Cahuita National Park welcomes you with white sand beaches, coral reefs and sights for snorkelers and divers. Located on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, it is the perfect setting for photographers and explorers.

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Experience Tropical Paradise at Cahuita National Park

Nestled along Costa Rica's enchanting Caribbean coast lies Cahuita National Park, a pristine natural wonder that beckons adventure-seekers and nature lovers alike. Established in 1970, this captivating park is a testament to Costa Rica's commitment to preserving its rich biodiversity. Cahuita National Park is a tropical haven encompassing a mere 1,067 hectares (2,637 acres), but don't let its size fool you – it packs a punch with its exquisite coral reefs, lush rainforests, serene mangroves, and sun-kissed beaches.

Exploring the Enchanting Cahuita: Your journey begins in the vibrant town of Cahuita, where the park meets the sea. The park's altitude gently rises to a mere 5 meters (16 feet), providing an easy entry into its captivating beauty. Half of the park is devoted to safeguarding its vibrant coral reefs, offering snorkeling aficionados a glimpse into an underwater paradise. But Cahuita isn't just about its aquatic wonders; a network of forested trails beckons hikers and wildlife enthusiasts to explore the lush, emerald heart of the park.

Wildlife Abounds: In this small but abundant national park, you'll cross paths with an array of enchanting creatures. Marvel at the laid-back sloths, mischievous raccoons, and energetic howler and capuchin monkeys as they swing through the treetops. The reptilian realm is equally impressive, featuring the dazzling blue jeans dart frog, the iconic red-eyed leaf frog, and the striking yellow eyelash pit viper. Cahuita's vibrant avian residents, including toucans, aracaris, parakeets, and herons, paint the skies with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Beneath the Waves: Beneath the park's azure waves, an underwater wonderland awaits. Discover mesmerizing coral species like the blue staghorn and brain coral, alongside curious marine life such as parrotfish and angel fish. With over 500 fish species and a plethora of urchins and mollusks, Cahuita's marine realm is a captivating world of vibrant colors and extraordinary biodiversity.

Preserving Paradise: Managed by the Costa Rican government, Cahuita National Park welcomes visitors daily from 8 AM to 4 PM. With two ranger stations that boast public restrooms, the park offers a welcoming and educational experience. Entrance is free (donations are requested and needed)  at the main entrance in Cahuita town but there is an entrance fee of $5 per person at the southern Puerto Vargas entrance. Entrance fees and donations support conservation efforts in this tropical haven. While there are no overnight accommodations within the park, the nearby towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo offer comfortable lodgings, ensuring a memorable stay on the Caribbean coast.

A Respectful Sojourn: As you explore Cahuita's underwater marvels, remember that coral reefs are delicate ecosystems. The park insists on using a snorkeling float to protect these natural wonders, and respecting the aquatic realm's boundaries is essential. Additionally, diving to the park's shipwrecks is a privileged experience, obtainable with a special permit.

Cahuita National Park is a slice of Costa Rican paradise, where lush forests, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs harmonize to create an unforgettable Caribbean adventure. Dive into its warm waters, hike its verdant trails, and immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of this coastal gem.

Sloths are common in Cahuita National Park

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Wildlife in Cahuita National Park: A Showcase of Biodiversity

Cahuita National Park, nestled on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, is a biodiversity hotspot that never ceases to amaze. Its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs are teeming with a diverse array of species. Let's explore the park's incredible wildlife, categorized into mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and sealife.


Howler Monkeys: Recognized by their resonating calls and long tails, howler monkeys are a common sight and sound in the park.

Sloths: Slow-moving and endearing, both three-toed and two-toed sloths make their homes in the canopy.

White-faced Capuchin Monkeys: These agile and intelligent monkeys are known for their expressive faces and curious nature.

Agoutis: Small, rabbit-sized rodents often seen foraging on the forest floor.

Tamanduas: Arboreal anteaters with long snouts and a taste for termites and ants.


Toucans: With their colorful beaks and striking plumage, toucans are a visual delight.

Parrots: Vibrant macaws and parrots add a splash of color to the canopy.

Hummingbirds: These tiny jewels of the forest dazzle with their iridescent feathers and rapid wingbeats.

Motmots: Known for their unique tail feathers, motmots are both colorful and charismatic.

Crested Guans: Elusive, turkey-sized birds often found in the rainforest understory.

A capuchin monkey


Iguanas: Green iguanas bask in the sun, while spiny-tailed iguanas are often seen darting into the underbrush.

Basilisk Lizards: Known as the "Jesus Christ Lizard" for their ability to run on water.

Green and Black Poison Dart Frogs: Tiny, brilliantly colored amphibians known for their toxic skin secretions.

American Crocodiles: These impressive reptiles inhabit the park's mangrove estuaries.

Boa Constrictors: Large, non-venomous snakes that can be encountered in the rainforest.


Red-Eyed Tree Frogs: Iconic, with their bright green bodies and striking red eyes.

Glass Frogs: Named for their translucent undersides, these frogs are a fascinating find.

Blue Jeans Dart Frog: Known for its striking blue and red coloring.

Poison Arrow Frogs: Small, but brightly colored and highly toxic amphibians.


Parrotfish: Vibrantly colored and essential for coral reef health.

Angelfish: Graceful and brilliantly colored, these fish are a sight to behold.

Pufferfish: Known for their unique ability to inflate themselves when threatened.

Spotted Eagle Rays: Graceful rays often seen gliding through the coral gardens.


Coral Reefs: Home to a diverse range of corals, sponges, and other invertebrates.

Sea Turtles: Cahuita's beaches are nesting grounds for leatherback and hawksbill turtles.

Manatees: Occasional sightings of these gentle giants grazing in the park's coastal waters.

Nurse Sharks: Peaceful and harmless sharks often encountered by snorkelers.


Cahuita National Park is nothing short of a living testament to the biodiversity of Costa Rica. Its rainforests, beaches, and coral reefs are inhabited by a mesmerizing variety of life, from the charismatic howler monkeys to the vibrant parrots, colorful frogs, and diverse sealife. Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast or simply seeking a connection with nature, Cahuita offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. As you explore, consider the role of guides who can unveil the secrets of this remarkable ecosystem and enhance your understanding of these incredible species.

Coral Hill Bungalows

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The Best Hotels Near Cahuita National Park

Kenaki Lodge: Nestled amidst the natural beauty of Cahuita, Kenaki Lodge offers an intimate and serene escape for travelers seeking tranquility. With comfortable rooms and bungalows surrounded by lush gardens, this eco-friendly lodge provides a peaceful retreat. Guests can enjoy proximity to Cahuita National Park's pristine beaches and wildlife while taking in the sounds of the jungle.

Colina Secreta Glamping and Villas: For a unique and immersive experience, Colina Secreta Glamping and Villas offers glamping tents with modern amenities, rooms, and villas set in a tranquil rainforest setting. This hidden gem provides the perfect balance between nature and comfort. Explore nearby Cahuita National Park during the day and return to your cozy accommodations in the evening.

Coral Hill Bungalows: Coral Hill Bungalows offers charming and well-appointed bungalows surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The serene atmosphere and friendly staff make it an excellent choice for a relaxing stay. Located just minutes from Cahuita National Park, guests can easily access the park's trails, wildlife, and pristine beaches.

Suizo Loco Lodge: Suizo Loco Lodge combines rustic charm with modern comforts, providing guests with a cozy and authentic Costa Rican experience. Set within a tropical garden, the lodge offers comfortable rooms and bungalows. Its proximity to Cahuita National Park makes it an ideal base for exploring the park's natural wonders.

Ciudad Perdida Ecolodge: Situated in the heart of the rainforest, Ciudad Perdida Ecolodge offers a unique eco-friendly lodging experience. Guests can choose between multi-bedroom rustic casitas. This lodge immerses you in nature while offering easy access to Cahuita National Park's hiking trails, wildlife, and pristine beaches.

These hotels near Cahuita National Park provide a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences, from eco-friendly lodges to glamping and cozy bungalows. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a beach lover, or simply seeking relaxation, these accommodations offer an excellent starting point for exploring the wonders of Cahuita and its stunning national park.

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The Best Restaurants Near Cahuita National Park

1. Rincon del Amor: Nestled in the heart of Cahuita, Rincon del Amor offers a delightful dining experience with a focus on Caribbean and international cuisine. This charming restaurant is known for its friendly staff, laid-back atmosphere, and fresh seafood dishes. Guests can savor the flavors of the Caribbean while enjoying outdoor seating amidst tropical gardens.

2. Restaurante Ewa & Lounge Bar: Restaurante Ewa & Lounge Bar is a popular choice for those seeking a fusion of flavors and a vibrant atmosphere. This restaurant combines Caribbean and Costa Rican influences in its menu, serving up delectable dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. The lounge bar offers a wide selection of cocktails, making it an ideal spot for an evening of relaxation.

3. Restaurante Las Olas: Located near the beach in Cahuita, Restaurante Las Olas offers a relaxing vibe and a menu featuring a mix of Italian, Mediterranean, and international cuisine. Seafood lovers will find an array of delicious options.

4. Soda Kawe: Soda Kawe is a casual and family-friendly eatery known for its traditional Costa Rican dishes. This soda (small local restaurant) offers hearty and affordable meals, including casados (typical Costa Rican plates), ceviche, and fresh fruit juices. It's a great place to sample local flavors in a laid-back setting.

5. Pizzeria Cahuita: Craving pizza with a tropical twist an ocean views? Pizzeria Cahuita is the place to go. This cozy pizzeria serves up a variety of delicious pizzas, including vegetarian and vegan options, all prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The relaxed and friendly seaside ambiance makes it a favorite spot for families and pizza enthusiasts.

These restaurants near Cahuita National Park provide a diverse range of culinary experiences, from Caribbean and international cuisine to traditional Costa Rican dishes and mouthwatering pizzas. Whether you're in the mood for seafood, cocktails with a view, or a casual meal, these dining establishments offer something for every palate and preference, enhancing your visit to the beautiful Cahuita region.

Snorkeling inside Cahuita National Park

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Facts At a Glance

Region: Southern Caribbean
Closest town: Cahuita
Size in hectares: 1,067 (2,637 acres)
Year established: 1970
Elevation in meters: 0 – 5 (0 – 16 feet)
Private managed: no
Government managed: yes
Rangers station: yes
Overnight facilities: no
Public restrooms: yes
Entrance fee: Free at the main entrance in Cahuita but donations are requested and needed. $5 pp for foreigners entering from the Puerto Vargas entrance.
Days: daily
Hours: 08:00 - 16:00
Hiking trails: yes
Boat tours: yes
Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: 70 - 90
Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 3,380 (133 inches)
Habitat: mangroves, beach, coral reef, rainforest

*Important: While a guide is not necessary (though recommended) to hike the trails, a guide is required for snorkeling.

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Transportation and How to Get There

A rental car is not necessary to visit Cahuita National Park but it does help to explore the Southern Caribbean coast. Private transfers are available from everywhere in Costa Rica and shared shuttle transfers are available from some popular tourist destinations. Domestic flights are available from San Jose to Limon and you can arrange a pickup at the airport and ride down to Cahuita.

Directions: From San Jose, take Rt. 32 east to Limon.  When you reach Limon, turn right on Rt. 36 south.  Follow this road south to Cahuita and then follow signs to the park.

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Cahuita National Park Weather

Year-Round Climate:

Cahuita National Park enjoys a tropical rainforest climate characterized by consistent warmth and high humidity throughout the year. While there are distinct wet and dry seasons, the park can receive rainfall at any time due to its tropical location.

Dry Season (March - April and September - October):

  • The dry season in Cahuita National Park typically occurs from March to April and again from September to October.
  • During the dry season, you can expect warm and sunny weather with occasional brief showers.
  • Average High Temperature: 85°F (29°C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 73°F (23°C)

Wet Season (May - August and November - February):

  • The wet season in Cahuita National Park encompasses May to August and November to February.
  • This period experiences higher rainfall and occasional thunderstorms, resulting in lush green landscapes.
  • Average High Temperature: 85°F (29°C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 73°F (23°C)


  • Cahuita's climate is characterized by high humidity year-round, especially in the wet season.
  • Humidity levels often hover around 85-90%, contributing to the region's vibrant rainforests.


  • Cahuita National Park receives a significant amount of rainfall annually, making it a tropical paradise.
  • On average, the park can receive between 120 to 160 inches (300 to 400 cm) of rainfall per year.
  • While the wet season sees heavier rainfall, brief showers can occur throughout the year.

Weather Variability:

  • It's important to note that Cahuita's weather can be unpredictable, and rainfall can vary from year to year.
  • The lushness of the rainforest is a result of this consistent tropical climate.

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Cahuita National Park Packing List

1. Lightweight, Breathable Clothing:

  • T-shirts, tank tops, and lightweight long-sleeve shirts for sun protection.
  • Comfortable shorts and pants for hiking.
  • A swimsuit for beach activities.

2. Rain Gear:

  • A compact, packable rain jacket or poncho for unexpected showers during the wet season.

3. Comfortable Walking Shoes:

  • Sturdy and comfortable walking or hiking shoes with good traction for exploring the park's trails.

4. Hat and Sunglasses:

  • A wide-brimmed hat or cap to shield your face from the sun.
  • Polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare, especially near the water.

5. Sunscreen and Bug Spray:

  • A high SPF sunscreen to protect against strong tropical sun.
  • Insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs.

6. Daypack:

  • A small, lightweight daypack to carry essentials like water, snacks, and your camera.

7. Water Bottle:

  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your hikes.

8. Swimsuit and Towel:

  • A swimsuit for enjoying the park's beaches.
  • A quick-drying travel towel for drying off after a swim.

9. Camera and Binoculars:

  • A camera or smartphone with a waterproof case to capture the park's stunning scenery and wildlife.
  • Binoculars for birdwatching and observing wildlife from a distance.

10. Travel Documents:

  • Passport, visa (if required), and a photocopy of your documents stored separately.
  • Travel insurance information.

11. Money and Credit Cards:

  • Cash in the local currency (Costa Rican Colón) for small purchases and markets.
  • Credit/debit cards for larger expenses.

12. Electrical Adapters and Chargers:

  • If you're bringing electronics, ensure you have the appropriate adapters and chargers.

13. Medications and First Aid Kit:

  • Any necessary prescription medications.
  • A basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and antiseptic wipes.

14. Beach Bag:

  • A beach bag to carry your essentials when visiting the park's beaches.

15. Spanish Phrasebook:

  • While English is spoken in tourist areas, having a basic Spanish phrasebook can be helpful for communication.

16. Eco-Friendly Toiletries:

  • Environmentally friendly toiletries to minimize your impact on the park's ecosystem.

17. Travel Insurance:

  • Consider travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and trip cancellations.

18. Sense of Adventure:

  • Most importantly, bring your sense of adventure and an open mind to fully embrace the beauty and diversity of Cahuita National Park.

Remember that Cahuita National Park's weather can be unpredictable, so it's essential to be prepared for both sunshine and rain. By packing smartly and responsibly, you'll have a fantastic and eco-friendly experience exploring this tropical paradise. Follow this link to our comptrehensive Costa Rica packing list.

Fun Fact: Though Cahuiita is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, it is one of the most important and biologically diverse.  Due to the small size, observing wildlife is easier than many other locations.

Nearby Destinations

Cahuita1 km
Puerto Viejo18 km
Punta Uva25 km
Turrialba147 km
San Jose 203 km


Latitude: N 9° 43' 45.01"
Longitude: W 82° 49' 30"

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