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  • Photos of Puntarenas
  • Map of Puntarenas
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How to get there?
From San Jose, take the North Pan-American Highway (route #1) towards Esparza, and then take the exit for the route #17 in direction to Barranca and Chacarita. Continue all the way to the port of Puntarenas.

From La Sabana in San Jose, take the new highway to Caldera (route #27). Once in Caldera, take the deviation on the route #23 passing by Boca of Barranca until you get to El Roble, where the road guides you to the route #17, finally arriving to Puntarenas.

The city-port of Puntarenas is known by Costa Ricans as “the pearl of the Pacific”. It was created on a portion of land that is several kilometers long and about 400 m wide. On one side of the road you can see the Pacific Ocean and on the other side the Estuary of Puntarenas.

Puntarenas is the largest province of Costa Rica, and in its main city you can find the country’s main port in the Pacific Ocean.

Since 1940, the city of Puntarenas was the main destination for local tourists that came from San Jose, which is why it was commonly known as the National Balneario (“balneario” is a specific recreational destination with features such as bathrooms, lifeguards, changing rooms and snack stands, among others). Puntarenas is still one of the most visited places by local and international tourists.

The port of Puntarenas no longer receives cargo ships; only huge cruises that are plenty of tourists from all over the world.

This city has a very popular boulevard called Paseo de los Turistas (The Tourists’ Walk). It surrounds the sea and has a large variety of businesses like restaurants, stands, bars and ice cream shops.

The official name of this street is Paseo Leon Cortes Castro and at the end you will find the ferry that crosses the Gulf of Nicoya. It also has special areas for skating and walking. Many times a year this street hosts the most famous parties of Puntarenas and Costa Rica.

The Carnivals of Puntarenas are celebrated for 10 days before Lent. These festivities started in 1970 and since then have kept their popularity among visitors. Krewes, parades, live music and lots of people gather here for these feasts.

The traditional Burial of the Sardine ends the celebrations at sunset when it is thrown to the sea. This ceremony is full of irreverence and humor, and receives many critics. Men use costumes and represent characters such as priests, altar boys, the widows of the sardine, a cop, a prosecutor, and the Devil.

The festivities of the Virgin of the Sea are also held every year in the closest Saturday to July 16th. This celebration started from the story of a miracle: this Virgin saved from death the crew of a lost ship. She is the patron saint of fishermen.

Many religious activities are celebrated along with music, rides, masquerades and delicious typical Costa Rican meals. There’s also a boat parade, where the boats are decorated with lights and flags.

In this city you will find some historical interesting sites, like the University College of Puntarenas, in the south side. Los Bańos is located here, which is one of the most important places for celebrating elegant parties and feasts. The Commerce Street was the most important activity center of Puntarenas, so hotels like the Fenix and the Miramar were built here. In 1948, the construction of Los Malecones began, which are walls that protect the city from strong tides.

You can also visit other historical places such as the Mora and Cańas Park. 

On September 30th, 1860, the ex-president Juan Rafael Mora Porras and Jose Maria Cańas were executed here for trying to overthrow the elected president. They led the battle in the victorious war of 1856 against the American Freebooters, with the purpose of expelling William Walker from Central America.

The Market of Puntarenas has kept its original structure over time. It has the characteristic colors of the municipal buildings of Puntarenas: orange and white.

One of the beautiful architectural structures is the Cathedral of Puntarenas, declared historical and architectural heritage of Costa Rica. 

It has a unique feature: its main door is facing east, unlike most catholic churches, and it is visited by many people.

Some buildings had their functions changed in order to preserve them. For example, the University College of Puntarenas is located in the building of the Old Customs House, National Heritage from the XIX century.

There’s also the Historical Marine Museum of the City of Puntarenas, where the history of this city is displayed along with its natural charms and the culture of its people. Here you will find natural history, archaeology, traditions and celebrations. It is located in the building of the Old Command Office.

You can find as well the House of Culture, which used to be the Command Office of the Civil Guard, with a section that operated as the local jail. In 1977, the property was transferred from the Ministry of Public Security to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

The steeple of the hermitage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be found in the end where the Lighthouse “La Punta” was built. The Municipal Gymnasium is located in the old Plaza los Caites (“caites” is an old term for shoes), in honor to one of the oldest families of Puntarenas.

In Puntarenas you will find the Monseńor Sanabria Hospital, which is 10 stories high and is 100 meters away from the beach. All the basic services are found in this city as well as the Miguel “Lito” Perez Stadium and its first-division soccer team.

The recent Marine Park of the Pacific has a park, large areas for children to play and food stands, making it a perfect place for families. You can see all types of animals, from crocodiles to sharks. This recreational center promotes, supports and shares the investigation, education and sustainable use of the marine biodiversity.

Accommodations and gastronomy
In the city of Puntarenas there are many restaurants in front of the beach. They offer typical dishes from Costa Rica and Puntarenas, like the famous “Churchill”, which is a slush with powdered milk, condensed milk and other ingredients.

There are hotels that adjust to the budget of their guests and have amenities for everyone. Some of them include breakfast in their rates and have swimming pools, and also arrange tours to different natural destinations.

There are no large hotel chains or fast food chain restaurants.

Where to go?
Isla del Coco National Park
Cocos Island is a volcanic formation that rises 3.000 meters from the bottom of the ocean as part (...)
Bosque Eterno Los Nińos Others
The Bosque Eterno de los Nińos was declared part of the Peace and Water Biosphere Reserve the (...)
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
This biologic reserve is known worldwide for being a sanctuary of the flora, the fauna and the (...)
Puntarenas Beach
This greyish sandy beach stretches up to 12 kilometers (7,46 miles) long, its an extention of (...)
Jaco Beach
Visitors from different parts of the country and of the world come to this place. Many of them (...)
Santa Teresa Beach
This is a very popular place for surfers from all over the world; some have stayed and opened (...)
El Carmen Beach
This is a beach with beige colored sand that offers a moderate to strong swell, ideal for (...)
Mal Pais Beach
This beach offers an irregular (in some parts rocky) coast that sketches 3,73 miles long. From (...)
Balsitas Beach
In order to reach this beautiful and tranquil beach it is necessary to walk a trail. Along (...)
Cabo Blanco Beach
The Punta Cabo Blanco (Cabo Blanco Peak) is located at the western side of this beach. It is (...)
Cabuya Beach
The Reserva Absoluta Cabo Blanco (Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve) works as a natural barrier at (...)
Montezuma Beach
Playa Montezuma is a small and calm place surrounded by a tropical dry forest, home of the (...)
Cocalito Beach
 Here you can find a splendid waterfall, which drop down 12 meters. It is located in the (...)
Quizales Beach
Playa Quizales is a calm quiet beach ideal for relaxing with your family. (...)
Tambor Beach
There is an mangrove habitat in this place, located at the river mouth of the Río Pánica (...)
Naranjo Beach
 Dense vegetation of tropical forest covers the hills and rocky formation and in front of (...)
Blanca (Punta Morales) Beach
Moving away from the coast, it is surrounded by various islands that protect it from the open (...)
El Roble Beach
Due to the community´s efforts in keeping this beach clean and safe for visitors it has earned (...)
Dońa Ana Beach
Here you can find the river mouth of the Río Barranca (Barranca River) with a mangrove (...)
Caldera Beach
You can enjoy of the panoramic views that this beach has sitting at the top of the Cerro (...)
Tivives Beach
There is vegetation mixed with civilization here. At the southeast section of this beach you (...)
Friar Casiano of Madrid (Montserrat Church) Historical sites
At the age of 7 he entered the convent of the capuchin fathers of Tarragona where he learned how to (...)
School of El Carmen Neighborhood Historical sites
It was founded as institution in 1931 when 162 children of the community were taught here. It was (...)
Aqueduct Tanks in El Cocal and El Carmen Neighborhood Historical sites
Since 1936, the city of Puntarenas was provided with water through and aqueduct that brought it (...)
City Hall of Puntarenas Historical sites
This building is made of pre-formed structures with the shape of an inverted pyramidal cross with 4 (...)
Wooden Houses Historical sites
Set of 3 small houses (originally there were 5) made of fine wood, like the pochote tree. They have (...)
Jose Marti Lyceum Historical sites
It was the first secondary educational center in the city of Puntarenas as from March 23rd, 1942. (...)
La Victoria Park Historical sites
This park honors the victory of the Costa Rican army during the National Campaign of 1856-1857 (...)
Clinic of San Rafael Historical sites
It was named after Saint Raphael, the protecting archangel. It was the first hospital of the (...)
Jaco - Herradura
Playa Jaco is one of the most important and popular tourist
Mal Pais-Montezuma-Tambor- Teresa
This region of Costa Rica has beautiful beaches with strong waves
Manuel Antonio - Quepos
The town of Manuel Antonio has the privilege of being the gateway to
The city-port of Puntarenas is known by Costa Ricans as “the pearl of
Cabo Blanco National Park, first protected area in Costa Rica
Octuber 19, 2012

Visit a historical site very important to Costa Rica during your vacations in the country, where you’ll get to know its flora and fauna, and have fun like never before
An agreement for implementing the Forest Conservation Program was signed
July 24, 2012

Besides improving the conditions of the different Conservation Areas and National Parks, they will invest resources in high-technology equipment to prevent forest fires
Costa Rica has 96 beaches with clean waters
March 30, 2012

The study is made every year to determine the level of cleanliness of the waters of 100 selected beaches
Celebrate the National Parks Day in Costa Rica
March 27, 2012

The main objective of the celebration is to project the need to preserve and use rationally part of the forests, wetlands and wildlife the country has
Costa Rica wins again the award to the best stand in Germany
March 19, 2012

The graded aspects to give the award were design, use of technology, service and the activities arranged to attract the visitors to the stand
Costa Rica is the fifth most ecological country in the world
March 08, 2012

One of the aspects that contributed with the choice was that the country produces very low levels of carbon dioxide, which affects in global warming
Campaign “Costa Rica’s Million Dollar Gift of Happiness” starts its second phase
March 02, 2012

Starting on March 2012 and until February 2013, the campaign will keep the idea of selling the country as the place to share happiness
Enjoy the natural beauties of Isla San Lucas
February 17, 2012

The tour to Isla San Lucas is one of the most economic and satisfying adventures you can choose
Costa Rica celebrated World Day of Wetlands
February 15, 2012

The country has shown important progress in the conservation of these ecosystems, but still there are some challenges pending
Costa Rican Tourism Institute guarantees tourism’s safety
February 14, 2012

The ICT is working along the National Learning Institute for the formation of all the companies belonging to the hotel sector in the country: gastronomy, computing, hotels and English language proficiency