Puerto Limon Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Puerto Limon, Limon, Costa Rica)
Cut off from the rest of Costa Rica
by high mountains, Puerto Limon's population is mainly Afro-Caribbean, descended from the slaves who worked the plantations in the prosperous days of colonial rule.
Many of the homes of the rich merchants still stand, but only just, and serve as some of the main tourist attractions in Puerto Limon. There are now attempts to restore the old city to its former glory, to ensure that the characterful old buildings remain standing for future generations to enjoy. This is not a destination for spectacular architecture, but tourists will discover that the glory of the scenery, the national parks, the coastal attractions and Limon beaches
, and the rainforest all make up for the lost remnants of former times.
Address: Isla Uvita, Costa Rica, CR
This pretty offshore island was the actual landing point for Christopher Columbus on his last trans-Atlantic journey. These days, the Isla Uvita has become more famous for its thrilling left reef break, with surfers experiencing up to 3-metre / 10-foot waves on a good day. The island has no facilities, and so packing a picnic is essential. Boat rides are easy to arrange, and this short and scenic journey will take no more than 20 minutes.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free, charge for boat trip
Vargas Park (Parque Vargas)
Along the city's waterfront meanders the Parque Vargas, a slightly decrepit expanse of paths lined with benches and surrounded with a wilderness of exotic palms and tropical flowers. Views of the headland and the sound of the waves crashing on the breakwaters make it all worthwhile, although the Parque Vargas is best avoided at night. As you walk around the park, keep an eye out for the indigenous wildlife, with the nocturnal Hoffmann's two-toed sloths occasionally being observed sleeping high up in the canopies of the trees.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours.
History Tour / Walking Tours
A stroll around the city will reveal its past glories, faded but picturesque in their dilapidation. Founded on the trade of bananas, the wealthy merchants built elaborately decorated homes, all of which have suffered badly over the centuries due to earthquakes, high humidity and salty air. Sagging balconies, rotting windows and flaking paint can't conceal their former beauty. After dark, it is best to avoid walking down the isolated backstreets for safety reasons.
Walking tours are available and last around an hour, being led by an experienced local guide. The History Tour begins at the harbour gate, heads to Vargas Park and past some of the city's most noteworthy buildings and attractions, with their interesting histories explained along the way. Various other tours are available, including jungle hiking, visits to nearby banana plantations, a trip to a sloth sanctuary, and a ride through the rainforest canopy on a zip wire. However, do bear in mind that these tours can take longer than advertised, as they are often a little disorganised. Therefore if you have arrived here on a cruise ship just for the day, you may run short of time.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free, charge for guided tours
Cariari Wetlands Park
Puerto Limon city is surrounded with dense forests and a number of national parks and eco-destinations. The closest is the Cariari Wetlands Park, typical of the local coastal topography. This is a place of diverse flora and fauna, whilst also offering an extensive view of the main beaches and offshore islands. Mangrove forests flourish in the humid damp and the park is a good destination for those who enjoy watching birds and wildlife.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 16:00
Central Market (Mercado Central)
Address: Puerto Limon Boulevard, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, CR
As with most Caribbean cities, the Central Market is the heart of the city. Set on the Limon Boulevard
, this is the meeting place for the locals, as well as being a great spot for people-watching and getting the feel of this interesting destination. Local housewives shop for staples here and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables are on display. There are also a few stalls selling souvenirs to tourists, who mainly arrive via cruise ships or in transit to other Costa Rican destinations.
Open hours: daily