Planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Then don’t hike past Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve…the hub of truly wild experiences in the Nicoya Peninsula
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Park covers an area of almost 3000 acres: essentially the entire southernmost region of the Nicoya Peninsula. It comprises luscious semi-dry tropical forests inhabited by a host of wildlife. The wilderness cascades onto the sapphire-hued Pacific Ocean, at a cape defined by its blinding white rocks. At the southern tip is where you’ll find the aptly named Playa Cabo Blanco, one of Costa Rica’s best and remotest beaches.
The park itself is mostly impenetrable, so a visit is usually a one-day hike affair. Yet this entire area has a lot to offer adventure-seekers so you can easily spend a few days near the entrance of the park, exploring all this wonderful area has to offer.
A cluster of small villages near the entrance to Cabo Blanco offers the necessary infrastructure for an enjoyable visit, and the array of exceptional adventures is simply fantastic. If you’d love to step off the well-trodden tourist trail and indulge in a Costa Rica adventure vacation with us this year, pin this magical place on your map.
It may just be the most idyllic adventure springboard of all…
Cabo Blanco was Costa Rica’s first-ever nature reserve and has enjoyed protected status since the early 1960s.
About Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve
Cabo Blanco, or white cape, is named after the spectacularly bright rocky cape at its southernmost tip. The reserve is not quite as lush as your ‘average rainforest’ but plenty of animals still thrive within its boundaries.
White-faced capuchin and howler monkeys have the run of the place and, if you visit with a naturalist guide, you’ll also have better chances of spotting butterflies, iguanas, coati, armadillos, anteaters, plenty of exotic birds and bats galore. Brown pelicans surf the waves of the beach, and frigate birds patrol the shores for easy feedings. The park was originally protected because it is a prominent nesting site for various species of birds.
Cabo Blanco is revered by hikers and nature-lovers and offers a fabulous chance for a day out in pristine wilderness, one that’s far removed from crowded, touristed hubs.
The main entrance and info center are on the north-eastern corner of the park, at the end of Carretera Montezuma. This is the continuation of the road which leads south from famous Montezuma Beach, on the eastern coast of Nicoya.
The park is open Wednesdays through to Sundays only, from 8am until 4pm and costs just USD12 to visit.
Interestingly, Cabo Blanco has the infamous reputation for being the ‘hottest park in all of Costa Rica’, so you’ll want to visit as the gates open in the morning. This way, you can spend the hottest hours of the day on the dreamy beach and hike back to the car park by closing time.
What can you do at Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve?
From the main entrance, there are a few walking trails, the longest of which (the Swedish Trail, 6 miles long) leads you to the Playa Cabo Blanco beach. Most visitors choose the longer trail because it gives them ample chances to spot wildlife and just enjoy the unique wilderness, aside from the fact that soaking up the sun on Cabo Blanco Beach is awesome and undoubtedly the best enticement for a visit.
The beach trail leads you up and over the highest point of the park. It is a moderately strenuous 2hr (minimum) one-way hike and not just because of the heat: the trail is wild and there are some challenges (rocks, high steps, tree roots) you must tackle. Make sure you pack plenty of water and a few snacks to keep your energy levels in check, and don’t forget the sunblock. Oh, and wear sturdy hiking shoes!
Once you reach Playa Cabo Blanco, however, it’s all about relaxing on the glistening sandy beach and swimming in that postcard-perfect turquoise sea. One the other side of the cape is even more desolate Playa Balsita, which you can reach via a trail that’s about 2-miles long.
The beaches at Cabo Blanco are blissfully pristine and deserted, as the only way to reach them is by hiking through the park. Naturally, you’ll see a few fellow visitors on any day during the tourist reason, but the beach is expansive so you’ll still have a ridiculous amount of pristine beach all to yourself.
The sweet little hamlet near the entrance of the park is called Cabuya and hosts cafés, restaurants and a cluster of gorgeous lodges.
What adventures can you enjoy in the Nicoya Peninsula?
The Nicoya is the largest of Costa Rica’s peninsulas, easily reached by road from the Liberia International Airport or road + ferry from the capital, San Jose.
Revered by water sport enthusiasts, the over 80-mile-long coastline of Nicoya is framed by gorgeous sandy beaches and dotted by several super quaint seaside villages. This is the wild beachside of Costa Rica, the one that’s a little harder to get to but also the one that lacks mass tourism and oversized resorts.
Adventure lovers come to Nicoya to enjoy the wilderness at its most pristine, to explore off-beat villages, outstanding reserves and pristine beaches. Stress-free and crowd-free, the Nicoya is about exhilarating and relaxing adventures in a totally tranquil environment.
The most popular springboard for Nicoya adventures is Santa Teresa, on the western side of the peninsula. Here, you’ll find a charming array of accommodation options. A mecca for yoga and surfing enthusiasts, Santa Teresa is a delightfully laid-back beach town that offers something for everyone. Santa Teresa is an absolute dream-spot and one of Costa Rica’s most underrated treasures. Actually, we could easily say that about ALL of Nicoya.
Despite the impenetrable wilderness and beach-heavy accolades, the Nicoya actually offers a wealth of adventure sports for active visitors.
Our Nicoya bespoke tours can include all the most iconic Costa Rica adventures, including excellent ATV excursions, outstanding hiking and fantastic fishing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, ziplining and SO.MUCH.MORE.
Nicoya and its startling Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve prove what we know to be true: every corner of Costa Rica is a magnificent playground for active explorers.
See our Costa Rica Week of Adventure tour package and contact us for private, bespoke itineraries designed with only your wishes in mind.