6 Best Things to Do on the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica

The Experts Recommend: The Insiders Tour of the Sloth Sanctuary.

The Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is lined with picture-perfect beaches of yellow sand and swaying palm trees. The clear, turquoise water welcomes swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, and snorkelers. The Southern Caribbean coast has missed the boom of tourist development that has happened elsewhere in Costa Rica. It continues to remain a pristine off the beaten path destination with a unique culture of its own.

Explore Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean Beaches.


Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean beaches epitomize a tropical vacation: miles of white and yellow sand beaches with swaying palm trees back up to a tropical forest. The idyllic Caribbean beaches are a huge draw here – a destination for travelers focused on nothing more than sun, sand, and surf. Spend your days on the endless beaches or snorkel the protected coral reef of Cahuita National Park, just south of the port city of Limon. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!

Related Article: 13 Best Costa Rica Beaches

Punta Uva Beach

Punta Uva Beach is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Located just in front of Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is Punta Uva Beach. The white-sand beach here is idyllic with calm, protected waters – perfect for families! The coral reef located just offshore also makes this a fantastic beach for snorkeling. The lush jungle-backed beaches are home to sloths, monkeys, tropical birds, and more.

Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

Nestled on the southern edge of the town of Cahuita is Cahuita National Park, a park created to protect the large offshore stretch of coral reef. The reef is home to a variety of vibrant tropical fish and over 30 species of coral, the ideal underwater playground for snorkeling. White sand, palm-lined beaches, and brilliant turquoise water make the Cahuita beaches perfectly picturesque. Don’t miss the 5.6 mile Cahuita National Park trail located just behind the beach. Walk to the end of the trail to Punta Cahuita, one of the best spots in the park for snorkeling, and admire the thick vegetation and abundant wildlife along the way.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Just south of the town of Manzanillo and stretching all the way down to the border of Panama is Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. This off-track shoreline is a paradise of beaches, coves, islands, and an offshore coral reef backed by thick rainforest. Sea turtles (nesting between March and July), dolphins, manatees, and crocodiles can all be found at the reserve. With such rich underwater biodiversity, the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is considered by many to be the best snorkeling and diving spot on the Caribbean Coast.

Related Article: 9 Best Costa Rica National Parks & Reserves

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Puerto Viejo Town

Located between Cahuita and Manzanillo, the happening town of Puerto Viejo is a popular middle ground. Experienced surfers come to ride the waves of surf breaks like the Salsa Brava, Costa Rica’s biggest wave, and Cocles Beach. New restaurants and hotels catering to surfers and tourists have popped up in the area, giving us all one more reason to visit.

Caribbean Food & An Easygoing Culture


Long overlooked and isolated, the Southern Caribbean has developed its own laid-back “Caribbean” culture distinct from the rest of Costa Rica. The area has a captivating history full of Spanish colonists, elusive natives, mischievous pirates, and hidden or sunken treasures. Jamaican influences – including agricultural products, coconut in the cuisine, an English Creole Dialect, and reggae rhythms – offer a slower lifestyle but with all the flair and beauty of the rest of the country.

Costa Rica Caribbean Attractions

  • Punta Uva Beach
  • Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
  • Cahuita National Park
  • Great Food & Culture
  • Sloth Sanctuary
  • Puerto Viejo

Things to Do in the Caribbean

  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
  • Hiking

Southern Caribbean Travel FAQ:

Rains less than in the north; Dry Season- January to May, Driest- September & October, Wettest- November & December, June & July
Average high of 87° Fahrenheit
The Caribbean food, culture, and beaches! This region of Costa Rica has great Caribbean cuisine.

Related Article: Caribbean Coast Exposed