Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puntarenas (sand point), Costa Rica was our next stop after Huatulco, Mexico during our cruising to Panama adventure. It is the capital and largest city in a  province of the same name in Costa Rica and is located on the Pacific coast. Its port is Caldera which is an attraction for surfers. The temperatures range from 86-99 degrees and it was muggy and humid when we were there at the beginning of October.

This is a photo of the trip to Panama twins...Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Millennium tied up pretty close but each on their own side of the dock. Both ships were headed to the Panama Canal but we would continue on to Cartagena, Colombia  and disembark in Fort Lauderdale while the other ship would head directly to Miami to end its cruise.

Excursion Tours offered on the Puntarenas stop:

  • Original Canopy Tour Mahogany…tour includes a 50 minute drive outside Puntarenas to Mahogany Park where there are 10 observation platforms (some in the trees and others on the ground). There are also 8 horizontal traverses. This is a zip-lining tour
  • Costa Rica Favorites…Board the Pacific Rain Forest Aerial Train to literally fly through the rainforest canopy and take an exhilarating jungle cruise on the Tarcoles River. Includes a guided hike through trails deep into the forest. After your train ride, enjoy a Costa Rican lunch in a lush natural setting. You will then board comfortable roof covered open boats to explore the world famous Tarcoles River.
  • Arial Tram Rainforest Adventure…After a 1 hour ride, you will board a gondola with capacity for 8 persons and a naturalist guide that will take you through the canopy forest. There will be an optional nature guided walk for those who may want to view the canopy from the ground.
  • Jewels of Monte Verde Cloud Forest…after a 2 ½ hour journey, you will arrive at Selvatura Park. You will see the Monte Verde Cloud Forest. After walking for 1 ½ hours on the trails and the bridges, you will continue to one of the most astonishing insect museums in the world. You will have a local lunch and have time for shopping
  • Tarcoles River – An Eco Cruise Adventure…The Tarcoles River is the home to one of the world’s largest crocodile populations. Over 50 different bird species can be seen. During your boat ride you may see migrant waterfowl, iguanas, and Jesus Christ lizards. Enjoy a delicious tropical fruit buffet, local luncheon and time for shopping
  • Monteverdes Trainforest …This is a great opportunity for those that want a leisurely stroll through the cloud forest
  • Baldi Hot Springs & Arenal VolcanoKnown worldwide for its natural hot springs coming directly from the volcano, there are hot waterfalls and hot pools as well as cool pools. This is a perfect setting to observe the volcano’s almost perfect cone shape while you stroll flat path grounds. Lunch is included
  • La Paz Waterfalls…your trip to the La Paz Waterfalls Gardens includes the butterfly observatory and Hummingbird Garden. A suspended staircase creates a path along the vertical cliff face of the waterfalls, with well-placed platforms allowing you to witness the pristine waters. Enjoy a buffet lunch before the 2 ½ hour drive back
  • Corobici River Float…This classic float trip is perfect for all guests, especially bird-watchers and nature lovers. There are 300 species of birds that roam from the nearby Palo Verde National Park. The most common birds seen are ospreys, kingfishers, cormorants, blue tigers and boat-billed herons.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach Break…This tour begins with a 2 hour drive from Puntarenas to the National Park. Playa Manuel Antonio is sheltered within a deep cove, which makes its calm waters perfect for swimming. Enjoy lunch at “El Parador” four star hotel.
  • Poas Volcano National Park…you have a chance to walk on a paved half mile trail, for a view of one of the biggest craters on the planet. A traditional lunch and a stop at Sarchi for souvenirs. Weather is unpredictable and clouds may affect visibility of the crater. Altitude is over 8,000 feet
  • Pueblo Antiguo Lodge and Hot Springs…an excursion of adventure and relaxation. Drive through the Costa Rican coffee region and enjoy the scenery. Relax at the volcanic hot spring. Taste local Costa Rican cuisine, browse for local arts and crafts
  • Eco Tropical Mangrove Adventure…board your boat on this river that is considered one of the richest sites in the area for bird watchers. This tour will provide an understanding of why we must protect the tropical rain forests
  • Skywalk in the Forest…you will travel along 3 suspended cable bridges that have a length between 270 and 300 feet long, 130 feet off the ground. During your 1 ½ hour walk downhill you will enjoy the sights while your naturalist guide points out the features of the forest
  • Costa Rica Off Road Adventure…board the TERRA-X6 all-terrain vehicle and head for the mountains. As you drive along, you will have the opportunity to view forests, cattle ranches, and an area with a viewpoint of the ocean. A snack along the river banks of the Rio Barranca will be provided
  • Carara National Park Experience…as you walk under the rich canopy of giant trees, you will learn about the species of plants and their relationship with the fauna of the area. Time is allowed for guests to relax and stroll around the shopping village of Santa Lucia before the drive back to the pier
  • Tropical Park and Aerial Tram…the tour begins with an approx. 10 minute ride on the aerial tram to enter the park, followed by the butterfly garden, the paved Indian Trail through the forest, a Bromeliad garden and a typical Costa Rican Farm with animals and medicinal plants. See the cactus garden as part of the many attractions found at the park. A Costa Rican lunch is provided. The walking tour is approx. 1 ½ hours
  • Costa Rica’s Ultimate Experience…nature and coffee. First, you will visit Inbio Park, where you will experience many examples of Costa Rican biodiversity and then to Café Britt’s plantation and roaster, where you will learn the secrets behind the world’s perfect cup. Lunch is included on this cruising to Panama tour.
  • Costa Rica Highlights…tour includes a stop at Palmares, a charming, rustic village. Once in San Jose, you will visit the Opera House and National Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. A sit-down lunch is included and the final stop is at the village of Sarchi for souvenirs
  • Costa Rican Traditions…On a coffee farm, you are taught about the ancient techniques of coffee farming, harvesting, milling and roasting. Having learned everything you have always wanted to know about coffee, you are ready to visit Pura Vida, a real Costa Rican retreat. Next, enjoy local cuisine and time for handicrafts and souvenir shopping
  • The Orchid Farm…The trip to the Orchid Farm takes less than 1 hour to get from Puntarenas. A naturalist guide narrates the history and secrets of Orchids. After visiting the packing facilities, where you can see how these flowers are handled and shipped all over the world, an Orchid bouquet is given to each guest
  • Costa Rica Coffee Plantation…Coffee cultivation has been the primary source of income for many Costa Rican families since the turn of the nineteenth century. On this tour, visit a cooperative coffee plantation and experience first-hand the coffee roasting process while sampling the flavorful brewing. Lunch is included
  • Oxcart Factory Shopping Experience…Sarchi is the home of Costa Rica’s craftsmanship. The tradition of oxcarts started over a century ago. A large variety of woodcrafts, leather foods, beautiful postcards and souvenirs will be available. There will be a photo stop in the town of Grecia before the 1 ½ hour drive back to Puntarenas and the ship
  • Punarenas Coastal Orientation…the tour starts at the town of Orotina’s farmer’s market, giving you a great opportunity to interact with the locals. Next, head to Esparza, one of the most picturesque towns in the region, whose central park and church are emblematic of Costa Rica’s hardworking towns. Next, enjoy a drive down to sea level enjoying the views as you go

As you can see by the extensive list above, the Puntarenas stop involved a lot of tour options. What a selection.  Orchid farms, coffee farms, Hummingbird Gardens, Monte Verde Cloud Forest, etc.  We took the tour listed last on the list above. It started at a farmer’s market in Orotina and we enjoyed snacks for $1 US which we nibbled while mingling with the locals.

The next town on the list was Esparza. The area was festive and apparently it was common to have local gatherings for those that had disembarked from ships and visiting Puntarenas. They had arranged an event with local school girls dancing local traditional dances in full costumes to perform for us.  After a quick visit to see the Church which was small but clean, we continued on the drive down to sea level. Cruising to Panama gives a variety of ports of call with varying interests.

Although Puntarenas caters to tourists that are cruising to Panama, the region is poor. The locals seem happy but most of the towns we saw while driving back, which took a couple of hours to sea level, were typical of a developing country.

We got back to sea level and it was striking…the difference between the shoreline properties…and the yachts in the harbor. I’m sure there are other areas that are more developed but we didn’t see them on this Puntarenas stop.  The inhabitants were a happy and friendly people that enjoyed interacting with visitors so the stop was pleasurable.  We boarded the ship after the tour. Our cruise continued to our next destination...the Panama Canal.

Related Articles......

Cruising to Panama-(Part 1)

Cruising to Panama-Pt.2


Return from Puntarenas to International Travel Writers Homepage

Having trouble finding what you need? International Travel Writers Index and Map


Do you have a travel experience or story to share? Share your travels here!

Share this page:

     By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2020. International Travel Writers.com   All rights reserved images and text