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North Puntarenas, Costa Rica

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Mal País Beach
Mal País Beach

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With its border located fairly close from the capital of San Jose, Puntarenas is Costa Rica's largest province so we have divided into north and south regions. North Puntarenas stretches past the southern border of Manuel Antonio National Park along the Pacific Coast, and South Puntarenas hugs the Panama border. From exciting outdoor adventures to a relaxing getaway, North Puntarenas has a little something to offer every traveler. This province spans surfing towns, luxury resorts, eco-friendly cabanas and quaint bed and breakfasts, so matter the budget or accommodation preferences, there's something in North Puntarenas for everyone.

Home to a fantastic array of diverse flora and fauna as well as stunning biodiversity, North Puntarenas is an ideal location for outdoor adventure. From challenging white water rapids down the Cordillera de Tilaran to surfing along one of the Nicoya Peninsula's top rated beaches, travelers can break a sweat however they'd like here.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Known for its sprawling white-sand beaches, emerald green forests and diverse wildlife, Manual Antonio National Park is one of the most beloved parks in Costa Rica. Created in 1972 to preserve the dense natural beauty, Manual Antonio is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Although it only encompasses about 136,000 acres, 109 mammal species and 184 bird species call this national park home, including the endangered squirrel monkey.

Manuel Antonio is home to four beaches: Manuel Antonio, Espadilla Sur, Escondida and Playita, which offer an array of aquatic activities, including snorkeling, surfing and swimming. The park's exhaustive trail system makes it possible to catch a glimpse of an array of animals, including coati, mantled howler monkey, two-toed sloth and common tink frog in their natural habitat. The park also includes 12 small isles just off the coast, mangrove wetlands, lagoons and both primary and secondary forests.

Top Destinations

Jaco is one of the most popular destinations in North Puntarenas, as it is both a beach community and hub for exciting nightlife. Jaco Beach is known for its stunning black sand and prime surfing conditions. Experienced riders can take a short drive from Jaco Beach to Hermosa, which is the site of several international surfing championships and boasts some of the best waves in the region.

Carara Biological Reserve is another prized destination, known for its extensive population of birds. Scarlet macaws reside in this wildlife reserve and are a top draw for many travelers coming here.

The city of Puntarenas is the capital and largest city in the province, making it a great place for travelers to experience local culture. As a sea port, Puntarenas offers plenty of delicious fruits of the sea at local eateries and cafes. This vibrant city may only be four blocks wide, but it is home to a colorful nightlife, festivals and annual celebrations. There is an abundance of beautiful architecture and unique buildings along the streets of Puntarenas as well.

The Nicoya Peninsula is also partially located in North Puntarenas. Mal Pais, a quaint beach town is located here, as well as several other uncrowded shorelines that make it easy to find seclusion and have a relaxing getaway.

Getting to North Puntarenas

North Puntarenas is actually one of the easiest regions to travel in because many of the roads here are in good condition. Visitors flying into San Jose International Airport can rent a vehicle to get to North Puntarenas, which will take anywhere from about an hour and a half to five hours depending on your location.

Choose an Area in North Puntarenas:

Nicoya Peninsula

Costa Ballena

Central Pacific (w/ Manuel Antonio)

Monteverde (Area)




Top Destinations
Monteverde Cloud Forest in the clouds
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Arenal Volcano blowing smoke
Arenal Volcano
Blue Beach Sunset in Tamarindo
Tamarindo & Playa Grande
Playita Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio
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Click on the map of North Puntarenas to zoom into an Area.
North Puntarenas Map
Click to enlarge map - North Puntarenas Map
San Jose HighlandsCentral Pacific (w/ Manuel Antonio)Monteverde (Area)Nicoya Peninsula