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

San Jose – Caribbean

DRIVING TIME: 4 hours
KILOMETERS: 134
MILES: 83 Hwy: CA 1—CA 2

San Jose - Caribbean

It is a beautiful drive through mountains (you actually go through a mountain) with 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 center of town. 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. Prepare to ask for directions.

Hotel & Eats

In Limon, there is 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, 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 is similar to 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. It 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 junction and travel south toward Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. 

Cahuita National Park is at the northern end of Cahuita. There is a trail following the coast for several kilometers and emptying onto a deserted palm-lined beach. Along the trail, you may encounter monkeys, sloths, and giant mosquitoes—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 great surfing (Salsa Brava) and festive nightlife at low prices. 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 drug dealers will most likely solicit you by the coastal towns. Be cautious, and don’t forget you’re in a foreign country. Authorities do not treat drug offenders nicely.

Next Section of Drive

San Jose - Panama Border

San Jose – Panama Border