36, Costa Rica
NileGuide Expert tip:
The park is open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and weekends 7 a.m.-5 p.m. The morning is the best time to see and hear the monkeys.
Cahuita National Park is most easily accessible from the southern edge of the village, at the Kelly Creek entrance, a short walk from the bus station. A foot bridge leads to a flat and shady path between the forest and the sandy beaches. The stretch of coast from Puerto Vargas to Playa Negra is home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches including 240 hectares of protected coral reef, and a large tropical rainforest teeming with wildlife. The 7km path is divided halfway by the shallow Rio Sangria, which must be waded across. Lots of animals live in Cahuita's park, such as tree-dwelling sloths, agoutis, armadillos, iguanas, howling monkeys and a variety of reptiles, like the venomous yellow eyelash viper. Guides may be hired that are knowledgeable about the park's flora and fauna, but this park is easy to navigate without assistance.