This region of the country stretches from the city of Puntarenas to the mouth of the Río Barú in the area known as Dominical de Osa. It has three cities attractive to tourists and well developed for tourism: Quepos, Jacó and Puntarenas. The region also comprises the islands in the Gulf of Nicoya, as these are mainly accessed from Puntarenas. A wet and rainy climate allows for greater biodiversity in the beaches and hills next to the coast; thus, there is a transition from tropical wet forest to tropical forest to tropical dry forest. These ecosystems provide habitat for numerous plant and animal species that are protected in several wilderness areas. Also included within this zone is Isla del Coco, which, though almost 600 kilometers from the port of Puntarenas, falls under this province’s jurisdiction.

The region’s main attractions are its coast and protected wilderness areas. The coast is made up of numerous beautiful beaches, several of which are less than two hours from San José, allowing for quick access. With regard to wilderness areas, the region features wildlife refuges, national parks and biological preserves. Other important attractions are of cultural and recreational interest, including the various organized events—especially sporting events—that distinguish the region. Also worthy of note is the scenic beauty along the coastal highway that connects the Caldera area with the Quepos and Manual Antonio region.

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Areas

Monteverde

The Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilaran Mountains of northwest Costa Rica is one of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists. A cloud forest is an especially beautiful and rare type of rain forest created by frequent mists from low-lying clouds. This cool and moist environment is characterized by massive trees covered by thick “carpets” of small plants. Much of the resident wildlife is endemic to these habitats. In addition to forest hikes, visitors can enjoy many other area attractions including horseback riding; dining in numerous restaurants; live frog and butterfly exhibits; bird watching; crafts and gift shopping; “zip line” tours and bridge walks in forest canopies; a visit to a native orchid garden and more.

Areas

Sarapiquí & Caribbean Lowlands

Also known as Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, it is only a 1.5 hour drive north of San Jose. One route takes you past the dramatically forested mountains of Braulio Carrilo National Park, the other past Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. Lowland offers exceptional wild and birdlife. World famous La Selva Biological Station is located here. Monkeys, parrots, toucans, iguanas, caiman, sloths, poison dart frogs and basilisk lizards are regular rainforest residents.. The Sarapiquí River is great for Class III white water rafting upriver and wildlife boat cruises downriver.

Areas

San José

The city of San José is the national capital and economic center of Costa Rica. It is currently undergoing a renaissance with pedestrian streets and modern high rise buildings. Yet it still retains much of its past multicultural heritage in restored elegant old buildings, historic statues and parks. Its many international restaurants offer excellent cuisine, and its theaters host numerous concerts and performances. Nightlife abounds in clubs with dancing to salsa, merengue, or rock music! San José has several public museums including The National Museum, Gold Museum and Jade Museum. All have excellent exhibits and the latter two feature artworks by prehistoric indigenous people.