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Punta Banco, South Puntarenas

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Beautiful beach at Punta Banco

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Although it has yet to hit big with tourists, Punta Banco has long been a surfer's paradise. The tiny village has a population of about 200 people, and is easily reached by foot or driving from Pavones as it is about 3 miles or 5 km. Although a drive along the dirt road will only last about 20 - 30 minutes, the scenic hike on / near the beach from Pavones may be well-worth the hour or so.

Stunning black-sand beaches are a perfect spot to lay low and relax, because Punta Banco is not hectic like some other Costa Rica destinations. Known for its friendly locals and laid-back lifestyle, Punta Banco is a great place to mingle with locals. They take pride in their community as well as the wildlife in it.

Looking for a volunteer getaway? Punta Banco is home to the longest monitored solitary nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles in the world. After its inception in 1997 by the Pretoma organization, the Punta Banco Project offers volunteer opportunities from July 15 to December 15 to aid the Olive Ridley turtles. This program allows travelers to stay as long or short as they prefer. The critically endangered Olive Ridley turtles are monitored at night, and provide a great moonlit adventure for any visitor.

Wildlife is abound in Punta Banco. The lush rainforest is home to four types of monkeys: mantled howler monkey, white faced capuchin, spider monkey and the squirrel monkey. Travelers can go on an adventure on foot to the area's waterfalls, including a towering 40-foot waterfall that cascades into a calm pool of water. Make a trip to this spot at noon and there is a high chance of witnessing a stunning rainbow in the waterfall.

Mountain horseback riding is also popular in this region. The winding trails ascend and descend through the hilly forest. This is a trek that is best taken in a group, because it is for very experienced riders. Throughout this ride, there's a chance to catch a glimpse of one of the many monkey species or other animals in their natural habitat.

Although it needs to be coordinated with the tide, horseback riders can trek along the shorelines of the Burica Coast as well. Riders can head to a popular surfing spot to watch locals catch the powerful, hollow waves, or head near town and enjoy local cuisine for lunch.