Ships dock in the center of town. You can stroll along the beach or the aptly named Paseo de los Turistas (Tourists’ Stroll), a pedestrian boulevard stretching along the southern edge of town. Cruise ships make day visits to the eastern end of this road, and a variety of souvenir stalls and sodas (informal lunch counters) are there to greet passengers.
A free shuttle (Tourist Train) may be offered to take passengers to the end of the long pier where you will find a tourist info center.
Printable map to take along.
This city by the sea attracts thousands of tourists yearly, mainly because Puntarenas is frequently used as a central point when exploring the many beautiful beaches and islands in the surrounding areas.
There are plenty of independent tour operators where you get off the ship.
The Original Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest high above the forest floor. You have to be in good shape for this adventure.
Taxis are available in most large cities. They are usually inexpensive, charging only a few dollars to get most anywhere within the city. The meter is called "la maria"; ask the driver to turn it on immediately upon getting in the car.
Bus schedule information in Costa Rica.
It pays to compare your cruise line tours here.
If you plan to travel outside the towns: protection against mosquito bites is very important, wearing lightweight long pants, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET is recommended by the CDC
About 8km south of Puntarenas is Playa San Isidro, the first ‘real’ beach on the central Pacific coast. Although it is popular with beachcombers from Puntarenas, surfers prefer to push on 4km south to Boca Barranca, which boasts what is reportedly the third-longest left-hand surf break in the world.
The dock area, where large cruise ships dock, has been transformed into a pleasant place to stroll. Restaurants and shops now line the Malecon, a pedestrian walkway that runs along the waterfront north of town.
Finding a place to eat out isn't difficult in Costa Rica and generally speaking wherever you head for, the standards of hygiene in the kitchens are high and you run little risk of getting food poisoning. Expensive restaurants may not necessarily offer the best food and visitors are encouraged to try the smaller establishments, known as sodas, which the locals tend to frequent and the food is as authentic as it gets, while frequently of a standard equal to or higher than expensive venues.
The local currency is Colón(es). The rate of exchange is about 575 Colones for 1 US Dollar. You can find ATMs in most places. They normally dispense US Dollars and Colones.
Spanish is the main language in Costa Rica. English is used widely in areas populated by international tourists.
The emergency number in Costa Rica is 911
Free WiFi at the dock.
Mon-Sat 0900-1800/1900. There may be variations between areas.
Puntarenas is one of the seaside towns that celebrate the Fiesta de La Virgen del Mar (Festival of the Virgin of the Sea) on the Saturday closest to July 16. Fishing boats and elegant yachts are beautifully bedecked with lights, flags and all manner of fanciful embellishments as they sail around the harbor, seeking protection from the Virgin as they begin another year at sea. There are also boat races, a carnival, and plenty of food, drinking and dancing.
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