The wildness of the Caribbean Coast thwarted 16th-century Spaniards in their quest to settle here and isolated the region for centuries afterward, making it distinctly different from the rest of Costa Rica. Influenced by indigenous peoples and West Indian immigrants, the Caribbean’s culture has blended slowly and organically.
It does take a little more effort to travel here to see the nesting turtles of Tortuguero, raft the Río Pacuare or dive the reefs off Manzanillo, but you’ll be glad you made the trip. Nature has thrived on this rugged and rustic coast – many visitors will meet resident sloths, hear the call of howler monkeys and spot alligators on the vast network of canals. Others tuck into the area’s unique flavors, such as jerk chicken, grilled snapper and rondón (spicy seafood gumbo); listen to the lilt of patois; and laze around on the uncrowded palm-lined beaches.