Islands refuges, rainforest reserves and white water rivers are just a few of the natural attractions available along the country's Central Pacific Coast. The port town of Puntarenas, due west of San Jose, is the gateway to the Gulf of Nicoya and the southern tip of the peninsula of the same name. Though the beach that stretches along the city Is a bit urban, the coast by the mouth of the nearby Barranca River offers a more natural setting, and excellent conditions for surfing. Ferries cross the Nicoya's gulf from Puntarenas, passing rugged and wild islands, and providing access to the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
An array of natural assets includes calm seas, gorgeous beaches, rainforest reserves and waterfalls. The road that follows the coast south from Puntarenas not only winds past some impressive panoramas, it leads to two of the country's most popular beach resorts: Jaco and Manuel Antonio. The palm-lined, sugar-sand beach of Jaco was one of the first in Costa Rica to be developed as a resort, and it consequently boasts an abundance of hotels, restaurants, shops and services. A popular spot with surfers, who are drawn there by its consistent waves, Jaco lies near several natural attractions that are worthy excursions for travelers who tire of beach life.
Nearby you will find Punta Leona, which includes an extensive forest reserve. Further to the south lies the equally popular resort of Manuel Antonio, which is famous for its unforgettable coastal scenery, exuberant tropical nature and ample selection of outdoor adventures.
Manuel Antonio National Park protects beaches, rainforest, reefs and islands, but there is also plenty of beach and forest outside the park that is easy to explore, and with pastime possibilities that include sport fishing, horseback riding, white water rafting, snorkeling, sea kayaking, sunset cruises and a bit of nightlife, you'll never be at a loss for what to do.