Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
San Jose - Caribbean
Costa Rica

San Jose – Caribbean

DRIVING TIME: 3.34 hours
MILES: 125 
Hwy: CA 1—CA 2

San Jose - Caribbean

This is a beautiful drive through mountains (you actually go through a mountain), banana and mango plantations, and lush tropical forests. The major problem is finding your way through San Jose and to the Caribbean route. You want to follow any sign you see for Limon. Travel north, up Avenida Central, to the traffic circle in the town center. At the traffic circle, follow the road around to the left. This road takes you to the junction point where the road for Limon is located. Be prepared to ask for directions.

Hotel & Eats

Limon has another garden and yoga-centered hotel near the beach. Cabinas Jacaranda is a cheap accommodation with a surprisingly good ambiance perfect for solo travelers looking for a safe and accessible place to stay and a 5-minute walk away from the beach.

Some Caribbean delicacies you should try are fresco de cacao and patis. Fresco de cacao is a milk-based drink blended with toasted raw cacao beans, rice, cinnamon, and sugar. Meanwhile, patis resembles a Jamaican patty, an empanada-shaped pastry filled with local veggies, rice, beans, and meat.

Learned Lessons

Once you are in Limon—get out of Limon. This is not why you came to the Caribbean. There is a traffic signal, the third when you enter the town, with a fruit stand on the corner. You want to turn right at the corner and travel south toward Cahuita and Puerto Viejo

Cahuita National Park is located at the northern end of Cahuita. A trail follows the coast for several kilometers and empties onto a deserted palm-lined beach. You may encounter monkeys, sloths, and giant mosquitoes along the trail—don’t forget your repellent. Cahuita is about one hour from Limon, and Puerto Viejo is another 45 minutes south of Cahuita. Puerto Viejo offers inexpensive prices, great surfing (Salsa Brava), and festive nightlife. Those going to Puerto Viejo from Cahuita must travel back to the main road and turn left at the junction. Be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Special Directions

Take precautions while traveling these roads. Watch your speed and make sure your vehicle papers are in order. The police always set up checkpoints in this region. You are close to Panama and will most likely be solicited by drug dealers in the coastal towns. Be cautious, and don’t forget that you’re in a foreign country, and drug offenders are not treated nicely by authorities.

Next Section of Drive

San Jose - Panama Border

San Jose – Panama Border