Cahuita is a small village located on the Southern Atlantic-Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
First reason to visit Cahuita and surroundings: Originally the Bribri and Cabecar Indians inhabited this region and today there is a small number of these indigenous people living in reserves in the Talamanca mountain rainforest. You can visit their villages with a guide and learn about their ancient medicinal practices using native plants, primitive agricultural practices, and jungle survival.
This region is definitely very different from any other region in Costa Rica. Very rainy climate, hot and humid with three hundred inches of rain per year. The small village of Cahuita consists of two dust ridden roads and neither experience much traffic. The village is inhabited today mostly by Afro Caribbeans from Jamaica who were brought here by the United fruit company to pick bananas and harvest cocoa. These two crops fell to a devastating blight, and the inhabitants turned to subsistence farming and fishing. Today tourism is the number one business here.
Second Reason to Visit Cahuita: Tourist come to experience the true Caribbean tropical beauty with it’s unique cultural quirks. First there is the very slow laid back, carefree pace of life. Residents ride bikes and seem to while away the day chatting and walking along the most beautiful beaches framed by tropical coconut palms swaying in the wind. However, today many Europeans are moving in and also North Americans constructing small hotels and restaurants, the most famous being Italian cuisine.
Third Reason to visit Cahuita. Artist-painters and photographers, both professionals and amateurs come to photograph and to paint using both oil and water colors to reproduce the small wooden clapboard houses painted with all the colors of the rainbow. This is most popular destination in Costa Rica for artist and one can purchase their work here in Cahuita.
Fourth Reason to visit Cahuita : Tourist come to visit Cahuita National Park, home to white sand beaches, a rich ecosystem of coral reefs-abounding with marine life, and coastal lowland rainforest bursting with wildlife. Here the climate is hot and humid. I don’t have room here to write about all the abundant wildlife. There is the noisy howler monkey, sloths everywhere, and red crabs all over the beaches. Mango and palm trees line the beaches attracting birds such as the green parrot, toucans, scarlet macaw, yellow crowned night heron, green kingfisher, and many smaller birds. Early morning birdwatching is wonderful with all the birds singing in unison. Snorkeling around the coral reefs is very good just a short distance off shore. (One can hire a guide with a boat from a local tour company). Ocean swimming is to be done only at low tide due to the undertows. The fee to enter Cahuita National park for foreigners is around $15- cash.
Fifth Reason to visit Cahuita: The food is excellent and the bars and night life are lively with the sound of calipso and reggae. On weekends the bars are crowded and the tourist are taking it all in with no shortage of margaritas, mojitos and scantly clad beautiful dark skin women. Coconut rice with black beans is served along with fresh coconut shrimp. There is fresh coconut water, coconut sauces, coconut-coconut-and more coconuts-all served with fried plantains.
What else should I know before visiting Cahuita? Dangers and annoyances: As tourism grows a cottage industry of sketchy drug dealers is growing with it. Don’t walk alone late at night especially in isolated unlighted areas. This is especially true for young women. Beware of your belongings such as cell phones, cameras, computers, and your money. Keep it all locked in safety deposit box in the hotel. Carry money in a money belt under your clothes. Especially along the beaches you may be offered recreational drugs. Crime related to drugs is well know here so be alert. Especially for young women.
Ann has visited Cahuita many times but never alone-always accompanied by her friends. The exotic plants and trees are what intrigues her most, along with the blue waters of the Caribbean sea. The beaches are among the most beautiful in Costa Rica. However, the road system is not good with many dirt gravel roads winding in and out of what seems almost everywhere. The friendly locals ride bicycles up and down and back again, making it almost a recreation. Everyone who works- works in tourism. Hammocks hang in every tree in multicolors of red, blue, and yellow with the backdrop of green mango trees, sparkling blue ocean, and puffy white misty clouds hanging close to the horizon. Grab a hammock and float through the balmy afternoon in a dreamy siesta. Five pm choose your favorite restaurant for a typical creole style dinner and ten pm hit the bars. Costa Rican rum and lively music- dance the night away.