Cahuita Costa Rica: Caribbean Beach Town Guide
A beautiful Caribbean beach town and home to an amazing national park
The Cahuita Costa Rica Vibes
Cahuita is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
We love this area because of the cool vibe and because the Caribbean Sea side of Costa Rica typically has far fewer tourists than the Pacific coast.
Cahuita is a fairly small town, but it the perfect place to spend a few relaxing days. It has a Afro Caribbean vibe, tons of delicious Caribbean cuisine restaurants, beautiful beaches, and an amazing national park.
Don’t tell the rest of Costa Rica, but this is one of our top five spots in the country.
Background Info About Cahuita Costa Rica
Nearest International Airport
Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose
Popular Things to Do
relaxing at the beach, hiking in Cahuita National Park
Best Way to Get Around
Rental car, tours with transportation included, walking in the downtown area
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from August until December
I like the Super Vaz #2 which is located next to the entrance of the national park
There is a Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) located within walking distance of the downtown area.
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Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).
We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.
We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Map Of Cahuita
Cahuita is a small beach town located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. If you are planning to travel to Panama, Cahuita is a good place to stop before crossing the border.
Flights to Costa Rica
Montezuma is great because it is easily accessible from the Liberia airport and the San Jose airport.
More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be worth it for you.
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.
Driving to Cahuita From San Jose
Our favorite option is to rent a car and drive to Cahuita on your own. The drive is not too bad for first-time Costa Rica drivers.
In the beginning of your trip, you will have to do a little driving through San Jose though which can be a bit daunting and stressful.
After making it through San Jose you will drive through Braulio Carillo national park which is really pretty. The roads are well maintained here but there are a lot of curves in spots.
However, there has been a lot of road work here recently (they are widening the road so I doubt it will be over anytime soon) and there have been a lot of major backups.
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From there you follow a straight road to Limon and then drive down the coast. I absolutely love the drive along the coast. The roads are in good condition and it’s absolutely beautiful.
You do not need a 4×4 for this route, but you might want something with a bit of power while driving through the national park.
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Private Shuttle to Cahuita
Adobe has a private shuttle company and they are great!
Their experience certified driver can pick you up anywhere in the country and take you along Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast to your hotel in Cahuita.You can get a private shuttle price quote here.
Public Bus to Cahuita Costa Rica
If coming from San Jose you can take the public bus from Mepe. You can see a complete time schedule here.
The ride will take you about four hours and will cost about $14 per person for one way.
The buses are surprisingly comfortable. The bus stops in Limon (about two and half hours into the drive) for a snack and bathroom break. There is no bathroom on the bus.
Transportation In Cahuita
Downtown Cahuita is a small area and easy to explore by foot. The national park is also located right off of the main downtown area.
If you would like to explore other places nearby you can take a taxi or rent a car for a day.
Adobe, our favorite rental car company has an office in Puerto Viejo and they will deliver your car to your hotel for free within 12 miles of their office. I just checked, and their office is exactly 10.5 miles from downtown Cahuita. Yeay!
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Cahuita Costa Rica Weather
Here, the rainy season runs from mid-December until end of July. I know, that sounds like a whole lot of rainy time, but let me explain.
Although it can be rainy, you just never really know. We have visited in January and had amazing weather. We have also visited in January and had total washout days.
One thing we have noticed though is that usually when it rains, it at least rains at night. Daytime rainstorms don’t happen that often. Also, the temperature stays fairly warm even when raining.
Another weird thing, July is the rainiest month to visit Cahuita, but come August, it almost completely dries up.
You just never know in this country!
During the dry months the weather is amazing and warm!
Things to Do in Cahuita Costa Rica
Visit Cahuita National Park
Exploring Cahuita National Park is our favorite national park in all of Costa Rica. It is seriously amazing!
Here you can enjoy an abundance of wildlife and Playa Blanca, a beautiful white sand beach.
You can read our full guide to the park here.
In Cahuita National Park there are protected coral reefs. It is possible to take a snorkel trip to explore these amazing reefs.
We suggest asking your hotel to set this up. Many hotels partner with local companies and can get you the best deal.
Watch the Sunrise
Wake up at 5 am and head to the beach for a beautiful and peaceful sunrise experience.
Check out the Shops in Downtown Cahuita
During your visit to Cahuita Costa Rica, there are some cute artsy shops you can explore in the downtown area. This is a great place to buy souvenirs.
Visit the Sloth Sanctuary
The Sloth Sanctuary is the place to got if you’ve ever wanted a close-up encounter with sloths. The Sloth Sanctuary works hard to protect sloths that have been injured or have previously been taken in as pets. A lot of these animals will be unable to be reintroduced to the wild, but they are kept safe at this sanctuary.
Check out Nearby Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is really close to Cahuita and also has a Caribbean feel to it. If you’d like to know about Puerto Viejo, head on over to our Puerto Viejo page.
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Pizzeria Cahuita: If you are tired of eating traditional Costa Rican food every day, head here! You won’t be disappointed. Their pizza is excellent, but personally I’m in love with their spinach ravioli.
Sobre las Olas: If you are looking for a good seafood or fish dinner, this is the perfect spot.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but head around back and you’ll be pleasantly surprised y the tables set up along the water.
We suggest getting there early (around 5pm) to claim one of the good tables and enjoy the nice waterfront view.
Also, be sure to bring bug spray because it gets rather buggy once the sun goes down.
El Rincon del Amor– A great spot for fresh and delicious Caribbean food. This is a good place to go for a nice dinner.
Aroma Coffee– My new favorite breakfast and lunch spot in Cahuita. They have excellent fresh everything. They make amazing smoothies and coffee drinks as well. Oh, and try to save room for dessert!
Cafe Coral– A delicious place for breakfast. Everything is good here.
Cahuita Costa Rica Hotels
There are actually a wide variety of hotels in Cahuita that you can stay at for a decent rate.
We like to stay at the hotels on Playa Negra, just north of town, but this does mean you need a car or need to walk about 20 minutes to get to the populated downtown area.
Topos Tree House– If you have ever wanted to stay in your own private treehouse, this is the place to do it! Just note that it does book out fast, so reserve way in advance!
Hotel El Encanto– One of our fave places in Cahuita! The rooms are really nice, the pools are great, and the staff is the best.
Cabinas Nirvana- Super cute rustic place hidden in the woods. This was perfect for when we were traveling with my family and wanted a big cabin we could all share at a decent price.
Cabinas Palmer Makanda– Basic rooms but includes a shared kitchen and is located right near the downtown area. They have shared dorms and private rooms available.
Cabinas Algebra- Basic cabins close to the beach.
Cabinas Tito- Great cabins close to the beach and downtown area. Breakfast is not included, but there are plenty of great places nearby.
Vacation Rentals in Cahuita
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.
Beach Villa – A simple two bedroom house that can sleep up to five guests. This home is located steps away from the beach. I suggest it for a family that would like an affordable place to stay with privacy and your own kitchen.
Casa Magdalena – A three bedroom home that accommodates 7 guests. This home has a simple rustic interior and a pool.
La Casa del Mango – A luxury four bedroom home that can sleep 8 guests. I love the private pool and roof top terrace.
Lilan Nature – This home is in a complex with other rental homes. There is a shared pool and shared tennis courts. We like the minimalistic modern style of this two bedroom home.
Group Tours to the Cahuita Area
Take the planning, stress, and guess work out of traveling by booking a multi-day tour with an experienced guide.
For more tour ideas check out Tour Radar.
Costa Rica See and Do it ALL
An interesting and unique way to see the country…by bike! Visit Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula, San Gerardo, Cahuita, Tortuguero, and the La Fortuna area.
Cahuita Travel Tips
If you are debating between visiting Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, we suggest Cahuita for a more relaxed atmosphere.
If you are interested in a good nightlife scene, more stores, and overall more action, Puerto Viejo is a better town to stay in.
Packing for Cahuita Costa Rica
In Cahuita we tend to alternate between two types of clothing, beach gear and hiking clothes for the national park.
We really like Keen waterproof shoes for the national park here because there are a few places in your hike which involve river crossings. It is nice to have shoes on that can get wet.
There is never really a need here to dress nicely. A light sundress or shorts and a shirt would be fine for a dinner out.
Check out our Cahuita Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials.
Cahuita Costa Rica FAQ
Where is Cahuita Costa Rica?
Cahuita Costa Rica is located on the Caribbean coast near the Panama border. It is located just north of the popular backpacking town, Puerto Viejo.
How far is Cahuita from San Jose?
From San Jose it will take about three to four hours to drive to Cahuita. The driving time depends on if you get stuck behind large trucks going to Puerto Limon for exports.
Is Cahuita Costa Rica worth visiting?
Yes, definitely. Cahuita is home to Cahuita National Park which has an abundance of wildlife and is less crowded than many of the national parks on the Pacific Coast.
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Tortuguero: A relaxed village that is only accessible by boat. This is a great place to stay for wildlife canoe rides and seeing turtles nesting
Manzanillo: a small relaxed beach village near the border of Panama and Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo: A popular Caribbean coast town with backpackers. This town is great for surfing, yoga, and nightlife.
….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Caribbean Coast for more ideas of places to visit in this area.