James ArmitageVisiting the Osa Peninsular, one of the top wildlife biospheres in the world, and seeing a pod of 30 humpback whales while snorkelling in the waters of Costa Rica are amongst James’s highlights of Costa Rica.
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At the southern end of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast in the Limon Province, lies Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a charming and vibrant seaside town with a unique blend of Bribri, Latino and Afro-Caribbean cultures.
It has wonderful beaches with fine volcanic sand lapped by warm water. The Salsa Brava waves that come ashore here are some of the most powerful in Costa Rica and attract surfers from around the world. This stretch of coast that neighbours Panama’s Bocas del Toro Islands is culturally a world apart from the rest of the country. Most residents here are of Afro-Caribbean descent and were drafted in from Jamaica, among other Caribbean islands, to work on banana plantations that still grow this important cash crop.
Visit any of the small laid-back towns around Talamanca and you’ll be greeted by the sounds of reggae and calypso music, the smell of jerk chicken and a challenging local dialect that blends Spanish and English. Talamanca town (called Puerto Viejo by the locals) is a lively place with a variety of bars and restaurants. Its fun to visit but the forest-lined beaches are the biggest draw. Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita and Playa Negra offer scenic spots for a few days rest on the coast.
The Gandoca-Manzanillo Reserve near the Panama border encompasses several rare habitats and hosts some extraordinary wildlife including tapirs, turtles, eagles, caimans and West Indian Manatees in its mangroves.
Cahuita National Park has one of the most stunning beaches in Costa Rica. The park was created in 1970 to protect the country’s largest coral reef and this amazingly colourful underwater world provides some of the best snorkelling and diving in the country. Over 35 species of coral, green turtles, carey turtles, lobsters and manta rays can be seen in the crystal clear waters.
Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.
Unwind on beautiful beaches in simple but chic shacks.
Discover the best snorkelling in Costa Rica at Cahuita National Park.
Tour Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge to see turtles, crocodiles and manatees.
Dance to reggae and calypso music with the local people at bars along the coast in Puerto Viejo.
Our Costa Rica experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.
Below is some of the wonderful accommodation to include on your journey.
Just 10 minutes from the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, Aguas Claras is a small boutique hotel with just six casitas ranging from one bed to five. Owned by a local artist. The property has a wonderfully traditional style amidst tropical gardens accentuated by the use of bright colours, mosaics, and recycled materials to create a unique blend of traditional crafts, modern art and Caribbean flair.
Hotel Le Cameleon is a very comfortable modern boutique hotel on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast at Puerto Viejo, near the Panamanian border. The property is surrounded by tropical forest and wildlife. Lots of activities are available including hiking, snorkelling, diving, surfing, mountain biking, kayaking and cultural visits to local communities. The long, golden stretch of Cocles beach is just a short stroll from the property. There is also a spa that provides a range of therapies. Rooms are bright, white and modern. It’s a 3km hike along the beach and jungle trails into town although there is a very good Italian restaurant within 5 minutes walk of the hotel.
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
We found it extremely helpful to visit the Steppes office and have a face to face discussion with James about what our requirements were for our adventures in Costa Rica. He really listened and made sure that the trip was tailored to our needs.
Great work from John. The additions of zip-lining and surfing lessons were exciting experiences that we would not have considered without his expert guidance.
Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.
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