Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve

Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve

Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve
4.5
National ParksNature & Wildlife Areas
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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Southern Tip Of the Nicoya Peninsula, Nicoya 50201 Costa Rica
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles172 reviews
Excellent
102
Very good
45
Average
16
Poor
5
Terrible
4

Kathy K
loomis ca973 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
Pouring rain when we were there so the experience wasn’t the greatest. Trails were very muddy and slippery (hiked in keens with good traction). We did the shorter version of the trail. Signage isn’t great. Take a picture of the map where you buy your entrance tickets. Approx $12 per adult + taxes
Written May 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

oscartr24
Grecia, Costa Rica53 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023 • Friends
I was there with my son and decided to walk the longest trail which was about 11 km both ways, this trail takes you to a very lonely and clean beach called "Cabo Blanco" the same name of the protected park. It takes almost 4 hours to complete this journey, you go up the hill for most of the time and then go down the hill till you get to this virgin white sand beach. Is a little Rocky but it has some portions of sand, specially with low tide.
We saw several animals and birds which makes the walking time more entertaining. I really recommend this place to pople who likes to walk on a jungle adventure. Just take a lot of water since it's hot and humid, you will need it and there is no drinkable water there as I know of.
Written February 23, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Thomas G
Amsterdam, The Netherlands1,819 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023
The hike towards the beach is 5 km (also a short round possible) and you have to go back as well. The path is very clear to find, but it is not easy. People say it is the hottest national park in Costa Rica and the path goes up and down, so it will take about 1.5-2 hours one way, so retour will be 3-4 hours and an additional swim. During the hike I saw 3 non-venomous snakes, blue morpho, agouti, lizards and a tree anteater.Besides I heard a lot of howler monkeys, but could not find them. At the beach there were many iguanas and pelicans. You can fill up your water bottles here (you don't need reusable plastic, but please don't litter!) and have a little swim in the sea and have a shower. The park is not expensive and not touristy, so it was absolutely great. This was an amazing day and I would absolutely recommend doing it!
Written February 21, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eating_through_life
København244 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023 • Solo
Great national park close to Montezuma. You can choose the short or long trail. The long trail will take you to a beach where you can swim before returning same way back.
Do not that you will have to cross a couple of rivers and the path is a little uneven at some places.
Written January 11, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

5150Luv2Travel
Cabuya, Costa Rica53 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2016 • Solo
I have lived next to Cabo Blanco for the past 5 years, hiked the park, and am uniquely qualified to give you all the information that you'll need to have an enjoyable experience when visiting - or at least how to avoid a miserable one.

The park is open Wednesday-Sunday from 8am-4pm except for national holidays. Admission for foreigners is $12 which can be paid in cash (American $$ or colones) or with credit cards. Admission for Costa Ricans and people with residence is 1,600 colones with cedula.

There are only TWO trails in the park. The shortest trail (Danes Trail) is around 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) and goes in a loop through the rainforest. This trail is fairly easy to walk and can be done by most people and children. The longer trail (Sueco Trail) is around 5 kilometers (3 miles). The Sueco Trail is a very steep trail that takes you up into the mountains and then drops down to a beautiful, pristine white-sand beach that is very Jurassic Park-esque.

The Sueco Trail will take you at least 2 hours to hike EACH WAY. Let me say this again - you will spend at least 2 hours hiking one direction on a VERY steep and rugged trail. The Sueco Trail should ONLY be attempted by those in reasonable physical shape because I am very serious when I say that you are hiking up and down a mountain. If you are elderly, overweight, out of shape, have children under 10 years of age, or any physical mobility problems - please do NOT even attempt this trail. Stick to the shorter, easier Dane Trail or you will regret it.

THINGS TO REMEMBER/CONSIDER: For the Danes Trail you will need decent walking shoes. You can get away with wearing flip-flops or other types of sandals without too much problem. However, for the Sueco Trail you MUST wear good shoes suitable for steep & rocky terrain. You will deeply regret wearing flip-flops or sandals. Tennis shoes, hiking boots, or sandals specifically designed for trail walking really are a must.

The second thing you should remember - and I am VERY serious on this issue - is to bring water or an electrolyte replacement such as Gatorade. I recommend bringing a 32 ounce bottle per person. If you do not heed this warning, I guarantee you will suffer serious dehydration issues that could lead to unwanted health problems and injury. The ONLY two places in the park to get water are at the entrance or at the beach. At the park entrance, there is a water spigot clearly marked across from where you pay your entrance fee. At the beach, there are showers that are less conspicuous - they are behind the picnic table on the far left if you are facing the ocean. You can shower off after swimming and refill your water bottle. The water at either place is potable but tepid. Bringing an energy snack is also highly recommended.

BEST TIME TO GO TIME-WISE (dry and rainy season issues are discussed below): As stated above, the park hours are 8am-4pm. Two things to consider are how much time it will take you to hike the trails and how hot it gets in the afternoons. Do not show up at 12pm and expect to walk the 5 K trail to the beach and back. You won't make it even if you are an experienced hiker and in good shape - I am not kidding.

In my opinion, if you want to stay cool, beat the crowds, and see animals, you need to be at the gate at 8 am or by 8:30 am at the latest. You can go later (10-11am - but don't expect to see a lot of wildlife). The reason for my recommended early arrival is, firstly, because it is the coolest time of the day - and if you are taking the Sueco Trail, you will be coming back up the mountain around 10:30-11am (depending upon how much time you spend at the beach), and the heat is really starting to come on at that time - especially in the dry season.

Secondly, the animals in the park are much more active in the mornings. And finally, because so many people do not heed the signs which ask that you keep talking to a minimum so as not to scare the animals, the more timid animals have been chased away. Please keep in mind that regardless of what time you arrive, if you laugh and talk at a normal/loud level, you will not see very many animals for this same reason. Finally, by afternoon, most animals are hidden or taking naps to beat the heat.

THE BEACH: There are some reviews on this website that complain about the beach being dirty. Let me explain. On the Nicoya Peninsula, all of our trash & recycling are carried by barges across the bay to Jaco. And more often than not, some of the trash or recycling falls overboard. This trash/recycling is then washed onto the beach. Unfortunately, the park isn't able to clean the beaches every day. However, at least once a week they will pick up the trash/recycling debris. I went with some tourists to the park yesterday, and the beach was completely clean (I saw 4 huge trash bags full of garbage park officials had picked up earlier in the week). But as a general rule, the beach is beautiful, clean, and spectacular to behold.

THE SEASONS: Costa Rica has two seasons - rainy and dry (aka green & brown). Dry season runs from December to April during which the peninsula receives little to no rain (especially in February & March). May through November is the rainy season, with September and October being the worse (raining most of the time). FYI - Remember that Costa Rica has several different micro-climates that vary - the above information is solely for the Nicoya Peninsula.

So what does that mean for viewing Cabo Blanco?? In the dry season, the park isn't as green and pretty. The rainforest is very brown, and many of the trees have lost their leaves (however, the canopy still has enough foliage to keep the trails almost completely shaded and relatively cool until the afternoon). But although the park isn't as green and lush, there is less foliage which allows for better animal viewing.

In the rainy season, the park is extremely green and lush - a true "jungle" experience. However, it is harder to see more than 10-15 feet off the trail. So you may hear animals, but just not see them as well. The other issue with the rainy season is that the park has a few streams which will be running full and harder to cross (there are NO bridges) - not to mention that the dirt trail will be a muddy mess and harder to hike (especially late August-early November). There are cement blocks used for stairs on the north side of the Sueco Trail, but not on the south side of the mountain (the south side leading down to the ocean is all dirt)

Finally, WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE: Cabo Blanco is mainly a secondary forest with some primary forest trees. There are several species of trees, fungi, shrubs, vines, lilies, and ferns. It's very pretty to look at, although not necessarily a botanist's paradise.

For animal lovers - if you are lucky, quiet, and go early in the morning - you MAY - I REPEAT MAY - see the following animals: Howler monkeys, White-faced capuchin monkeys, deer, various species of birds (though not as many or spectacular as other parks in Costa Rica), raccoons, White-nosed caotis (these can be aggressive so do not get too close), armadillos, Variegated squirrels (burnt-orange bodies with gray/black striped tails), and agoutis (they look like giant guinea pigs).

Do not expect to see sloths, jungle cats, or other types of monkeys or marsupials. The reason is because Cabo Blanco is either not a home to these specific animals, or they are nocturnal and will not be out during the day. Remember Cabo Blanco is NOT an animal preserve. It is a nature preserve. Please don't hike Cabo Blanco and then complain because you didn't see a bunch of animals - especially if you come later in the day. But if you heed my advice, you should at least see a few birds/animals to make your experience a memorable one.

A quick FYI - the best way to see animals is by walking quietly and listening for the sound of leaves rustling in the trees or on the ground. It is much easier to hear and then look for animals than to spot them directly.

CAUTION: Costa Rica is home to several venomous snakes. Most venomous snakes on the peninsula are found in the mountains - which is exactly where you will be hiking. BE SAFE AND WATCH WHERE YOU ARE WALKING. Do NOT leave the trail. Be careful if placing your hands anywhere that you cannot see (under logs, rocks, or into piles of leaves etc). I know people who have been bitten by venomous snakes in the mountains. Be wary and smart, and you should be okay. If you do see a snake, do NOT approach or antagonize it. Hopefully, it will slither off so that you can continue on your way.

MEDICAL CARE CONSIDERATIONS: The problem is that there is only one way in and out of Cabo Blanco. If you get bitten by a venomous snake, break your leg/arm, or have an emergent issue such as a heart attack or allergic reaction to something, park rangers and emergency personnel will not be able to help you with any speed. They will have to hike in and carry you back out through the same rough, steep terrain. They also do not have anti-venom or other types of emergent medical care at the park. Finally, there are NO hospitals on the peninsula itself. There are a few general medical practitioners and a basic clinic. If you can afford it (minimum $2000), you can have a life-flight helicopter transport you to San Jose after you get back to the park entrance. Otherwise, it is a 5-hour drive to the nearest hospital by car over bumpy dirt roads. **Keep this in mind regardless of whether you are at Cabo Blanco or doing any other type of activity on the peninsula.

NEGATIVES OF THE PARK: The only thing that I dislike about the park is that the trails are very limited. As I stated, there are only two trails. The Danes Trail is loop so that is okay. But the Sueco Trail is the same so you don't get to really see anything new on the way back rainforest-wise.

IN CONCLUSION, that is the Cabo Blanco experience in a nutshell. Let me finish by saying one last thing - please do not feed the animals, leave trash on the trails/beach, or take home any souvenirs such as shells, plants, or rocks. Please be respectful of nature and your fellow travelers. ENJOY AND BE SAFE!!
Written March 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Costa Rica Vibes
San Jose, Costa Rica28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2018
This hike is a bit intense. It's not that it is overly strenuous but it gets really hot and humid here. Definitely bring a lot of water, snacks, and sunscreen. There is potable water at the start of the hike and then again once you get to the beach.
The beach definitely made the long hike worth it. It was a great spot to spend a few hours before making the hot hike back.
Written November 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PuravidaPlaya
Milan, Italy144 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2016 • Couples
Had been wanting to visit this, the oldest and "strictest" nature reserve in Costa Rica, for years, and finally managed it. For true nature lovers only, it has nothing of the "zoo" feel of some smaller places where animals are (too) used to humans, and no "tourist facilities" apart from toilets at the entrance, wifi in the entrance area and drinking water, again at the entrance, to fill up your thermos. No food of any sort available beyond the village (Cabuya) a couple of km before you come to Cabo Blanco and the end of the pretty poorly maintained road . The entrance fee is still $12 and the large wilderness area has only 3 paths which visitors can tread, two circular ones within the forest of 1 and 2 hours' duration respectively; the third goes through the forest: up, down and across various streams via bridges or splashing through them (stepping stones if the water is low enough) for a good two hours, ending up on the picture-postcard beach which you will share only with a good number of pelicans and the few other tourists who have chosen to do this long hike.
The paths are very well maintained if you consider the "absolute reserve" (i.e. no messing about with nature): there is no risk of taking the wrong road, the only forks being the intersections with the clearly marked shorter trails, and a couple of arrows "just in case". Warnings at the entrance say 1. Not to attempt the beach trek if you are elderly or have a heart or bronchial condition, etc etc 2. That if you go to the beach you must start your return journey by 2 pm to be sure of being out of the park by 4 pm when it closes. I think they are fair enough cautionary warnings, but I completed the hike with my 74 year old husband who has had some respiratory problems. He found the uphill parts tough and needed to go slowly (on the outward journey we took 2.5 hours compared to the standard 2 hours, but this also included time observing animals), but comparing the trail to walking in the Alps, it would definitely be considered "Easy", i.e. not "tourist" level, which is on easy, relatively flat land, but not involving any scrambling or having to use one's hands other than to hold onto the rope "handrails" kindly provided on one long flight of steps.
The ground was damp and a little slippery in places on our visit (mid December, but after an exceptionally long rainy season). I would not have enjoyed doing the trail in pouring rain or after heavy rain, or would have wanted walking poles to steady me.
The Cabo Blanco beach is a mix of white sand and pebbles - swimming with jelly sandals is more comfortable. Unfortunately, prolonged bad weather and heavy seas meant large quantities of rubbish thrown into the sea elsewhere had ended up along the high tide mark, but the day we visited a 3-day camp was starting, with volunteers clearing both the beach and the immediate inland part, to make it more inviting to visitors.
The reserve apparently has many mammals, but the ones we saw most of were white-faced capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys. We also saw the cutest sleepy-looking anteater half way up a small tree, who was totally unfased by our presence and didn't move at all while we photographed it.
We left the beach about 40 minutes after the advised 2 o'clock and on the return journey I was worried darkness might overtake us, as the forest is already very shady and my husband was quite tired. But we only took 2 hrs 10 on the return journey, and although the reserve reception area was totally closed (probably since 4 on the dot!), the loos and the Wifi were still working, so we could use both before starting back to our base. I confirm the advice of others to take LOTS of water. I had a 2-litre hydration bladder plus a 750 cc water bottle, and it was just enough, with a little careful administration on my part on the return journey.
We then stopped to admire the Cabuya island cemetery at high tide and for a long refreshing fruit batida as well as a large bottle of mineral water at a roadside café as we gave our legs a much-needed rest.
We were staying in the Tambor area and the drive to and from Cabo Blanco was quite arduous after Cobano - the partly-surfaced road down to Montezuma was bad enough, then km after km of potholed unsurfaced road on to Cabuya and Cabo Blanco made me see why this reserve has only a limited number of visitors each year. But I am glad we finally became part of them!
Written December 29, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ClearWaters
Alaska27 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2015 • Couples
We did thie beach hike in the afternoon, about 11-4pm, takes as long as the guides say. We are in decent shape and hike a lot, so we thought, "we don't need 2 hours to go 5km." Plan to make it a full day and take watch because it closes at 4pm. Between the heat, and steep climbs and descents, and stalking critters it takes awhile. Take lots of water and snacks if you head for the beach.

We had a great day for wildlife, coati, capuchins, howlers, anteater, agouti, peccary, and some other mammal we scared off, lizards, and tons of birds that I don't know the name of, a couple rare enough they weren't on the guide cards at the ranger station, birders could spend all day here. Walk quietly and slowly or arrange ahead of time for a guide. Binos or a telephoto lens on a good camera would be nice.
Written February 8, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

leona73
Calgary, Canada116 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2016 • Couples
The Cabo Blanco Reserve is a must visit attraction when on the Nicoya Peninsula. The park opens at 8am and I recommend arriving early to beat the crowds. The cost is $12US which goes toward up keep of the reserve. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

We did the 5km hike to the beach which I felt was not too strenuous and I am no hiking or athletic guru. I would recommend at least a bottle of water (I also brought gatorade to replenish electrolites) as the heat and humidity can be a bit stifling since you are walking in jungle. You do pass over a couple of fresh streams which I stopped at on our way back from the beach to splash some cold spring water onto ourselves.

We did not see too much wildlife but this is a nature reserve, not an animal reserve. You can hear the howlers as you are walking through the jungle and will see some wildlife.

When you arrive at the beach, there are new picnic tables, 2 fresh water showers to cool off in or rinse off after a swim in the ocean as well as a bottle refill area where the showers are. PLEASE NOTE there is a poisonous tree along the beach called "Manchineel" which some say is one of the worlds most dangerous! Please look up the name so you are aware of what it looks like as every part of the tree is poisonous. Do not eat it, touch it or sit under it in the rain as it has been known to leach a poison that can cause blisters. Don't fear, just be aware.

There is some good information on the park at the park entrance.
Written December 26, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MJChurch_13
Moab, UT42 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2015 • Couples
My husband and I are both in our mid to late 50's. We knew we had to do the hike to the ocean. Who comes to Costa Rica and doesn't want to hike in a nature preserve. It is the dry season so we were not expecting to see many animals. We arrived at the park just as it opened, 8 am, on a Wednesday. Note, the park is only open Weds thru Sunday. We paid the $24.00 entrance fee for two, filled up our water bottles and we were on the trail by 8:15 am. We came across a small group of White-faced monkeys right away. The were very close and not afraid of us. I think they had been fed and were looking for another handout. The babies were especially cute! Beyond that and a few butterflies, we did not see anything special. The ocean beach at the end of the trail was perfect! We swam and ate a leisurely lunch at the provided picnic table for about two hours then hiked back out. It was not hard just hot. It took us 2 hrs to hike in (we went slow and quiet) and only 90 mins to hike out. I was glad we brought lots of water and handkerchiefs to dip in the streams that we passed. It was a fun trip and well worth the effort. I highly recommend it. Of note, watch for ticks. We both ended up having several. Don't miss the bakery on the way out in Cobuya. The smoothies are so refreshing and the brownies to die for.
Written February 26, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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