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Costa Rica

6 Best Puntarenas Tourist Attractions

The best Puntarenas tourist attractions include a popular beach walk, a large aquarium and whitewater rafting.

The town and surrounding area is one of the most important tourism regions in Costa Rica. Its Pacific coastline is complete with small islands, inlets, beaches, and beautiful natural treasures, all of which make it an excellent tourist destination.

Some of the better known attractions include the following options.

1. Paseo De Los Turistas (Tourist Walk)

Paseo de los Turistas
Paseo De Los Turistas; credit: Wikimedia

This stretch is along the main beach in Puntarenas and is one of the most heavily visited places because of its variety of high-quality services for tourists.

The stretch runs from the Marino del Pacífico to La Punta. Along this stretch, visitors will witness the beauty of Costa Rica through the beach, wildlife, the people, the various establishments and the general atmosphere.

Several services are provided for tourists such as sport fields, park areas, showers, restrooms, and everything they need to enjoy the beach. Around the cruise ship pier there are many little kiosks, and places to purchase local arts and crafts. The area is also popular for traditional fruit salads and a frozen drink known as “Churchills.”

2. Parque Marino del Pacífico

Located two blocks east of the main cruise ship terminal, Parque Marino del Pacífico (Pacific Marine Park) is the largest attraction in Puntarenas. As its name suggests, Parque Marino is a collection of saltwater aquariums highlighting the contents of the Costa Rican seas.

Established in 2002, Parque Marino is indeed a massive aquarium, offering 23 separate tanks; the largest re-creates the undersea environment of Isla del Coco. There is also a restaurant and a souvenir shop. The aquariums are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for children under 11.

Coto River, Costa Rica
Waterfall on Coto River, Costa Rica

3. Corobici, Coto and Other Rivers

Costa Rica has many rivers because of its heavy annual rainfall. As a result, the country has quite a few river rafting tours available. Corobici and Tarcoles are among the closest to Puntarenas. Coto is a popular choice, but farther away.

4. Virgin of the Sea Fiesta

Every year, around mid-July, Puntarenas celebrates the Fiesta of the Virgin of the Sea. As with usual Costa Rican fiestas, there is a massive parade, a vibrant carnival and steamy boat races. There are also live performances of singing, dancing, and of course plenty of food and drinks.

An interesting feature of the parade is that the floats are not replicas but actual boats. Fishing boats and yachts are decorated with lights and flags and sail around the harbour. This separates Virgin of the Sea Fiesta from most other boat festivals around the world.

5. Historic Marine Museum

This museum is located in the historic Puntarenas barracks. Visitors will also find an amphitheatre and a public library. Apart from the usual use, the library is used as a partial gallery to display monthly paintings and sculptures. The amphitheatre has a theater that features dance and musical performances.

The museum provides extensive archaeological information, explaining the original settlements of indigenous groups from the area. Artifacts explain hunting practices, cooking practices, burial practices, and trading practices.

On a more modern note, the exhibits explain how the port area became one of the most important areas in Costa Rica. The museum shows the diversity of natural resources in the area, such as wetlands, forests, savannahs and marine areas.

6. Pura Vida Garden and Waterfalls

Described as a “Visual Masterpiece”, Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls begin with the natural beauty of Costa Rica and four waterfalls on the property with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. This extremely beautiful area is located in Bijagual de Turrubares near the Carara National Park.

Home to millions of plants, flowers and orchids from all over the world, the gardens are gently manicured to epitomize the essence of true beauty and relaxation. A slender river meanders through and at the crest of the mountain and forms the one of the highest waterfalls in the country, reaching some 650 feet.

Pura Vida is also complete with colourful gardens, trails, a restaurant, gift shop and pools for swimming in this area. 

Puntarenas is a lively town that hosts numerous locals as well as international tourists who simply want to have a good time. Beyond the attractions mentioned here, Puntarenas also has massive appeal as one of the most ecologically diverse and simply beautiful places in the world.

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.
November 14, 2021

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