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10 Must-Do Activities in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 6, 2023

Nestled along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the stunning city of Puntarenas is a haven for those seeking natural beauty and adventure. With its pristine beaches, lush forests, and diverse wildlife, it’s no wonder that Puntarenas is one of the top travel destinations in the country. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the top 10 must-do activities in Puntarenas, giving you an insider’s guide to this incredible city.

1. Visit the Beaches

Puntarenas boasts some of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Costa Rica. Playa Doña Ana, located just a short walk from the city centre, is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. This crescent-shaped beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and playing beach volleyball. Playa Pochote is another must-visit beach, known for its calm waters and stunning sunsets. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach or an active day of water sports, Puntarenas has a beach for you.

2. Surfing

Surfing is one of the top activities in Puntarenas, and for good reason. With consistent waves and warm water, Puntarenas is a surfer’s paradise. Playa Doña Ana and Playa Caldera are popular surf spots for beginners, while more experienced surfers will love the waves at Boca Barranca, one of the longest left-hand waves in the world. There are plenty of surf schools in Puntarenas where you can take a lesson or rent a board, making it easy to get in on the action.

3. Kayaking

Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the coastline and nearby islands of Puntarenas. Take a guided tour and paddle through the mangrove forests of the Tempisque River, where you can spot crocodiles, monkeys, and a variety of bird species. Or, venture out on your own and discover secluded beaches and hidden coves. The calm waters of Puntarenas make kayaking accessible for all levels of experience, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.

4. Hiking and Birdwatching

Puntarenas is home to several nature reserves and hiking trails, where you can take in the breathtaking scenery and spot a variety of bird species. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, located just a few hours from Puntarenas, is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. This reserve is home to over 400 species of birds, including the resplendent quetzal, as well as numerous hiking trails that wind through the lush forest. Carara National Park, located just outside of Puntarenas, is another great spot for hiking and birdwatching. This park is home to a variety of wildlife, including scarlet macaws, crocodiles, and monkeys.

5. Learn about Local Culture

To truly experience the culture of Puntarenas, head to the local markets and try some traditional Costa Rican cuisine. The Mercado Municipal is a bustling market where you can find everything from fresh produce to handmade souvenirs. Be sure to try some of the local dishes, such as gallo pinto (rice and beans) and ceviche (marinated raw fish). You can also visit the local fish market, where you can see the daily catch and watch the fishermen at work.

6. Historical Sites and Museums

Puntarenas has a rich history, and there are several sites and museums that showcase its cultural heritage. The Puntarenas Marine Historical Museum, located in an old customs building, offers a glimpse into the city’s maritime past. Here, you can see exhibits on the region’s fishing industry, as well as artefacts from the historic Battle of Puntarenas. Another must-see museum is the Casa de la Cultura, which showcases the history and culture of the city through art, photography, and traditional crafts.

7. Whale and Dolphin Watching:

The waters off the coast of Puntarenas are home to a variety of marine life, including humpback whales and dolphins. Take a boat tour and see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Depending on the season, you may also spot sea turtles, manta rays, and even whale sharks.

8. Zip-lining and Canopy Tours:

For adrenaline junkies, zip-lining and canopy tours are a must-do activity in Puntarenas. Fly through the treetops and experience the thrill of being surrounded by the lush jungle canopy. Many tours also include other activities such as rappelling, hiking, and even horseback riding.

9. Hot Springs and Waterfalls

After a day of adventure, unwind and relax at one of Puntarenas’ hot springs or waterfalls. The Rio Perdido Hot Springs, located just a short drive from Puntarenas, offer a rejuvenating soak in natural mineral-rich waters. Or, head to the nearby La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you can see five beautiful waterfalls and relax in the hot springs and pools.

10. Nightlife

Puntarenas has a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. Sip a cocktail at a beachfront bar and watch the sunset, or dance the night away at one of the city’s many clubs. No matter what your style, Puntarenas has something for everyone.

In conclusion, Puntarenas, Costa Rica is a destination that offers a plethora of exciting activities for travellers to explore. From the beautiful beaches and surfing to kayaking and hiking, there is something for everyone. However, what many visitors may not realise is that volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica provides a unique opportunity to experience Puntarenas and other nearby destinations in a way that few tourists can.

By joining a GVI program, volunteers have the chance to immerse themselves in local communities, learn about the culture, and make a positive impact through sustainable projects. Volunteers can also explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica, including the stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and exotic wildlife.

Volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica is not only a chance to discover the best of Puntarenas and other destinations, but it is also an opportunity to give back and make a meaningful contribution to the local community. So why not consider joining a GVI program in Costa Rica and experience this beautiful country in a truly unique and rewarding way?

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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