Most travelers don’t realize that Costa Rica is a stable and safe country. Interestingly enough, Costa Rica abolished all of its armed services in 1949. Instead, they now spend that money on improving social, medical and educational facilities. This pro-active social solution has won Costa Rica the Nobel Peace prize, not to mention a status of UN-underpinned eternal neutrality. When you make a trip here, don’t miss the chance to visit the fabulous city of Puerto Limon.
Puerto Limon is the country’s most important port. It was founded as a port city in 1870 to be a center for the exportation of bananas and grains. But its roots are much older – the city was actually founded by none other than Christopher Columbus, who landed there in 1502.
If you don’t come in to Puerto Limon by boat, you can easily get there from the capital of San Jose by taking the Guapiles Highway north and then turning west. On average, it takes about two and a half hours to drive between San Jose and Puerto Limon, making it a perfect day trip on your vacation. On the trip, you’ll pass the Brava Volcano and the Brauilo Carrillo National Park, so be sure to allow a few extra minutes to stop and take pictures.
But despite this natural beauty, most people only use Puerto Limon as a stop-over to other destinations – and that’s a shame. There are some breathtaking surprises in this city, and it’s well worth the time to do some exploring.
The biggest surprise you’ll find is how different Puerto Limon is from other cities in Costa Rica. It is heavily influenced by the Afro-Caribbean culture – most of the people in Puerto Limon are of Caribbean descent, with their own language and dialect. To see a great cross section of the life in this city, plan a visit to Parque Vargas on the east side of town. Here, you’ll see beautiful scenery, as well as street performers and visitors from all walks of life.
In addition, Puerto Limon has some beautiful architecture and open air market places filled with color. The main market sells everything from wood carvings to other more traditional souvenirs. When you visit, expect a lazy day, but a very active night life – there are a number of bars and restaurants found here, as well as plentiful hotels in a whole range of prices.
Probably the best time to visit Puerto Limon is on Columbus Day, when there’s a big carnival – Dia de las Culturas – held here. It’s the biggest event in the city and involves huge parades, loud music and wild parties. Just keep in mind that this city isn’t crime-free, and it always pays to be cautious when you’re traveling. However, Puerto Limon is one of the most welcoming places to visit in all of Central America, as well as being centrally located for the best in eco-tourist attractions. With the jungles and mountains of Costa Rica readily accessible from Puerto Limon, these kinds of tours are a great stop on your journey.