Caribe Sur Info
CARIBE SUR and the Atlantic zone region, filled with pristine, untouched nature, is home to several of the countries most notable national parks including Braulio Carrillo, Cahuita, Chirripó, and Tortuguero. In addition, several biological reserves also share this fertile coastal habitat; Hitoy-Cerere, which is located at the head of the Valle de la Estrella and the Gandoca Manzanillo Reserve, which extends south to the Panamanian boarder. Home to more than 500 birds species, representing more than 58 distinct families, this particular area is comprised of virgin natural habitat that guarantees a healthy bird population. While walking through certain portions of this region, the bird enthusiast is often treated to sightings representing an entire range of niches and habitats.
This is a coast where the evergreen mountains of the deep forest line the long stretches of quiet, sandy beaches. Year round, these stretches of white or black sand beaches are ideal for leisure activities such as horse back riding, sun bathing, hiking, or snorkeling among the colorful coral reefs. Home to an infinite variety of underwater sea life, Tucuxi dolphins have been swimming along these shores for as long as locals can remember. While there were no records of this species in the area, it has just recently been acknowledged to have immigrated from South America. Furthermore, four species of sea turtles are yearly visitors to the Gandoca Manzanillo refuge, nesting between the months of March and July on the Gandoca beach inside the reserve.
One of the best beaches for snorkeling is Playa Chiquita, located just three miles south of Puerto Viejo, which has a small reef on its north side. With a larger reef and longer beach, Punta Uva is a pleasant alternative also providing terrific swimming possibilities. Manzanillo, the last town south of Puerto Viejo, has the biggest reef and is also better equipped for those interested in snorkeling. From this area, you can rent professional equipment and venture on your own, or you can find a personal guide to bring you to specific locations; or perhaps, take part in the special “Dolphins Watch Tour” which is a real treat!!! Hiking to Monkey Point is another attraction, where you will find another good spot for snorkeling.
Salsa Brava and Cocles beaches are the main attraction for international surfers, more often between the months of September and December, and then again during the months of April, June and July. The Salsa Brava swell is world famous for its reefy, side shore power wave preferred only by the hard-core professional surfers. There are other beaches that are ideal for surfing, like Cahuita’s Black Beach, in addition to several points along the 10 kilometer coastline which stretches south of the sleepy town of Manzanillo. Punta Uva and Playa Chiquita have ridable but dangerous reef breaks, although at times some of these waves are ideal for beginners. Several of these beaches host numerous International Surf Competitions held throughout the year.
The Indian reserve in Bribri or the Kekoldi Indian Reservation are the home of highly organized indigenous groups like the Bribri, Kekoldi and the Cabecar Indians. As you visit places like the Parque de la Amistad in Alta Talamanca you will encounter a hidden ancient world of strong spirits that fight hard to hold on to traditions and costumes practiced by their ancestors over 1000 years ago. Many generations were able to survive in the deep, dense Caribbean jungle, several tribes possessing countless medicinal secrets; their bush doctors, or Shamans as they are called, are highly sought after internationally for their successful cure for cancer.
The South Caribbean Coast is located in the Limón province, just 90 miles east of Costa Rica’s capital of San José and then approximately 40 miles south of the city of Limon, near the border of Panama. It is a 3.5 hour drive from the San Jose airport, or a 4 hour bus ride.
The local temperature is a stable 28º C year around, with a very low ocean tide of approximately 25 cm (one foot). The climate has been often called a ” micro-climate”, implying that the variable factors affecting this region are independent to the rest of the neighboring areas. This region shares very little in common to the rest of the country’s weather cycles and prognostication, as the rainy season is often blessed with several weeks of dry, hot sunny days while weeks of unstoppable tropical rains can be experienced during the summer season. The best, dryest and most stable months of the year are September-October and February through April.
True Caribbean Culture
The beat of the Afro-Caribbean drums to the rhythms of reggae and Calypso, forcing heads and hips to motion from side to side. The flavors of spicy dishes seasoned with the distinct aroma of coconut milk, the product from the swaying palms lining the long white sand beaches of the Caribbean Coast. These distinctive and colorful characters are trademarks of the predominant culture of this region and is what most obviously sets it apart and creates the charming, laid-back feeling to the east coast of Costa Rica.