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Cahuita National Park. Calipso, Flavour, Sea and Beach

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We salute the illustrious Walter Ferguson, favourite son of Cahuita, a living legend, a man of rhythm, stories, chords and the flavour of the culture of Limón and the Caribbean. Don Walter is to Cahuita as is the sea that kisses the black beach and the white beach. With almost 100 years the Jewel of the South of Costa Rica, the national park dear Don Walter embellishes the history and the richness of these blessed lands with his Cabin in the Wata.

Don Walter today we dedicate this entry to your Cahuita, to your rhythm, to your songs and to you.


About Cahuita National Park.

Cahuita is a unique National Park in Costa Rica for its close relationship with the community, an example of shared management between the community and the government for sustainable development at the community level.

The participation of park rangers and community lifeguards is highlighted through shared governance management. Get to know the best preserved coral reef in the Costa Rican Caribbean and enjoy the scenery, culture and gastronomy that the area has to offer.

Foto: Rykas Oropel Parque Nacional Cahuita.

White sandy beaches, turquoise sea and diverse marine life are some of the attractions that await you in Cahuita National Park, in the province of Limón.

In this ecosystem, nestled in the Caribbean but with a forest environment, you will find species such as raccoons, coatis, sloths, iguanas and basilisks. You will also see snakes such as the oropel and the tamaga, and birds such as the crab hawk.

Within the Park it is possible to do recreational sports and hikes along the trails, or simply enjoy the beaches swimming or sunbathing. The park has the support of guides and tour-operators from the community, who have been trained by the National Learning Institute (INA) and are duly accredited by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) to guide and provide service to visitors.

History

The first settlers of Cahuita arrived in the first half of the 18th century, attracted by the coral reef, which years ago was a feeding ground and refuge for large groups of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).

These were highly sought after by indigenous and black settlers, who in rowing and sailing boats sailed from Bocas del Toro and from the coast of Nicaragua.

Mr. William Smith’s family was the first to settle in 1828 on the site known today as “Punta Cahuita”. For many years these early settlers planted crops such as yams, cassava, cocoa and coconuts and built ranches with floors and walls of maquenque palm (Socratea durissima) and roofs of pressed leaves.

In 1915, during the government of president Alfredo Gonzales Flores, the current town of Cahuita was founded. The president, in gratitude to the population for the help received during the shipwreck of his ship, donates a piece of land on which the new town is demarcated.

During this period, the main subsistence economic activity developed by the inhabitants of Cahuita was the cultivation of cocoa and artisanal fishing, but, due to the fall in the prices of this product and diseases that attacked the crops, the inhabitants were forced to start new forms of subsistence such as logging and cattle raising.

In 1970 the Cahuita National Monument was created to protect the coral reef and in 1978 it was declared a National Park. It was one of the first National Parks created in the country, for the conservation of nature and the benefit of all Costa Ricans and visitors.

The community of Cahuita has dedicated great efforts to the conservation of this National Park since its creation.

This is why in 1998 the Cahuita National Park Management Committee was formed, made up of members of local organisations, as well as representatives of SINAC. This committee develops actions for the conservation and sustainable use of the diverse ecosystems of the Park, making important contributions to the development of the community.

Fees and Opening Hours

Opening hours:

For the Playa Blanca sector:
Every day from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For the sector of Puerto Vargas:
Every day from 8 a. m. to 4 p. m.
Fees: If you enter through the entrance of Playa Blanca, adjacent to the town of Cahuita, the fee is a voluntary contribution in cash.
The money will be invested in the community of Cahuita and the National Park.
If you go through the Puerto Vargas sector, non-resident foreigners pay $5 and resident nationals pay ¢1,000.

Credit card payments are accepted.

How to get there?

By car. From San José, take route 32, which goes towards Limón, passing through the Zurquí tunnel. When you arrive at Puerto Limón, before entering the city, at the fuel station turn right towards the community of Cahuita, arriving at the Playa Blanca sector.

Leaving the community of Cahuita towards the south on route 36 is the entrance to the Puerto Vargas sector.

By air. You can take a small plane from San José to Limón airport, which is about 35 kilometres from Cahuita.

By direct bus from the Atlantic bus terminal, which is located at Avenida 9, Calle 12, in San José.
The road is asphalted and accessible to all types of vehicles.

What can we see and do?

Attractions White sandy beaches with safe areas for bathers to enjoy, and beach activities are available.

Coral reef, with snorkelling areas, where you can observe a great variety of coral fish and developed coral structures, including cerebriform coral, elkhorn coral, sea fans, French angelfish, queen angelfish, Elizabethan angelfish, sea cucumber, lobsters and turtles.

Trails along the coastline where you can observe: howler monkey, white-faced monkey, sloth bears, toucan coatis, trogon, night heron, oriole snake, crab hawk and basilisks.

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