La Virgen -> Rio Corinto -> Puerto Limon -> Cahuita -> Puerto Viejo de Limon
Limón is a typical Costa Rican city and we didn’t stick around for long. Instead we headed south for Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Limón.
We spent three nights in Cahuita, a laid back fishing village that caters to tourist. The south edge of town borders Cahuita National Park which protects Costa Rica’s largest coral reef.
Unfortunately, while we were there it rained heavily every night and sometimes during the day. That meant that the visibility for snorkeling was limited to a few feet due to the silt brought down in the rivers.
This is an increasing threat to the reefs caused by legal and illegal logging of the forests inland from the park. The denuded slopes erode quickly and the silt blocks the sunlight the reefs need for survival. When it’s not raining the fate of the reefs is equally grim.
The sunlight in combination with the excess fertilizer from the Dole banana plantations (what most of the forest lands are planted with after clear-cutting) causes plankton blooms that not only block the sunlight but poison the water… Something to think about when you sit down at your teak dining table to have a banana.
The above water portion of the National Park is faring better. The rainforest along the Caribbean coast is very different than the Pacific coast and we enjoyed hiking alternately along the beach and through the forests.
As Costa Rican National Parks go Cahuita is pretty crowded, we saw about a dozen people in a day. We also enjoyed the wildlife around the cabinas where we stayed (Alby Lodge, highly recommended).
There was a 3 foot lora snake in the sink when we looked the place over (we moved her into a bush out front before we moved in), a praying mantis that looked just like a leaf fallen from a citrus tree (complete with damaged areas) hunted in a zingiberacea out front for the whole four days we were there.
There was a little tree frog that clung to the wall of the shower, waited until I had soap in my eyes then jumped onto my chest and scared the crap out of me.
Puerto Viejo de Limon is sort of a clone of Cahuita, but smaller and if possible, even more laid back. We spent a couple of nights there and did a couple of out and back bike rides, south down the coast and along the Rio Sixola, through the Bribri Indian reservation. Then we headed back to Heredia.