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Palmar Norte, South Puntarenas

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Situated at the northern tip of Costanera Sur in South Puntarenas, Palmar Norte is separated from Palmar Sur by the Rio Grande and is connected by a thin steel bridge. Although this is a small town, it serves as a major transportation hub for southern Costa Rica, because of the airport in Palmar Sur that links to the San Jose International Airport.

Palmar Norte is in the center of a major banana-growing region, and is surrounded by densely forested mountains. On a clear afternoon, this stunning sight can be seen throughout town. Palmar Norte also boasts a vibrant culture. The area is home to a number of Chinese residents, which quickly becomes apparent when visitors are sampling the region's array of ethnic cuisine in area restaurants.Visitors can find authentic Chinese dining options throughout the area, and many dining options are very inexpensive.

Although many travelers head to larger destinations such as the Osa Peninsula, Palmar Norte is home to one of the most mysterious and interesting attractions in the country.

Pre-Columbian stone spheres are the highlight of this region, as no one is certain where they came from or how they were formed. They were discovered by workers who were clearing the jungle for banana plantations, and many believed they contained gold. Some spheres were damaged, and others completely destroyed by those in search of riches. Authorities later intervened because the spheres were determined to be of cultural importance, although there is no clear idea as to where of where they came from.

Beach lovers don't have to travel very far in Palmar Norte. In a short drive along the coastal highway, travelers will find themselves at one of the most beautifully untouched beaches in Costa Rica - Playa Uvita. Because this area doesn't attract a large amount of tourists, the quiet beach remains serene and peaceful. During high tide, the water is mere yards away from the jungle trees. But the real beauty is the view. Beach goers will catch a glimpse of the rocky, offshore island of Isla Ballena.

Dominical, a small beachfront community, is also a short drive along the paved coastal highway. With an abundance of local amenities, decadent dining and excellent shopping, Dominical serves as a great afternoon trip. This town is also known to have year-round, consistent waves, making it a perfect spot for surfers.