When you think of the Caribbean shores, things like a laid-back vibe or coconut dishes and calypso might just pop up in your mind. People do not necessarily come to Cahuita for the wildlife, but if you’re a big fan of Mother Nature, the eastern side of Costa Rica has some pretty pictures to offer you as well.
The National Park in Cahuita, for example, offers a splendid 8km hike along beaches that are cut straight out a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. Start your tour from the Kelly Creek Station in the tiny town of Cahuita, and walk all the way around Punta Cahuita towards the Puerto Vargas Beach.
Over there, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most magnificent beaches on the Caribbean side. Relax for a while. From up here, it’s only a couple of kilometers, so lay down on the iconic palm that hangs like a sloth over the sea.
Apart from the stunning beaches and tropical plants, Cahuita National Park hides a lot of furry friends and reptiles too. Curious what you’ll see during your hike at the Park? Here are a few fellows you’re most likely to meet over here:
The Yellow Eyelash Viper Snake – Sure, this Amarillo (yellow) beauty is quite something to see, but as with most colorful snakes, it’s a very venomous one too. Though it might seem you can’t overlook it, the snake actually isn’t that big. Go with a guide to make sure you’ll find one – and don’t leave the pathways on your own, or at least watch those branches!
Three Types Of Monkeys – Monkeys are present everywhere in the Park. You’ll probably see some (or definitely hear) howlers, and perhaps a few capuchin monkeys too. If you’re really lucky, you might even encounter those long armed and long legged spider monkeys. Aren’t they elegant?
Golden Orb Spiders – Even if you’re not that much into spiders – most likely – you’ve got to admit it: this one is quite colorful when up close. The Golden Orbs produce very large, and super strong webs. People even used the silk to make fishing lures. All those big ones hanging in there are female spiders, while the male spiders are a lot tinier and often stick around in the same web. Webs are woven everywhere throughout Cahuita Park, so make sure you’re not stuck in one too.
Coatis – Perhaps you’ve seen the long nosed coatimundi elsewhere during your stay in Costa Rica. It probably looked like a very cheeky boy trying to convince you to give him food. Tempting, but it’s better not to do so. Yes coatis are adorable, but feeding them doesn’t contribute to their survival chances. There aren’t many coatis in Cahuita. But if you see one, it might just past you without blinking an eye, and that’s a great thing.
Sloths, Two And Three Toed – Yes, those lazy, furry balls of cuteness are to be found in Cahuita National Park too, of course. Watch the highest tree tops, and remind yourself that acting like a sloth isn’t that bad at all from time to time. After all, in general, the slower you go, the more you see while walking around.
Poison Dart Frog – Tiny, beautiful, and poisonous. A valid description when it comes to the green and black poison dart frog. Just let it hop away if you find one, and only catch it by camera. Though that might be a real challenge with this fast fellow!
Raccoons – Raccoons (mapaches for Tico’s) are present throughout Costa Rica. Just like coatis, they are frequently seen begging tourists for food. Not in here. Darker colored than usual, the raccoons on the Caribbean shores are found near the beach, and are mainly looking for crabs to eat.
Blue Crabs – Following up previous point – these blue crusty ones for example! The crabs around the Cahuita Park are very aware of predators, and therefore difficult to see up close. During your walk, your eye probably catches them in a split second as they run away towards their underground holes.
A Variety Of Birds (on sticks) – Ibises, herons, kingfishers, and toucans are present in the Park, but it might be difficult to spot them in the overgrown tropical settings. However, during the first half of the hike, you’ll encounter these pillars which serve as a resting place for birds. Not sure what their original purpose was – anchors for the fishermen’s boats perhaps? But if you’re an aspiring ornithologist, this is a place not to be missed at the Cahuita National Park.
WRITTEN BY: Kristel Segeren
Copyright photos by Kristel Segeren
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