Things to do in Cahuita, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a charming central American country with great weather, jungles, a beautiful landscape, and amazing surf.
It has gorgeous coast beaches, picturesque towns, and so much adventure to be had. Cahuita is a Caribbean coastal town near the border of Panama. It’s about a 4 and a half-hour drive from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
It is the perfect place to relax but also go on some amazing adventures. There are plenty of awesome and epic things to do in Cahuita.
It is by far one of my favorite beach towns in Costa Rica. Being not as well known to tourists and off the beaten path it has the perfect small-town feel.
Cahuita offers an authentic experience into the life of Costa Ricans. The laid-back vibe can’t be beaten.
Making it the perfect location for relaxing, slowing down, and experiencing what this beautiful place in the world has to offer.
- Let’s look at the Epic Things to do in Cahuita
- 1. Cahuita National park
- 2. Experience the Culture
- 3. Grab a Bite to Eat
- 4. Visit the Reggae Bar
- 5. Go on a Chocolate Tour
- 6. Swim and Relax on the Beach
- 7. Horseback Riding
- 8. Surfing
- 9. Shopping
- 10. Mariposario de Cahuita
- 11. Visit the Sloth Sanctuary
- 12. Snorkeling
- 13. Jaguar Rescue Center
- 14. Go Hiking
- 15. Day Trip to Puerto Viejo
- Additional Reasons to Visit Cahuita
- When to Visit Cahuita
Let’s look at the Epic Things to do in Cahuita
1. Cahuita National park
By far the best thing in Cahuita is their national park. It is just a 5-minute walk from downtown. The park was started as a way to protect the coral reefs off the coastline, but later became a national park to protect the 2,800 acres of land.
There you will see sloths, monkeys, and lizards among colorful, bright birds. There are many trails for exploring and checking out the wildlife.
As always I recommend hiring a guide. It will allow you to see the most wildlife possible and the best chances of spotting a sloth.
It is also a good idea to consider snorkeling in the park since it is a protected reef. There are over a hundred different species of fish and over 30 different coral species.
Some of the sea life you could possibly spot includes manta rays, eels, sea urchins, starfish and of course many bright colorful fish.
It’s also a popular nesting spot for turtles, so you may get lucky and see those as well.
Snorkeling in the national park must be done with a guide to continue to protect the reef. It’s well worth exploring the beautiful and un pique sea life.
There are over 55,000 acres of protected marine life and ecosystems.
You can also spend some time relaxing on the beach and enjoying the amazing wildlife, flora, and beautiful ocean views.
There are great hiking trails including one that will take you to a shipwreck from the 18th century. You can also rent a bike, kayak, or surfboard. There are many adventures to be had in Cahuita National Park which makes it the perfect day trip.
2. Experience the Culture
There is an indigenous group living near Cahuita that has occupied the lands for hundreds of years. Visiting the Bri Bri group is a great opportunity to learn about their way of life and experience their culture.
Tours of this group include visiting a waterfall where you can swim. You will also check out the different crafts, and making chocolate which is very important to their history.
It’s a very authentic experience to hear the local language, which is different from Spanish. Also learning how they cook their food and learning about their history makes for a fun-filled educational day.
3. Grab a Bite to Eat
There is also an Afro-Caribbean influence in Cahuita so you must try some amazing cuisine, which is different from normal Costa Rica meals.
Some of the best food includes jerk and curried meats as well as an array of seafood and a popular choice is the dessert crepes usually made with bananas, strawberries, and chocolate. My favorite dish to eat in Cahuita is by far the coconut ceviche. Don’t leave without trying it.
Costa Rican Caribbean food is characterized by spices and zest to satiate the taste buds. There aren’t any fancy restaurants in this coastal town but you’ll find some great authentic places to grab a bite to eat and will truly eat like a local.
4. Visit the Reggae Bar
Known as a popular spot in town, the Reggae Bar is a great place to unwind at night and grab some food and a drink.
You can dance along to reggae music and some nights even have live performers. The food is great here and the vibe is laid back and very energetic.
This is a hot spot that you can’t miss while you are in Cahuita.
5. Go on a Chocolate Tour
Chocolate is an important part of Costa Rican history and Cahuita is no different. Going on a chocolate tour allows visitors the chance to learn about the process of making chocolate.
The best part about a chocolate tour is getting to sample all the delicious chocolate at the end.
A local guide will walk you through the chocolate plantation so you can learn what it takes to create cacao.
6. Swim and Relax on the Beach
The beaches are powdery soft black sand and look out on the beautiful turquoise waters. Cahuita is home to some of the best black sand beaches in Costa Rica.
Playa Negra is an amazing black sand beach that upholds the highest ecological standards with its Blue Flag.
It’s a popular beach in Cahuita due to the unique hue of the dark-colored sand but it’s still never overly crowded.
If you’ve never been to a black sands beach you’ll be effortlessly amazed and you must visit.
You can also visit Playa Blanca. Which is the beach at Cahuita National Park that visitors can relax on and swim in the ocean.
It’s a beautiful white sand beach that is very underdeveloped and not crowded by people. Sometimes you can even catch animals wandering around.
If you plan on doing a little beach hoping you can also check out Playa Grande. It is a beautiful beach as well and since Cahuita is a small coastal town, the beaches are never too crowded.
Enjoy some nice relaxing and quiet time in the sand, while adding beach hopping to your things to do in Cahuita list.
7. Horseback Riding
At Brigette’s Horse Ranch was founded in 1983 and is located on Playa Negra. Here you will have the opportunity of horseback riding on the beach and in the jungle. This is a wonderful opportunity, to get the best of both worlds.
It’s also a great place to stay during your trip to Cahuita in one of the cabins on the ranch. There are opportunities to go kayaking, snorkeling, on a chocolate tour, and even on a jungle tour at night.
Surfing is what brought me to Costa Rica. It is a popular activity in Costa Rica because the waves are great and the water is warm.
Many people overlook Cahuita because there are so many epic spots to surf in Costa Rica, but it has some great spots for surfing.
Playa Negra is the best surfing beach in Cahuita. You can even take private surfing lessons if you’re new to the sport.
There are some authentic shops downtown with amazing arts and crafts.
These unique pieces can be great memorabilia of your time in Cahuita. It’s always great idea to support a local artist and give back to the communities where you travel to.
It’s also enjoyable to see the way things are made, the colors, and the types of art in various places around the world.
10. Mariposario de Cahuita
This is a beautiful butterfly farm that is popular among locals. It’s the perfect place to relax for a slow morning or easy afternoon with fountains, amazing lush greenery, and of course colorful butterflies.
It’s located in the middle of nature so you can really experience these beautiful insects in their natural habitat.
There are also bees living here that you can see. It’s a great place to breathe in the fresh air and spot different butterflies.
11. Visit the Sloth Sanctuary
The Sloth Sanctuary is definitely a favorite place to visit in the area. It’s the first rescue center for sloths in Costa Rica. Here abandoned and injured sloths are able to live and be rehabilitated.
Since 1997, many sloths have been cared for and when possible even released back into the wild.
The center aims to protect sloths while also educated visitors on how sloths live and conservation of the rainforest to protect sloths and other animals.
Cahuita offers some amazing snorkeling opportunities, mainly due to the fact that it is a protected reef. . Several tour companies will take you by boat to some really unique and beautiful spots.
The sea life is colorful and plentiful and you will be amazed by the things you see. It’s a great way to gain a new perspective on Costa Rica.
Plus who doesn’t want to spend their day swimming in the ocean and admiring all the beauty the ocean has to offer.
13. Jaguar Rescue Center
Located about a 20-minute ride from downtown Cahuita is the Jaguar Rescue Center.
Although you are not likely to jaguars there, you a likely to see loads of other animals. The jaguar rescue center focuses on rehabilitating the animals so they can be released back into the wild.
It’s a unique opportunity to see wildlife up close and personal. So if you were wanting to get up close and personal with monkeys, sloths, birds, and wild cats, visit the Jaguar Rescue Center.
This is a great thing to do in Cahuita for all animal lovers.
14. Go Hiking
There are so many amazing jungle trails in Cahuita worth trying.
The flora and fauna are quite lush and you might also get to see some animals, birds, insects, and lizards.
Make sure to stay on the trails for your safety and don’t venture too far into the jungle.
The public trail in Cahuita makes this town so amazing. Be sure to check them out and go exploring.
15. Day Trip to Puerto Viejo
Located just over a 15-minute drive from Cahuita, is the hippie town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
It is a popular destination because of its coastal setting, rasta environment, and nightlife. You can do a lot of similar activities including a chocolate tour, surfing, and snorkeling but it’s always nice to visit a different place when traveling.
Puerto Viejo is something new to experience. It would also make a great place to go out and meet new people if you need a little more club and bar scenes than Cahuita can offer. It is what the local folk call in Cahuita “The big city”, but by no means is it.
Additional Reasons to Visit Cahuita
In addition to the beautiful coastal beaches, lush green jungle, and amazing landscape of Cahuita, it’s a great place to visit for various other reasons.
For one, there are a lot fewer tourists here than in other major cities in Costa Rica, you won’t find the beaches or streets to be too inundated with people.
This also creates a much more authentic atmosphere where you won’t find much commercialization.
The food is authentic and very fresh. Restaurants and places to stay in Cahuita offer far better prices because it is less touristy, which are great if you’re looking for a more cultural experience.
Cahuita isn’t too big so it’s enjoyable to walk around and get to know the area. It’s truly a beautiful and relaxing place to visit in Costa Rica.
You’ll love Cahuita and can’t go wrong with a trip here. Hopefully, some of the items on this list have inspired you to visit this beautiful coastal town. There is so much to do and your trip to Cahuita awaits you!
When to Visit Cahuita
Costa Rica has two very contrasting seasons, wet and dry. For the most part, Costa Rica’s wet season is from May to November and the dry season is from December to April, this is mainly for the Pacific side that tends to be more popular.
However, Cahuita is a little different in the sense, it can make for the perfect destination when the Pacific side of Costa Rica is too rainy. Typically September and October and usually receive more rain when the Pacific side is dry.
I love Costa Rice in the rainy season. Everything is lush and green. It also makes for the perfect excuse to have an afternoon nap, since it typically only rains for about an hour in the early to late afternoon.
The jungle will be in its prime during the wet season because the rain helps make it as lush, green, and healthy as possible.
However, no matter what time of year you visit, you will fall in love small coastal town.
If you enjoy off-the-beaten-path locations, nature and want to completely unwind on holiday this is the spot for you. There is still plenty of things to do in Cahuita, while completely letting go.