Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
Situated next to the Gulf of Nicoya is Costa Rica’s significant port city, Puerto Caldera. Once docked at this coastal town, visitors are greeted with Costa Rican song and dance from local entertainers and musicians. Puerto Caldera is the gateway for the country’s renowned natural beauty, including lush rainforests, reserves and fascinating wildlife. While visiting Puerto Caldera, tourists tend to explore its surrounding attractions, including the world-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Carara National Park. Popular activities include hiking, kayaking and zip-lining, which can be arranged through cruise lines or independent tour companies.
When visiting Puerto Caldera, cruise ships dock in one of two locations; the commercial port of Puerto Caldera or Puntarenas’s cruise ship port. If the weather is unfavourable, ships tend to dock at Puerto Caldera, as it is protected by a windbreak.
The Port of Caldera has few port facilities, and as there aren’t many attractions within walking distance, it’s best to take a taxi into Puntarenas. Despite this, there is a terminal building opposite the port where passengers can purchase a few souvenirs, including wooden handicrafts and authentic Costa Rican coffee.
For ships docking in Puntarenas, there are many facilities located within walking distance, including shops and restaurants, as well as an array of attractions.
How to Get Around
The closest village to the Port of Puerto Caldera is Puntarenas. Taxis are available at the pier, and it is only a 20 minute drive away. There are also many tour operators at the port who can take passengers to specific landmarks and attractions. Otherwise, it is recommended to arrange shore excursions to fully experience Puerto Caldera’s surrounding towns.
If cruise ships dock at Puntarenas, there are plenty of taxis available to take passengers to specific sights.
Travel times from the Port of Puerto Caldera:
It is a 1 hour and 41 minute journey to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
It is a 30 minute journey to Carara National Park
It is a 1 hour and 35 minute drive to Sarchi.
Travel times from Puntarenas’s Cruise Ship Pier:
It is a 1 hour and 33 minute drive to Sarchi
It is a 1 hour and 42 minute journey to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
It is a 50 minute journey to Carara National Park.
Currency – The official currency in Puerto Caldera is the Costa Rican colon (₡). Colourful banknotes include the denominations of ₡1,000, ₡2,000, ₡5,000, ₡10,000, ₡20,000 and ₡50,000. Coins come in ₡5, ₡10, ₡25, ₡50, ₡100 and ₡500.
Time Zone – Puerto Caldera falls under Central Standard Time (CST), which puts it 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Savings Time is currently not observed.
Weather – Puetro Caldera and its surrounding areas is typically characterised by Costa Rica’s tropical and subtropical climate. December to April is Costa Rica’s dry season, and May to November is its rainy season. January’s daily temperatures average 23 degrees Celsius, and June average temperatures sit around 25 degrees Celsius.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – One of the world’s most well-known cloud forests is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Even though it is a slight drive from Puerto Caldera’s and Puntarena’s docks, it is worth the visit if you’re staying for the day. Housing around 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity and celebrating sustainable tourism, this reserve offers incredible insights into Costa Rica’s flora and fauna. Visitors love to take photos at the Continental Divide, where they can put one foot on the Caribbean side and the other on the Pacific side. Bird lovers will especially love visiting this reserve.
Carara National Park – Cruise passengers flock to Carara National Park. Known as Costa Rica’s most northern coastal rainforest, Carara National Park harbours incredible wildlife, including capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, anteaters, poison-arrow frogs and, at the Tarcoles River that leads into the Pacific Ocean, American crocodiles. Those who are keen to see the latter up-close can join a boat tour. It is highly recommended to wear comfortable shoes and insect repellent as you explore the park.
Sarchi – Organise a scenic drive to the quaint town of Sarchi. The first thing you’ll notice about Sarchi is its brightly coloured buildings, craft stands and shops. This town is popular for its intricate handicrafts, including chairs, dressers, jewellery, masks and oxcarts – the latter being a prominent Costa Rican symbol. Built in the 1950s and splashed with blue and pink paint is Sarchi’s church, found opposite to the main square. All in all, this town is a great spot to visit to bask in crafting talent and purchase memorable souvenirs.