Tárcoles, North Puntarenas

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Tárcoles is a quiet little town that lies just on the outskirts of northern Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Though it may be small, it boasts an abundance of both indoor and outdoor activities, beautiful fauna and exotic wildlife. It is dotted by unassuming structures along dirt roads and sits parallel to the ocean, offering a million-dollar ocean view. Though you might not think much of Tárcoles at first, if you take a minute to explore the outskirts of the town, you will discover a trove of hidden treasures.

Catch a Glimpse of Costa Rica Crocodiles

Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a way to entertain your unimpressionable teenager, a trip through Carara National Park is bound to get your heart pumping. Carara National Park is home to the large and intimidating American Crocodiles. You can observe these beasts at a safe distance from the Tárcoles River Bridge or you go big and sign up for a croc tour through the mudflats. The croc tour takes you along the river by boat and is led by a brave bilingual tour guide who has no qualms about performing hair-raising tricks designed to grab the crocs' attention.

Waterfall Manantial de Auga

At 200m, the Waterfall Manatial de Auga Viva is the one of the largest waterfalls in all of the country. Its spectacular height is just one of the many reasons you'll want to take a trip to it. Getting to the waterfall is an adventure in and of itself. Along the way, you will traverse steep terrain, get amazing views of the local beaches and be surrounded by lush, vibrant fauna and wildlife. It is not uncommon for visitors to catch sight of a scarlet macaw in flight or a monkey swinging from the vines. Beware though: the path to the falls is known to uncover a dart frog or two. Though they are beautiful in looks, they are deadly in nature, which is why "look, don't touch" is always a good rule of thumb to follow.

Once you reach the bottom of the valley, you will find small pools of inviting water. Accept the welcome and jump on in, as the water is cool, refreshing and likely just what you need after a long hike.

Surfing and Canopy Tours

Tárcoles is just a few miles outside of Jacó, Costa Rica, a larger city with much more to offer than the smaller village. Jaco features some of the best surf beaches in the world, so if you're a veteran surfer or have always wanted to learn, there's no better time to grab a board than when you're in Jaco.

If surfing isn't you're thing, schedule a tour across the canopy. While ground tours offer a lot of amazing sites and views, nothing quite compares to the views from the top. Schedule an aerial tram tour or, if you're a little more adventurous, take a zip line expedition from the top of the canopy to the base of the trunks.

In addition to surfing and canopy tours, Jaco tour guides also offer ATV tours along the beach and horseback expeditions along the coast. There's a little bit of everything for everyone in the small beachside town, making it the ideal daytime destination for those in the area.

From crocodile safaris to scenic treks through the forest, and from birdwatching to surfing, there are a great many things to do in the small town of Tárcoles. You just have to be willing to use your imagination, dig a little and put on your hiking boots. Don't let the small and unassuming structures fool you into overlooking the town, and treat your family or yourself to an unforgettable daytrip.