Cahuita is located about a three-hour drive from San Jose on the Caribbean coast. We love this area because of the cool vibe and because it is a lot less touristy than the Pacific coast. Cahuita is a fairly small town, but it the perfect place to spend a few relaxing days. It’s got a really rasta vibe to it and you can find lots of aging hippie expats living here. Don’t tell the rest of Costa Rica, but this is one of our top five spots in the country. Oh and be sure to go to the national park! It’s the best.
Now on to the rest of our Cahuita guide!
GETTING TO CAHUITA
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 $12 per person for one way. The buses are surprisingly comfortable. They will stop in Limon (about two and half hours into the drive) so you can buy snacks and use the bathroom. There is no bathroom on the bus.
Another 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.
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.
What do we suggest? If you are only going to Cahuita or are heading down to Panama after, we suggest taking the bus. If you would like to take lots of day trips or check out other areas in Costa Rica after visiting Cahuita we suggest renting a car.
We have partnered with our favorite rental car company Adobe to bring our readers a 10% discount. You can find out more about this deal here.
GETTING AROUND 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 an Uber (don’t take a taxi they are almost always double the price of an Uber) or rent a car for a day.
Adobe, our favorite rental car company has an office in Puerto Viejo and they rent cars for as low as $30 a day.
Pro Tip: We have partnered with Adobe to give our readers a 10% discount on your rental car. Find out more here.
THINGS TO DO
Explore Cahuita National Park: The Cahuita National park is our favorite national park in all of Costa Rica. It is seriously amazing! You can read our full post about it here.
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: Downtown Cahuita is small, but there are some cute artsy shops you can explore.
Visit the Sloth Sanctuary: The Sloth Sanctuary is not cheap (about $30 per person) but if you’ve ever wanted a close-up encounter with sloths, this is your chance! They are a great sanctuary that are working hard to help sloths.
Check out Puerto Viejo: Puerto Viejo is really close to Cahuita and also has a very Rasta feel to it. If you’d like to know about Puerto Viejo, head on over to our Puerto Viejo page.
Visit a wildlife sanctuary: Tree of Life Sanctuary is a great animal sanctuary located in Cahuita. Entry is $15 for the guided tours. They have very limited hours and tours so be sure to check their website for updated info.
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, but this does mean you need a car or need to walk about 20 minutes to get to the populated downtown area.
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. Breakfast is not included, but there are plenty of places downtown where you can get a cheap meal.
Cabinas Algebra: Super basic cabins close to the beach. You can expect to pay about $35 a night for a double bungalow.
La Rana De Cahuita: This place is the absolute cutest! I suggest only staying here if you are traveling by car. It is a bit out of the downtown area.
Cabinas Tito: Great cabins close to the beach and downtown area. Breakfast is not included, but there are plenty of great places nearby.
PLACES TO EAT
Cafe Cahuita: A great little breakfast place to fuel up before a day of hiking in the national park.
Pizzeria Cahuita: If you are tired of eating rice and beans every day, head here! You won’t be disappointed. Their pizza is dream worthy.
Sobre las Olas: If you are looking for a good seafood or fish dinner, this is the perfect spot. It is not cheap, but I think it is worth a visit. 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.
ARTICLES ABOUT CAHUITA