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Costa Rica

Pacific or Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica ?

Hi Guys ! 

Travelling to Costa Rica next February for just over 2 weeks! We're 2 french scuba divers so willing to dive in Cataline Islands (close to papagayo bay) and Isla del Canô (Osa Peninsula)... 

But Pacific coast of CR seems very touristy and not really what we are looking for. 

Knowing we have to go to the Pacific coast to dive though, would u recommend still taking the time to go to Caribbean coast (we renting out a small 4x4 FYI) ? 



6 Answers

answered by
Don from Austin (Texas)

I favor the Pacific coast but you need to travel south to get out of the tourist areas. Fly from San Jose to Quepos (it's inexpensive and quick) and rent a four wheel drive vehicle. From there you want to head south to Dominical or other small towns along the coast or even further down into the National Park. You'll be able to rent entire gorgeous homes inexpensively in the area, enjoy local culture and it's a great step off point for adventure and countless beautiful empty beaches and magnificent nature. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Jose (city)
  2. Quepos (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Rocio from Costa Rica

Hello Emily! Outstanding answer from Jacey & Scott. Just want to add a few nice places that I love and are located also in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica but are not very touristy. Las Catalinas is located right in the center of the "gold coast" area of Guanacaste that is within close situated on the pristine Zapotal and beautiful beaches such as Potrero, Danta Beach and Dantita Beach. Offshore, anglers relish some of the best deep-sea fishing in the country, while scuba divers encounter a fascinating underwater world at Islas Santa Catalina and other famous dive spots.

Other spots that I love in Paradise are Playa Santa Teresa and Malpais Villas Hermosas the best place to stay in Santa Tere. You wont regret it!!

Hope this helps. Pura vida!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (attraction)
  2. Las Catalinas (attraction)
  3. Guanacaste (region)
  4. Zapotal (attraction)
  5. Potrero (city)
  6. Danta Beach (attraction)
  7. Dantita Beach (attraction)
  8. Islas Santa Catalina (attraction)
  9. Playa Santa Teresa (attraction)
  10. Malpais (city)
  11. Villas Hermosas (attraction)
1 thankscomments (2)

answered first by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

Hello Emily!  Are you planning to dive almost every day?  If you are, then I would probably stick to the Pacific Coast.  I would also suggest adding Cocos Island to your list.  It will be a live aboard trip, since it's 300 miles from the Pacific Coast, but is a world renowned dive site.  Even if you are only planning to dive for part of the trip, I would stick to the Pacific.  I started going to Costa Rica about 20 years, and it has certainly changed.  

It's the reason why I don't go to the Papagayo/Guanacaste area.  I feel like I can get that experience in many places throughout the world.  While Manuel Antoniois a tourist destination, it also feels very intimate to me.  The hotels are small and boutique, and are built in and around the jungle, so while it does draw many tourists, it really doesn't have a tourist vibe to it. 

If you are looking for a fantastic experience, I would concentrate on the Osa Peninsula.  I have twice stayed at Aguila De Osa Inn.  There are only a handful of lodges down there. The lodge is about a 30 minute boat ride from Caño Island Biological Reserves.  Not only can you dive, but I would also encourage you to take some day hikes into Corcovado.  They will take you by boat to the park entrance and send you off with a guide.  Truly amazing wildlife experiences.  The Osa Peninsula is not touristy at all.  Mainly because the vast majority is protected as a National Park.  It is truly an ethereal place on this earth.  Hope that helps, and safe travels!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manuel Antonio (region)
  2. Aguila De Osa Inn (hotel)
  3. Caño Island Biological Reserves (attraction)
  4. Osa Peninsula (region)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Lola from Ireland

I recommend Cahuita. It's in the caribbean side and not crowded! I stayed at Cahuita National Park Hotel which had ocean views and was right next door to the National Park. It's budget friendly and the rooms are spacious. The town has a good selection of bars and restaurants. If you have the need for a more happening night out, it's not too far from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

View from the balcony at the hotel.

Walking path in the park. You can hear howler monkeys and different birds. I loved it!

This is a cool old bus covered in overgrowth off the main road in town.

I hope this helps. Happy travels!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cahuita (city)
  2. Cahuita National Park Hotel (hotel)
  3. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (city)

answered by
Linda from Sarnia, Ontario

think its about 5 hours drive, but we loved the layed back feeling and rain forest feeling of carribean side.  there is surfing on carribean side.  we stayed in town of puerto veijo, lots of backpackers, lots of resturants and bars, you can ride bike through 3 or 4 little towns all along the water.  


answered by
Scott from Boca Raton

The Caribbean Coast has some of the largest underwater National Parks in Costa Rica. Cahuita National Park.

Marino Ballena National Park at 13,300 acres houses the largest coral reef  on the Pacific Coast of Central America.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cahuita National Park (attraction)
  2. Marino Ballena National Park (attraction)

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