Why You Need To See Cahuita National Park: A Photo Essay


Costa Rica is host to numerous stunning national parks and secluded beaches. But if you’re after one of the most spectacular spots of them all, then try Cahuita National Park. It was easily one of our favorite sandy stretches in all of Costa Rica. We think after you read this post, you’ll see why!


These Photos Will Make You Fall In Love With Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica


A Cruising Couple Cahuita National Park


We’ve done a lot of hikes and seen many remarkable places, so sometimes we can be a bit hard to please. That being said, Cahuita National Park is a gem that can’t be missed if visiting Costa Rica. The hike takes you along an easy trail, with gently crashing waves on one side and thick, wildlife-rich jungle on the other. Monkeys, toucans, sloths, butterflies, lizards and a whole slew of other animals call the Cahuita National Park home.


Cahuita National Park

Casey on a palm tree Cahuita National Park


Cahuita National Park Trail

Cahuita Collage 2

sloth Cahuita National Park

Blue Morpho Butterfly Cahuita National Park

Raccoon Cahuita National Park

Lizard Cahuita National Park

Cahuita Collage 1

Cahuita National Park


If you’re not in the mood to walk the entire length of the trail, there is a beautiful beach at the town entrance to the National Park.


Cahuita National Park Beach


The leisurely hike can be completed in a couple of hours, but you’ll want to get in early so you can take your time. (Wildlife is also more active in the early morning hours.)


There are two entrances to the park. One is in Cahuita town proper, starting at the beach with an optional donation for entry. The other is about 5 km south of town along the only main road. If you enter from the main road, the fee is $10 a person. A small fee to pay for paradise!

Have you been to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica? How did you find it? What’s your favorite National Park?


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Why You Need To See Cahuita National Park- A Photo Essay

Meet: Dan Moore

Dan is the photographer, social media strategist and second half of the A Cruising Couple team. He has been living and traveling full-time in various countries since 2011. His award winning photography has been featured on National Geographic, CNN and New York Times Travel.


  1. Well, the more I see of Costa Rica in your pics, the more I want to go there!

    I heard the opposite of you guys though, everyone who I speak to who has been there says it’s blown their socks off. I’m armed with dozens of tips and places to go when I do eventually head down that way :-)
    Rob @ Hungry Escapades recently posted…The time I got stuck outside in just a pair of little pants!My Profile

    • Costa Rica has so much to offer! We had 2 months and barely managed to fit everything in. I hope you get the chance to check it out for yourself! :-)

  2. Unfortunately I haven’t been and after reading this post and seeing this amazing photos I’d really love to, the animals look so sweet and I love monkeys! :)
    Franca recently posted…Another Great Street Artist from BerlinMy Profile

    • We were super surprised when we walked into the park and about 30 seconds in we saw this troupe of monkeys jumping through the trees! The great thing about Costa Rica is that the wildlife is so abundant it almost seems to find you :-p

    • Thanks! The raccoon was a funny little guy. We were hiking the path and he just kind of wandered out of the woods right in front of us. So I whistled at him to get him to turn around and he just looked up at us and kept walking along the path doing his own thing :-p

  3. Thanks for the photo blog. Costa Rica is my new home – the mountains of the Central Valley. I too have heard of the dangers of the Caribbean side – in the end I imagine its reverse marketing by the Pacific side people as that is where all the money had gone. I can’t wait to visit – you photos and descriptions are motivating. Also, I agree – the raccoon it looks, uh, interesting.
    Greg Seymour recently posted…My Favorite Photos From 2013 – The BirdsMy Profile

    • We were surprised so many people who hadn’t been had such opinions about the Caribbean side. I’d definitely recommend checking it out for yourself, especially since you’re not too far away :-)

  4. We have been over there! We enjoyed the different culture as well. Costa Rica is slow paced as it is but when you get over there its even slower and more laid back. We didn’t like only because of the heat and humidity…..we are so spoiled now in Arenal with the perfect temps! Glad you guys had a good time!
    Kim recently posted…My 1st Blog Contest!My Profile

    • We loved that you could actually feel the difference of the Caribbean culture as soon as you arrived on the east coast. We actually had really nice weather when we were there at the end of November but I can imagine it gets real sticky in the heat of summer.

  5. It’s interesting how often the warnings of a place being dangerous come from people who’ve never actually been there. We found this to often be the case in South America, especially Peru. That raccoon is so cute, by the way! Looks more like a kitten!
    Sam recently posted…Natalie’s Christmas TreatsMy Profile

    • Very true! Whenever we mention we are off to Mexico next people look at us in shock and start reciting stories of beheadings and drug wars. Of course they’ve never been and thousands of people vacation to Mexico every year and have an amazing time. I’ll say nothing more *knocks ferociously on wood* :-p

    • With your luck you’ll probably have one walk up to you and fall asleep in your arms ;-)

  6. I loved Costa Rica it’s such a beautiful country. After seeing these gorgeous photos, I really regret not having visited Cahuita National Park. Looks like paradise.
    Freya recently posted…Ice Hiking and Ice Climbing in IcelandMy Profile

    • It was lovely- but it’s also always good to have something to come back for! :)

  7. Thanks for your enlightening post about the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. I have lived there in Puerto Viejo for 9 years and I have no regrets. I own a small hotel there and even though we suffer from all the half-truths, it has also served us well in other ways by keeping out the “Disney Set”.

    My own opinion, is that business and government have vested interests in perpetuating this distortion of reality. The country is small. Almost all development is focussed un guanacaste, la Fortuna and San Jose. Putting in the infrastructure needed to services large movements of tourists is very expensive. To add on the Caribbean would just not make economic sense. It is completely in the opposite direction. We are the largest district in all of the country (Talamanca Canton) and we are the only ones without a local airport. Figure that one out?

    And then of course, like many countries, business greatly influences the agenda, so all the big tourist business is in those locals… Not in the south Caribbean. As far as our local chamber can figure, we get about 6% of the tourism in Costa Rica in Puerto Viejo and Cahuita area. Do you think those big interests would give up 6% ( that would double our tourism) lightly? Not a chance.

    They are worried about the Caribbean. They know it is a small location that offers all the best if Costa Rica in one location rather then having to travel to multiple destinations. It also has the added value of easily visiting Bocas del Toro in Panama which is a short distance away and well worth experiencing as a combo trip.

    Many of local businesses are now getting active and working together to help promote the area and bring a sense of perspective to the media coverage. It is working… But it is hard to see right now because overall tourism is Costa Rica is down. So it is hard to measure.

    Anyway, thanks again for your post. We hope we can host you and your readers in the future.

    Cheers, Colin.

    • Hi Colin! Thanks so much for such an informative comment. We always appreciate the opinions and advice of people who actually live in the area. We completely understand everything you are saying- there really is so much that the Caribbean has to offer. I was actually asking many people while we were there why there is no airport in the region yet, as obviously that would greatly improve tourism to the area. But like you also mentioned, I think one of the best parts about the Caribbean is that it isn’t ‘Disney’ like a lot of the rest of Costa Rica. I do wish your business all the best, and should we ever return to Costa Rica we will certainly get in touch!

      Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

    • We are pretty sure it was a wild raccoon. There lots of Costa Rican animals I would have loved to take home with me :-)

  8. Wonderful photos! Thanks so much for sharing and for dispelling the silly notions that the Caribbean is somehow more dangerous or just for backpackers. I’ve shared your entry with the Puerto Viejo community and visitors at http://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/photos-blogs.php

    • Thanks Doug! We really enjoyed our time there and hope that those silly notions are realized as just that :-)

  9. wonderful photos. on our two visits there, we also saw dolphins just off the beach, and a mixed flock of herons and egrets in a lagoon off the beach. it is a joy to see wild animals up close, and your photos reminded us of those visits. we have stayed in the area about fifteen miles south, Punta Uva, which is at the entrance to the Gandoca Manzanillo NWR. That park is larger and more spread out than the Cahuita park, but with a wider assortment of monkeys (three species), more birds, and easy to spot sloths. We have visited this part of costa rica six times. the south caribbean has everything we love about Costa Rica. we have to get to the Osa Peninsula one of these days since i imagine its natural attractions must rival the Caribe Sur.

    • We loved the Caribbean culture and wildlife, but if you get the chance to see the Osa Peninsula TAKE IT! It was the most magical part of our entire time in Costa Rica :-)

    • Thanks Jenna! It’s definitely one of our favorite spots in Costa Rica :)



  1. Your Complete Guide To Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica - […] were first backpacking around Costa Rica (long before we ever imagined calling the country home), one of the stops…

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