Pacifica: Costa Rica's Central Pacific Coast
Costa Rica's Pacifica region takes in the Central Pacific coast from Puntarenas, a major shipping port and gateway to the Nicoya Peninsula, down to Dominical, a surfer’s paradise that eco-tourists are beginning to discover. Inland, the soaring Talamanca mountains are the playgrounds of the cloud forest-dwelling quetzal birds, and the valleys are the fruit and coffee basket of Costa Rica. The country’s size means that people in San José and the Central Valley can easily reach the fine sandy beaches here for quick weekend getaways. The social scene of Jacó, the eco-delights of Manuel Antonio, Central America’s most-visited national park, the surfing haven of Dominical – and all points in between – are at the heart of Costa Rican tourism’s fine line between development and conservation needs. Adventurous drivers can follow the Inter-American Highway along mountain ridges offering views that go on forever. So get on a bus, rent a car, hop a plane and get down to yet another part of Tico paradise.
To reach the shore at Puntarenas from San José follow the Inter-American (General Cañas) Highway north and watch for the signs near Barranca at Km 101. For beaches south, including Jacó and Manuel Antonio, follow the Coastal Highway from Alajuela through Atenas to Orotina and follow the signs for Jacó. This is a winding mountain road that makes for an exciting drive – the bus drivers who run this route are amazing. If you prefer a less dramatic way, go to Puntarenas and turn south past Puerto Caldera back toward Orotina, follow the sign for Jacó on a modern highway. It’s an extra half-hour or so drive time, but it avoids the high mountains.
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