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Central Pacific Region


Carara National Park, Jaco, Putarenas, & Tortuga Islands

Beaches, rain forests, dry forests, Tarcoles River, & river boats

Scarlet macaws, monkeys, iguanas, & crocodiles

Canopy tours, hanging bridges, zip-lines, & white-water rafting

Hotel Club del Mar, Hotel Villas Caletas, & Hotel Villa Lapas

Scarlet macaw in Carara National Park.

Scarlet macaw in Carara National Park.

Tours

We use the best tour operator to book all kinds of tours to Costa Rica, including independent tours and packages. If you have a group we can design a tour for your group. Check with us for details or for other information. Please contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

Regions of Costa Rica

Costa Rica can be broken down into a number of regions or specific destinations. You can start with an overview of Costa Rica. For specific details of a region or destination choose the one of interest. There is the Central Region, which includes San Jose and the Central Valley, and features the Poas Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. San Jose area hotels are found on a separate web page. Hotels at other destinations are reviewed with a specific destination's web page. To the north of San Jose is Arenal where you find the spectacular Arenal volcano, and Monteverde where the very impressive Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is located. Tortuguero is found in the eastern part of Costa Rica on the Caribbean Sea. There you see great wildlife from boats in rivers and canals. The region in the northwest adjoining the Pacific Ocean is Guanacaste. This is where you find popular beaches and the beach town of Tamarindo. This is the driest part of Costa Rica. The Central Pacific region includes the Jaco area and the near by Carara National Park. The Central Pacific also includes Manuel Antonio and the very popular Manuel Antonio National Park. In the southwest region on the Pacific coast is the Corcovado National Park. It is in a remote location, but is a great place to visit. Contact Us for more information.

Central Pacific region

The Central Pacific region of Costa Rica includes the Carara National Park and some of the most popular developed beaches in the country. They are found near Jaco on the Pacific coast. This area also includes Putarenas, where you can catch a boat to places like the offshore Tortuga Islands. Manuel Antonio is in this region as well, but it is such an important destination it deserves its own web page: Manuel Antonio.

Carara National Park

The Carara National Park, sometimes referred to as the Carara Biological Reserve, is located near Jaco. It consists of 1,152 acres. Here you find a transitional forest between the drier climate to the north and the more humid climate found to the south. This leads to a variation in plants and wildlife. The largest number of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica are found in the park. These very beautiful birds spend their days in the park but nest in the nearby coastal mangroves. They can be seen flying into the park in the early morning and leaving late in the day. The picture of the scarlet macaw at top of this page was taken when the bird was high up in a tree. Many other species of birds are found here as will as other wildlife. For example, look for toucans, armadillos, coatimundis, and monkeys. There are trails to walk, and two are found at the parking lot.

Plant growing on a tree above Rebecca's head near Carara National Park.

Plant growing on a tree above Rebecca's head near Carara National Park.

Throughout Costa Rica you will see plants growing on other plants. Such plants are called epiphytes; they derive their moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. One can be seen growing on the tree limb above Rebecca's head in the picture above. Unless you are with a naturalist guide you will likely miss most of the flora and fauna, because most people do not know what to look for or where to look.

Tarcoles River boat trip

Tarcoles riverboat for observing wildlife in the Tarcoles River near Jaco.

Tarcoles riverboat for observing wildlife in the Tarcoles River near Jaco.

We did a boat trip in the Tarcoles River in the riverboat pictured above. This is both a relaxing and great way to see wildlife. Large iguanas, like the colorful one pictured below, are often seen on riverbanks from boats. It is also quite common to see lots of birds, and different kinds of birds. There are many photo opportunities. So be prepared with your best cameras and lens. Note the bird shown below.

Large iguana on the riverbank of the Tarcoles River.

Large iguana on the riverbank of the Tarcoles River.


Bird seen from Tarcoles River boat.

Bird 2 seen from Tarcoles River boat.

The Tarcoles River is home to many crocodiles. The one seen below cast an interesting reflection in the water. We also saw some fascinating trees in a mangrove on the riverbank. These trees are supported by an extensive root system, as can be seen in the picture below. It was easy to imagine them running along the riverbank.

Crocodile with reflection in the Tarcoles River.

Crocodile with reflection in the Tarcoles River.


Trees in a mangrove that seem to be running along the Tarcoles Riverbank.

Trees in a mangrove that seem to be running along the Tarcoles Riverbank.

Jaco and more

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Jaco.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Jaco.

The popular beach town of Jaco has lots of restaurants and souvenir shops. There are also plenty of bars and discos for those wanting nightlife. You see beautiful sunsets overlooking the Pacific Ocean, like the one above. If you want to do canopy tours the area offers an aerial tram, hanging bridges at tree-top level, and zip-line tours. You can also go horseback riding and white-water rafting.

Waves near Jaco, a favorite place for surfers.

Waves near Jaco, a favorite place for surfers.

Due to the large sinuous ocean waves, that occur at times, the Jaco-area beaches attract many surfers. See the picture of the beach above. However, the breaking of large ocean waves can also create a system of rip currents, which unfortunately drown many swimmers. They are often called riptides, but they have nothing to do with the tides. All swimmers should be on guard for rip currents. If caught in one do not try to swim toward the beach, as a strong current will wear you out. Instead, swim parallel to the beach, and in a short distance you should come out of the current.

Tortuga Islands

Boat used for trip to Tortuga Island.

Boat used for trip to Tortuga Island.


Looking from one Tortuga Island to the other.

Looking from one Tortuga Island to the other.

We did a day trip in the boat shown above to one of the Tortuga Islands. The islands are located off of the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. The islands, pictured above. are an example of a dry forest. The vegetation is not thick like in a typical rain forest in Costa Rica. To get there we went from the port city of Putarenas. The boat trip afforded some spectacular views of the coastline. Musicians entertained us both on the boat and during lunch on the island. They are pictured below. You can swim and snorkel at the island. On a nature walk we saw a termite nest about 8 feet (2.5 meters) up in a tree,which is pictured below. Such nests are found in other parts of Costa Rica. The boat tour to Tortuga Islands is a nice way to spend some time, especially if you are looking for a relaxing day.

Musicians that entertained both on the boat and on Tortuga Island.

Musicians that entertained both on the boat and on Tortuga Island.


A termite nest up in a tree on Tortuga Island.

A termite nest up in a tree on Tortuga Island.

Lodging in the Jaco area

Hotel Club del Mar

Hotel Club del Mar Condos near Jaco.

Hotel Club del Mar Condos near Jaco.


Restaurant at Hotel Club del Mar overlooking the pool and the Pacific Ocean.

Restaurant at Hotel Club del Mar overlooking the pool and the Pacific Ocean.

The Hotel Club del Mar is located just south of Jaco on a nice stretch of beach on the Pacific Ocean. The hotel rooms are spread throughout the attractive grounds. They offer deluxe ocean-view hotel rooms, 1- or 2-bedroom fully equipped ocean-view condos, and penthouses. We stayed in one of the condos and found it and the surrounding property to be quite nice. See the pictures above of some of the condos and the hotel restaurant. The restaurant overlooks both the pool and the Pacific Ocean. For variety you can take a taxi into Jaco where there are a number of different kinds of restaurants to choose from. We did this one night for variety, although we found the food and service at the Club del Mar restaurant to be quite good. The pool is pictured below, and you can also swim in the ocean. The hotel has a bar and offers spa services. Iguanas can be seen on the property and scarlet macaws can be seen flying as they move between the Carara National Park and the coast. The hotel is in a good location to see attractions in the area.

Costa Rica landscape.

Hotel Club del Mar pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Hotel Villa Caletas

Restaurant at the Hotel Villas Caletas which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Restaurant at the Hotel Villa Caletas which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

To see some of the most beautiful sunsets in Costa Rica and at the same time enjoy a cocktail go to the Hotel Villa Caletas near Jaco. The hotel is found high on a cliff at 1,150 feet (351 meters) with a great view of the Pacific Ocean. You can enjoy the sunset and drink while relaxing at one of the hotel's restaurants, pictured above. Nearby is a Greek amphitheatre. The main restaurant is also quite beautiful. This is a luxurious hotel, and the grounds are covered with lush vegetation. The villas and suites are scattered throughout the gorgeous property. The entrance to a suite is shown in the picture below. The rooms are classified as standard, standard deluxe, villas, junior suites, junior suites superior, a superior suite, and master suites. The standard rooms are in the main building. The junior suites and the junior suites superior each have a private jacuzzi. A pool is available in the building for those in the junior suites superior category. The superior suite and master suites have their own plunge pools. Many of the rooms have attractive views of either the jungle or the ocean. All of the rooms have wire Internet access. A beach bungalow is available on the hotel's private Caletas Beach. The main hotel pool, pictured below, provides an interesting view of the Pacific Ocean. Shuttle service is provided for those wanting to swim in the ocean at Caletas Beach. A snack bar and restaurant are at the beach. The hotel offers spa treatments.

Rebeca inspecting a villa at the Hotel Villas Caletas near Jaco.

Rebecca inspecting a suite at the Hotel Villa Caletas near Jaco.


Hotel Villas Caletas pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Hotel Villa Caletas pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Hotel Villa Lapas

The Hotel Villa Lapas is located next to the Carara National Park, and describes itself as a rain-forest resort. In fact, it is located within a private 500 acre rain-forest reserve. The Tarcolitos river runs along the hotel property. There are nature trails to take in your free time. The picture of the plant growing on the tree limb above Rebecca's head (under the Carara National Park heading) was taken on a Villa Lapas trail. The hotel has its own Villa Lapas Sky Way walking tour, which is 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) in length. You cross five hanging bridges at tree-top level in the rain forest. There is a good chance of seeing wildlife including birds, especially the Scarlet Macaw. Like the Carara National Park it adjoins, there is an abundance of flora and fauna. There is also the Villa Lapas Canopy Tour where you can zip from one tree top to another. There are six cables and seven platforms. The emphasis at this hotel is nature rather than the beaches at the nearby Jaco hotels. The rooms are in a natural setting as pictured below. The restaurant is along the river and open without screens or walls. When we stayed at the hotel musicians were performing in the restaurant. They can be seen below.

Hotel Villa Lapas near Carara National Park.

Hotel Villa Lapas near Carara National Park.


Musicians performing in the restaurant at the Hotel Villa Lapas.

Musicians performing in the restaurant at the Hotel Villa Lapas.

Regions of Costa Rica

Costa Rica can be broken down into a number of regions or specific destinations. You can start with an overview of Costa Rica. For specific details of a region or destination choose the one of interest. There is the Central Region, which includes San Jose and the Central Valley, and features the Poas Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. San Jose area hotels are found on a separate web page. Hotels at other destinations are reviewed with a specific destination's web page. To the north of San Jose is Arenal where you find the spectacular Arenal volcano, and Monteverde where the very impressive Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is located. Tortuguero is found in the eastern part of Costa Rica on the Caribbean Sea. There you see great wildlife from boats in rivers and canals. The region in the northwest adjoining the Pacific Ocean is Guanacaste. This is where you find popular beaches and the beach town of Tamarindo. This is the driest part of Costa Rica. The Central Pacific region includes the Jaco area and the near by Carara National Park. The Central Pacific also includes Manuel Antonio and the very popular Manuel Antonio National Park. In the southwest region on the Pacific coast is the Corcovado National Park. It is in a remote location, but is a great place to visit. Contact Us for more information.

 

Photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell prints and images.