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.
Now on to the rest of our Cahuita Costa Rica travel guide!
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, 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!
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. 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.
If you would like a more comfortable experience we suggest taking the Caribe Shuttle from the San Jose Airport (or they can pick you up from your surrounding hotel) to Cahuita.
This also saves you from the hassle of getting to the Mepe bus station in downtown San Jose. Caribe Shuttle is our go-to shuttle company in Costa Rica because they provide a comfy and stress free ride to your destination with trustworthy drivers.
You can book your Caribe Shuttle ride here.
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.
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.
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 or Caribe Shuttle. 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 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!
Pro Tip: We have partnered with Adobe to give our readers a 10% discount on your rental car. Find out more here.
Explore Cahuita National Park: The 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.
Go snorkeling: 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: 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, 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!
3 Bamboo Eco-Lodge– This hotel is located off of the main road. However, they do offer a free shuttle service. There is a pool, hot tub, and a kitchen in each room.
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.
Pizzeria Cahuita: If you are tired of eating rice and beans 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.
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.
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