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Cahuita National Park

One of the main attractions for those coming to Cahuita, the National Park is a natural paradise; dense jungle surrounded by pristine white beaches lined with coconut palms. The park is filled with beautiful tropical plants and birds, abundant wildlife, insects and hummingbirds, and the surrounding clear blue sea is home to a great deal of tropical sea-life. There are a multitude of activities to be enjoyed in the park including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, bird-watching, and beach sports. Others come to see the wildlife (most commonly white-faced and howler monkeys) or simply to relax and enjoy the sounds of nature. Officially declared a National Park in 1978, it was previously owned by Cahuita’s first settlers, fishermen from the Caribbean Islands. It is made up of 1,067.9 hectares of land area and 22,400 hectares of marine area, with some 600 hectares of coral reef being protected. It’s one of the most important reefs in the country and the most developed on the Caribbean Coast. See ‘snorkeling’ section for more details on the coral reef. In 1996 the park was given a Blue Flag Ecological Award for the sectors of Puerto Vargas and Playa Blanca. Also important parts of the park are the wetlands and swamps, which are home to the “sangrillo” tree from which Cahuita takes its name. (“Kawe” meaning “sangrillo”, and “Ta” meaning “point”.) The park can be entered at two different points. From Cahuita town itself, the entrance is at Playa Blanca, the white beach, and is open from 6am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday. Unlike other National Parks, here the entrance fee is on a donation basis, usually around 2000 colones, just under $4. The Puerto Vargas entrance, some 3.5km south-east of Cahuita, is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and 7am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Entrance costs $10, and in both entrances the money goes towards the maintenance of the park, management and protection of natural resources, and also for projects in the local community.

By Ruth Bell
Scottish, 24, female. Works hard plays hard. Favourite quote- "Though we travel the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we will...
16 Dec 2008

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