South Caribbean (Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Manzanillo)

South Caribbean Talamanca is one of six cantons (or counties) that make up the province of Limón in Costa Rica. It is the largest of Costa Rica’s 81 cantons, covering an area of 2,809.93 km2 (1,084.92 sq mi) and has a population of 32,555. The canton is composed of four districts, with its capital city, Bribrí. Talamanca houses the largest indigenous population in the country (at 11,062, one third of the population), which is composed principally of the Bribri and Cabécar groups (who in turn represent two of Costa Rica’s eight distinct indigenous groups).

Eight-eight percent of Talamanca’s territory is protected. Fifty-five percent of this land falls under the Chiripó, Amistad, and Cahuita National Parks; 31% covers Talamanca’s four indigenous reserves (Kekoldi, Talamanca Bribrí, Talamanca Cabécar, and Telire); and 2% belongs to the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Gandoca Manzanillo National Reserve (a major turtle breeding ground).

Talamanca contains one of Costa Rica’s three official border-crossing points (Sixaola-Guabito). The county is noted for its beautiful beaches, especially in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo (Old Harbor), which are popular tourist locations.

These beautiful beach towns on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica have recently become a hit with tourists due to their cultural and natural richness, stunning white-sand beaches and the legendary Salsa Brava waves. Known for its laidback attitude and Caribbean life style, the region allows visitors to experience Costa Rica’s most exotic side.

Traditions are well established in these towns, with a unique blend of Latin, Afro-Caribbean and Bribri indigenous cultures. The ‘Rastafari’ culture has an important presence in the area, and many ‘Rastas’ sell handmade jewelry and other products along Puerto Viejo’s colorful roadside. This small port town is an ethnic wonder in itself.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica has a lot to offer. From world-class surfing, snorkeling and diving among the many reefs in the blue waters, to mountain biking, horseback riding and cultural visits to indigenous people. While Cahuita attracts visitors with exeptionallz beautiful Cahuita National Park as well as Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge that provides tourists with the opportunity to observe the area’s incredible wildlife, both of which are a short distance away.

Puerto Viejo is the center of activity between the smaller villages of Cahuita and Manzanillo. The town has a wide variety of shops, bars, restaurants and accommodations dispersed all over the place. Just south of Puerto Viejo, visitors will discover the amazing beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, although the dirt road connecting the villages is often in poor shape.