Monday, March 28, 2011

Beaches of Puntarenas and Paseo de las Turistas

The beaches of the Puntarenas peninsula have long been favored by Costa Ricans living in the capital of San Jose when they are looking for relaxation and fun in the sun.  These are brown-sand beaches, decorated with large pieces of driftwood.  The water is clean enough to bathe in and there are striking views of mountains in the far-off background.  There is a long pier that juts out to the sea along which you will find large cruise ships docked.  These ships bring tourists in for the day to walk along the beach area and enjoy the famous Paseo de las Turistas, a boulevard paralleling the beach area where you will find an assortment of souvenier and food vendors, beachcombers, and locals enjoying the water. Note that if you did not arrive on a ship, you will not be allowed to walk out on the pier while the cruise ships are docked.

Paseo de las Turistas

Puntarenas Beach

Looking out towards the pier and a docked cruiseship

Outdoor eatery along Paseo de las Turistas
On the north side of the Puntarenas peninsula, you will find an estuary lined with old fishing vessels and a variety of birds.  My boyfriend's grandfather, a shipbuilder who passed away 3 years ago, left behind the shells of two unfinished boats that still sit to this day in the estuary just rotting away.  I wouldn't recommend wandering too far off of the main beach and estuary areas, since I've been told that there are some pretty bad neighborhoods the further in you go to some of the side streets.

I really enjoy meandering down the Paseo de las Turistas in Puntarenas, stopping for a cold drink or plate of fresh fruits, people watching and just sitting on the sand looking out over the ocean.  If you decide to stay in this area, you'll find accomodations right across the street from the beach starting as low as $25 a night, going as high as $300 - $400 a night (for instance, the all-inclusive Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas which is a favorite with Tico families).  I think the beach area of Puntarenas is worth a stop, but would only recommend spending one or two nights along this strip before moving on to more interesting sights in Costa Rica.

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