“From the southernmost point on the Nicoya Peninsula, we took in the spectacular view of the cove. Haze lifted off the ocean’s cerulean waters. To our backs, steep hills brimmed with vegetation that abruptly met the palm and almond trees growing below. In the distance to the south stood a tall island with sharp cliffs, Isla Cabo Blanco. Even from far away, we could see the hundreds of nesting Brown Booby seabirds swarming.”
Cabo Blaco Nature Reserve was the inspiration for this excerpt from our book, Two Weeks in Costa Rica. Situated just south of Montezuma, Cabo Blanco became Costa Rica’s first nature reserve in 1963. In that regard, Cabo Blanco epitomizes the country’s commitment to conservation and is a must-see for visitors to the southern Nicoya Peninsula. Below are some tips for planning your visit.
The park is somewhat off-the-beaten path so it tends to see fewer visitors compared to many of Costa Rica’s national parks, such as Manuel Antonio. If you have a rental car, you can drive right to the ranger station, which is located just south of the town of Cabuya. If you’re taking the public bus from Montezuma (< $2), you will be dropped off at the turnaround before the park entrance and you’ll have a short walk to the ranger station. The last bus back to Montezuma arrives in early afternoon (check the schedule when you’re in Costa Rica for the most up-to-date time), so be sure to leave plenty of time for your hike back.
What to Bring
- Plenty of water as you’ll be hiking a little over five miles (about two hours each way) in 80+ degree heat.
- Food (the park is very remote; there isn’t a mini-super (convenience store) for miles, so be sure to pack a lunch or, at the very least, some snacks).
- Appropriate footwear (the trail isn’t too tough so you can get away with sneakers but hiking boots are recommended).
- Binoculars (to spot birds like trogans, jays, motmots, and kingfisher hidden in the canopy).
- Camera (to permanently capture all of the amazing wildlife you’ll see, such as gentle coatis, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, exotic birds, and even big cats if you’re lucky).
- Bathing suit- The trail leads to a beautiful, remote beach. You’ll definitely want to take a quick dip in the warm Pacific after a long hike, but know that the beach isn’t the best for swimming as it drops suddenly into chest-deep water.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Note: The park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so plan accordingly.
Cost: $12 per person.
Our hike through Cabo Blanco was the perfect amount of physical activity and wildlife viewing. Along the rugged trails we got to see gigantic trees draped with vines, howler monkeys grunting in the canopy, a family of coati foraging on the forest floor, and dozens of different bird species. To top it all off we got to cool off in the Pacific ocean and enjoy the beach.
What did you see on your visit? Leave a comment below to let us know!
Post by: Jennifer Turnbull-Houde & Matthew Houde. Updated March, 2015.