There are these huge bamboo trees scattered all over the forest. Looking at their height, it makes me wonder how old they actually are. The trail through the forest is about 7 kilometers in length - don't expect it to be a quick hike though. You are going to have to wade through the river various times in order to complete the trek in its entirety. Plus you will be so distracted by all the howler monkeys and other wildlife teeming around you that you will probably stop innumerable times to take photos and gawk in awe. Give yourself 3-4 minimum hours to hike; add more time if you intend on swimming at all.
The two people pictured here are these Japanese tourists I encountered on the bus from Puerto Viejo on my way to Cahuita. They were working within the national park on a volunteer project for sea turtle conservation. Every night they walked for hours along the beach, searching for new eggs that they could place in a protected area so that locals would not steal them and sell them for profit. They were a funny bunch, and their limited english and my non-existent japanese made it all the more difficult to communicate. Good thing I have a very expressive face.
I was anticipating seeing the monkeys in Cahuita National Park, so when I first arrived I was a bit disappointed that I did not immediately encounter any. Fast forward 15 minutes, boy was I wrong. Look high up into the trees. You have to be patient, you have to have a keen eye, but they are certainly there. Running and jumping and swinging from tree to tree, there are at least two varieties of monkeys in the park: capuchin and howler monkeys. At some point I heard an abrupt noise above my head and noticed this monkey swinging low just a few feet above me. Good thing the little punk didn't try to grab my hair. Without a good zoom, it was difficult to get a decent shot of a monkey, but that is not a huge problem. After all, I am a furry little monkey and don't need more photos of my own kind. I just have to look at my self-portrait and start howling.
A great way to spend half a day in Cahuita is to book a snorkelling trip onto the reef. As it is a protected area all snorkelling must be done with a guide, the advantage of this is that you get taken on a boat out onto the reef and shown where all the best spots are.
I saw hundreds of fish as well as a nurse shark.
Cost: $20 US dollars, 10,000 colones includes snorkel and fin hire
If you book through Willies Tours you get free high speed internet access
PLEASE WEAR SUNSCREEN
If you enter the Park from the Kelly Creek Ranger Station on the northern side (most proximate to town of Cahuita), then you only need to make a donation instead of the $6-8 US fee required at all national parks.
Well we don't know what this part of the park is actually called or if it has a name. You have to hike through the park from the Kelly Walker Entrance past the 4 km mark and past Punta Cahuita. After about an hour, you will come to this part of the Park which I discovered- it is relatively isolated and few people visit it. The beach is gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and super calm. The coral reef is right there- though the park rules say you have to have a guide in order to snorkel, you can bring a pair of goggles and only a few feet from shore, you can see a variety of tropical fish and the coral- do not touch the coral as it destroys the reef but can also seriously cut you.
Watch out for: monkeys tring to steal your food (leave food sealed and in zipped bags) and jelly fish (there are a number of them in the reef.
I am not the biggest fan of black sand beaches but there are several in the opposite direction of the park beyond town. You can rent bikes to explore them and they are fairly secluded. I do prefer white sand and the best of those are in the park.
Now I wasn't planning on sneaking in the park for free, but I ended up somehow at the Puerto Vargas entrance (where you are required to pay!) without a cent on me. I had intended on entering the other way where it was free, but chance led me here. I encountered two Japanese travelers on the busride, and I followed them into the park as we were having fun chatting in multiple languages that we all didn't really speak. They were volunteering with the park, but I wasn't. The guards at the entrance asked us all if we were volunteers (as they didn't have to pay) and I just kept my mouth shut. Lo and behold I wandered on in with them. Don't guilt me about it now!
The nicest thing about Cahuita, if you ask me, is just walking around in the centre of the town and feel the atmosphere that is completely different from the rest of Costa Rica. Around the dirtroads that cross the centre you only see (semi)wooden houses, often with colourfull paintings, the black people hanging around in front of them, chatting in the streets, playing football or cycling around. And everywhere you come you hear the reggae music pumping out of the speakers.
A walk through the town doesn't take you too long because Cahuita is a pretty small place, so the best way to get a nice view of the "citylife" is by taking a seat at one of the cafes around the mainstreet through town and enjoy it for an hour or so.
After a walk of about 1,5 kilometres north from Cahuita you'll end up at the special beach Playa Negra; one of the two beaches around the town. The most special thing about this beach is that the sand is very dark, sometimes close to black. The sand gets so dark because of the breakdown of the dark coral just before the coastline. At some parts of the beach you can even see this dried coral above the surface of the water.
The Playa Negra is a good place for surfing, the nature directly at the beach is surprising but beautiful: not only palmtrees here, but also trees with orange leaves and flowers above the black sand. For over 2 kilometres this pristine beach is all yours if you are lucky, because it is absolutely not overrun by tourism (yet) here.
And in the direct surroundings of the beach you can find campings, a few guesthouses, bars and restaurants.
This was the first time I saw them even though I looked many times. We were luckey to see a few of them directly above us in the park . The people at the park entrance have a pretty good idea where they hang our so you can get some idea before you head out. They are pretty cudly looking and move likein a yoga routine!
Donation to enter, you will see a variety of wildlife. Leafcutter ants by the million, crabs by the hundred, giant spiders, monkeys, lizards and even a sloth.
The trail last for about 4 miles through the park and runs alongside the beach.
When you get to the end, there is a small bar/cafe with a pool.
You then either have to walk all the way back, or wait for the bus. The bus took about 2 hours to arrive. Take your pick.
Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center & Botanical Gardens is a piece of paradise in Cahuita. The owners take care of many different (displaced) animals as if they were their own children.
All animals have plenty of space, so they created a real cozy park for them to recover.
They are socially involved, as they teach lessons to school classes.
In the botanical garden they even grow their own pepper.
When near Cahuita, you must pay them a visit. Don't miss them!
There are two beaches in Cahuita. One is called Playa Negra because of its black (not really black but dark) sand, and the other white-sand beach is in Parque Nacional Cahuita.
Red flags on the beach means that the rip tide can make swimming dangerous so be careful and don't wade too far or stick to areas with a green flag.
Even though I'm not a bug person ., I can't help but notice these jungle workers. Thyemarch in order across the path and stick to their mission . Pretty photogenic too.