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North Caribbean comprises the Caribbean coast and goes from the San Juan River to Limón city. Limón city is the tourist center of this Corridor, simultaneously working as an accommodation, stop over, distribution and touring center.

Green turtle’s nesting on Tortuguero National Park and bass ‘s, shad’s and other species' sport fishing at Barra del Colorado National Wild Life Refugee represent the main attraction of the region. It is complimented with the river channel’s system, which connects Moin Port with Barra del Colorado, and has become a singular attraction and the only way of transportation.

Nature-based products get rewarded, specially fauna observation, therefore is a world-known site for bird and turtle’s watching.

 

 
   
ACTIVITIES
 

Tourist activities allow a more specific knowledge of the natural and cultural tourist attractions, as well as a deep relationship between nature, adventure and sport and recreative issues.

 

HORSEBACK RIDING

Tourists can enjoy this activity in communities such as Tortuguero, Limón, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, observing architecture, landscapes and local flora and fauna, visiting indigenous communities, taking photographs and more.

HIKING

Guided or unguided hikes may be enjoyed in communities, natural areas and coastal zones to take in various natural, historical, architectural, social, artistic and cultural attractions.

RECREATIONAL CYCLING

The region boasts many picturesque trails—Cahuita–Puerto Vargas, Puerto Viejo–Manzanillo and others—some for adventure, recreation or relaxation and others for enjoying nature.

ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORIC SITES

The architecture of the Caribbean comprises buildings of great importance that have been declared of historical or architectural interest. The following stand out in downtown Limón: Black Star Line, the Post and Telegraph Building and the Municipal Palace.

CUISINE

Limón has enjoyed culinary influence from diverse ethnic groups, the most representative of which are the Afro-Costa Rican and the Chinese, who, in addition to preparing foods in different ways, brought a large number of plants and tubers with them into the country. Traditional dishes include: rice and beans, dokonú or “blue dress,” patí and plantintah, pan bon and socosí, among others. Caribbean food, as well as a wide range of international cuisine, may be sampled in sodas (small restaurants serving local food), cafes and restaurants in the coastal towns mentioned.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography is one of the worthy activities because of it’s cultural, architectonic and landscaping interest, as well as the flora and fauna, waterfalls, rivers and the wide range of banana, decoration plants, cocoa and other plantations.

SHOPPING

There are shopping centers in the city of Limón where a few objects or souvenirs may be purchased; however, handicrafts and important works of art may be found for sale in communities with greater tourist activity (Tortuguero, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo).

PRIMITIVISTIC ART OF LIMÓN

This is considered an important movement in painting and sculpture in the country due to the abundance of painters whose work authentically expresses the symbolic content of the region’s cultures and natural luxuriance. Galleries may be visited and works of art purchased in Guápiles, Limón, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.

REEF DIVING

The natural beauty of Cahuita and Puerto Vargas’ beaches is complemented by the largest fringing coral reef in the Costa Rican Caribbean. In addition, the reefs off Punta Cocles, Punta Uva, Manzanillo and Punta Mona are not to be forgotten. These sites are ideal for admiring coral (brain, moose- and deer-horn, fire, rose, lettuce and more), mollusks, sea fans, crustaceans, turtles and multicolored fish, among other attractions.

ADVENTURES BETWEEN NATURALISTIC PATHS AND TREE TOPS

Several companies have developed facilities for enjoying nature-trail and canopy adventure activities, including: Puerto Viejo Botanical Garden, Samasati Biological Preserve and Yoga Center, and Terraventura Canopy (Río Carbón valley).

INDIGENOUS RESERVATIONS

The visitors of the region have multiple services and facilities available, which compliment the existent coastal and wild areas attractions. The butterfly farm, cocoa plantation and Keköldi and Bribri Indigenous Reserve can also be visited..

TREETOP’S TOUR (RAINFOREST AERIAL TRAM)

Adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park, 22 kilometers after the Zurquí Tunnel along the highway to Guápiles, the Rainforest Aerial Tram was built so people could enjoy activities in the rainforest canopy, such as observing various monkey and bird species, orchid varieties, bromeliads, pinguins, climbing plants and insect communities.

 

 
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Carribean people celebrates historic, cultural, sportive, civic and artistical activities through the year, as well as organizing raise-funding fairs for their communal development..

  • JANUARY.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.
  • FEBRUARY.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.
    Chinese New Year, Limón.
  • APRIL.
    Tropical America Festival, Wet Tropic School, Guácimo.
  • JUNE.
    Cariari Civic Festival.
  • AGUST.
    24. National Parks Day.
    31. Black Culture Day, Flowers of the African Diaspora Festival, Limón.
  • SETEMBER.
    14. Lantern parade.
    15. Costa Rican Independence Day.
    After patriotic festivals, EXPOCOCI, Guápiles.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.
    25. Commemoration of Christopher Columbus’ arrival, flag and band parade in the city of Limón.
  • OCTUBER.
    12. Limón Carnaval.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.
  • NOVEMBER.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.
  • DICEMBER.
    25. Christmas.
    All month. Observation of birds migrating northward, Puerto Viejo–Talamanca.

    RURAL TOURISM ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES

    Eco-Finca Educativa, located 600 meters northeast of the Santa Rosa cemetery, La Rita, Pococí.
    Activities: Guided hikes around the farm, plus sustainable forest management and conservation activities.

     

ATTRACTIONS

 
CALERO AND BRAVA ISLANDS

These are continental or fluvial islands; unlike maritime island territories, these islands are surrounded mainly by fresh water from the rivers that demarcate their flat, alluvial areas. Calero is the largest island of this kind in Costa Rica, with an area of 156.1 square kilometers. Brava is the second largest at 44.4 square kilometers. These adjacent islands are located on the far-northern Caribbean coast within the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge.

RÍO COLORADO

Protected by the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge, this navigable river’s watershed is abundant in breathtakingly beautiful natural places. The Colorado is famous worldwide for its magnificent sport-fishing; tarpon and other fish (bass and mackerel) inhabit its waters.

BARRA DEL COLORADO BEACH

Long and open, the northern Caribbean coast is characterized by strong surf and dangerous currents for swimming. However, its main attraction consists of the canals that run parallel to the beach, with natural landscapes and abundant animal species observable on tours. Delimited on the north by the mouth of the Río Colorado and on the south by an estuary, Barra del Colorado beach is suitable for hiking, nature- and wildlife-watching, fishing and contemplating the sea. Boat trips may be taken through the highly interesting and naturally scenic canals and lagoons in the area. The village of Colorado is a peaceful fishing and farming community divided in two by a landing strip.

TORTUGUERO–COLORADO CANALS

Due to its geologic origins, the region containing the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge and Tortuguero National Park forms an extensive floodplain made up of highly scenic, interconnected canals, waterways and lagoons. One of the rainiest areas in the country (5,000 to 6,000 millimeters per year), this region is rich in biodiversity. These factors allow visitors to this extensive network of waterways the opportunity to tour and explore this marvelous world—unique for its peacefulness and natural luxuriance—by boat, canoe or kayak.

It is a truly relaxing experience to tour the canals and take in the exquisite green of the incredible tropical vegetation, reflected in liquid mirrors everywhere. One such looking glass is Caño Palma, which links Penitencia Lagoon in Tortuguero with Samay Lagoon in Barra del Colorado. This stunningly beautiful canal is named after the abundance of yolillo palms found all around.

TORTUGUERO BEACH

This long beach with its strong surf and lush tropical greenery is a great place to hike and take in Tortuguero National Park’s diverse flora and fauna. The park is adjacent to the village, also named Tortuguero, where the beach is located. Four species of sea turtles nest here: green turtles, most numerous, from April to August; leatherbacks from February to July; hawksbills from April to October; and loggerheads from April to May.

Tourism is the main source of income for Tortuguero village, followed by fishing and subsistence farming. This has produced an interesting mix between the village’s indigenous origins and the many tourism services and facilities that are shaping its present and future, and which allow tourists to enjoy a wide range of activities by day or night: walking and sunbathing on the beach, observing the biodiversity, boating or kayaking the canals, socializing with the locals, sampling typical Caribbean fare or dancing to the beat of tropical or modern music.

TORTUGUERO HILL

This hill is located at one end of a long fluvial peninsula stretching north to south and ending in a point off Tortuguero village. The peninsula is surrounded by Tortuguero Lagoon on the east and Penitencia Lagoon on the west. At 119 meters in height, Tortuguero Hill is the only raised ground in this whole coastal area; thus, an unparalleled panoramic view of canals, village, coast and surrounding area may be enjoyed from the summit. With an approximate area of 25 hectares, the place is completely covered with vegetation. To visit it, tourists must take a tour from Tortuguero. The climb to the top takes around 30 minutes.

RÍO PARISMINA MOUTH

In its lower stretches, the Río Reventazón—one of the mightiest in the country—joins the Parismina. This river, particularly the areas around its mouth, has a big reputation for its fabulous fishing. Several fishing lodges offer everything a visitor needs for sport-fishing in this region, which borders Tortuguero National Park to the north; the wharf at Caño Blanco is the starting point for many trips to the national park.

RÍO PACUARE

World famous among rafting fans and experts, this lush tropical river is considered one of the most beautiful in the world for enjoying whitewater activities. The Pacuare is rated class III-IV on the international whitewater scale. Those running it can enjoy waterfalls and tributaries complemented by the luxuriant and always green vegetation that adds so much value to the trip.

 

 
PUERTO MOÍN

This port is the launch point for boats transporting goods and passengers through a network of fluvial canals to Barra de Matina, Parismina and Barra del Colorado, thus interconnecting the various river communities along the 112-kilometer-long waterway. This highly scenic route allows tourists to enjoy a landscape of contrast and beauty, especially after Jalova Lagoon, where the southern limits of Tortuguero National Park begin.

EXPOPOCOCÍ (LIVESTOCK SHOW)

This show takes place after Independence Day celebrations in the town of Guápiles. The exhibition features the best livestock in the region with representation from the rest of the country and abroad. Prizes are awarded to the best animals and various other events are held, including dances, horse-and-cart parades, concerts, auto shows and the crowning of the Queen of the event.

PLAYA BONITA

Situated five kilometers north of the city of Limón, this easy-access beach’s big waves are ideal for surfers. Luxuriant tropical greenery surrounds this lovely spot, with coconut palms endowing the place with special scenic appeal. Due to its beauty and proximity to Limón, this beach is a favorite with the city’s residents and with tourists looking to enjoy the ocean. Various activities, such as concerts and surfing contests, are often held here. Playa Bonita is perfect for sunbathing, walking along the beach, swimming (with caution), nature-watching, beach volleyball, picnics and family fun..

CARIARI RECREATIONAL PARK

Boasting a privileged location on a promontory swathed in tropical greenery that separates Portete bay and Playa Bonita, this park is the favorite swimming area of the residents of Limón. Portete is a mooring place for artisan fishing craft. Highly scenic, the area has a looping trail that offers extensive views of the ocean, beaches and Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island). Birds, iguanas, raccoons, reptiles, sloths and other wildlife may be seen in the 20-hectare park..

LIMÓN CITY

The shortest route to Limón is the Braulio Carrillo highway, but the Turrialba route along the old highway may also be taken. The distance is approximately 160 kilometers. History records that in 1502 Christopher Columbus landed in Costa Rica at the place known as Puerto Limón. The country’s port par excellence thanks to import and export traffic, Limón now has the facilities to receive cruise ships as well. The city’s old quarter has the characteristics of a historical center and is currently under urban renovation with restoration of buildings and a pedestrian walkway from Parque Vargas to the market.

LIMÓN CARNIVAL

Celebrated every year during the week of October 12, which commemorates Cultures Day, this event is of great interest to tourists and generates much local and national excitement. A Carnival Queen is chosen beforehand, and in the afternoons costumed groups may be seen rehearsing in the barrios. Other activities include a parade of costumed groups and floats, masquerades, marching bands, national and international concert groups and a traditional dragon dance put on by the Chinese community. The most anticipated event of the year, the carnival enjoys the participation of the entire community of Limón. The floats, bands and costumed groups, with all the music and color that characterize this event, are complemented by other attractions such as amusement park rides, Caribbean food and drink, fireworks and handicrafts and carnival souvenirs for sale.

AFRO-CARIBBEAN CUISINE

The Caribbean region is also distinguished from the rest of the country by its traditional dishes. Examples of delectable and highly popular food and drink include rondón (a mix of various vegetables with beef, chicken, fish or turtle meat), fish (stewed, in marinade or fried), sancocho (chicken and pork with tomatoes, yucca, potatoes and sweet potatoes), rice and beans (cooked in coconut milk and accompanied by chicken, fish, pork or beef), patí (meat pastries with chili pepper), plantintah (a pastry made with ripe plantains), bread fruit (pureed, in pudding or fried), turtle meat (in rondón or fin soup), beef tripe (with tubers and spices), Johnny cake (coconut bread), ginger cookies, ginger beer, guarapo (an alcoholic drink made from fermented corn) and agua de sapo or agua de hiel (a very popular drink made with ginger, lime and brown cane sugar).

 

 
CARIBBEAN CULTURAL EXPRESSION

The Caribbean enjoys a diversity of cultures: Afro-Costa Rican, Bribri and Cabécar, Asian, Italian and Central American, among others. Besides food, the region features a collection of cultural activities and traditions that also differentiate it from the rest of the country. One such tradition, very well known, is the region’s music, which combines various elements and influences: calypso and reggae. As for traditional dances, the cuadrilla (square dance) is one of the most typical. Games and legends occupy a special place in the region’s culture as well.

The Creole English spoken by most Afro-Caribbeans from Limón is also unique to the region. With a greater variety of religious beliefs, religious faith is much more heterogeneous here than in the rest of the country. Finally, the noteworthy local architecture is a result of the society’s lifestyle; its forms and spaces respond to climatic, cultural, technological and economic conditions. Limón’s old quarter owes itself to the effervescence of the banana-production industry; public and commercial buildings display Victorian, Caribbean and art nouveau influences.

BLACK STAR LINE

Built in 1922, this historical building is located in Limón city (at the corner of Calle 5 and Avenida 5). The two-story building features a large salon called “Liberty Hall” as well as a restaurant specializing in Caribbean food, and was declared an architectural heritage site in 1988. It was named after the shipping company founded by Marcus Garvey, champion of black rights. Garvey visited Limón twice, and established an association headquartered in this building. A number of cultural activities have taken place here, including the 1949 crowning of the first Carnival—or, back then, Limón Civic Festival—Queen.

LIMÓN BOULEVARD

This beautiful pedestrian walkway takes up four blocks of Avenida 2 in the city of Limón. It starts in the west at Calle 4 and ends in the east in front of the seawall. Built in 1941, the central market is on the boulevard; opposite it on the corner sits a beautiful building: Banco Nacional de Costa Rica. Another lovely edifice, the Pensión Costa Rica, is located a block and a half to the east. Parque Vargas is on the last block. Opposite its north side is the Limón municipal building; on the other side is an old structure that once belonged to the Banana Company and today houses offices and shops. The boulevard ends at the seawall, where there is an amphitheater from which Quiribrí Island may be seen. The seawall is well frequented by Limón’s residents and by tourists. Bordering the shore, it stretches several hundred meters to Hospital Tony Facio.

QUIRIBRÍ ISLAND (UVITA)

This island territory was declared a National Monument in 1985 for having been the first place visited by Christopher Columbus when he landed on this Caribbean shore during his fourth voyage in 1502. It was precisely because of the wealth exhibited by the indigenous people with whom he came into contact that Columbus—perhaps also inspired by the tropical luxuriance of the land—named the place “Costa Rica” (“Rich Coast”). The island was called Quiribrí. It is an attractive place, as much for its lush tropical greenery as for its rocky contours and coral reefs. A pleasant beach lies close to the island’s wharf. A looping trail may be enjoyed, as well as excellent diving and surfing. On September 25, Columbus’ arrival is commemorated with a brilliant flag parade and school bands from the Limón central canton.

 

PROTECTED AREAS

 
BARRA DEL COLORADO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Created in 1985, this refuge is located at the north end of the Caribbean region, on the border with Nicaragua. Its 78,977 hectares shelter canals, lagoons, rivers, marshes, forests, hills under 250 meters high and continental or fluvial islands. Receiving some 5,500 to 6,000 millimeters of precipitation per year, the region has no dry season to speak of.

The refuge is home to a wealth of biodiversity in plants and animals, some species of which are endemic to (found only in) this protected area. The region’s plant life is made up of three types of vegetation: flooded forest, yolillo palm and tall grass. With regard to wildlife, there are crocodiles, caimans, manatees, tapirs, jaguars, Congo and white-faced monkeys and three-toed sloths, as well as Gaspar fish—considered living fossils.

Barra del Colorado’s abundant fish life makes it a sport-fishing paradise. A permit is required. There are several fishing camps in the area, where record-breaking catches have been taken. To get to Barra del Colorado, tourists can take a boat from Moín, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí or other points, or a plane from San José.

TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK

Established in 1975, Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most biologically diverse wildlife areas. Featuring one of the most verdant landscapes in the country, the 26,156-hectare park was created with the main purpose of protecting the western Caribbean’s most important green sea turtle nesting area. Tortuguero owes its very wet tropical forest to the 5,000 to 6,000 millimeters of rain it receives per year. These climatic conditions are favorable to more than 400 tree species, around 2,200 species of other plants and more than 400 bird, 60 amphibian and 30 freshwater fish species, as well as several endangered animals, including tapirs, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, manatees and sloths. Tortuguero is characterized by beautifully scenic canals, lagoons and rivers that may be toured by boat, canoe or kayak. In addition to the green turtle, three other sea turtle species nest on the park’s beaches. The park features a display room, information, drinking water, restrooms, trails and other services.

BARBILLA NATIONAL PARK

First declared a biological preserve in 1982, this protected area became a national park in 1998. Sheltering a large tropical wet forest, the park’s 11,994-hectare territory is an important water resource. Located some 20 kilometers from the city of Siquirres, the park is difficult to access. For this reason, and because necessary facilities are not available, visits are only recommended for those accustomed to hiking and should be led by local guides from the community of Las Brisas de Pacuarito, where the national park’s administration office is located. The park contains primary tropical wet forest and tropical very wet forest. Altitudinal variations from 110 to 1,617 meters above sea level make for great biological wealth. Yearly rainfall is between 3,500 and 4,599 millimeters. Pumas, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, monkeys and many bird species inhabit the park’s forests.