Outside the park, the best place for swimming is Playa Negra, especially the stretch right in front of the Playa Negra Guesthouse. The waves here are often good for bodysurfing, boogie-boarding, or surfing. If you want to rent a board or try a surf lesson, check in with Rennie at Willie’s Tours or Brigitte.
Cahuita has plenty of options for organized adventure trips or tours. I recommend Cahuita Tours (www.cahuitatours.com; tel. 2755-0101) and Willie’s Tours (www.williestourscostarica.com; tel. 2755-1024 or 8917-6982). Both are located along Cahuita’s main road and offer a wide range of tours ranging from snorkeling to rainforest hikes to visits to nearby indigenous reserves. They also offer multiday trips to Tortuguero, as well as to Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Butterfly Garden: On the main highway, just north of the main entrance to Cahuita, is the Mariposario Cahuita (tel. 2755-0361), a large, informative butterfly-farm attraction that charges $10 and is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, and weekends by appointment. It’s best to come in the early morning on a sunny day, when the butterflies are most active.
Horseback Riding: Brigitte (www.brigittecahuita.com; tel. 2755-0053) offers guided horseback tours for $35 to $85. She also rents mountain bikes and surfboards, and even has a few cabins available on the ranch.
Wildlife Viewing: Bird-watchers and sloth lovers should head north 11km (7 miles) to Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica ★★ (www.slothsanctuary.com; tel. 2750-0775). Its signature tour features an informative visit to a sloth rehabilitation project and learning center, as well as a 1-hour canoe tour through the surrounding estuary and river system ($30 for adults, $15 for kids 5–12, free for those under 5). More than 330 species of birds have been spotted here. You’ll get an up-close look at a range of rescued wild sloths, both adults and babies, as well as several bred in captivity. After, you can hike the trail system and look for sloths in the wild. Tours start every hour, from 8am to 2pm. Make reservations in advance. The sanctuary (closed on Mondays) also offers a few cozy and quaint rooms if you want to spend more time exploring the bird-watching and wildlife options, as well as the sloth rescue project.
Toward the northern end of the dirt road leading out beyond Playa Negra is the Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Gardens ★ (www.treeoflifecostarica.com; tel. 2755-0014). Stroll through extensive, well-maintained gardens, where large cages house a range of rescued and recovering local fauna, including toucans, monkeys, coatimundi, deer, wild pigs, and peccaries. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday, with a daily guided tour at 11am, though it closes in September and October. Admission is $15.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.