Caribbean Coast Lowlands Attractions
Mangrove forests, beaches and coastal swamp forests comprise the Caribbean coast lowlands. Very different than the Pacific coast, which is longer and indented, the Caribbean coast is shorter and relatively smooth.
The entire coastal area on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is part of Limón, the least populated province in the country with a population of 250,000.Unlike the Pacific coast, about 50% of the Caribbean coast is protected by two national wildlife refuges and national parks. Development has been slower in this region of Costa Rica, and there are many areas that can be reached only by boat or small aircraft.In place of roads, travellers headed to the northern Caribbean coastal region must make their way via the Intercoastal Waterway. The series of canals leads to the Nicaraguan border passing remote fishing villages and wilderness areas.Limón is the most diverse of the Costa Rican provinces, with one-third of the inhabitants being mostly of Jamaican descent. Southern Limón is also home to several thousand people of indigenous Bribri and Cabecar descent. Travellers are becoming increasingly attracted to the region as it presents a unique and culturally diverse experience in Costa Rica.
Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge
This is the biggest national wildlife refuge in Costa Rica covering 92,000ha/227,240ac adjacent to Tortuguero National Park. Combined, the two areas form a large regional conservation area. The northern border of the refuge is the San Juan River, also the border with Nicaragua.The rainforest and rivers throughout the refuge are home to a number of wildlife, including monkeys, caimans, sloths and several species of birds. While wildlife observation in the refuge is gaining in popularity, the main attraction here is sportfishing.Barracuda, mackerel, bluegill, rainbow bass and mahaca can be caught in the rivers and offshore, however tarpon and snook are the angler's fish of choice. Deep-sea fishing for marlin and sailfish is also available.
Tortuguero Canal (Intercoastal Waterway)
The inland, Intercoastal Waterway offers access to the northern Caribbean coast. Generally, travellers embark from the port of Moín and continue to Tortuguero National Park and beyond. By 1974, canals had been connected to existing natural waterways thus linking the entire system.Today, it is no longer necessary to go offshore in order to travel north, a much safer alternative. Apart from being the most convenient way to travel in the region, riding the Intercoastal Waterway offers travellers another option for observing scenery and wildlife.
Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica
This small village is found near the mouth of the Colorado River. The river divides the village into northern and southern quarters, Barra del Norte and Barra del Sur. The village has no roads, and travel is usually by boat through the swampy area outside the village. The Barra del Colorado area has over 2,000 inhabitants. There are many lodges in the area catering to sportfishers and naturalists.
Guapiles, Costa Rica
Found in the northern foothills of the Cordillera Central, the town of Guápiles is the commercial and social center for the banana and vegetable farmers of the surrounding area. Most of the bananas grown in the Frío River region are transported through Guápiles. A large agricultural market can be found each Saturday in Guápiles.
Las Cusingas Botanical Garden
Covering 20ha/49ac, Las Cusingas Botanical Garden features 80 species of orchids, 80 species of medicinal plants and 30 species of bromeliads. 100 species of birds have been recorded on the grounds.Hiking trails, a library and various courses and research projects are available. Owned by Costa Ricans, the gardens aim to educate about rural Costa Rican life, conservation, medicinal plants and a host of other subjects.
Parismina, Costa Rica
Found on the banks of the Parismina River, this is a small village. The area is known for sportfishing, and there are many fishing lodges in the vicinity. Snook and Atlantic tarpon are common catches, and offshore reef fishing is also a popular activity. Nature tours of nearby national parks are also a popular activity when staying in Parismina.
Guacimo, Costa Rica
The small town of Guácimo is known as the home of EARTH, a school attracting students from all over Latin America. There are a few interesting attractions in the area, and many travellers stop in the town for a meal and supplies while travelling the Caribbean coastal lowlands.
Agricultural School of the Humid Tropical Region (EARTH)
Sustainable agriculture in the tropics is the focus of this college-level school. The campus of this Agricultural School features nature trails in a 400ha/988ac forest reserve and a banana plantation. Horseback riding throughout the grounds is a common activity with visitors.
Guácimo - Flower Farm
600 species of tropical plants are grown for export at Costa Flores. The flower farm covers 120ha/296ac of land and claims to be the largest tropical flower farm in the world.