The Cahuita National Park is the Caribbean Coast’s Best National Park
The white sand beaches, palm tree canopies and well maintained jungle trail are a must for every traveler looking for the best that Costa Rica has to offer. Cahuita National Park is 45 minutes South from the Port City of Limon and a quick 20 minutes North of Puerto Viejo. The road to the park is sprinkled with locals selling hand pressed coconut oil, fresh caught red snapper (pargo) and furniture made from local woods and bamboo.
Getting great photographs of animals or the Caribbean lifestyle is extremely easy. You can find yourself a comfy spot underneath the shade of a palm tree and things will run to you or simply float in front of you.
There are two entrances to the park. The best one is through the small town of Cahuita. This entrance has a small station that accepts donations for entry. A good bet is to give $2 per person. If you enjoyed the experience as much as we did you will give an additional donation on your way out. This is the what the entrance looks like.
The first flag is the Blue Flag given to the park for its ecological management practices and water quality preservation, the second flag is the flag of the Limon Province and the third is the flag of Costa Rica. There is a map of the trail and a bit further in, showers and bathrooms. FYI – Bring your own TP but don’t flush it.
The trail is well taken care of and wide enough for groups to stop and take pictures while others can pass easily. Locals also use the path for exercise because it is flat and in good condition. There is a constant breeze that comes off the Caribbean Sea that keeps the area cool and “mostly” bug free. Photographers should wear bug spray because you will probably veering off the trail into swampier parts of the park.
Tips for getting good images from Cahuita National Park:
Keep long lens on because monkeys are quick and generally above eye level in the trees.
Jungle can be dark and animal fur is dark so you may need to bump up your ISO so you hand hold the camera and still get sharp images. MIND YOUR EXPOSURE.
Wide lens is needed for landscapes. Sunrise is best to get good light and the animals are most active.
If you have only one chance at Cahuita it is a good idea to pay for a guide. We would have walked right past the vampire bat had it not been for the guide knowing it was there.
Definitely bring a polarizer for the water and sky shots.
There are no high vantage points so don’t count on any bird pictures, even though you can hear them.
This non-venomous Green Parrot Snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) was moving elegantly through the trees close to a trail. This beautiful snake is very similar to others in the large Leptophis family. Other parrot snakes, including one eating a frog, can be seen here Satiny Parrot Snake
Swim only in areas that have a green flag. There are several places, especially close to the entrance, where the riptides are deadly. The personnel take special care to tell you where it is safe and they know the Caribbean Sea better than you. There are too many Latina hotties to flirt with on the beach, they may not hear your calls for help if something does happen.
The trail is 7 km or 4 miles so don’t give up to soon. You will reach the point which is the half way mark. The trail sign will let you know what is coming up next.
The southern Caribbean of Costa Rica has only had electricity since the 1980’s so don’t expect WiFi at the park. In fact, it is better to leave everything but your camera and water bottle in your room. If you are visiting for the day, don’t leave valuables in your car unless they are under the seat and out of view. Tip: Wipe the suction cup mark off of your windshield so it is not painfully obvious that you have a GPS in the glove box.
We always end the day at our favorite restaurant Sobre las Ollas, located on the same road to the North. The mostly Rasta crew sometimes gives you extra on accident. If you smell something other than food coming from the kitchen just sit back and accept that it is their lifestyle and it is probably why your food tastes so good. You are sitting in front of the ocean eating fresh seafood what do you care, right?
Here is a video we shot of monkeys stealing people’s things on the trail.
We are booking photography courses for 2016 now. We will meet you at the park and give you instruction on how to make the most of your scene, the animals and your gear.