There is a certain atmosphere that permeates the mid Pacific region. It wraps itself around you and frees you from stress and troubles. The Costa Rican salutation of 'pura vida', pure life, describes the area perfectly.
This region of the country stretches from the city of Puntarenas to the mouth of the Rio Baru in the area known as Dominical de Osa. It has three cities attractive to tourists and well developed for tourism: Quepos, Jaco and Puntarenas. The region also comprises the islands in the Gulf of Nicoya, as these are mainly accessed from Puntarenas.
A wet and rainy climate allows for greater biodiversity in the beaches and hills next to the coast; thus, there is a transition from tropical wet forest to tropical forest to tropical dry forest. These ecosystems provide habitat for numerous plant and animal species that are protected in several wilderness areas. Also included within this zone is Isla del Coco, which, though almost 600 kilometers from the port of Puntarenas, falls under this province's jurisdiction.
The Central Pacific possesses the beaches closest to the capital city. Among the best known are Punta Leona, Playa Jaco, Herradura, the Manuel Antonio National Park and Playa Dominical. They enjoy the characteristics of a very hot and humid climate, with a season of brilliant sunshine from December through the end of April and warm waters all year long.
Hills covered with green forests compose the common landscape of the area. Some of the features which have made Manuel Antonio one of the places most preferred by the tourists are the white sand beaches, cliffs, rivers, rain forests, the large variety of animal life, and the hot climate.
The road from the central valley to this area winds through areas of very diverse scenery from cattle grazing and crocodiles in the Grande de Tarcoles River, to the plantations of oil palms in Parrita.
The Pacific Coast ranges over 500 miles from its northernmost tip to its border with neighboring Panama. This vast extension holds countless beaches and picturesque towns and villages. There are also several protected areas and national parks to visit in the region so prepare yourself for a full itinerary of sights to see.
The peak season for the mid Pacific region is from December to April. Visitors will find an abundance of bed and breakfasts as well as top notch hotels that cater to their guests with singular hospitality.
Puntarenas is the largest town on the coast and served for years as one of the country's main ports. Today Puerto Caldera is the primary location for both cargo vessels and cruise lines. While containers are being loaded with exportation goods, cruise line patrons can take a few hours or days for shore leave.
The seafood found in area restaurants is varied and as fresh as it gets. Locals make their living from the big blue and fish for tuna, wahoo, shrimp and lobster Seafood is available at most restaurants and is offered in several tasty dishes typical to Costa Rican fare. Activities abound and even the most discriminating traveler will find an adventure to participate in. Surfing, kayaking, rafting and hiking are just a few of the activities visitors will find.
There are a number of outfits that provide first rate tours into several parks and reserves in the area. Driving your own vehicle will enable you to stop at any of the interesting towns or parks you see along the way. Armed with a map and a good Spanish dictionary, you'll be set for memorable vacation on Costa Rica's mid Pacific coast! Traveling along the coastal road will take you through many seaside towns. They have a lot more to offer other than beaches. You can tour through mangroves and estuaries, horse back ride to tucked away waterfalls and hike through the world of the tropical forest.
Every traveler can enjoy taking in a small town. Not only can you visit the local church or town half, but you can take in the market and pick up a few supplies. With water and a few ripe mangoes, you'll be ready to hit the streets. The market is always a good place to visit when in search of typical items such as colorful woven bags or hand-dipped candles. Have a blended fruit juice with either water or milk at a local "soda". Bear in mind that it's a good way to practice your Spanish.
You'll pass over the Tarcoles River. The bridge is renowned as a spot for watching alligators. From the safety of the bridge's span, you'll be able to see several good-sized ones warming up in the sun on the sandy beach along the river. A number of cows also share the water source and are quite comfortable slacking their thirst with rather large reptiles in plain view. The spot is ideal for both videos and cameras.
Jaco will soon come into view. This small seaside town is casual and laid-back but bustling when it comes to good hotels, restaurants and tour operators. You'll find accommodations for every budget, as well as excellent eateries. Tours running out of the town include horseback riding, fishing and kayaking. Surfers enjoy the town for its surfer friendly atmosphere as well as the accessibility of several surf spots just minutes away. Further down south, you'll pass Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Este and Parrita.
The region's main attractions are its coast and protected wilderness areas. The coast is made up of numerous beautiful beaches, several of which are less than two hours from San Jose, allowing for quick access. With regard to wilderness areas, the region features wildlife refuges, national parks and biological preserves. Other important attractions are of cultural and recreational interest, including the various organized events (especially sporting events) that distinguish the region.
Also worthy of note is the scenic beauty along the coastal highway that connects the Caldera area with the Quepos and Manual Antonio region. Exuberant tropical forests, abundant wild and marine life, and beautiful beaches create an atmosphere that permeates the entire region and wraps itself around you. You will definitely not run out of things to do. Choose from relaxing in the sun to raising your adrenaline levels, in this close by destination.