Costa Rica is notorious for its natural beauty and friendly people. The country's natural attractions, wildlife, and reputation for enlightened conservation lure tourists from all over the world. Costa Rica has some of the region's best surfing, beaches galore, and a tropical atmosphere that provide for an exciting vacation.
The Central Pacific, previously hardly reachable by road, today is a short 1:15 hour drive south from San Jose airport on a modern highway.
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Not long ago, Playa Herradura (Horseshoe beach), 7 km (4.4 mi) north of Jaco, was little more than a quiet fishing village. Today it is home to one of Costa Rica 's largest and most luxurious resort: Los Suenos Resort & Marina, home of the area's only golf course, an 18 hole, 72 par, designed by Ted Robinson Jr.
Nevertheless, the secluded beach remains charming in a rural sort of way that is becoming increasingly rare in the country. Playa Herradura is also the departing point for sport fishing charters of all kinds, from the mega luxury yachts to the humbler pangas or longboats, all looking for a successful catch and release of marlin, sword fish, wahoo, tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper and more.
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Jaco, is really a small town that recently developed its tourist offer along the 4 km (2.5 mi) long beach by the same name. The landscape around Jaco is that of utter natural beauty: green rainforest mountains and a crescent beach with cinnamon-colored volcanic sand, lined with lazy palm trees that sway with the ocean breeze.
Jaco has not only become a Mecca for surfers from around the world, but also a vacation destination for families, honeymooners and groups of friends looking for a balance between nature, sun drenched beaches, outdoor activities and a variety of dining, shopping and nightlife options.
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Just 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) south of Jaco there is peace to be found on the sand and crashing waves of paradise-worthy getaway Playa Hermosa, province of Puntarenas (not to be confused with Playa Hermosa in the northern Costa Rican province of Guanacaste).
Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas is the ideal destination for travelers -surfers and non-surfers - who prefer to be outside of the tourist development, yet want to be on a beautiful sandy beach and very close by to the action.
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South of Jaco, on the way to Quepos and Manuel Antonio, the well-paved
Costanera Sur highway curves along the Central Pacific Coast, passing many quiet, deserted beaches just short turn-offs from the highway. The tiny beach communities of Esterillos and Bejuco feel fantastically remote and relaxing as a result.
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Nearby towns and attractions
Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica 's most famous national park and most frequently visited. It encompasses a small, forested area, where many monkeys - especially the squirrel monkey - and raccoons inhabit. Three exquisitely, beautiful beaches fringed with coconut palms - promoting a tropical paradise - reside at this notable park.
Though it boasts lively streets and an extremely friendly, laid-back population, Orotina has never been a major stop on tourists' itinerary. However, the town is a regular stop for locals buying cheap and tasty typical eats on their way to the beach. The parque central is clean and relaxing, and the town makes a decent base from which to explore Iguana Park ,
14km away. Most travelers pass by Orotina en route to Jaco to the south or Puntarenas for the beautiful Nicoya beaches.
A lively event you should not miss if you are in the area right before Easter Week is the
Feria de la Fruta de Orotina (Orotina Fruit Fair), where you are likely to see a cornucopia of tropical fruit and other foods like you have probably never seen.
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Carara National Park .
It was created on April 27, 1978 , and currently measures 5,242 hectares (about 12,52 acres ). It was part of the huge Hacienda El Coyolar, one of the biggest ever in Costa Rica , where the last significant stand of primary forest of its kind has been preserved.
The reserve is located 90 km ( 60 miles ), from San Jose , on the right side of Grande de Tarcoles River following the coastal highway.
Carara is a transitional zone from the dry Northern Coast of Costa Rica to the Southeast's very humid coast; its unique location includes three life zones, the tropical humid forest, pre-mountain tropical rainforest, and mountain rainforest.
Carara has the ten finest hardwood and softwood of Costa Rica , which are identified by informative signs along the trails: crabwood. Spanish cedar, rain tree, cojoba costaricense, hymenea courbaril acosmium panamense, purpleheart, and tabebuia rosea.
Some of the rarest and most spectacular animals of tropical America are also here; scarlet macaw, Great curassow, Fiery-billed aracari, Black and Green poison arrow frog, great anteater and American crocodile. These are endangered species with reduced populations.
Carara National Park also has numerous archaeological sites including one of the main Pre-Colonial settlements in Costa Rica .
- Mean annual temperature: 27ºC (78ºF)
- Mean annual precipitation: 2.800 mm ( 1002 inches )
- Drier months: March and April
- Distances: Tarcoles 2 km , Jaco 17 km , Orotina 25 km
- In spite of its biological diversity, many animals living in Costa Rica are hard to observe because of their migratory or reproductive habits, because they are nocturnal or because the forest is too dense to see them clearly. Move quietly and sharpen your observation skills in order to have better appreciation of the richness of this area).
- All protected wildlife areas have rules that regulate the protection of resources and the activities of visitors. This reserve operates under these rules for public use and all visitors must respect them.
- If you need help or have questions, please ask the rangers or volunteers, they will be ready and willing to help you.
- All living things, plants and animals, alike, share this planet with you. Please respect them.
- Enjoy the forest's peace and natural sounds. Do not play radios or make loud noises that might disturb the tranquility within it.
- Please keep yourself on the trails. The signs are for the benefit of all. Do not deface or destroy them.
- This area is a natural preserve. We invite you to observe, enjoy and take as many pictures as you like. Please do not remove plants, animals, stones or other materials as souvenirs.
- Please collect you garbage and take it with you.
- Do not feed the wildlife. They can suffer serious health problems if they eat people's food.
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About 3km north of Carara National Park, on the highway to Puntarenas and San Jose, is the River Tarcoles Bridge, more commonly called the Crocodile Bridge for the dozens of crocodiles that live in the muddy river and doze by the trail. There you are likely to see 10 to 30 of the immobile reptiles
lounging on the banks of the river, some measuring more than 15 ft . and weighing over 400 lbs.