Extending from Moín, north of Limón, to the mouth of the Río San Juan on the Nicaraguan border, the North Caribbean zone is a land of lush lowlands, banana plantations and open coastline with extensive beaches, dark sand, and strong surf.
This province’s geographic and climatic characteristics provide for extraordinary scenic and biological wealth. In addition to its coastal riches, the region offers alluvial plains, marshlands, rivers, waterfalls, lagoons, canals, verdant forests, hills, mountains, valleys and more, all sheltering thousands of plants and animals belonging to various life zones unique to the Caribbean.
Over the years, these marvelous natural resources have been protected by means of a comprehensive system of conservation areas comprising several types of management systems: national parks, wildlife refuges, biological and forest preserves and protected areas. As an important part of this region’s natural and cultural wealth, numerous indigenous inhabitants live in remote reserves and jungle clearings, thereby preserving their traditional ways of life.
In contrast to the mega-resorts commonly found on the Pacific side of the country, the North Caribbean has a more intimate feel with remote jungle lodges, adventure-oriented nature spots, tent-camps and restful beach hotels catering to every taste and budget.
The North Caribbean’s extraordinary natural and cultural wealth allows for a wide range of activities including sport fishing, boat tours, hikes, observation of turtles and birds and sea and river kayaking.
Architectural and Historical
Examples of the Caribbean’s unique architectural heritage can be seen in a number of impressive buildings that have been declared of historical or architectural interest. Particularly noteworthy are the Black Star Line, the Post and Telegraph Building and the Municipal Palace, all located in the port city of Limón.
Primitivistic art od Limón
Home to a people whose unique history and culture invariably find expression in the material world, several art galleries have begun to showcase the creative talents of local artists. This is considered an important movement in painting and sculpture in the country due to the abundance of painters whose work authentically expresses the symbolic content of the region’s cultures and natural luxuriance. Galleries may be visited and works of art purchased in Guápiles, Limón, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.
Cuisine: Delicious Caribbean Food
Limón has enjoyed a rich culinary influence from diverse ethnic groups, the most representative of which are the Afro-Costa Rican and the Chinese, who, in addition to preparing foods in exotic ways, brought a large number of plants and tubers with them into the country. Traditional dishes include rice and beans, dokonú or “blue dress,” patí and planting, pan bon and socosí, among others. Caribbean food, as well as a wide range of international cuisine, maybe sampled in sodas (small restaurants serving local food), cafes and restaurants in the coastal towns that dot this palm-fringed region.
Nature Trail and Canopy Adventures
Several companies have developed facilities for enjoying nature-trail and canopy adventure activities including Samasati Biological Preserve and Yoga Center, and Terraventura Canopy (Río Carbón valley)
The North Caribbean is a photographer’s delight thanks to the diversity of cultures, architectural elements and points of scenic interest. Add to this the region’s abundant plant and animal life, waterfalls, rivers, and lush plantations, and it’s no wonder visitors have such a difficult time putting away their cameras.
Visit Indigenous Reservations
Visitors to this region have numerous services and facilities at their disposal that complement the attractions on the coast and in wildlife areas. Of interest to travelers are the butterfly gardens, cacao plantations, and the Keköldi and Bribri Indigenous Reservations.
Canopy Tour (Rainforest Aerial Tram)
Adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park, 22 kilometers after the Zurquí Tunnel along the highway to Guápiles, the Rainforest Aerial Tram was built to provide visitors with a unique perspective of the rainforest canopy and its fascinating biosphere. From this exclusive vantage point, visitors are able to observe various monkey and bird species, orchid varieties, bromeliads, climbing plants and insect communities.
Tortuguero National Park
Established in 1975, Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most biologically diverse wildlife areas. Featuring one of the most verdant landscapes in the country, the 65,000-acre park was created primarily to protect the western Caribbean’s most important green sea turtle nesting area.
Tortuguero owes its very wet tropical forest to the 5,000 to 6,000 millimeters of rain it receives per year. These climatic conditions are favorable to more than 400 tree species, 2,200 species of plants and more than 400 bird, 60 amphibian and 30 freshwater fish species, as well as several endangered animals, including tapirs, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, manatees, and sloths.
The Tortuguero Canals are a network of navigable natural and man-made lakes and canals used both for basic transportation and jungle exploration tours. These scenic canals, lagoons, and rivers may be explored by boat, canoe or kayak. In addition to the green turtle, three other sea turtle species nest on the park’s beaches. The park features a display room, information booth, drinking water, restrooms, trails, and other services.