The town of Guapiles
is an important link between Costa Rica's central highlands and its vibrant Caribbean coast
, and people who visit the thriving settlement enjoy learning about the region's natural, agrarian and cultural heritage.
Flora & Fauna Close to San Jose
Situated along Highway 32 - the main road to Costa Rica's Caribbean shore - Guapiles is just an hour's drive away from the capital city of San Jose
. The town's location on the threshold between the country's highlands and low-lying costal areas means that it exhibits a stunning degree of biodiversity, helping it to become an increasingly important destination for eco-tourists. Several small botanical gardens and natural reserves exist throughout the area surrounding Guapiles
, and at these attractions, visitors can learn about tropical ecology, primate behavior, herpetology and more. Additionally, these reserves offer a range of activities, such as horseback riding or hiking, that allow guests to experience the country's wildlife up close.
Heart of Banana Industry
In addition to its biodiversity, the region around Guapiles is known as the heart of Costa Rica's banana industry. Visitors to the town frequently see trucks loaded with the yellow fruit setting out for bigger cities like San Jose or the Caribbean destination of Limon. Travelers interested in seeing how the tropical delicacies are grown and harvested can use Guapiles as a convenient base from which they can explore the network of dirt roads that stretch through the Rio Frio banana-growing region. Those who would rather stay in town can still get a taste of Guapiles' agricultural heritage, however, as its residents hold a farmers' market every Saturday.
Although Guapiles is an important center for natural tourism and the agricultural industry, the town is also known for its lively cultural scene. On the town's store-lined streets, travelers can often find a real bargain. Guapiles' many boutiques sell vintage clothing, furniture and even umbrellas, and many shops feature prices that would be unheard of elsewhere in the Western World.
Acclaimed Local Artist
Another important part of Guapiles' cultural heritage is Patricia Erickson, one of Costa Rica's most acclaimed artists. Known for her colorful paints of faceless Tico women, Erickson lives just a few miles outside town, and visitors can see her work at her home and gallery.