Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

With emerald green hillsides that extend all around, a thick, dense rainforest, rushing rivers and gurgling streams, the region of Sarapiqui is without a doubt, one of Costa Rica’s most magical ecotourism destinations. While white-water rafting tours and jungle riverboat rides on the river that gives the region its name, Sarapiqui, are usually at the top of visitors’ to-do lists, this area has lots more to offer nature lovers and adrenaline junkies alike.

Although day trips are available and rafting tours may be organized from San José, many tourists prefer to make Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui their base for travel in the area. Puerto Viejo is the area’s largest town and a former prosperous port town that lost its wealth and glory after Moín Port was built in Limón province. Tours can be arranged here for activities within the area such as ziplining or waterfall rappelling or to visit the nearby Poás Volcano or the magnificent La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Puerto Viejo offers several options for accommodation, but the tourism infrastructure is limited here and you will find few restaurants and shops, which provides visitors with a vibrant portrait of the day-to-day lives of locals.

The Sarapiqui region is surrounded by rainforest and wildlife refuges: Braulio Carrillo National Park to one side and to the other Tortuguero National Park and Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. This means the area in between is teeming with life, and perfect for bird-watching and nature hikes along reserves such as Selva Verde Eco-lodge and Rainforest Reserve or Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge and Reserve.

The area is also home to ornamental plant, banana and pineapple plantations, a butterfly sanctuary and a serpentarium that are well worth a visit.

Sarapiqui Weather and Packing Checklist

Temperatures in the Sarapiqui region usually hover between the upper 70s in the daytime and the lower 60s at night. Although the weather here can be unpredictable, the rainy season is usually between May and June and September through November, with the heaviest rainfall expected in September and October.

Don’t forget to pack shorts, t-shirts, hiking shoes, rain gear, sunblock, pants and long sleeved t-shirts for cool evening temperatures or mosquito protection.

How to get to Sarapiqui

Tourists often make the unfortunate error of confusing Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquií with the Caribbean tourism hotspot of Puerto Viejo de Limón. To avoid any unwelcome surprises, make sure to keep the difference in mind when purchasing bus tickets or asking for directions!

From San José:

By car:

Drive towards the town of Guápiles on the Braulio Carrillo Highway until Santa Clara, where you take the paved Highway 4 to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. The old route that winds through Heredia and Vara Blanca offers scenic views.

A fun stopover on the way to Sarapiqui is the Rainforest Aerial Tram on the Braulio Carrillo Highway!

By bus:

Daily buses depart from the Gran Terminal del Caribe in San José to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Be careful to specify that you are traveling to Sarapiquí and not Limón.


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