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South Caribbean Coast

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For a taste of the rural Costa Rica well away from the usual tourist trails, head south to the Caribbean coast and the area south of Limón, taking you towards the Panamanian border at Manzanillo.

An Afro-Caribbean culture predominates in this region, filling the atmosphere with fragrances, tropical rhythms and brilliant colours as well as a different language as Spanish gives way to creole. The food is different too, taking on a spicier Caribbean twist, combined with the fabulous fresh local produce from coconut to seafood.

The region is dotted with plantations of cassava, annatto, and bananas, as well as an infinite number of beautiful beaches on the southern part of the coast, coral reefs, and protected areas with small trails penetrating into the heart of the tropical forest and protected reserves at Cahuita and Gandoca Manzanillo.

These less frequented parks are perfect to explore by yourself along well-marketd trails or even along its coastline by kayak. This beautiful coast is perfect for fishing, diving, surfing and snorkelling – although note that swimming areas are influenced by tides and there are strong currents here, so not suitable for families who like sea-bathing.

The lodging here is simple and local in flavour but the vibe is very laidback and casual, so if you want to escape the other tourists, this is a great spot to head to. Cycling is a great way to get around. Visit a sloth rescue centre and animal rescue sanctuary, learn a few Caribbean cooking skills or visit the Bribri community at Yorkin via dug-out canoe.

Kayak or snorkel from the coast at Gandoca-Manzanillo and, if you feel like getting right away from it all, we can recommend a great rustic lodge set among the forest which has great horse-riding in the jungle and bird-watching at sunrise.

Because fewer people come down to this corner of Costa Rica before it crosses the border into Panama, the beautiful sand beaches here rarely have more than a handful of people on them, wonderful for those who love long beach walks in an impossibly beautiful tropical setting.

And of course, lower visitor numbers also make it easier to spot wildlife right by the park trails from monkeys to toucans and sloths. You can also combine a stay in this area with a journey over the border to the gorgeous islands around Bocas del Toro for simple but wildly romantic over water villa lodgings – diving straight into the ocean from your room.

Contact us to discuss whether this unusual little corner of Costa Rica is just right for you, as part of your tailormade Costa Rica holiday.

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