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Ships dock in the center of town. You can stroll along the beach or the aptly named Paseo de los Turistas (Tourists’ Stroll), a pedestrian boulevard stretching along the southern edge of town. Cruise ships make day visits to the eastern end of this road, and a variety of souvenir stalls and sodas (informal lunch counters) are there to greet passengers.

A free shuttle (Tourist Train) may be offered to take passengers to the end of the long pier where you will find a tourist info center.

Printable map to take along.

Cruise calendar for this port.

Live Nautical Chart with Wikipedia Markers

Monthly Climate Averages for Puntarenas Costa Rica

Hotels near the Cruise Terminal


This city by the sea attracts thousands of tourists yearly, mainly because Puntarenas is frequently used as a central point when exploring the many beautiful beaches and islands in the surrounding areas.

Tours Excursions Transportation:

There are plenty of independent tour operators where you get off the ship.

Limon-the Aerial Tram ride at Rain Forest, a 1,000-acre nature reserve next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park

The Original Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest high above the forest floor. You have to be in good shape for this adventure.

Taxis are available in most large cities. They are usually inexpensive, charging only a few dollars to get most anywhere within the city. The meter is called "la maria"; ask the driver to turn it on immediately upon getting in the car.

Bus schedule information in Costa Rica.

It pays to compare your cruise line tours here .

If you plan to travel outside the towns: protection against mosquito bites is very important, wearing lightweight long pants, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET is recommended by the CDC

Nearby Places:

About 8km south of Puntarenas is Playa San Isidro, the first ‘real’ beach on the central Pacific coast. Although it is popular with beachcombers from Puntarenas, surfers prefer to push on 4km south to Boca Barranca, which boasts what is reportedly the third-longest left-hand surf break in the world.

Shopping and Food

The dock area, where large cruise ships dock, has been transformed into a pleasant place to stroll. Restaurants and shops now line the Malecon, a pedestrian walkway that runs along the waterfront north of town.

Finding a place to eat out isn't difficult in Costa Rica and generally speaking wherever you head for, the standards of hygiene in the kitchens are high and you run little risk of getting food poisoning. Expensive restaurants may not necessarily offer the best food and visitors are encouraged to try the smaller establishments, known as sodas, which the locals tend to frequent and the food is as authentic as it gets, while frequently of a standard equal to or higher than expensive venues.

The local currency is Colón(es). The rate of exchange is about 575 Colones for 1 US Dollar. You can find ATMs in most places. They normally dispense US Dollars and Colones.

Currency Converter


Spanish is the main language in Costa Rica. English is used widely in areas populated by international tourists.

The emergency number in Costa Rica is 911

Free WiFi at the dock.

Opening Hours and Holidays:

Shopping hours Mon-Sat 0900-1800/1900. There may be variations between areas.

Puntarenas is one of the seaside towns that celebrate the Fiesta de La Virgen del Mar (Festival of the Virgin of the Sea) on the Saturday closest to July 16. Fishing boats and elegant yachts are beautifully bedecked with lights, flags and all manner of fanciful embellishments as they sail around the harbor, seeking protection from the Virgin as they begin another year at sea. There are also boat races, a carnival, and plenty of food, drinking and dancing.

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Puntarenas Costa Rica Cruise Port Guide (All You Should Know)

Costa Rica’s Puntarenas port is often visited on Panama Canal cruises and is perfect for eco-tourism. Cruise-goers land in Puntarenas or nearby Puerto Caldera. The best thing to do here is enjoy day tours to nearby towns or stroll the beach. You can get around with a rental car or by walking downtown. Visit during the dry season, from late December to mid-April.

Let’s call a spade a spade: Puntarenas in Costa Rica may not be the top pick for tourists. However, it does have a unique appeal. 

If you’re on a cruise along the Pacific coast or taking a ferry to Nicoya Peninsula destinations such as Montezuma or Santa Teresa, you might end up here. 

While I don’t recommend staying here long, there are a few fun things to do and places to go for enjoyable day trips, especially if you’re coming from a cruise ship.

Table of Contents

First of all, the confusion about Puntarenas Cruise Port

Some cruise ships may refer to it as Puerto Caldera instead of Puntarenas, causing confusion about this destination. 

However, whether it’s Puerto Caldera or Puntarenas, both are different spots where you can explore lovely Costa Rica. 

If you’re heading to Costa Rica on a cruise, chances are you’ll stop at the Puntarenas Cruise Port. It’s the perfect starting point for day trips along the country’s Pacific Coast. 

Even though Puntarenas itself is small, there are plenty of natural wonders nearby. 

You can see the stunning lake and waterfalls at Poas Volcano, walk through a cloud forest, try white-water rafting, or simply relax on a beach. 

How to Get to Puntarenas From the Puntarenas Cruise Port

If your boat stops at Puntarenas City, you can easily walk to the cruise terminal and the Puntarenas Malecon. 

There’s also a free shuttle from the boat stop to the terminal, which is helpful if you can’t walk far. 

But if your boat stops at Puerto Caldera, you’ll have to take a taxi or plan a ride to get to town, which takes about 20 minutes.

Navigating Around the Port

When cruise ships arrive at Puntarenas, they park at a long pier. If you’re part of a tour by boat, buses will be waiting for you there. 

But if you’re exploring on your own, you can walk to the end of the pier, where there’s a security checkpoint. Once you leave the dock, you’ll be right in the middle of Puntarenas .

  • Finding the market: Right outside the cruise port, you’ll see an excellent market selling local crafts. It’s on your left, next to the beach. Coffee, flutes, and artwork made by local artists can be found here.
  • Finding the beach: As you leave the port, there’s a beautiful black sand beach to your left and right. Especially on the left, there are lots of beach chairs and restaurants. But apart from the beach, there isn’t much else nearby. It’s best not to hang around the port unless you’re spending the day at the beach. Within just an hour’s drive, there are unique landscapes, volcanoes, and rainforests you can explore. So, it’s a good idea to take a tour or a taxi to see more.
  • Taking tours : At the port exit, you’ll also find many vans labeled “Turismo.” They’re waiting to take small groups to exciting places. These vans don’t follow a set route. The drivers have a list of places to visit, and you can decide where to go. Just make sure to agree on a price before you get in. You can negotiate prices, which are usually per person.
  • Using Taxis: When you leave the pier, you’ll see lots of taxis and tour operators. The official taxis are red with a yellow triangle.

Things to Do at Puntarenas Cruise Port

If you find yourself at Puntarenas cruise port and looking for fun activities, it’s better to lower your expectations a little. 

There are indeed some touristy areas, but you’ll get the best experience when you move into town or other neighboring towns. Here are a few exciting things you can do at the cruise port: 

1. Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest

  • Address: Along the Cordillera de Tilarán within the Puntarenas and Alajuela provinces.
  • Contact: +506 2637 1054
  • Budget: The entry fee is $8 per adult (locals) and $26 per adult (foreigners).

Monte Verde is an excellent place, even if you’re not super into nature. The environment there is really unique, and the plants and animals are pretty cool. 

When we went, we parked at the official parking lot and took the shuttle, which cost $5. It’s the recommended way to get there, but lots of people just park along the road, take a taxi, or walk, which makes the entrance really busy and kind of chaotic. 

Friendly Advice: 

  • Visit early to catch more active wildlife. Research the animals you want to see, as well as their activity times. 
  • Consider hiring a guide who can enhance the experience by providing knowledge about the flora and fauna. Without this, the trip may feel like just a regular hike.

I wouldn’t recommend the trails unless you’re in decent shape and steady on your feet, as they can be quite steep. If you’re in the area, definitely check out one of the reserves, and Monte Verde is a perfect choice.

The forest offers beautiful scenery with various trails, allowing exploration of different parts. It takes about 4-5 hours to complete the trails at a leisurely pace, with some hills but primarily easy or moderate terrain.

The entry fee of $26 per person is considered expensive. Additionally, the closure of some trails could restrict the planned exploration.

2. Visit Poas Volcano National Park.

  • Address: Alajuela Province, Poás, Costa Rica.
  • Contact: +506 2482 2165
  • Budget: $15 for non-residents, ~ $1.50 for residents (entry fee), and $3 for parking.

Poás Volcano National Park is a particular area in Costa Rica that’s about 65 square kilometers. It’s where you can find the tippy top of Poás Volcano, which sits at about 2,700 meters high. 

You can see the crater and bright-blue lake of Poás Volcano, which are easily accessible for most fitness levels. Your admission ticket will give you access to the visitor center, café, and souvenir shop. The National Park is an easy day trip from San Jose and surrounding areas.

I totally recommend this tour on Viator.

3. Take a trip to San Jose

San José, the capital of Costa Rica , sits in the Central Valley. It’s full of amazing things like top-notch museums, parks, hotels, theaters, and old buildings with stories to tell. 

It is surrounded by grand volcanoes and green hills, showcasing the country’s natural beauty. I wrote a separate guide on the best ten things you can do in San Jose, Costa Rica.

If you want to travel from Puntarenas to San José quickly, the best way is by bus. It takes about an hour and a half and costs $6. 

Yes, there’s a direct bus that goes straight from Puntarenas to San José. These buses run every hour, every day.

4. Visit the coffee plantation La Luisa-Sarchi (the largest oxcart in the world).

A trip to the La Luisa coffee plantation is another exciting thing to do in the Puntarenas cruise port area. You will go on coffee tours of the plantation, mill, and coffee roasting facility. 

It’s an educational and entertaining activity to do, especially if you’re a solo traveler. 

5. Go zip-lining, hiking, or rock climbing.

Natural wonders such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Poas Volcano National Park surround the port. You can also indulge in zip-lining, hiking, snorkeling, cliff diving, trekking, and scuba diving . For these adventures, I recommend tours like the Veragua Rainforest Aerial Tram.   

Meanwhile, a boat trip to Isla San Lucas, once a prison but now a protected area known for its friendly dolphins, is ideal for adventure seekers, too.

Just outside the cruise port, there’s a lively crafts market where you can find Costa Rica’s famous coconut crafts, freshly ground coffee, and handcrafted wooden flutes made by local artists. 

Along the way, you’ll see a black beach with charming wooden huts and restaurants serving up traditional treats like tortillas, corn pancakes, black beans, and pork belly.

Is Puntarenas Cruise Port Worth the Visit? (Honest Review)

The best part about being in a place like Puntarenas cruise port is that volcanic beaches, lush jungles, and tall mountains surround you. That means if you’re visiting on a cruise, you’ll have lots of chances to swim, hike, or go climbing.

While shopping options are a bit limited because the town is small compared to others, Puntarenas is famous for its delicious Costa Rican coffee. If you love coffee, you’ll be in heaven here.

In my opinion, the best thing about being here is that there’s a ferry close by, making it easy to get to Nicoya, including excellent spots like Santa Teresa and Montezuma, as well as many surf beaches. 

Additionally, there’s a bus terminal where you can catch a direct bus to San Jose. You can see some breathtaking sunsets here, and there’s plenty of touristy stuff to check out along the water, as well as lots of seafood to enjoy. There’s a fun party vibe, too.

It can be scorching hot here, however. Even the cold showers can feel hot during the day because of the warm water pipes in the shallow sand. And like many port towns, there’s some crime, especially in the rougher neighborhoods of the peninsula.

  • At the Puntarenas Cruise Port, there are two places where cruise ships stop: Puerto Caldera, which is the biggest seaport in Costa Rica, and Puntarenas itself.
  • Both Puntarenas cruise ship stops have bathrooms, Wi-Fi, pay-to-use phones, and other amenities to make visitors feel at home.
  • Many shops, places to eat, and things you might need are along the Malecon, which is a walkway near the sea.
  • If you want to go to a lovely beach, you can go to Playa San Isidro, which is about 4 miles (6 kilometers) south of Puntarenas.

Puntarenas Cruise Port Weather 

Puntarenas experiences typical Pacific coast weather. From December to late April, it’s dry with minimal rainfall. 

May to August see afternoon rainstorms yet it remains warm and sunny overall. From August to December, there are more rainy days with heavier downpours. Temperatures throughout the year often exceed 90°F (30°C). 

The city has distinct dry (December to April) and rainy (May to October) seasons, with November serving as a transitional period. 

What are the nearest attractions to Puntarenas cruise ports?

Here are some fantastic places near the Puntarenas Cruise Port that you might want to check out:

  • Carara National Park (Parque Nacional Carara) :
  • Address: Q9JV+FJ4, Puntarenas Province, Tarcoles, Costa Rica
  • Budget: The entry fee is $10 per person.
  • Recommended Tours

This park is nearby and great for nature lovers. You can see lots of animals, like colorful birds and monkeys, and there are beautiful hiking trails. It opens from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls
  • Address: PCX7+M98, 320, Provincia de Puntarenas, Garabito, Costa Rica
  • Contact: +506 2645 1001
  • Budget: $20 per adult entry fee.
  • Recommended Tours 

These gardens are full of colorful flowers and plants. Plus, there are some stunning waterfalls to see. It’s a peaceful place to relax and enjoy nature.

  • Tortuga Island (Isla Tortuga)
  • Address: Nicoya Gulf, very close to the Nicoya peninsula, in front of the Curú Wildlife Refuge, on the Costa Rican shore of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Budget: Depends on the tour package

If you love beaches, this is the place to go! It’s a gorgeous island with white sandy beaches and clear blue water. You can swim, snorkel, or just soak up the sun. It’s like paradise!

puntarenas cruise port costa rica

About  Michelle Schmidt

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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Puntarenas Cruise Port: Attractions, Beaches, Weather

The Costa Rica port of Puntarenas is a common stop on Panama Canal cruises and an ideal ecotourism destination.

Cruise visitors will disembark in one of two locations—Puntarenas itself or Puerto Caldera, which is about a 20-minute taxi ride from the town.

Either way they land, visitors may not spend much time in the town of Puntarena because the biggest attractions lie nearby and the town is quite small. It actually is part of a narrow cape of land that sticks out into the Gulf of Nicoya. The area around Puntarenas is the Nicoya Peninsula.

The town lies among nearby volcanic beaches, tropical jungles and some of the highest mountains in Costa Rica. That means cruise visitors will have plenty of opportunities to swim, hike or climb.

Shopping is limited because of the city’s small size compared to other ports, but Puntarenas is known for selling large amounts of Costa Rican coffee. Coffee lovers will love it here.

Where is Puntarenas, Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is directly north of Panama in Central America. Puntarenas, which lies in the Gulf of Nicoya, is between two common ports of call during Panama Canal cruises. They are Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala and Panama City in Panama.

Puerto Quetzal is 670 miles by car and 490 miles by air to the north. Panama City is 500 miles by car and 370 miles by air to the south. Panama Canal cruises usually have one day at sea in-between each port.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Puntarenas map.

One of the biggest attractions in Puntarenas itself is the town’s main beach and the Tourist Walk, or Paseo de los Turistas. It runs along the beach from the historic train station to La Punta and has many shops and restaurants.

Visitors also will find numerous kiosks by the cruise pier where they can buy local foods, drinks, arts and crafts.

Another attraction near the train station is Marino del Pacifico Park, which has fish aquariums with native Pacific Ocean species. The park also has a souvenir shop and restaurant.

Visitors might also be interested in the Historic Marine Museum in the historic Puntarenas barracks. It contains an amphitheater and public library. The museum exhibits paintings and sculptures, while the theater has music, dance and theater performances.

Outside of Puntarenas, the Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls has one of the biggest waterfalls in Costa Rica with a 650-foot drop. The gardens include trails and swimming pools. It is located in Carara National Park about an hour south of Puntarenas.

Serious shoppers often take a day trip to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, which is a two-hour trip one way.

Other attractions include:

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Puntarenas is more of an ecotourism destination than a beach destination. Visitors will find few if any beach shore excursions. But there are a few that require transportation to reach them.

Playa Hermosa has family-friendly beaches and overlooks the Gulf of Papagayo.

The beach at Playa Jaco, one of the most popular locations in Costa Rica, lies closest to San Jose in the Central Valley.

An excellent choice for beginners’ waves is Playa Ballena. It has light-beige powdery sand and possibly the best beginners waves in the area.

Montezuma often attracts visitors to this charming beach village near Puntarenas. It is located on the eastern shore of Nicoya Peninsula.

Puntarenas Cruise Weather

Puntarenas weather is warm to hot throughout the year with daytime temperatures often reaching more than 90 degrees Farenheit or the low 30s Celsius, according to Costa Rica’s Instituto Meteorologico Nacional.

The city has distinct dry and rainy seasons. The dry season goes from December through April when rainfall often averages less than one inch per month. The rainy season goes from May through October when rainfall averages eight to 11 inches a month. November is a transition month when rainfall averages five inches.

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Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Busy City and Cruise Terminal Guide

Puntarenas Costa Rica is a bustling port city on the Pacific coast

Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Busy City and Cruise Terminal Guide

The Puntarenas Costa Rica Vibes

Puntarenas, Costa Rica is not exactly a place I would suggest seeking out as a tourist destination. 

It is basically a small city that is somewhat run down and dirty, but I will say, it still has its charms.

You might find yourself here for two reasons.

1. If you visit Costa Rica by cruise, the Pacific coast cruise terminal is located here.

2. If you take the ferry to or from the Nicoya Peninsula (to go to Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Mal Pais etc.) the ferry leaves from the very tip of Puntarenas.

So, we don’t suggest spending a few nights here but we do have some great restaurant suggestions and tips for fun activities (especially for those of you looking for great day trips from the cruise ship).

Background Info About Puntarenas Costa Rica

Nearest international airport.

San Jose International Airport in San Jose

Popular Things to Do

day tours to nearby towns, walk on the beach

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car , walking in the downtown area

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April

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Map Of Puntarenas

The city of Puntarenas is located in the Puntarenas Province (it’s confusing…I know) on the central Pacific coast of the country. 

The city juts out into the ocean as a needle-like peninsula. 

Flights to Costa Rica

The easiest way to get to Puntarenas is from the San Jose International Airport.

From here it is about 1.5 hour drive.

Driving to Puntarenas

From the San Jose Airport, it will take you about one and a half hours to drive to the city of Puntarenas. The drive is fairly easy on well-maintained highways. 

Just keep in mind that there are tolls on this road. You can pay in US dollars or Costa Rican colones. 

In total, I would say it is about $5 to $7 in tolls. Sorry, I’ve never exactly counted it out.  

Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Busy City and Cruise Terminal Guide

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Private Shuttle to Puntarenas

If you are traveling with a group of people and don’t plan on renting a car, a private shuttle is the way to go. You can all sit back and enjoy the Pacific coast scenery while a competent driver ensures you get to your destination safely.

We work exclusively with Adobe Transfer for private shuttles. You can find out more and get a shuttle price quote here . 

Public Bus to Puntarenas Costa Rica

There are public buses that run to and from Puntarenas throughout the day. 

The nice thing about Puntarenas is that a lot of buses depart from here to different areas of the country. It’s a bit of a bus hub.

Anyway, we aren’t great with keeping up with the bus schedules so we suggest checking the Centro Casting website for all your bus needs. 

Transportation In Puntarenas

If you would like to just explore the downtown area of Puntarenas you can easily just walk around or hop in a taxi.

Most likely, if you are on a cruise and exit the cruise terminal there will be many people asking if you need a taxi. 

Please, make sure you take a legal taxi. You can read more about that here . Illegal taxi drivers have been known to scam tourists and majorly overchaege them. 

For trips in the surrounding area we suggest either renting a car or booking a tour.

Adobe, our favorite car rental company has an office just off of Puntarenas. They are happy to deliver your car to you for free within 12 miles of their office. 

That means you can rent your car and have it delivered to you for free at the cruise terminal if you need. 

Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here .

puntarenas beach

Puntarenas Ferry

If you are planning to visit the Nicoya Peninsula ( Montezuma , Santa Teresa , Mal Pais ) the best way to get here from the San Jose area of the Central Pacific coast is by taking the ferry.

The ferry terminal is located at the very tip of Puntarenas.

It is possible to book your tickets ahead of time. We suggest reading our guide to the ferry for all the details. 

Puntarenas Cruise Terminal

There are two places in which cruises come to port in the harbor. These are called Puerto Caldera and Muelle de Cruceros in Puntarenas proper.

Most likely, your ship will park at Puerto Caldera as it is the largest seaport in Costa Rica.

Caldera is located out of the city proper. This makes it easy for you to get to other areas of the country quickly but will require about a 20-minute drive if you would like to get to downtown Puntarenas. 

Both cruise terminals have bathrooms, WIFI, and pay phones. 

Click here for a map of the cruise terminal locations

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Puntarenas Costa Rica Weather

This area follows the weather patterns of most of the rest of the Pacific coast.

You can expect dry weather and no rain from December through late April.

From May through August you will likely experience a daily afternoon rain storm, but in general, it should stay warm and sunny out.

From August until December you may have more wash-out days with heavier rains. 

Things to Do in Puntarenas Costa Rica

Explore the downtown area.

There aren’t a whole lot of shops geared towards tourists in this area, but I think that makes it charming. It’s fun to walk the downtown area and see what life is like in this small city.

Walk on the Beach

Playa Puntarenas stretches along the whole southern half of the city. It is a nice long walk. You can stop along the way for lunch and snacks.

Puntarenas Highlights Shore Excursion

This tour includes transportation from your hotel or from the cruise port.

You will get the chance to take a boat down the Tarcoles River to see wildlife, eat delicious traditional food, learn about Puntarenas, see monkeys up close, and more!

Arrange Your Day Tour

Visit Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga is an inhabited island off the Pacific coast with white sands and turquoise waters. This is a fun day trip that people of all ages will enjoy.

We strongly recommend this Isla Tortuga Tour

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Puntarenas Restaurants

Along the highway, before you turn into the city of Puntarenas you will see cars parked on the side of the road in front of food stands.

We suggest stopping here if you would like to try the traditional Costa Rican frozen treat called Churchill .

This consists of shaved ice, flavored syrup, powdered milk, and condensed milk.

I find it to be a bit too sweet for my liking, but it’s definitely worth a try. 

Anyway, on to the restaurants!

Isla Coco’s Bar & Grill – If you are looking for a nice dinner of fresh-caught seafood or fish, this is our choice for you. 

Matobes – They serve great pizza among other things….but I suggest going here for the pizza.

Lunarossa – Our top choice for a more elevated date night type of experience. I think it is definitely the best restaurant in Puntarenas, and a bit more high-end than the other places on this list. 

Restaurant & Marisqueria Gugas – A good spot for traditional Costa Rican meals at a very fair price. They also serve seafood. 

puntarenas lighthouse

Puntarenas Costa Rica Hotels

I don’t really recommend staying in Puntarenas, so it was difficult to choose hotels that I would suggest. 

However, if you find yourself spending the night in Puntarenas for some reason (we’ve been in that situation due to ferry issues and a bad storm), there are a few decent options.

Hotel Mar y Mar – Comfortable hotel with a pool. Rates are very fair and breakfast is included.

Cabinas Gosen – Basic rooms but they have everything you need. The staff here is super nice and everything is kept clean. 

Fiesta Resort – This resort is not our favorite in Costa Rica, but if you want an all-inclusive place that is very budget friendly this is the spot!

puntarenas cruise ship

Puntarenas Travel Tips

We have never had any issues, but the downtown area of Puntarenas is not known for being the safest spot in the country. Just keep an eye on your belongings and exercise some caution when possible. 

puntarenas sunset

Packing for Puntarenas Costa Rica

Puntarenas is not a fancy town. Dressing in casual clothes is completely fine.

We suggest fast drying, breathable shorts and t-shirts.

Keep in mind that we are sometimes a bit concerned about security here so having a secure backpack or money belt is sometimes helpful when walking around downtown.

When the sun goes down the mosquitos can be bad, so bug spray is always good to have.

Don’t forget your rain gear if visiting during green season.

Check out our Puntarenas Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials. 

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….if none of those appeal to you, check out our  Guide to the Central Pacific Coas t for more ideas of places to visit in this area.

Puntarenas – Costa Rica

Last updated on March 10th, 2024 at 01:34 pm

Discover the wonders of Puntarenas, a charming coastal town in Costa Rica. Explore the lush rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, go zip-lining through the canopy, or relax on beautiful sandy beaches. Take a boat tour through the mangroves of the Damas Island Estuary, visit the Puntarenas Cathedral, and savor the flavors of Costa Rican cuisine. Puntarenas is a gateway to Costa Rica's abundant natural treasures.

Check out these excursions in Puntarenas .

Good To Know:

It is muggy and hot most all year round in Puntarenas. The wet season is from May to November, and it is overcast and oppressive. The rest of the year is partly cloudy and muggy. The south Pacific region of Costa Rica is one of the rainiest places in the world.

Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 77°F to 97°F and is rarely below 74°F or above 99°F.

The Colon is the currency of Costa Rica. It is subdivided into 100 centimos. Many businesses accept the US dollar; however, they may be reluctant to accept bills that are larger than $20. Change may be given to you in colons. Some places in Puntarenas will accept credit cards, but the farther afield that you travel from the city, the less likely you will find establishments that accept credit cards. This is because merchant service charges in Costa Rica can be extremely high and other areas do not have reliable electric service for card readers. Major towns will have an ATM.

Check out exchange rates here: https://www.xe.com/

Wireless Internet:

There is WiFi inside the cruise port terminal. While it is free, it can be spotty and unreliable.

Spanish is the official language spoken. You may also hear English, Creole and some Indian languages.

Here are some words and phrases that you might hear in Puntarenas:

  Mae: Same as bro, dude or man

Birra:  Beer

Tuanis: Fine, okay, nice, cool

Al chile: Seriously? Really?

A Cachete: Good, great

Detras del Palo: behind the tree, meaning, I don’t know what you’re talking about

Buena nota: refers to someone that did something nice

Que pega: What a stick…which means someone or something is annoying

Que camote: What a yam…which mean something or someone is crazy

Where You Dock in Puntarenas – Costa Rica

There are two spots that ships will dock. One is Puerto Caldera and one is Puntarenas.

  Port Puerto Caldera: Cruise ships will normally dock at Port Puerto Caldera. This is Costa Rica’s largest seaport. It is also an important cargo port. It is about 17 miles from the port to Puntarenas.

Port Puerto Caldera has little in the way of facilities for cruise passengers. There is nothing within walking distance of the port either. From the port it is about a 20 minute cab-ride into Puntarenas.

Ships will dock opposite a terminal building. In this building there are restrooms and a few souvenir stalls with jewelry, wooden crafts and Costa Rican coffee.

There are not any venues for food or drink in this terminal. One of the main reasons ships dock at  Puerto Caldera, rather than Puntarenas, is that the port is protected by a windbreak.

Puntarenas: If your ship docks in Puntarenas, you are very close to the main drag called Paseo de los Turistas. There is a wide walkway that has shopping and dining venues. This area is parallel to the beach.

Across from the dock perimeter there is a cruise ship terminal (Muelle de Cruceros) that has restrooms and phone stations. Complimentary shuttles will take you from the gangway to the main exit if you don’t want to walk it.

Regardless of whether you dock in Puerto Caldera or Puntarenas itself, if you purchased an excursion through the ship, or Shore Excursions Group, the tour will pick you up where your ship docks.

Getting Around Puntarenas – Costa Rica

Walking Puntarenas is easy to do, although it can take you a while depending on how quickly you walk or how long you take to observe your surroundings. The town of Puntarenas comprises the entire peninsula and the main road that goes through the middle is called Paseo de los Turistas (Tourists Walk). A boardwalk runs parallel to the shore. There are restaurants, shops and food stands up and down this road.

Check out this video of a drive down Paseo de los Turista:

Many locals ride bikes. You can rent bikes from area shops. Just make sure to keep it locked when not in use. Pedestrians do not have the right of way, and bikes ride in the street, not on the sidewalk. Also, helmets are scarce.

If your ship docks in Puntarenas, there will be taxis that line up close to the pier. It is the same if your ship docks at Puerto Caldera. There will be taxis available at the pier.

  Here are two taxi services if you want to call ahead:

Costa Rica Nice and Easy Taxi

Taxis Unidos Puntarenas 506-2660-2020

Rental Cars

To be able to rent a car in Costa Rica, you will need a valid photo drivers license. You will also need a passport to rent a car. Driving is on the right-hand side of the roads. The challenging terrain and subpar road infrastructure can make driving challenging.

This is an article by the Tico Times, a Costa Rican newspaper, that gives tips for driving safely in Costa Rica .

  The “Visit Costa Rica” website, under Tips for Travelers , states this about renting a car in Costa Rica:

Driving a car in Costa Rica gives you the freedom to navigate the beautiful landscape at your leisure. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you begin your adventure.

  • If you experience a mechanical issue or a flat tire avoid stopping in lonely places and don’t accept unsolicited help from strangers. It is better to call the Rent-a-Car or dial 9-1-1 to request help.
  • Don’t leave any valuables unattended in your car – such as credit cards, cash, jewelry, or your passport. Use public parking lot with surveillance.
  • Use a GPS or a GPS navigation app. It’ll save time and prove convenient when exploring. Just make sure you have a chip or an international data plan!
  • The terrain can get more adventurous depending on where you choose to go. So keep that in mind when renting your vehicle.
  • Verify the condition of the car and its required safety equipment (warning triangles, reflective vests, lug nut wrench, spare tire and a fire extinguisher).
  • When renting the car, read the contract thoroughly to understand what is covered and what is not. Ask for details of car policies and insurance. Be aware of all the details about the insurance policies.

There are several car rentals in Puntarenas. Here are a few:

Adobe Car Rental en Puntarenas Costa Rica

Escuela De Manejo Puntarenas

  Budget Car Rental Costa Rica

The bus station in Puntarenas is about 15 blocks from the cruise ship terminal. You can walk there, but it will be time consuming. The bus will run to other cities in Costa Rica and the cost is relatively inexpensive. However, the commute time will be a factor depending on how long your ship is in port. For example, a trip to San Jose is three hours one way by bus, but when by car or taxi it would be a bit over an hour.   Check out the bus schedules here.

Water Ferry

Depending on how long you have in port, there is a water ferry that travels between the ports of Puntarenas and Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula. The ride across the bay takes about 70 minutes. The ferry takes both cars and passengers.

To get to the ferry terminal, follow the main road, Avenue Central, all the way to the end of the point of the land that juts out into the ocean. You can use the lighthouse as a guide in the direction you need to walk. You can purchase tickets in advance, at this site: https://www.quickpaycr.com/

Unfortunately, the site is in Spanish and does not give you the option for an English version. However, if you use Google Translate, you can translate a whole page at a time.

Shopping In Puntarenas – Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not known as a shopping mecca, and true local handicrafts are not common. Ironically, most of what one would see in shops are imported from surrounding countries, and often mass-produced, especially in tourist areas. Fortunately, one of the towns famous for local handicrafts, Sarchi, is only a 40 minute drive from Puntarenas. Also, if you’re looking for some serious shopping beyond the tourist shops, San Jose has a good selection of shops in the Avenida Central, which is designed for pedestrians, but it is about a 2 hour drive by car from Puntarenas.

If you are looking for a few souvenirs to remember your time in Costa Rica, coffee is always a good bet, replica pre-Columbian jewelry, or paintings of local scenery.

Shopping in Puntarenas

Paseo de los turistas.

The area that most tourists shop at is the Paseo de los Turistas walkway. This strip has souvenir and craft shops and there are also pop-up stalls that are scattered along the walkway between restaurants and other shops. If you are not looking for anything in particular the Paseo de los Turistas will suffice for food, beverage and other small items.

Central Market (Mercado Municipal) – 10 min. walk from pier

This covered market is mainly for locals, with vendors selling fish and produce, While you will find some items of interest here, there is not an extensive amount of crafts or souvenirs, but can be an interesting glimpse into how locals shop. It’s about a 10 minute walk straight down the street (C. Central) from the end of the cruise pier, then turning right on Av. 3 and walking another block to the market.

Anma Boutique – 5 min. walk from pier

You will find trendy women’s clothes and good customer service in this small boutique. It is located on Calle 2 just north of Av. Central.

Almacenes la Milagrosa – 6 min. walk from pier

This store has clothing options along with sneakers and flip flops. It is located a 6 minute walk from the cruise pier, straight down C. Central.

Shopping in Sarchi

As mentioned above, Sarchi is located a 40 minute drive from Puntarenas and is filled with shops offering locally made arts and crafts. They are especially known wooden furniture, leather goods and colorfully painted oxcarts in varying sizes, which were historically used to bring coffee and other goods to market.

Click here to check out this all day shore excursion which takes you on a tour of a coffee plantation, a charming village, Grecia,  known for its architecture, and an oxcart factory in Sarchi.

Dining In Puntarenas – Costa Rica

One of the best things about visiting foreign places is experiencing the culture through the food. Check out this informative (and hunger-inducing) video about the best things to try on your visit to Costa Rica:

When in Puntarenas, there is no shortage of restaurants and eateries in the town. Walking down the Paseo de los Turistas boardwalk, you will find any number of places to stop for food or drink.

Maes Grill – 10 min. walk from pier, along the beach

Besides seafood, Maes has great burgers too. Located in front of the beach, the restaurant also has friendly staff.

Lunarossa – 20 min. walk from pier, along the beach

If you are looking for someplace with air conditioning and good food, Lunarossa has both. Fish tacos, poke and salads and ceviche with an Asian flair. Fresh tuna, octopus and avocado make for a taste of Costa Rica.

Restaurante & Marisqueria Gugas – 1 min. walk from pier, straight ahead

Fresh fish, ceviche and shrimp with rice are just a few of the items on the menu. A variety of cold drinks and stable WiFi makes this a good spot to stop and refresh yourself.

La Takeria – 17 min. walk from pier, along beach

Generous portions, this Mexican restaurant is small and cozy. You can choose from chimichangas, quesadillas, and a variety of tacos. They pay attention to the presentation here, with a friendly staff. Try tequila, beer or soft drinks with your meal.

Pizza Pata – 5 min. walk from pier, on Centenario

Many reviewers call Pizza Pata the best place for pizza in town. With a variety of toppings, you can build your own pizza. If you don’t feel like pizza, they have a good selection of pasta dishes and salads, too. Service is fast in this dine-in restaurant, and the food is great.

Things To Do in Puntarenas – Costa Rica

As mentioned previously, Puntarenas is typically used as a jumping off point for various eco-tours and excursions, featuring lots of outdoor activities, but if you’re just looking to get off the ship and see what the town has to offer, here are some things to do:

Playa Puntarenas

If you dock in Puntarenas, this beach is located right at the end of the cruise pier and extends the length of the peninsula. If you want to take a dip in the water, it’s likely a good idea to walk a ways down the shore. Garbage can be an issue, but the town is trying to keep the beach clean.

Casa de la Cultura Puntarenas – 6 min. walk from cruise pier

This historical site houses artwork, a small exhibition of Puntarenas’ history and a theatre. One of its main objectives is to “preserve, enrich and transmit local and national culture.” Admission is free and it is located steps away from the stone-built Puntarenas Cathedral.

Parque Marino del Pacifico – 8 min. walk from cruise pier

This small, but country’s only, marine park has an aquarium and exhibitions with about 50 species, kiddie pool and splash area, picnic area and food service all for $10 for those over 12 years and $5 for children 4-11 years. You can take a guided tour at no additional cost – just make a reservation in advance to do so.  The hours are Tuesday-Sunday, and it can be a  great place for kids to explore.

Top Tours & Excursions In Puntarenas – Costa Rica

Monteverde cloud forest, hanging bridges & butterflies - puntarenas.

Nature lovers will have a field day on this scenic Puntarenas tour around Costa Rica. You'll visit multiple natural wonders, including some of the country's top attractions. Your tour begins on the Pan-American Highway, the famous roadway known for its epic landscape views, on a 2-hour drive to where you'll arrive at the first major site on this excursion: Monteverde. Here, you will learn about Costa Rican culture and stop at a wonderful viewpoin...

  • Duration: 8 Hours
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: No
  • Food: Light lunch included

Puntarenas Zipline & Crocodile Safari

Your Costa Rican adventure begins conveniently from the pier as you set off on a relaxing drive through the stunning countryside in air-conditioned transportation Your local and knowledgeable guide will point out many different sights of the region. Carara Adventure Park is a privately-owned reserve with 80 acres of rainforest and stunning views. After instructions, the groups will be transferred to the top of the mountain where the zip line beg...

  • Duration: 6 Hours
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Note: Min. age and max. weight restrictions
  • Food: Not included

Best of Costa Rica - Puntarenas

See the best of Costa Rica on this informative and cultural tour.  If you want the full Costa Rica experience, this is it. Your tour starts with an introduction to the local creatures. Upon arriving at a private wildlife area, you'll get to see the white-faced monkeys that call Costa Rica home.  From there, you'll make your way to the local "fruit towns," which live up to their name. Here, there are plenty of tropical fruits to taste and you'...

  • Duration: 7 Hours

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Cruises from/to Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puntarenas, costa rica cruise port.

Puntarenas, whose Spanish translation literally means “sand point”, is the capital and also the largest city in the province that goes by the same name. It is found in Costa Rica on the country's Pacific coast. The province is divided into the North and the South with the largest section being the latter. The city's port which was built in 1840 is considered to be among the country's main ports. The city was discovered in 1519 by a man called Hernan Ponce de Leon, and has since then had a rich history of trade. Currently, it is more of a tourist destination, especially due to its high temperatures. Listed below are some of the recommended experiences, attractions, and activities that visitors could enjoy after cruising to Puntarenas, Costa Rica:

  • Nature lovers and adventurers alike will be thrilled to get the opportunity to tour the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. It is one of the country's most popular eco-tourism destinations. The reserve has trails through its high altitude forest where visitors get to see diverse flora and fauna.  
  • Fans of architecture and religious history should not miss the chance to visit the Cathedral of Puntarenas. The cathedral building itself boasts some unique architecture which highlights some of the more fascinating aspects of the structure. This is further complimented by the surrounding well-tended grounds.  
  • Animal lovers and birdwatchers should take the time to visit the Macaw Sanctuary. This facility is where visitors could get the unique opportunity to get a closer look at the macaw bird species that are looked after here; the sanctuary takes care of them then releases them to the wild.  
  • Visitors who are interested in relaxing under the sun or some water activities should definitely pay a visit to Tortuga Island. The island boasts some of the region's best beaches and also blue waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.  

Top 10 Cruises to Puntarenas, Costa Rica

  • Celebrity Summit 15 NIGHT PANAMA CANAL EASTBOUND CRUISE Departing From Los Angeles, California (Sep 2024)
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  • Nieuw Amsterdam 21-day Panama Canal Departing From Vancouver, British Columbia (Sep 2024)
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  • Carnival Miracle Journeys - 15-day Panama Canal Departing From San Francisco, California (Oct 2024)
  • Nieuw Amsterdam 16-day Panama Canal Departing From San Diego, California (Oct 2024)
  • Nieuw Amsterdam 23-day Panama Canal & Eastern Caribbean Departing From San Diego, California (Oct 2024)
  • Radiance of the Seas 16 NIGHT PANAMA CANAL CRUISE Departing From Los Angeles, California (Oct 2024)

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  • Coordinates 9.979, -84.833
  • Local Time 2024-06-02 05:38

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Puntarenas Costa Rica Cruise Port: Thrilling Wildlife, Coffee, and Jungle Delights!

White faced capuchin monkey in a rainforest, seen on an excursion from a Costa Rica cruise port

Rainforest or coffee plantation? Jungle tram or zip line? Pontoon boat to see crocodiles or a city tour? We only had one day at the Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port, and we had to choose.

Tempted by the lure of a rainforest teeming with exotic wildlife for us, coffee won out.  But we talked to many people on the ship, and it turns out either choice was a good one.

Both are discussed below, along with a few other options for things to do from the Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port.

Costa Rica cruise port: Best things to do in Puntarenas

Looking out at the Island Princess from the Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port

Surrounded by islands, inlets, beaches, and natural treasures, the actual town of Puntarenas is quite small. In fact, it’s easily accessible by walking off the cruise ship. However, you will need transportation to get out to the jungle, coffee plantations, cloud walks, or even the capital city of San Jose.

Nearly all of the excursions begin with a relaxing drive through the countryside. A guide will take this opportunity to highlight some of Costa Rica’s history, along with pointing out its exotic flora and fauna, mango, sugar and citrus plantations, colourful fruit stands, rural farming communities, and miles of pristine landscapes.

Top things to do in Puntarenas as a Costa Rica cruise port

  • Visit a coffee plantation
  • Choose a wildlife viewing and rainforest exploration
  • Learn how Sarchi oxcarts are made
  • Stroll through San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city
  • Enjoy the beach

Visit a Coffee Plantation

Although Costa Rica produces only 1% of the world’s coffee, they have an excellent reputation for quality. This is due in part to a law requiring that only Arabica beans are grown, thus maintaining quality.

We opted for a half-day excursion to Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation that included a visit to the Sarchi oxcart craft town.

Espiritu Santo is actually a co-op that started in 1968. Today it consists of 2,300 farmers on 247 hectares.

Baby coffee plants at the Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica

Here, we discovered the bean-growing process

  • Plants grow from beans in pots for the first year before being transplanted to an orchard. Significant yield begins after three years and a plant’s lifetime is 25 years.
  • The rainy season brings jasmine-smelling white flowers that turn black leaving a small coffee bean behind.
  • Once mature, the berry turns red and is ready for hand-picking.
  • Paid by the basket, the average picker gathers about ten baskets (12kg each) per day. However, the fastest can fill 25 baskets.
  • Removing the flesh of the coffee berry within 24 hours of picking avoids fermentation.
  • The centre bean is then dried either by heat for 28 hours or by air (for much longer). Air drying produces a higher quality bean.
  • Beans are placed in 46kg sacks.

Sampling coffee made the traditional way

Old style coffee making at the Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation on a Costa Rica cruise port

Although our visit started with a fabulous coffee sample, after following the process, the traditional coffee made using a chorreador seemed even better.

Here, our guide poured simmering water through ground coffee held in a fabric filter. This allows the oils to come through, enhancing the flavour.

Sarchi oxcarts

Sarchi oxcarts

Brightly coloured, hand-painted oxcarts once carried coffee from the growing fields. Traditionally passed down through the generations, they are a form of Costa Rican folk art.

We visited the oxcart factory in Sarchi, a town known throughout Costa Rica as the birthplace of oxcart craftsmen .

Located on the outskirts of San Jose, it’s a great add-on to any coffee, chocolate, or capital city tour.

Wildlife viewing and rainforest walks

White faced capuchin monkey in a rainforest, seen on an excursion from a Costa Rica cruise port

With over half a million different animal species in Costa Rica (300,000 of which are insects), it’s hard to go into the rainforest and not see very many. But it does happen.

In fact, on the rainy day that we were there, one of the groups got stuck in the mud for a while, reducing their rainforest time and ultimately leaving them with a non-interesting story to share.

To increase the likelihood of seeing specific animals, you might want to visit one of the wildlife centres or take a focused excursion.

Wildlife, rainforest, and other nature-based adventures from this Costa Rica cruise port

Arenal Volcano viewed from across the water

The key wildlife and rainforest options are:

  • Spot crocodiles from a cruise on the Tarcoles River One of the world’s largest crocodile habitats makes for a fascinating pontoon cruise.
  • Take a Walk in the Clouds This is a canopy walk on a series of suspension bridges.
  • Relax in the hot springs and view Arenal volcano While many visitors find the views of one of the world’s most active volcanoes to be the highlight here, for me, it is the natural mineral hot springs created by geothermal activity.
  • Visit the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center Here, injured or otherwise harmed endangered wildlife get shelter, food and medical attention. The goal is always rehabilitation and release. Employing mostly volunteers, the center is in Turrucares .

Combine Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port options with a tour

If you want to do it all, you can, or at least get close. Here are a few top-rated options:

Monteverde Cloud Forest and coffee tour shore excursion The eight-hour excursion includes crossing six suspension bridges at Monteverde Cloud Forest, a typical Costa Rican lunch, and a coffee plantation tour. You will discover what lives and grows at some of the higher altitudes while you enjoy the incredible diversity at this Costa Rica cruise port. Then enjoy a Don Juan Coffee tour. Reserve your Cloud Forest and coffee tour here .

Puntarenas highlights 6 in 1 shore excursion This one gives you a good taste of the area. The highlight is the riverboat cruise with a professional naturalist tour guide on the Tarcoles River. In addition to crocodiles, he will point out many of the 320 bird species in the area. You will also visit Carara National Park, Villa Lapas Reserve’s eco SkyWalk, and shop at El Jardin. Reserve your 6-in-1 excursion here .

Tortuga Island full-day boat trip This 7-hour adventure will bring you to the white sand beach of Isla Tortuga for a day of reef snorkelling, spider monkeys and dolphin watching, seeing the Nicoya Stone Arch and enjoying lunch in a private beach club. Reserve your Tortuga Island boat trip here .

Or take a private tour

Private highlights tour (price is per person) Your private guide will meet you at the port and take you to Puerto Caldero to see the white-faced monkeys, Tarcolas River for a tropical fruit smoothy, shopping, and a boat ride to spot crocodiles, and give you a city tour of Puntarenas. Reserve your private highlights tour here .

Tours by Locals (price is per group) Offering a huge variety of Puntarenas tours, the biggest advantage we have found working with Tours by Locals is that you can choose your guide and email them prior to the tour. We often do this to change the itinerary and custom-create our own. All three of the local guides for this area are highly rated, and all three are multilingual, including English. Choose your guide and reserve your private tour here .

Explore San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica

National Theatre in San Jose one of the cool things to see from a Costa Rica cruise port

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is a 1.5-hour drive from the Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port.

Travelling through emerald valleys, residential areas, rural landscapes, and past the national stadium, I was mesmerized by continuous beautiful scenery. San Jose is the ideal excursion destination for those looking for history, culture, shopping, or those who simply don’t like being in the jungle.

Many consider the National Theater of Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica) to be the highlight of their visit to the city. Its graceful, neoclassical architecture, marble foyer, and stunning ceilings make it one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful buildings.

Stroll along streets in the Puntarenas Costa Rica cruise port area

Cathedral de Puntarenas in Costa Rica

After returning from our excursion, we had enough remaining time to either head to the beach or explore the easily walked town of Puntarenas. 

In addition to downtown, we opted to stroll to the main commercial fishing area, which is on a water inlet about five blocks from the beach (walk along Calle Central).

Here we found a number of seafood restaurants, and despite temptation, we headed back to the town, went into the Catedral de Puntarenas (built in the 1800s), and then stopped at a grocery store as we always find them to be a window into local culture.

Pick up souvenirs at the market

Market in Puntarenas Costa Rica

Before returning to the ship, we took a bit of time to shop at the local market set up along the Esplanade just outside this Costa Rica cruise port. I am pretty sure this is only here on the days there are cruise ships.

More on this Costa Rica cruise port

  • Bring and use insect repellant as mosquitos are present during the daytime.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Costa Rican Colon, but many street vendors also accept US Dollars.
  • Costa Rica was one of several ports on a cruise from Florida to Vancouver that passed through the Panama Canal . If you’re cruising in the region, don’t miss these 25 tips for cruising.

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The main commercial fishing area in Puntarenas Costa Rica

What will you do at this Costa Rica cruise port?

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Photo Credits:

All photos on this page are either shot by our team and watermarked as such or stock images from Depositphotos .

About Rhonda Albom

Capturing the essence of travel through photography, Rhonda Albom is the primary author and photographer at Albom Adventures. She is an American expat based in New Zealand. She travels the world with her husband.


Reader Interactions

April 14, 2019 at 5:18 am

Went on this exact excursion off of the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam. The coffee samples were great. My favorite part about Sarchi was seeing the equipment used to make the cart that are powered by a water wheel. I do not roast my coffee beans, but I do grind my beans (fair trade/organic) every morning. My only issue with Espíritu Santo Coffee Plantation is that they are not Fair trade or organic and avoided questions about it. But again the fresh coffee samples were good.

Barbara Radisavljevic

June 19, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I don’t drink coffee, but still think it’s interesting to see how it’s grown and processed. You did a great job showing me that.

Joyce Lansky

June 1, 2016 at 11:56 am

The carts are pretty, but I’d like to sample the coffee the best.

Rhonda Albom

June 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Paula McInerney

May 31, 2016 at 1:26 pm

As total coffee snobs, our life is devoted to pursuing coffee. We did go through a coffee plantation and did the tastings in Indonesia, and also did one is Australia. Love the photo of the red wagon

May 31, 2016 at 4:47 pm

I can’t wait until you come here and try a cuppa made by hubby. He roasts his own beans. Perfection in a cup everyday. I am a spoiled coffee snob.


May 30, 2016 at 2:53 am

What an interesting experience! I’ve been to a roasting facility, but never to a plantation.

May 30, 2016 at 7:28 am

My hubby roasts our own coffee, so we tend to visit lots of coffee roasting facilities. This was actually our second plantation, the first being in Australia just before I started travel blogging.

May 29, 2016 at 2:26 am

No I’ve never been to a coffee plantation. that looks amazing thanks for sharing 🙂

May 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm

It is pretty amazing.

May 27, 2016 at 8:48 am

Wonderful trip! I have not been in a coffee plantation, Id love to visit one! xxx

May 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Oh, I hope you get to one some day.

May 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Love my coffee and have to make some Ground Coffee everyday, the instant stuff just does not cut it. I love how lady is pouring the water into a Teapot.

LOL – I don’t even think of instant as coffee.

Must have been a very interesting visit ! I love coffee and like to taste different sorts.

As a coffee lover, it was VERY interesting, and yummy!

May 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

What an interesting place to visit! I would also love to tour a coffee plantation and taste coffee at its freshest.

May 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

There is nothing quite like the really fresh coffee.

Marie Moody

May 26, 2016 at 2:10 pm

What a wonderful Post you have here today. I would love, love, love to taste that coffee straight from the bean. Yummy! Thanks for sharing.

May 29, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Wish I could have shared the flavours and aromas here too.

Indah Nuria Savitri

May 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

Coming from Lampung, Sumatera, Indonesia, I have come to coffee plantations several times indeed. Looks like you’re having a great time indeed

May 28, 2016 at 7:44 am

Thank you. The coffee plantation visit was very interesting.

May 26, 2016 at 8:37 am

How cool! I would love to visit a coffee plantation. I think it’s wonderful to see where the things we love and use every day come from. What a neat experience. 🙂 Traci

May 28, 2016 at 7:32 am

I agree. I like seeing the whole process and I especially like the end result – a coffee.

Alex J. Cavanaugh

May 25, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Only two dollars a basket? That means most make ten dollars a day. That’s not much. Interesting. I never knew the process of preparing beans.

May 28, 2016 at 7:24 am

They also get free housing but it’s still not much.

May 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Hi Rhonda – what great photos and notations … thanks to you both – fascinating … cheers Hilary

Joy @MyTravelingJoys

May 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Looks like a pretty cool tour! I haven’t been to a proper coffee plantation yet, but we did meet the civets in Bali where they get the “Kopi Luwak coffee” from! I recall buying a small bag of coffee beans, but I still don’t see what the big deal is…for basically cat poop coffee. 😉

May 28, 2016 at 7:22 am

I agree.It’s just a good story (and fun to watch the faces of people who drink it).

May 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Our province is known to have started coffee in this country, so i am so accustomed to them. As kids we also have coffee plants and traditional coffee pots always brewing in the kitchen. These days our old plants have died due to neglect, and i always buy my coffee from stores. But sometimes my weekends at home coincide with flowering of some leftover plants, and i certainly miss those scents together with the wind reaching us in the house. That certainly is nostalgic. Sadly, at the moment i have only a cup of instant coffee!

May 28, 2016 at 7:20 am

You are very lucky. We love the smell of roasting coffee (some of our neighbours don’t hold the same appreciation 🙂 )

Comedy Plus

May 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

Oh yes, Kona Coffee on the big island of Hawaii. It was most wonderful and the coffee was ever so good.

Have a fabulous day and a good trip south. 🙂

May 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Yes, I’ve had Kona coffee in Kona many years ago. It was wonderful.

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Puntarenas Costa Rica Port Guide

Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama is beautiful Costa Rica, and where you’ll find the port town of Puntarenas along the Port of Nicoya. Downtown is a quick, walkable jaunt, perfect for a day’s worth of time on your cruise to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. In many ways, Puntarenas is ideal for just passing through on a Panama Canal cruise.

Puntarenas is smaller and less expensive than nearby capital city of San Jose, and provides travelers with easy access to ecological attractions like the Monteverde Cloud Forest or Poas Volcano National Park. Take a boat to the mysterious Isla San Lucas, a former prison turned wildlife refuge where dolphin sightings are common. The outdoor attractions are completely worth the stop in Puntarenas. Though the beaches here aren’t Costa Rica’s most famous, you’ll still catch the contagious “pura vida” lifestyle no matter how short or extended your stay.  

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Top sights & attractions for cruises to puntarenas, manuel antonio national park.

Head two and a half hours South, whether on a tour or via car, to Manuel Antonio National Park, for an unbeatable experience of Costa Rica’s unaltered, pure beauty. There are three beaches at the park as well as dense tropical rainforest to explore via hiking trails of various difficulty levels. You’ll probably spot iguanas, squirrel monkeys, and sloths during your day at the park. 

Historical Maritime Museum

Discover the rich past of Puntarenas, including its first settlers and its indigenous populations at the Historical Maritime Museum. The history of the province of Puntarenas is fascinating and helped shape Costa Rica into what it is today. Don’t miss cultural events here—they hold plays and music regularly. Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.

Puntarenas Cathedral

Stop for a quick tour of this Roman-Catholic cathedral while on your cruise to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Built in 1902, the church is still active. Outdoor benches provide a little relief for tired feet, and the indoor of the church is peaceful. Afterward, walk a few blocks to the waterfront to continue a period of quiet.

Pacific Marine Park

Bring the kids to Pacific Marine Park for their aquarium and animal exhibits, like turtles, crocodiles, and plenty of colorful fish to catch your eye. There’s a splash pool for children to play in and a gift shop with aquatic souvenirs so you’ll always remember the Pacific creatures you meet.

Learn More About Puntarenas Shore Excursions

Top things to do in puntarenas, shop along paseo de los turistas.

At the edge of Puntarenas is the Paseo de Los Turistas, a stretch of foot-friendly streets where tourists can stop in for souvenirs or a casual, unhurried meal. A perfect way to leisurely experience Puntarenas, particularly if you’re not doing a shore excursion.

Stop in Mountain Town Monteverde

Experience the famous “cloud forests” of Monteverde, which are local rainforests maintained by a careful balance of cloud cover and moisture known only in this area. Species like jaguars, monkeys, and pumas live within the reserve and rely on this environment to survive. It’s cooler here than by the coast, so bring a few layers to explore this impossibly green, moist area. Take a guided hike or zipline through the cloud forest for an unforgettable day in Costa Rica.

Hike the Arenal Volcano

If you have a little extra time to explore while on your cruise to Puntarenas, Costa Rica, head three hours north to Arenal Volcano, which was dormant for centuries until an unexpected eruption in 1968. Explore La Fortuna village at the base of the volcano, where the looming volcano over this peaceful town will amaze you. There are a number of hot springs in the area because of the volcanic activity such as the Heliconias Nature Lodge or the Casa Luna Hotel and Spa.

Tour a Costa Rican Coffee Plantation

Coffee lovers will find high-quality brews at a detailed tour of a Costa Rican coffee farm, which is one of the country’s biggest exports. A tour will make multiple cool stops, including a botanical garden and church along the way. You’ll learn how coffee is grown and roasted, plus plenty of samples will keep you caffeinated.

Take a Boat Ride to Isla San Lucas

Hop on a boat for a guided tour of Isla San Lucas, a former prison site that wasn’t much of an attraction until recently. The area was converted into a wildlife refuge to bring greenery and light to its previously dark past. The prison closed in 1991 and was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 2011. The prison site is harrowing piece of Costa Rica’s past, but now sharks, dolphins, deer, and sea turtles roam the area and its waters completely protected.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Puntarenas Cruise Port

The Port of Nicayo offers a lot in the way of fresh seafood, and simple Costa Rican dishes are done extra well in Puntarenas.

Isla Coco’s Bar & Grill

Address: Mts Este del Faro 150 | 150 Mts Este del Faro, Barrio El Carmen, Puntarenas 60101

The tiki bar features live music and serves sushi and Japanese food on the weekends, making it a fun fusion place unlike anywhere in Puntarenas. Don’t miss live jazz on Thursday nights. They offer several varieties of ceviche, seafood stews, and handmade pastas with fresh shrimp or clams.

El Shrimp Shack

Address: Del Mercado Central 350 al Oeste, Avenida 3, Puntarenas 60101

Stop in El Shrimp Shack not only for icy air conditioning for a break from the heat and humidity, but also for a truly Costa Rican meal. It’s typically open from 11am to 3pm. Try the shrimp burger, shrimp tacos, a fresh pineapple smoothie, or delicious caramelized plantains.

Address: Av. 1, Provincia de Puntarenas, Puntarenas

You’ll know you’re there when you stumble upon a lemon yellow house with a Coca-Cola sign out front. Take a seat in one of the wooden benches and chow down on their fresh, authentic Costa Rican eats like fried plantains or chifrijo, crispy pork with rice and beans.

Matobes Pizza & Pasta

Address: Av 4 León Cortés Castro, Provincia de Puntarenas, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

If, for any reason, you’re hungering for pizza and pasta instead of traditional foods in Costa Rica, head over to Matobes. By-the slice pizzas, caprese salad, handmade ravioli, and calzones rule the menu here.

Culture & History of the Puntarenas Cruise Port

Puntarenas was discovered in the early 1600s by the Spanish, and native peoples called the area home for centuries before then. By the 1840s, coffee became Puntarenas’ biggest export. Puntarenas was once the premier port in Costa Rica before more accessible routes to Europe changed the landscape of its shipping and trade economy, particularly the cross-continental coffee trade.

While the city became less important in some ways, it by no means faded quietly. Today, Puntarenas wears its heritage as a port city proudly, a place where cruise lines and their passengers pass through on the way to other ports of call in Panama, Mexico, and beyond. Puntarenas was also Costa Rica’s primary port for a robust fishing trade, meaning its seafood is top-notch. Now the Port of Puntarenas and the Port of Caldera help accommodate the area’s shipping and cruising businesses.

Puntarenas Port Facilities & Location

While you’re in the cruise port, purchase a drink or snack to get access to the WiFi, or stay unplugged if you can. You’ll be welcomed to Costa Rica by a long walk along the pier. As you exit the pier where ships on your Puntarenas cruise will dock, you’ll see a black sand beach surrounding you and a craft market set up most days along the beachfront. You’ll probably see signature red taxis ready to scoop you up for a day’s adventure in Puntarenas.

Transportation in Puntarenas

It’s not hard to find a taxi in Puntarenas. They proliferate the city and are instantly recognizable by their red color. Try to use taxis with a yellow sign on their roofs. While on your cruise to Puntarenas, Costa Rica,  you should know taxis here must always turn on the meter. If you notice yours is not running, be sure to tell your driver to turn it on. Public transportation in Puntarenas is characterized by their intercity bus service. You can also take an hour-long ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. Note that Sundays are the busiest days.

Shopping Near the Puntarenas Cruise Port

On your Puntarenas cruise, stop in at the craft market on the beach as you exit the pier where your cruise ship is docked. You can pick up a handmade gifts, local art from a Costa Rican vendor, or a souvenir of Puntarenas to bring home with you. Buy some Costa Rican coffee beans while you’re there. Full beans will keep their freshness longer than pre-ground, so you can bring them back home and they’ll taste just as good as when you are in Costa Rica. Other shopping can be found downtown.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The official currency of Costa Rica is called the colón. Colones are preferred as a method of payment, but many places will also accept US dollars (USD) and then give your change in colones. USD is generally acceptable to hotels, flights, and higher-end restaurants, however. Credit cards are typically accepted by merchants, but it’s recommended to carry enough colones with you to cover a coffee, purchase a meal, or tip a tour guide. Tipping at restaurants is usually included—10% is the norm—but if not, a tip of 10% or greater is encouraged.

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Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Port schedule.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica cruise ship port calendar shows all scheduled arrival and departure dates in a timetable format. The cruise calendar displays the ship’s estimated time of arrival including related information such as how crowded is the port, as well as the ship’s next port-of-call.

The following timetable provides valuable information and keeps track of the future cruise ship arrivals from all major cruise lines. In order to find out more about the cruise ship itineraries such as ports, dates, and arrival/departure times just follow the ship’s link.

  • Silver Shadow 466 passengers 05 Jun 2024 - 08:00
  • Celebrity Summit 2.590 passengers 26 Sep 2024 - 14:00
  • Brilliance Of The Seas 2.580 passengers 05 Oct 2024 - 11:00
  • Sapphire Princess 3.214 passengers 07 Oct 2024 - 07:00
  • Carnival Miracle 2.549 passengers 09 Oct 2024 - 09:00
  • Radiance Of The Seas 2.546 passengers 13 Oct 2024 - 08:00
  • Carnival Spirit 2.549 passengers 18 Oct 2024 - 07:00
  • Norwegian Jewel 2.866 passengers 17 Nov 2024 - 08:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 11 Dec 2024 - 07:00
  • Seven Seas Grandeur 829 passengers 20 Dec 2024 - 07:00
  • Silver Shadow 466 passengers 26 Dec 2024 - 08:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 27 Dec 2024 - 07:00
  • Azamara Onward 781 passengers 27 Dec 2024 - 07:30
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 11 Jan 2025 - 07:00
  • Island Princess 2.657 passengers 12 Jan 2025 - 07:00
  • Oceania Vista 1.200 passengers 15 Jan 2025 - 07:00
  • Amadea 624 passengers 17 Jan 2025 - 08:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 29 Jan 2025 - 07:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 31 Jan 2025 - 07:00
  • Oceania Vista 1.200 passengers 02 Feb 2025 - 10:00
  • Silver Shadow 466 passengers 05 Jun 2024 - 18:00
  • Celebrity Summit 2.590 passengers 26 Sep 2024 - 21:00
  • Brilliance Of The Seas 2.580 passengers 05 Oct 2024 - 19:00
  • Sapphire Princess 3.214 passengers 07 Oct 2024 - 19:00
  • Carnival Miracle 2.549 passengers 09 Oct 2024 - 18:00
  • Radiance Of The Seas 2.546 passengers 13 Oct 2024 - 18:00
  • Carnival Spirit 2.549 passengers 18 Oct 2024 - 18:00
  • Norwegian Jewel 2.866 passengers 17 Nov 2024 - 17:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 11 Dec 2024 - 19:00
  • Seven Seas Grandeur 829 passengers 20 Dec 2024 - 17:00
  • Silver Shadow 466 passengers 26 Dec 2024 - 18:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 27 Dec 2024 - 19:00
  • Azamara Onward 781 passengers 27 Dec 2024 - 20:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 11 Jan 2025 - 19:00
  • Island Princess 2.657 passengers 12 Jan 2025 - 19:00
  • Oceania Vista 1.200 passengers 15 Jan 2025 - 17:00
  • Amadea 624 passengers 19 Jan 2025 - 17:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 29 Jan 2025 - 19:00
  • Coral Princess 2.400 passengers 31 Jan 2025 - 18:00
  • Oceania Vista 1.200 passengers 02 Feb 2025 - 22:00

puntarenas cruise port costa rica

Port default image

Puntarenas, Costa Rica


To Spanish explorers, the rumors of gold and vast riches could only mean that this section of Central America was the costa rica - the "Rich Coast." Hailed as the Switzerland of the Americas, Costa Rica occupies a unique position, lying between two oceans and two continents. On both coasts, tropical rainforests rise to the mountains of the interior, many of which soar over 13,000 feet above sea level. In the west, a seemingly endless succession of brown-sand beaches forms the nation's Pacific coast. Puntarenas is your gateway to Costa Rica's wonders - and to its capital city of San Jose.

Points of Interest

  • San Jose & National Theater
  • River Cruise
  • Coffee Plantation
  • Costa Rica Animal Center
  • Costa Rica Rainforest
  • Thermal Springs
  • Rainforest Aerial Tram

More about Puntarenas, Costa Rica Points of Interest

Costa Rica's vibrant capital city is home to the Gold Museum, the spectacular Metropolitan Cathedral, the historic National Museum (the scene of fighting during the 1948 civil war), and the National Theater, considered to be the country's most beautiful building.

Costa Rica's river cruises glide through the tropical mangroves where crocodiles, lizards and waterfowl roam, but the Corobici River is a prime waterway for a laid-back river raft float.

Coffee production has always played a key role in the country's history and is important for the economy. Tour a sprawling plantation to discover how coffee is produced, from bean to cup.

Dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of Costa Rica's endangered wildlife back into the wild, the center is home to sloths, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, owls and and other animals.

Sarchi, a friendly rural village, is famous for its talented local artists who paint and decorate traditional oxcarts in intricate, vivid designs. It is also home to the largest oxcart in the world.

From the misty treetops of the Monteverde Cloud Forest to the brilliantly-colored scarlet macaws who call Carara National Park their home, Costa Rica's lush rainforests are full of intrigue.

Set near a hidden canyon where a thermo-mineral river flows, the springs are also famous for their natural mineral hot pools and exuberant vegetation.

Costa Rica's incredible Rainforest Aerial Tram offers an intimate ride above the treetops and past numerous waterfalls while a knowledgeable naturalist guide points out highlights along the way.

19 Excursions

San jose, national theater, & lunch.

Easy Activity, Includes meal

From $ 139.95

Best of Puntarenas: Aerial Tram, Tarcoles River & Lunch

Shopping Opportunities, Easy Activity, Includes meal; Includes snack

From $ 199.95

Scenic Drive, Cultural Show & Shopping

Easy Activity

From $ 54.95

Scenic Drive, Cultural Show & Shopping (Wheelchair Accessible)

Wheelchair Accessible, Easy Activity

Aerial Tram, Butterfly Garden, Sloth Sanctuary & Lunch

Shopping Opportunities, Easy Activity, Includes meal

From $ 164.95

Coffee Plantation, Botanical Garden & Lunch

Coffee, chocolate & sarchi experience.

Moderate Activity

From $ 69.95

Andalusian Horse Show & Countryside

Easy Activity, Includes snack

From $ 119.95

Starbucks Coffee Tour & Oxcart Factory

Moderate Activity, Includes meal

From $ 159.95

Sloth Sanctuary, Botanical Garden, Oxcart Factory & Lunch

Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity, Includes meal

Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary, Boat Tour & Country Drive

From $ 109.95

Arenal Volcano And Hot Springs

From $ 169.95

Sabana Adventure

San josé on your own, rainforest canopy zip line & aerial tram combination.

Strenuous Activity

A Walk in the Clouds

Shopping Opportunities, Strenuous Activity, Includes meal

Eco-Jungle River Cruise

Jungle crocodile safari, corobici river-raft float, scenic drive & lunch.

puntarenas cruise port costa rica

10 Best Costa Rica All-Inclusive Resorts and Beach Hotels

W ith easy access to volcanoes, rainforests, hot springs, and diverse wildlife, it’s no wonder the best Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts are never far from many family vacation ideas wish lists. While it’s home to some of the top all-inclusive beach resorts in the world , Costa Rica also boasts 29 national parks and it’s not unusual to spot sloths, anteaters, monkeys, tree frogs, sea turtles, and perhaps even a jaguar in the wild. 

Zip lining, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and rappelling are popular inland activities in Costa Rica. On the water, it’s all about surfing, diving, and whitewater river rafting. And for those who want to do nothing but relax, there’s plenty of sun, sand, beaches, and resorts. 

Best Costa Rica All-Inclusive Resorts

Costa Rica has beachfront resorts on both its Caribbean and Pacific coasts, but the Pacific side is where you’ll find many of the best Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts for families. Here are my picks for the top all-inclusive properties and rainforest resorts in the country where the national motto loosely translates to “enjoy life.” 

AROUND THE WORLD: 15 Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts in the World

1. Planet Hollywood Cost Rica

Culebra, costa rica.

The nearly 300-room  Planet Hollywood Costa Rica watches over a lush and vibrant hillside at the base of the Papagayo Peninsula in the Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast. This highly themed Costa Rica all-inclusive resort is especially appealing to kids and teens with its movie memorabilia, walk-of-fame, red carpet, and Stars Kids Club (ages four to 12). Other family-friendly amenities include two swimming pools, a splash zone, fitness center, spa, and seven different onsite restaurants. 

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To help guests experience more of Costa Rica, Planet Hollywood curates a selection of excursions around the Papagayo Gulf, including canopy tours, zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, sailing, and even a jungle dinosaur encounter. The all-inclusive package rate includes unlimited reservation-free dining, 24-hour room service, and all drinks (domestic beer, cocktails, and select international brands).

2. Occidental Tamarindo

Playa langosta, tamarindo, costa rica.

The Occidental Tamarindo  is a 200-room all-inclusive Costa Rica beach hotel located just outside the town of Tamarindo in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The hotel sits on Langosta Beach overlooking Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (also called Las Baulas National Marine Park). Its all-inclusive rates include all meals in the buffet restaurant, snack bars, and quick-service food in the swimming pool area.  

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Other activities and amenities included in your stay are sand volleyball and soccer, tennis courts, a tour concierge, entertainment programs, live evening shows, taxes, and tips. Langosta Beach is popular with surfers and an important nesting site for the leatherback sea turtle. The beach is Blue Flag certified for exceptional cleanliness and safety.

3. Barcelo Tambor

Tambor, costa rica.

Surrounded by lush gardens, waterfalls, and a rainforest, the 400-room  Barcelo Tambor  resort overlooks Ballena Bay, one of the most scenic coastal regions in Costa Rica, and offers direct access to Tambor Beach. Standard rooms at this Costa Rica all-inclusive resort include two beds and can accommodate up to four people. Its two-room suites include a living room with sofa bed that a perfect for families. 

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The resort’s all-inclusive rate includes three buffet meals per day as well as other a la cart restaurants available for an additional charge. Children’s activities include a kids club for ages four to 12 and a teens’ house for teenagers ages 13 to 17. The expansive swimming pool features a waterfall, and the water sports center offers windsurfing, boogie boards, and kayaking.

4. Fiesta Resort All Inclusive

Puntarenas, costa rica.

Only 50 minutes from Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose,  Fiesta Resort  in Puntarenas is close to the international airport (SJO) yet still right on the beach. Located beachfront on dark volcanic sand along the Pacific Ocean, this all-inclusive Costa Rica resort has more than 400 rooms, many of which come with two bedrooms—ideal for family vacations. 

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The all-inclusive plan covers most meals and drinks at the resort’s four restaurants, kids’ club for ages four to 12, teen club for ages 13 to 17, recreational activities, use of land and non-motorized water sports equipment, nightly entertainment, and gratuities. And not only is Fiesta Resort budget-friendly compared to many of the more luxurious Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts, it’s also owned and operated by a Costa Rican family—making it a great option for families looking to support local residents. 

Puntarenas is a port city for large cruise ships, but the cruise ship dock area is about 20 minutes from the resort at the furthest end of the beach. An advantage of the cruise line port city is easy access to shops, restaurants, and tours and excursions created for cruise ship passengers.

5. The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort and Spa

Playa conchal, costa rica.

About an hour’s drive from Liberia International Airport, the 2,400-acre  Westin Reserva Conchal  is an eco-friendly Costa Rica all-inclusive situated between the rainforest and the beach on country’s north Pacific coast. The resort’s all-inclusive dining package includes a la carte or buffet breakfasts, as well as lunch, dinner, snacks, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from any of the on-site bars and restaurants.

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The Westin Family Kids Club is also included in the room rate, as are non-motorized water sports, tennis courts, table games, nightly entertainment, and Wi-Fi. Golf, spa treatments, and other water sports (motorized boats, diving, and fishing) are available for an additional charge. This resort’s family suites are an especially nice perk, as are the multiple freshwater swimming pools.

6. Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

Playa el jobo, costa rica.

Families familiar with the all-inclusive Dreams Resorts and Spa brand found throughout Mexico and the Caribbean will know what to expect at Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica . Surrounded by lush green mountains and jungles, Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica occupies an exclusive spot alongside the El Jobo beach and bay. 

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The resort’s Costa Rica all-inclusive rates include spacious accommodations, unlimited access to eight restaurants, kids club, teen zone, pool and beach access, non-motorized watersports, scuba lessons, and live nightly entertainment.

7. Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica

Playa matapalo, sardinal, costa rica.

At the 538-room all-suite beachfront  Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica , kids love the Splash Water World water park and slides (and the other four swimming pools) as well as the RiuLand Kids Club. Parents appreciate the Renova Spa and two-bedroom family suites with a bathtub. 

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Situated on the edge of Matapalo Beach in the Guanacaste Province next to its sister resort, Hotel Riu Guanacaste , inclusive options at this Costa Rica beach resort cover all meals, snacks, beverages, 24-hour room service, sports and activities, daytime and evening entertainment, and one introductory scuba diving lesson. In addition to its buffet restaurant, Hotel Riu Palace has four themed restaurants on site for families to enjoy. 

8. Hotel Riu Guanacaste

The sister hotel to the newer Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, the 700-room  Hotel Riu Guanacaste  sits right next door overlooking Matapalo Beach. Riu Guanacaste also has the Splash Water World water park and slides as well as the RiuLand Kids Club. Riu Guanacaste has more room options than Riu Palace, and like its sister property it also offers two-room family suites. 

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Similar to Riu Palace, the resort’s Costa Rica all-inclusive rates include meals and snacks at five different restaurants, beverages, 24-hour room service, sports and activities, daytime and evening entertainment, and one introductory scuba diving lesson. The Hotel Riu Palace is the newer and more contemporary of the two Riu all-inclusives, but also more expensive than the Riu Guanacaste. 

9. Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo

Playa flamingo, costa rica.

Anyone familiar with Jimmy Buffett’s Parrothead lifestyle brand will be comfortable lifting a frozen beverage at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill inside  Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo , a 120-room resort in Guanacaste Province. Located across the street from Flamingo Beach, the Costa Rica all-inclusive resort’s accommodations include a number of family-style rooms, such as a studio with kitchenette, bunk bed suite, and two-bedroom suite. 

SPLASH ZONE:   13 Best Indoor Water Park Resorts in the U.S.

Margaritaville’s all-inclusive options includes three meals a day and snacks at one of the resort’s four onsite restaurants, beverages, popcorn and drinks in the resort movie theater, use of beach boogie boards, and one complimentary bicycle rental. 

10. Best Western Jaco Beach Resort All Inclusive Resort

Jaco, costa rica.

The locally owned  Best Western Jaco Beach  is a smaller, more budget-friendly all-inclusive Costa Rica resort option compared to some of the larger, more luxurious properties.  The all-inclusive rate provides unlimited access to food and drinks, and families can dine at three different on-site restaurants, including the buffet-style El Puerto. 

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Oceanfront rooms feature two beds, private balconies, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The resort also boasts multiple swimming pools—including one just for kids—plus a playground, volleyball and tennis courts, and plenty of beach fun. (The hotel is steps away from Jaco Beach and a short 10-minute walk into the town of Jaco, where there are even more shops and restaurants). Hotel staff can help arrange tours and excursions to other Costa Rica attractions and national parks as well.

More Costa Rica All-Inclusive Vacation Options and Ideas

If you’re the type of family that doesn’t want to sit in one location on the beach during your whole Caribbean family vacation , there are other accommodations options for you. A number of companies provide guided tour packages of Costa Rica that will allow your family to experience multiple aspects of the country on one vacation, including the Arenal Volcano, rainforest tours, and zip lining in addition to your beach time. 

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For example, Il Viaggio Travel is a local Costa Rica operator that creates tailormade experiences for families. Stephanie Sheehy owns Il Viaggio Travel, and her Tico family (i.e., Costa Rican) specializes in creating “Pure Vida” family tour packages. I spoke with Sheehy to get answers to some frequently asked questions about Costa Rica. Read on for her responses.

Is Costa Rica a Good Place for a Family Vacation?

“Costa Rica is a safe country with no army, free education, and very good healthcare,” Sheehy says. “Basically the country is an open-air classroom with tons of wildlife, nature, cultural experiences, gastronomy, and volunteerism.”

Is Costa Rica Safe for Americans?

Costa Rica is safe for everyone, including Americans, but like anywhere in the world, it’s possible to find yourself in a bad situation if you’re careless or go looking for trouble. “But if you travel with local experts, with a planned itinerary, with suppliers that have all the permissions, you will have an amazing and safe experience,” advises Sheehy. 

What Is the Cheapest Time to Go to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has three seasons. The peak times to visit are the holiday weeks of Easter, Christmas, and the New Year. Holiday time is the most expensive of all to travel to Costa Rica. Next is high season, which is the dry season on the Pacific side of the country where most of the all-inclusive Costa Rica resorts are clustered. High Season runs from December to April.

The cheapest time to visit is low season, which is the rainy season on the Pacific side but the dry season on the Caribbean side of the country. “The low season when you can get deals and the lowest prices,” says Sheehy. “Low season runs from May to November.”

Which Part of Costa Rica Is the Best to Stay?

The best location depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation: beach or rainforest, adventure and volcanoes, or culture and food. Twenty-five percent of Costa Rica’s land is protected, and the tiny county is home to five percent the world’s plants and animals. 

“We have tons of micro climates between wetland sites, rainforest, dry forest, cloud forest, high-altitude forest,” notes Sheehy. “Name it and we have it. That’s why we have travelers that come at various times of year. Any time they visit, they can do and visit something different.”

As for Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts, however, you’ll find most of them clustered on the Pacific side of the country. 

Is Four Seasons Costa Rica All-Inclusive?

The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is not all-inclusive. Rates are per room, per night, and there is an additional resort fee of 12 percent of your room rate. The resort fee includes bellmen and housekeeping gratuities, transportation within the Papagayo peninsula, access to daily resort activities, and non-motorized water sports. 

However, there is a bed-and-breakfast rate at the resort that includes a daily Costa Rican buffet breakfast for two at Bahia. In addition, Four Seasons Costa Rica does offer fully-inclusive luxury estate homes on Peninsula Papagayo.

More from FamilyVacationist:

  • 15 Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Large Families
  • 8 Best Puerto Rico All-Inclusive Resorts for Families
  • 12 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Jamaica for Families

The post 10 Best Costa Rica All-Inclusive Resorts and Beach Hotels appeared first on FamilyVacationist .

While there's plenty to do on both coasts, the Pacific side is where you’ll find the best Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts.

Doka Estate: Coffee, Orchids, Butterflies & Buffet

  • Transportation in luxury air-conditioned motor coaches.
  • Certified bilingual English-speaking guides.
  • Entrance fee to Doka State Coffee Farm.
  • Butterfly garden, bonsai and orchid exhibition.
  • Sugar mill and guided coffee tour.
  • Coffee tasting, coffee liqueurs, chocolates, and treats.
  • Traditional buffet lunch with natural refreshments and coffee.

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Accessibility: Tour is ambulatory accessible, you must be able to take some steps and walk short distances, collapsible wheelchairs can be stored. Parts of the wet coffee mill house are not accessible. Requirements & Restrictions: Tour involves walking along some inclines along cemented pathways, the Wet Mill have some steps that need to be safely traversed. What to Bring: Suntan lotion, hat, comfortable shoes, umbrella, camera, cash and credit/debit card for purchases. Good to Know: The ride from the port to Doka State is about 2 hours and 15 minutes each way using paved roads with breathtaking views of the countryside, mountain ranges and villages.

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This lavish cruise sails from Vancouver to Mexico, Costa Rica and Aruba at a steal

Elana Shepert

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This cruise from Vancouver with Holland America Line transits through the Panama Canal before reaching sun-soaked Aruba in October 2024.

This fall cruise from Vancouver checks off several bucket list destinations before ending in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Holland America Line (HAL) takes passengers on an awe-inspiring journey down the Pacific coast before visiting Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica and transiting through the Panama Canal. Stops include Santa Barbara and San Diego in California, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, and several others. 

The Panama Canal is considered a marvel of engineering and a favourite voyage of cruise enthusiasts. 

Before disembarking in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 26, the cruise also makes a stop in picturesque Aruba. 

Located in the southern Caribbean, the island of Aruba wows visitors with hypnotically turquoise waters, stunning shores with powdery-soft sand beaches, and a hot, tropical climate. A quick scroll through photos from the tropical gem shows palm tree-lined shores, glamorous high-rise buildings, and even elegant, coral-pink flamingos wading into its crystal clear waters.

  • Related: Everything Vancouver travellers need to know about scoring cheap Aruba flights

The cruise line is known for its mid-size vessels that can navigate this trim terrain. Fans of HAL cruises typically enjoy sailing on ships they can become well acquainted with during the voyage and relish opportunities to speak with the captain and cruise director. 

Vancouver cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida includes full transit through the Panama Canal 

All of HAL's room categories are still available for this sailing, including inside, ocean view, verandah, Signature suite, and Neptune suite. 

An inside stateroom for two people costs $5,459.84 or $2,729.92 per person. The per-diem amount is roughly $136.50 per person (see slide three).

Not only does that cost include your transportation on a beautiful five-star vessel, but it also includes meals, entertainment, snacks, and lodging. The only thing it doesn’t factor in is alcohol, but you may opt to purchase a drink package that can reduce the cost of your overall spending.

HAL's Eurodam is the line's first Signature Class cruise ship. The five-star vessel has room for 2,104 passengers and features two swimming pools, a basketball court, a tennis court, a supervised youth program, a movie theatre, an arcade, a full-service spa, and a disco.

Travellers should spend at least one night in Florida post-cruise before flying in case of delays; it also allows them to enjoy the sun-drenched state before returning to Raincouver.

Flights returning to Vancouver a few days after the cruise disembarks start at just over $200 for a one-way ticket with one short stopover.

For example, WestJet has a flight that departs at noon on Oct. 29 for $212 and has one stop in Toronto for under three hours (see slide four). 

WestJet's Basic fare includes a piece of carry-on luggage but travellers should check baggage allowance when they book tickets. The airline plans to introduce a new ultra-low-cost fare that won't include one .

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