Clean beaches and the interesting Iguana Park are found in the areas around Puntarenas.
The Pro Iguana Verde Foundation has created this non-profit project in order to protect the endangered green iguana. One of the major reasons the green iguana is endangered is because it has been severely over hunted for food. Through breeding and release programs, the foundation has released an estimated 100,000 iguanas into the wild as well as providing an income for iguana "farmers".In the park's visitors center there are videos and exhibits about the green iguana and the foundation's project. The on-site restaurants allows for a sampling of iguana meat. Iguana Park covers 400ha/988ac of tropical rainforest and offers 4km/2.5mi of hiking trails. A canopy platform is found in the primary forest area, where visitors can rappel from tree to tree high above the ground.The foundation also supports projects to protect and monitor tropical birds such as the scarlet macaw. On the grounds there also is a training center where biologists and Latin American students can learn about migratory and resident bird species as well as habitat protection. Local education is the primary goal of the park and foundation, and entrance fees support the projects.
Address: Box 692-1007, Costa Rica
Doña Ana & Boca Barranca Beaches
These two beaches are good for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. Boca Barranca is a bit better for surfing, while Doña Ana is better developed for visitors. Doña Ana features changing areas, picnic areas as well as several snack bars.
Carara Biological Reserve
Surrounded by pasture and agricultural land, this biological reserve covers 4,700ha/11,609ac and is the northern most tropical wet forest on the Pacific coast. The large area attracts a diverse amount of wildlife to the reserve and five Holdridge Life Zones occur in its boundaries.Several species of forest birds inhabit Carara, although they are often difficult to spot without an experienced guide. Guans, toucans and the scarlet macaw are present in the park, as are mammals such as monkeys, sloths, squirrels and agoutis. The reserve receives almost 3,000mm of rainfall annually. There are some short trails and a picnic area near the Carara ranger station.
This is Costa Rica's major port on the Pacific coast. It opened in 1981, and several commercial ships, cruise ships and yachts are often moored here.
Mata de Limon, Costa Rica
Mata de Limón is a small village that has become a popular beach resort with residents from the Puntarenas and highlands region. A few options for accommodation and several restaurants are found here. The village is divided into two sections by a river, and most services are found on the south side. Also here is a mangrove lagoon offering very good birding, especially during low tide.
Matapalo, Costa Rica
This tiny village offers a less crowded stretch of beach that is good for swimming. There are a few accommodations in the area, and camping on the beach is allowed.