If you’re visiting any of these places in Costa Rica: Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Jaco or Montezuma, you’ll be visiting the Puntarenas province. The town, with the same name, is another popular place for tourists since this is where the ferry is. Many Costa Ricans have a strong tie to the town since it used to be the largest fishing port.
In this article, you’ll learn some important facts about the Puntarenas province and city including some useful travel tips.
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- The biggest province in Costa Rica, 22%
- A population of ~360 000
- Density: 83 per square mile
- Main city is Puntarenas
The province has several natural reserves and national parks. One of the most important is Coco Island which is a World Heritage Site located 532 kilometers from the coastline.
The province is so large that there are many popular tourists destinations within, such as Mal País and Manuel Antonio. Puntarenas or el puerto, (the port, that’s how Costa Rican call Puntarenas) is the capital of the province and is a very important part of Costa Rica.
To see what Puntarenas the city is like, we have a video driving through The Paseo de los Turistas you can watch below.
Fishing in Puntarenas town
Puntarenas is the main fishing port in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the amount of fish decreased significantly recently and many fishing companies bankrupt. I remember my father saying that all the big Chinese companies with their huge boats will kill everything and that’s what happened.
The abuse and reckless planning hit the fishing industry in Puntarenas very hard. However, this is not a unique situation. Many fishing places all over the world has been affected by this and is a serious situation that we need to fix. You will still see some fishing boats but most of them are just floating in the docks, neglected and unused.
The “Puntarenense” or “Porteño” are very happy. They love to take their chairs outside, sit and talk for hours. They like to party, are super proud of their town, and of course they love their local team The Puntarenas FC. Also like every Costa Rican they try to live a relaxed life.
Tourism in Puntarenas
The province itself is very big and majority of people visit the popular destinations within the province like Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Uvita, Osa Peninsula and the Nicoya Peninsula.
In town, there are some very nice attractions that you can visit with your family and friends like the new water park at the end of the main street and “Playas de Doña Ana.” Puntarenas is not as popular as Guanacaste for foreigners but for Costa Ricans, Puntarenas is one of the favorite destinations because it only takes one hour and fifteen minutes driving from San Jose on route 21 “Caldera.”
In February, Puntarenas becomes the party town in the country. They host famous carnivals, there are concerts with international artists and thousands of people go.
At the main dock, it is common to see cruise ships full of tourists. It is becoming normal to see these huge boats bringing thousands of visitors every year and the ferry leaves from Puntarenas so it is popular with visitors taking the ferry.
The Paseo de los turistas “Walk of tourists”, is the signature of Puntarenas. It is the road that goes along the coastline and for years it has been the meeting point for tourist and locals.
See what Puntarenas looks like from the sky!
If you visit Puntarenas, it is mandatory to stop by the main dock and get a Churchill as they are the town who founded it. It is like a copo but they add ice cream and more delicious ingredients. It’s not the healthiest dessert but like we say here in Costa Rica “once a month is OK!”
Lodging, Food and Entertainment
You will not have a problem finding hotels or cabinas “cabins” in Puntarenas, the city. There is an option for every budget but you may have to venture outside the city to find what you’re looking for.
Some recommended places are:
- Doubletree Resort By Hilton – we stayed here for my first time in Costa Rica and it was a great experience for my first all-inclusive
- Palacio Zephyr
- Hotel Praiamar
- Cabinas Madeleine
- Puerto Azul Resort y Club Nautico
- Hotel Don Robert
- Michael’s Surfside Hotel
You will find plenty of restaurants and sodas (small local restaurants) everywhere. I personally love to go to sodas because it’s cheaper and the food is better. If you like seafood you will have a very good time in Puntarenas.
Futbol is very important for the Puntarenas people and one of the most particular stadiums is in Puntarenas. People call it La olla mágina “the magic pot” but the real name is Estadio Migue “Lito” Pérez. Normally it is very hot in Puntarenas and they play at 11 am so many teams don’t like to play there due to the intense heat.
A funny note: when Costa Rica played in the snow against the United States, people wanted to change the stadium to the Puntarenas one when the States came to Costa Rica to play. Of course it didn’t happen.
At night you can find different entertainment options. Puntarenas has the classic local cantinas to nice night clubs. There are also some daily tours that take you to islands and other tourist places during the day for you to enjoy.
Puntarenas is not as touristy as some towns in Costa Rica but you can tell that it is a tourist town designed for locals. However, if you are used to 5 star hotels then you might not have the best time in Puntarenas because there are no all -inclusive luxury places here (except for the Hilton but that is outside the city).
It is more for people who are looking to experience a laid back Costa Rican life and see an important city in Costa Rica for reasons besides tourism.
You can read about other cities in Costa Rica here!
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