Puntarenas, “La Perla del Pacífico” (Pearl of the Pacific) or “El Puerto” (the Port”) as it is more commonly referred to by the locals, is getting spruced up for tourism. Puntarenas has always been a day trip destination and a favorite vacation spot among Costa Ricans. Before the beach areas were developed in Guanacaste in the north and Jacó, Quepos and Dominical to the south, Puntarenas was the most visited beach town on the Pacific Coast of the country. In the old days the seaside port could be reached by car, bus or even train. Recently, it was announced that the Costa Rican Train Institute (INCOFER may rebuild 131 kilometers of train track between Alajuela and Puntarenas, thus making the latter more easily accessible for those who do not have vehicles. Nowadays the port city is just a little over an hour’s driving time from San José on the Caldera Highway.
One of the new improvements is the widening of La Angostura causeway (a raised road or track across low or wet ground) from 2 to four lanes. The widening of the road is expected to be finished by February 2022.
Visitors will now be able get to town without having to waste time being caught in traffic jams. On weekends, when there are special events and during the summer months this narrow thoroughfare becomes a bottleneck.
The new four-lane stretch from Chacarita to the Yacht Club will have a bicycle path (ciclovía) and wide sidewalks right next to the beach. It will also have parking bays where motorists can stop and view the ocean or the sunsets.
By the way, the residents of the town are known as porteños (a person who lives in a port city) or chuchequeros ( people who eat Chucheca, a type local clam that is gathered nearby).
Here are some of the things you can do in Puntarenas:
- Swim, enjoy the sun and stroll along the beach
- Take an cruise to the paradisical Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island).
- Take one of the ferries to Paquera to explore the southern Nicoya Peninsula.
- Walk along the Paseo de los Turistas boardwalk, savor some delicious local seafood like a chucheca or ceviche cocktail , a dish made from raw fish marinated in lemon juice. Visitors may also shop for souvenirs at one of the many stalls, view Costa Rican families, see or view a picture perfect sunset.
- While walking down the Paseo de los Turistas you can also stop and try a Churchill, which was invented here. This refreshing local dessert is basically a better version of a Costa Rican copo (snow cone) made of shaved ice, flavored syrup, condensed and powdered milk and is a good way to beat the heat.
- Watch a soccer game at the town’s sweltering soccer stadium.