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Puerto Limon, Limon

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Cruise ship docked in Puerto Limon

The country’s most important port, Puerto Limon was founded in 1870 as a port city to export bananas and grains from Costa Rica to various parts of the globe. One of the oldest cities on the continent, Puerto Limon was established in 1502 when Christopher Columbus landed here during his exploration of the New World. Located in Limon province along the Caribbean coast, Puerto Limon is the provincial capital of Limon and lies some 160 km east of the city of San Jose.

An easily accessible port, the best way to get here from San Jose is to take the Guapiles Highway north out of the city and then turn east. Along the way you will pass the Brava Volcano and the Brauilo Carrillo National Park. Continue along this highway till you reach Puerto Limon. The journey lasts around two and a half hours. However, you will be treated to some spectacular beauty along the way.

Around 55 km north of the town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Puerto Limon is generally not considered to be a very touristy city, as most people often use it as a stopover on their way to the Tortuguero National Park or the Cahuita National Park. Nevertheless, if you do plan on staying in Puerto Limon, be prepared for some unusual surprises. The biggest surprise of this city is how different it is from the other cities in Costa Rica. Heavily influenced by the Afro-Caribbean culture, most of the residents in Puerto Limon are of Caribbean decent. They also have their own language and dialect. A great way to observe life in this city is to visit the Parque Vargas that sits in the east end of town facing the Atlantic Ocean.

A bit rundown due to the many earthquakes that have hit the area, Puerto Limon has some fascinating architecture and colorful open air market places. The main market in the center of town is the place to go to buy everything from wood carved items to traditional souvenirs. Cashew nuts are big in this city, so be sure to try the cashew wine, which is specialty here. While the city is rather laidback during the day, at night Puerto Limon has quite an active social scene. The nightlife here is pretty good with a number of bars and restaurants found all over the city. There are also plenty of hotels and accommodations here as well.

The best time to visit Puerto Limon is around Columbus Day, when an annual carnival (Dia de las Culturas) is held in the city. This carnival is the biggest event here and is celebrated with huge parades, loud music and wild parties. If you do get bored of exploring the city, catch a bus to Playa Bonita, a nearby popular surfing beach.
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