Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

“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.

 

Cabo Blano National Park | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Getting There

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).
  • Sunscreen
  • 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.

 

Black-headed Trogon | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
A Black-headed Trogon along the trail.

The Reward

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. 

 

Howler Monkey |Two Weeks in Costa Rica
We saw many Howler Monkeys during our hike.

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.

 

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The Famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Wilson Botanical Garden in Costa Rica
Wilson Botanical Garden at Las Cruces Biological Station

7 Comments

  1. Hi Matt & Jenn!
    I work in the travel industry and reading about you makes me realize that your travels must be very inspiring and interesting as you travel so extensively. As it seems, you do your travel planning yourself, you should check out mygola(http://www.mygola.com/search), its almost tailor made for people like you.
    On mygola, you can browse through tons of beautiful itineraries for trips taken by real people, then customize then as much as you like, and create your own trip plan. We’ve got all the transport suggestions between cities(hand-curated by mygola travel experts, to recommend the best option for the traveler).
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    1. Vandana, thanks for checking out our website and learning more about us. We do do our own travel planning and also help other people plan their trips to Costa Rica. Mygola looks like it would be a great tool for people as well. We’re off to Panama for our next trip so we’ll see what you have on there for the areas we’re headed. Let us know if you need any help developing the Costa Rica itineraries- we’re living here so we have some on-the-ground knowledge. In the meantime, we’ll connect with you on Twitter. Cheers!

  2. Thanks Jenn & Matt! You guys would be perfect for our ‘mygola locals’ program. It’s a program through which, travelers like you can build itineraries and share with people. Would love to talk more about the same. Please let me know if we can do a skype call sometime. You can reach me at sneha@mygola.com

  3. I was just there and had the scare of my life. I was walking the trail and was about 2 km in. I could hear a low growl and being naive I thought it was perhaps a different type of monkey besides a howler. I continued to walk and got closer to the growling from the treetops. I was looking up to see what kind of monkey it was. All of the sudden I spotted a very large cat on a limb far above. It was a puma or jaguar. I’m like plunged up their growls right now. Was very terrifying alone. I grabbed a large stick and slowly backed out then ran back about 2 kms to the entrance building. I was too scared to take a picture.

    1. Hi Twila, That’s a crazy story, wow! When we visited the park, we actually asked the ranger if there were any big cats around and he told us that there were, occasionally, but usually at night. If it was tan colored it was probably a puma. If it had spots it could have been a few different things. Let us know if you narrow it down and glad you got away safe 🙂

  4. Hi Jen and Matt! First of all, your website has helped me a lot on my Costa Rica trip already. For Cabo Blanco, I’m wondering you can give some tips?

    Will I need a guide or is the trail easy to walk on my own?

    What do you recommend for someone staying in Santa Teresa/Playa Carmen without access to a car?

    Thanks in advance!

    /Siam

    1. Hi Siam, You can definitely do the hike without a guide. The trail is easy to follow and well maintained. We’re not sure of the best way to get there from Santa Teresa. There might be a bus like there is from Montezuma. Maybe ask your hotel when you get there. The shuttle that runs between Montezuma and Santa Teresa might work too.

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