Cruise Costa Rica and explore the best the country has to offer
Whether you choose to fly, drive, or cruise Costa Rica is one of the most exciting countries to visit, with plenty to do once you get off your cruise ship.
The country is unique in Central America as it has ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
When you travel to Costa Rica by boat, you can access ports such as Limón from the US Eastern seaboard, while cruises departing from San Francisco, and Seattle will stop off in the Puntarenas area on the west coast of Costa Rica.
East coast or west coast?
Cruises to Costa Rica require a major decision up front: which coast will you visit, the east or west? This may well be dictated by which side of America you live on, but it can also be influenced by what you want to see.
The west coast of Costa Rica receives a few less cruise ship visitors than the eastern seaboard, but this shouldn’t put you off including it when you cruise Costa Rica. Highlights include:
- Puntarenas – The biggest port on Costa Rica’s west coast offers an interesting insight into modern Costa Rica with quaint Spanish colonial streets nestling alongside industrial buildings. The city’s main attraction is the Pacific Marine Park, which offers a glimpse as the landscape and wildlife that can be found nearby underwater.
- Tortuga Island – For those looking for the ungoverned wild party town depicted in Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The island is uninhabited, and only accessible through recognized tour operators. It’s well worth the money, however, as you’ll find idyllic white sandy beaches and some of the best scuba diving to be had in the region.
- Manuel Antonio National Park – This is the place to head for if you have a craving for a real rainforest or jungle experience. It’s a popular stop for all Costa Rica vacations. The park itself is spectacular with great beaches and great views from easily accessible hills. However, if you want something a little different, organize a guided tour through the jungle. These typically last a day, but allow you to step through virgin growth and sense the closeness of the canopy firsthand.
The east coast offers a similar range of activities to the west, as well as better connections to San José, the Costa Rica capital. Possible east coast destinations to include when you cruise Costa Rica are:
- Limón – A graceful old colonial town which will give you a true feel of the laidback nature of Costa Rica. The town itself will keep you occupied for a few days, but there are great day trips to be organized as well. Go north for a bit of turtle watching on the beach, or head south for reef diving in the warm Caribbean sea.
- Tortuguero – This area is infamous for the nesting sea turtles, but if you’ve ever wondered where your bananas come from, then the banana plantations around Tortuguero are the places to go. You can go out into the fields with the workers and handpick your own banana, as well as seeing how they get chosen for quality and packaged ready for shipment.
- San José – while not technically on the east coast, every cruise to Costa Rica will include a day trip to the capital. Life is much faster-paced here, but the city still has areas like the Butterfly garden for a bit of respite. There is an aspect of European-style sidewalk café culture downtown, and it’s a great place to sit and people watch.
All of these destinations will require some additional organization when you cruise Costa Rica, but the company that you choose to go with will offer day trips at each of the locations that you can opt into for an additional fee.