Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Costa Rica

Puntarenas Cruise Excursions

Puntarenas beach
Puntarenas beach; credit: Wikimedia

Cruise passengers visiting Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast will arrive ashore in Puerto Caldera, a commercial port serving the nearby seaside town of Puntarenas.

They will find that Costa Rica is a small country; still it has massive appeal as one of the most ecologically diverse places on earth.

Because of this and numerous other reasons, thousands of tourists travel to the ‘Rich Coast’ every year in search of a chance to tour the beautiful country and experience some fantastic excursions.

City Outings

Puntarenas City is a bustling seaport teeming with all sorts of activity. Being the largest city in the Central Pacific, Puntarenas offers more than enough exciting activities to suit almost anyone.

The city is a terrific place to hop off the ship and grab a plate of seafood, visit an historical site, the city’s unusual buildings or any other place of interest. In fact, tourists could simply wander about the city just to observe life in one of Costa Rica’s busiest hubs.

One of the best places to visit is the tree-lined promenade of the Paseo de los Turistas, which hosts a cast of hundreds in its many restaurants, discos, pubs and cafes.

Nature Walks

While a nature walk may seem simple, being one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, Csta Rica pulls off exciting outdoor nature walks. Often, cruise passengers who like the outdoors will leave their sea legs behind and hit the trail in any number of wildlife preserves close to Puntarenas.

For the adventurous, beyond Puntarenas are the Carara National Park and Villa Lapas Reserve. Visitors will find several nature walks that provide a close-up view of the jungle. The reserves are home to hundreds of bird and animal species including snakes, monkeys, frogs, reptiles and anteaters.

For the even more adventurous, tourists have the option of crossing high above the jungle terrain via up to 300-foot-long suspended bridges, some almost 200 feet above the ground.

Shopping in Santa Lucia

The small village of Santa Lucia is a slight replica of a colonial Spanish settlement. Though small and unassuming, this area will allow time-strapped cruise passengers to enjoy a taste of Puntarenas in a very short period.

They will find shopping complexes complete with everything Puntarenas in one convenient location. There are restaurants, cafes, shops and a variety of other shopping centres. 

Tour the Rivers

River activities are huge in Puntarenas. From rafting to simple safari tours, river lovers will have a blast here.

Of note, a number of whitewater rafting tour operators provide pier-to-pier service from Puntarenas to the Balsa River. The terrain is scenic, and the Balsa winds through a wildlife-rich section of the forest. As such, visitors will also see a wide selection of wildlife including the extended family of giant crocodiles from the Tarcoles River Bridge. Anyone unwilling to get wet can simply lounge on the boat and enjoy the ride.

Tour Orotina and Esparza

Anyone who loves adventure or with a cruise schedule that allows for a bit more time join with an excursion that takes them out of Puntarenas and into either of the nearby towns of Orotina or Esparza.

Orotina, the “Fruit City of Costa Rica,” is packed with markets overflowing with the town’s fruit and nut bounty. Esparza, on the other hand, is along the coast and offers a more laid-back lifestyle with activities mostly centered around the picture-perfect town square. Some say it is a photographer’s dream.

There are numerous things to do in Puntarenas such that it’s easy to get carried away. Moreover, with the language barrier and other issues, visitors may end up wasting your time, reaching nowhere if they go about their travels by themselves.

Our advice: contact a tour operator. There are numerous tour operators in Costa Rica, many of them with over 10 years’ experience.

They can help tourists plan their trip with transportation, guidance, accommodations, day tours, shore excursions and even restaurants. This way, they can relax, enjoy the country and not worry about the confusing details.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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