One of the nicest ways to spend a day in Puerto Viejo is to visit the Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens ★★ (tel. 8886-8530; Fri–Mon 10am–4pm), inland from the Black Sand Beach on a side road just north of El Pizote lodge. Peter Cringe and his late wife Lindy poured time and love into the creation of this collection of native and imported tropical flora. Here you’ll see medicinal, commercial, and just plain wild flowering plants, fruits, herbs, trees, and bushes, plus gorge on whatever is ripe at the moment. A rigorous rainforest loop trail leaves from the grounds. Entry to the garden is $6 per person for a self-guided tour (you can buy a trail map for an extra $1), or $30 for a 2 1/2-hour guided tour (minimum of three people).

Cacao Trails ★★ (tel. 756-8186), also called the Museo Nacional de Cacao, is near Hone Creek between Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. It’s a one-stop attraction featuring botanical gardens; an open-air museum, demonstrating cacao cultivation and processing; a series of trails; a large open-air restaurant; and a swimming pool. You can take canoe rides on the bordering Carbon River, and even watch leatherback sea turtles lay their eggs during the nesting season. Admission is $25, including a guided tour. A full day of activities, including lunch and a canoe trip as well as the guided tour, costs $47. During turtle nesting season, night tours are offered in Cahuita National Park.

An equally excellent cacao experience can be had through Life Culture & Travels ★★ (tel. 8708-0486), which pairs visits with an indigenous BriBri family in the community of Watsy, who explain the chocolate making process with hikes to a waterfall.. Visitors learn about medicinal plants from their hosts as they hike. The 3-hour tours include transportation and costs $72 per person. The agency also offers a wide variety of tours with indigenous BriBri and Cabecar communities in Talamanca focused on cooking, dance, language, and medicinal plants.

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.