Puntarenas Port is the largest city in the Central Pacific and it was once one of the major seaports situated in the Gulf of Nicoya. This country has played an important role in the Costan Rican history. In this port, you will see that coffee is hauled from all over to be shipped to Europe. It is used by many travelers as its jumping off point to visit Southern Pacific Cost of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is a run-down port city; faded as a developing tourist destination and new cruise and commercial center. Puntarenas Pier is not much more than a long dock and small terminal but it is located within easy walking distance to the city center. Tourists or passengers can take shore excursions from waiting vans at the pier’s end.
Paseo de Los Turistas, is the only popular shopping area in Puntarenas. It is a short walkway at the sea side souvenir stands and cafes. A few small souvenir stands for coconut crafts and other local trade can be found next to the cruise terminal. There is not an abundance of shops here.
Things to see
The place is definitely worth exploring because of the many beautiful beaches like Jaco Beach and islands within the area, such as Playa mal Pais, Jesuita, Playa Naranjo, Cedros, and San Lucas. Note that Puntarenas is also known as “sandy point” in the Spanish language.
The most popular attractions are excursions out of Puntarenas but within the town the Parque Marino del Pacífico offers an interesting saltwater aquarium exhibit and the walkway Paseo de los Turistas is popular. This is a promenade lined up with trees that are adjacent to the beach. You will see that this place becomes a lively street during weekends. People from different places flock the restaurants, discos, bars and hotels that are found here. National parks and nature reserves are also near. Visit the Santa Elena Forest and see the amazing view of the Arenal Volcano. This volcano is about 20 kilometers away from observation points but you can still appreciate its imposing spectacle.
You can also visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which was established in 1972. It protects the habitats of one of the world's most handsome birds -- the Resplendent Quetzal; these parks are the Parque Nacional Corcovado, the Cabo Blanco Reserve, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and Parque National Carara. Puntarenas also has a lovely old church that you must visit as well. Visit the Casa de la Cultura for some excellent concerts and plays.
During February and March, there are a number of carnivals and festivals that make the city come alive. In the month of July, the Fiesta del Virgin del Mar is celebrated and in November the Festejos Populares is observed.
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants in Puntarenas are limited to the cafés on the Paseo de los Turistas. Cevinche is the best dish they can offer to you. Puntarenas offers locals and cruise tourists with a great choice of fresh sea foods like shrimps, lobsters, and other enticing delights.