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Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puntarenas Overview

One of the seven provinces in Costa Rica, Puntarenas is located on the pacific coast of the country.

This is one probably the most popular destination for Ticos to visit during the weekends, so, it is likely that if you come here you will get to see more locals than overseas tourists.

The name of Puntarenas is a combine of two words: punta and arenas (point and sand respectively).

Puntarenas was declared a free port back in 1847 for the exportation of coffee to Chile and England, and this; along with the construction of the railroads between San Jose and Puntarenas; were the turnaround events which had as a consequence a significant increase in the population of the area.

Nowadays the province is home to more than 368,000 people, with 70,000 living in the urban areas including downtown Puntarenas, Chacarita, Barranca and El Roble.

The dock of this coastal town went through a series of improvements and is also now a disembarking point for Cruise Lines which are on their different routes through the pacific sea.

And the arrival of such overseas tourists has certainly contributed to help the local economy, which is mainly sustained by the tourism industry.


Getting to Puntarenas

Puntarenas used to be a couple of hours away from downtown San Jose, but the opening of the new Caldera Highway has allowed for that time to be cut in half, and now you can be at the beach in no more than one hour.

If you are driving, you need to head in the direction to Santa Ana, passing Escazu; and then just follow the road signs on Highway 27 that will indicate you exactly where you need to turn.

If you decide that you don’t want to take the wheel, you can always choose to take a bus trip.

The buses are inexpensive and quite comfortable (make sure that you take the direct bus to Puntarenas instead of the collective one, as the latest will be stopping a lot, which will extend the traveling time to possibly 2 hours).


What to Do in Puntarenas

A walk through the Paseo de Los Turistas (the main strip in Puntarenas), and eating an ice cone or a ceviche (a popular seafood dish where the fish is cooked in lemon) is a must when you come here.

If you happen to be visiting Puntarenas during February, you certainly won’t want to miss the Puntarenas Carnivals, which is one of the biggest yearly open parties in the country, offering concerts, cultural events and much more.

Swimming in Puntarenas used to be a problem due to the pollution in the water. But the local authorities made a mission of cleaning it in order to continue to promote the arrival of tourists.

And the efforts paid, as the beach received the Blue Flag honors, which recognizes Puntarenas as one of the cleanest beaches in Costa Rica, so if feel like taking a swim, it is completely safe.

Another excellent way of spending your time in Puntarenas is to visit the local marine park, located just a few meters away from the dock.

Here you will have the chance to check on different animals such as Turtles (land and sea), Crocodiles, Pelicans, and of course a good variety of fish species.

If you are staying in Puntarenas but don’t wish to spend your time at the local beach; you can visit Doña Ana, which is also a very clean beach where you’ll find change rooms, picnic tables, restrooms and a couple of diners.

Although every beach in Costa Rica is open to everybody; nobody seems to have a problem with paying a small fee for getting inside Doña Ana Beach.

And you shouldn’t either, as the cash collected is used to continue to deliver such important services here.

And you shouldn’t either, as the cash collected is used to continue to deliver such important services here.

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