A Costa Rican treasure trove: why Puntarenas is perfect for visitors.

A long, thin peninsula that runs along Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya, Puntarenas (Spanish for ‘sandy point’) may have once been a major player in coffee exporting, but today is renowned as a coastal region that’s simply fantastic for visitors, thanks to its multitude of features – including rainforests, wildlife sanctuaries, historical and cultural sites, and white sandy beaches and surf spots.

So, in more detail, then, just what should be on your Puntarenas attractions itinerary…?

Historical and cultural attractions

Top of the list of sites of interest in the town of Puntarenas has to be the fittingly monikered Casa de la Cultura. Strangely enough, this space was originally a prison; today, it serves as a sunshine-laden performance space for year-round events, an outside display for contemporary sculptures, and, indoors, an art gallery and center for arty exhibitions and more.

Elsewhere in downtown Puntarenas, you’ll find the Museo Histórico Marino de la Ciudad de Puntarenas (the town’s Marine History Museum). In fact, this venue’s not just a museum but an aquarium. It’s where visitors can receive a history lesson on the populations indigenous to the Puntarenas region and on Isla del Coco’s natural treasures.

Carara National Park

Situated not far from Puntarenas accommodation, just 45 minutes out of town by car, this national park is a wonderful resource for stunning Costa Rican natural beauty; blessed, as it is, with not just tropical rainforest lowland but dry forest habitats, too, while half of all the country’s avian species can be found within its borders, as well as howler monkeys, spider monkeys and cute-as-you-like two-toed and three-toed sloths. Believe it or not, the elevation in this park reaches 1,640 feet at its highest point.

Macaw Conservation Sanctuary (NATUWA)

The dedicated site of a wildlife conservation charity that seeks, at every turn, to save and protect the scarlet macaw species of parrot, NATUWA’s also, as you might expect, a wonderful attraction. All the birds here are free to live and fly as they wish (that’s to say, none of them are caged); the sanctuary’s environment, then, mirrors the conditions they would encounter in the wild – a humid, deciduous, and tropical evergreen environment.

An interesting, little-known fact about scarlet macaws: they’re a parrot species that mate for life; so much so that, to an extent, individual scarlet macaws are dependent on mates for the likes of food and other features of survival, which means that when one mate dies, the other doesn’t tend to live much longer. Poignant but romantic, in its way.

Doka Estate and Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation

It’s hard to escape the fact Costa Rica is one of the world’s biggest sources of coffee, so if you’re a big fan of the caffeine-supplying beverage, why not combine that love with your time spent in the Puntarenas region? Indeed, there’s no better way than by visiting the Doka Estate; the oldest wet coffee mill in the entire country. Here, you’ll be able to learn all about its specific process for making coffee, honed over the years by the Vargas Ruiz family, who’ve been in charge of things for the past seven decades.

An official historical and architectural heritage site, too, it’s a pretty fascinating place all-round, not least because the coffee here’s created by using water, yes, but without the aid of electricity at all. Moreover, the Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation is a farm that covers a full 270 acres on which work more than 2,300 farm employees work. So, why not book a guided tour when you arrive at your Puntarenas resort?






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