Chacarita, South Puntarenas

Typical fruit stand on side of road near Chacarita in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica
Typical fruit stand on side of road near Chacarita in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica
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Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean off of southern Costa Rica lies the Osa peninsula. As a thriving agricultural center full of diverse landscapes, the province attracts the worries-by-the-wayside visitor looking to catch a breath of fresh air from city life. It is also home to golden beaches and crystal clear waters where surfers delight year-round with perfect waves. Truly, it is a surfer's paradise.

Chacarita is a small fishing village tucked on the peninsula and 26 kilometers northwest of Rio Claro. It sits roughly 185 kilometers from the capital San José. To get here from San José, you can take the Pan American Highway south all the way to South Puntarenas, it is about a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hour drive. The community of Chacarita consists of simple, hardworking locals who make a living either in fishing or agriculture. Lush vegetation and coffee grounds abound, and farmers grow delicious fruits and vegetables that you'll be able to find along local street vendors and of course, soul-warming cups of homegrown coffee to start the day. In this secluded village, you can relax and make life simple again.

Attractions

A few kilometers from Chacarita sits one of the region's best-kept secrets: a network of huge caves. In Spanish they are called Las Carvernas de Corredores, and boast impressive stalactites. Since tourists usually don't know about them, the caverns provide an exciting place to explore during the day.

Across the bridge to the southwest is Corcovado National Park, famous for its wealth of exotic flora and fauna and trails ideal for backpacking. With 13 major ecosystems, including highland cloud forest, lowland rain forest and coastal marine environments, you'll stand a good chance at eyeing some of Costa Rica's endangered species. Jaguars, harpy eagles, baird's tapirs and white-lipped peccaries can all be found here. Corcovado encompasses hundreds of hectares of land and is the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America.

Activities include hiking, boating, swimming and horseback riding. What's more, the park packs more than 39 kilometers of beaches. They are pristine and remote, and a little inland you can even rinse off under waterfalls. Be careful when swimming though, because hammerhead sharks have been known to tread in the territory.

Corcovado National Park is wet and rugged, and for the outdoor lover, it offers the trip of a lifetime.

For something even more off the beaten path, head to Golfito National Refuge as well as Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, a short distance south of Chacarita. Though it is much smaller than Corcovado, Golfito National Refuge entails fascinating plant species such as several cycads, which are considered 'living fossils' - some specimens are 1,000 years old. Discover four species of monkeys and a diversity of tropical birds.

Accommodations

Chacarita is a great destination for the budget-minded traveler. You can stay in wooden lodges with cozy rooms and hillside vistas. Almost all places offer rainforest trails and beaches nearby.

Satellite Map of Chacarita
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