plan on being in the area a few days I would stay in Puerto Viejo. This is mainly due to the fact there is more to do in Puerto Viejo including visiting the Jaguar Rescue Center and many amazing beaches.
From Puerto Viejo to the town of Cahuita there are regular busses from Avenida 73 (the main street that runs parallel to the beach in Puerto Viejo) the times are 6:30 7:30 9:30 and 11:30am. There are afternoon buses but I wouldn’t want to get to the park that late, it closes as 5pm!
Returning is a different story as there was no bus times. That being said, there are many buses that pass that way and you won’t wait long. Just remember buses in Costa Rica don’t seem to run later than 6pm and in Puerto Viejo this is true so don’t miss the last bus.
Bus cost – Each way the bus is $1.50USD or B750
The park is free however there is a compulsory donation. The minimum recommended donation is $5 USD and the lady at reception will ask you for the donation, so it isn’t something you can do for free. The donation is for preserving the park so it goes to a good cause anyways!
In the park you can’t snorkel without a guide and they charge $25USD so for me I wasn’t going to do it unless it was a nice day and visibility was good. Visibility was terrible the day I visited so I opted to save my money. Fun fact, in 1991 an earthquake lifted the sea bed 3 meters and has since destroyed a lot of the reef so the snorkeling isn’t as good as it once was.
What to Take to Cahuita National Park
Bathers and towel – Swimming is a great way to cool down after wandering the humid rainforest so bring swimmers. Remember to only swim at beaches without red flags as the currents can be dangerous in the park.
Bug repellent – Mosquitos are around and I wish I had brought some!
Pack your own lunch – In the park there is nowhere to buy food so unless you want to walk to the exit (remember the trail is 8km each way) you will need to bring your own. Just watch out for the Raccoons, they will steal your food!
Bring plenty of water – It is hot even with the shade and I certainly did not take enough and ended up wanting to drink the sea water.
Camera and Binoculars – The camera is obvious! The binoculars (if you have them) would be so handy, especially for seeing Sloths as they are hard to spot.
- The park is really cheap and with my $5 donation the day cost $8 so there isn’t any money saving tips unless you try to skip the donation (please don’t).
- Remember it’s a national park not a Zoo – Being from Australia I am more used to spotting snakes and being aware of their presence. However, others aren’t and while I was there a guy was so focused on getting a photo he stood right next to a Viper. Luckily the snake had an escape route and left, so please be safe!
- Don’t let nature pass you by – Spend lots of time quiet and still, this is when you will see the most.
Cahuita National Park was such a remarkable experience, I highly recommend checking it out!
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May 24, 2018