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Puntarenas

Practical information on Puntarenas

  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Port
1 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
90 minutes by car from San José
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Puntarenas

Eva Martin Seasoned Traveller
181 written opinions

The country's main port cityand heavily geared towards all-Inclusive hotel based tourism.

My suggestion:
There isn't much to see in Punta Arenas. Instead head immediately for the Nicoya Peninsula: the beaches there are far more beautiful!
My review

The decline in port-related activity in Punta Arenas has led the city to convert and redirect its economy towards a much more lucrative sector: tourism. The city is well known amongst tour operators, especially as a strategic port of call for cruise ships.

This "sandy point" (etymologically) is, however, not really up to the standard of the ten or so other possible stopovers situated along the Pacific coast. Its beaches are less attractive and, especially, polluted; and the climate is stuffy, with the breeze restricted by the Nicoya Peninsula, which lies facing it. As for the city center, there's really nothing to say about it.

In reality, the main thing the city has to offer its close proximity to San José, which has made it the main place to go for people from the capital hoping to do some sunbathing at the weekend.

So, unless you want to include an excursion to a large center for all-inclusive hotel tourism in your trip to Costa Rica, give it a miss. Head to the port and catch the ferry to the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Baptiste Rutko Seasoned Traveller
27 written opinions

Puntarenas is a town of passage, for travelers and for locals, and especially for freight.

My suggestion:
If you have to take the ferry from Puntarenas to the Nicoya peninsula get there early, around 8 in the morning. That way you'll avoid the crowds and be at the head of the line waiting to embark.
My review
Puntarenas' port, Caldera, is one of the main ports of Costa Rica, so the town's infrastructure is designed more for freight and merchandise shipping than for welcoming tourists and preserving the natural environment. Yes, you can go to the beach, but given the other places that Costa-Rica has to offer my advice is to not hang around in Puntarenas.
Although I didn't spend much time with the locals they were friendly, and will help you out when you are lost, or give you directions for getting on the ferry which crosses the stretch of water that separates them from the Nicoya peninsula. Nonetheless, Puntarenas doesn't have a good reputation, not even according to the locals that I met in San José. They advised me not to sleep in Puntarenas but rather to leave San José very early in the morning in order to get the boat.

Tours and travel ideas Puntarenas