Tárcoles, North Puntarenas

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The unassuming little town of Tarcoles lies in the North Puntarenas area of Costa Rica. Seated parallel to the ocean, the town has a modest string of houses set alongside a series of dirt roads. Presenting quite a humble picture, this quiet little town and its surrounding area is mainly visited by bird watchers and hikers. The Rio Tarcoles mudflats lie just beyond the village, offering birding opportunities, hiking trails and one of the tallest waterfalls in the country.

Waterfall Manantial de Auga

The dramatic waterfall of Manantial de Auga Viva is located close at hand. At 200m high, it stands as the tallest waterfalls of the country. From this point on there is a steep climb down to the valley. Mid way you will find plenty of rest point in the shape of viewpoints and beaches. The landscape is draped in serene beauty and you might even come across an occasional scarlet macaw or the beautiful but the oh-so-deadly poison dart frog. Rainy season tends to find the falls a bit fuller and mighty.

Near the bottom of the valley the Rio Tarcoles continues to flow, although here and there you will find natural swimming holes, inviting you for a relaxing dip. A camping area and outhouse is located at the foot of the valley and from here the rainforest trails will lead you to Jardin Pura Vida.

Crocodiles Tours

Rio Tarcoles runs by the Carara National Park and is famous for its large American Crocodiles. Those seeking adrenaline pumping excitement with be thrilled by the crocodile tours offered at the mudflats of Tarcoles. You can either observe the crocodiles from the Tarcoles River Bridge or take a croc tour. The fascinating crocodile safari takes you through the river by boat and bilingual guides show you hair-raising tricks.

When to Go

Apart from holidays and weekends, the Tarcoles area tends to be rather deserted. Especially during the wet season when the banks of the river tend to get flooded and it becomes rather difficult to find a comfortable hot meal in the area. Although not a very exciting place to stay at, its proximity with the rainforest has made it a wonderful retreat. Tarcoles also has a couple of hotels and resorts build in the Spanish colonial design. These offer well-maintained and spacious rooms along with other amenities. A few kilometers to the south of the village is the Carara Rangers Station.