Have you ever heard of Cabuya Cemetery in Costa Rica? Probably not! It is a unique cemetery located on an island in a small village on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. The cemetery can only be accessed during low tide when a shale pathway is uncovered.
We visited on the morning after Tropical Storm Nate hit Costa Rica. At that point, we had no idea that the rest of the country had been hit so badly by the storm. You can read about our crazy Tropical Storm Nate experience here. The storm made for an eerie experience, as you’ll see in the pictures.
This complete guide to Cabuya Cemetery island will tell you all you need to know to have a successful visit including when to visit, what to wear, and fun things to do nearby.
Cabuya Cemetery – History
The Cabuya cemetery has been used as a burial ground since the 1700’s. It is still used today, with some of the graves being very recent.
Several years ago there were bids from developers to buy the island, but the locals refused because of the deep history attached to this haunting island.
I’m not sure of the validity of this, but apparently, during a full moon, the funeral processions take place at night.
Cabuya Cemetery – Helpful Tips
– Get there about an hour before the lowest tide point. Because the island is only accessible during low tide it is best to get there about an hour before the lowest tide point. You will be able to walk out without any problems at that time. This will allow you a few hours of time out on the island without having to worry that the tide will go in and you will be stuck.
– Be respectful of any locals out there. When we visited there was a group of locals gathered on the shore. We were about hesitant at first because we weren’t sure if we were interrupting a funeral. One woman was crying which made us a bit nervous. We then realized that they were all dressed in normal clothes and everyone just seemed to be standing around talking.
Thomas thinks that maybe one of the local fishermen had been lost at sea. It was the morning after the tropical storm, and everyone looked kind of nervous.
We don’t know what as going on, but either way, we tried to be very respectful and quiet. Just be aware there could be a funeral during your visit.
– The northern tip is apparently a great place to snorkel. We did not snorkel because it clearly was not the best day for it, but apparently, the northern tip is a great spot for it. We always suggest bringing your own snorkel to Costa Rica. It will allow you to have the flexibility of snorkeling wherever and whenever you want. I recently bought this one for Thomas and he loves it!
– The walk is relatively easy. As you can see in the picture below, the walk to the island is flat. It is covered in sharp rocks though and it can be a bit slippery. The island itself is a flat dirt pathway.
Cabuya Cemetery – Important Info
Directions: The easiest way to get to Cabuya Cemetery is from Montezuma. It will take about 20 minutes. It is possible to get there from the Santa Teresa area as well, but during the rainy season, it requires a river crossing. Type in “Cabuya Island” into your GPS and the directions to the island will come up. Just note you will need four wheel drive or at least a car with good clearance to get here. The road is not paved.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and get a 10% discount plus a second driver for free!
Parking: You can park on the side of the road where the road ends. There is nobody watching cars here (at least there wasn’t when we were there) so please don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle.
Cost: It is free to visit the Cabuya Cemetery.
To bring: Snorkeling gear, a hat, water, snacks, camera
To wear: You will need some kind of stable shoe to get out here. I wore flip flops and majorly regretted it because the rocks you have to walk to get out there are very sharp. I suggest something like Chacos or Keens.
If you plan on swimming, you will need to wear your bathing suit. There are not any bathrooms out on the island.
Amount of time you’ll need: We spent about an hour at Cabuya Cemetery, but you could definitely make it a longer visit and do some swimming.
What to do after visiting Cabuya Cemetery?
There are plenty of nice beaches n the stretch between Cabuya back to Montezuma. We suggest stopping along the way to check out a few of them. Also, close to the cemetery, you will drive by this cool old tree. It’s huge! Definitely, stop to check it out.
From the Cabuya Cemetery you are also very close to Cabo Blanco Reserve. We did not get a chance to go there so I can’t tell you much about it, but it is apparently a really great hiking spot.
Have any questions about Cabuya Cemetery? Leave them in the comment section below and we’ll help you out!
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