Hiking the Cabo Blanco National Reserve is a must to experience during your time in Costa Rica
In southern point of the Nicoya Peninsula lies the Cabo Blanco National Reserve, a hiker’s dream and explorer’s paradise. One of the most beautiful and scenic areas of the entire country, Cabo Blanco is made even more special due to the fact that it is Costa Rica’s first protected nature reserve.
In 1963, conservationist organizations realized the specialness of this “White Cape”, designating it a national reserve to protect it for generations to come. Today, more than 3,100 acres make up the park, which is bursting with wildlife, dense forests, and serene beaches.
The Cabo Blanco National Reserve is located in the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, and is named for the island that lies a little less than a mile off the mainland.
From the towns of Montezuma and Cabuya, you can take a public bus to the reserve, where you’ll need to purchase your day pass for $10. Alternatively, if you have access to a car, you can drive up to the ranger station, buy your passes, and enter. The park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and is open the rest of the week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Climate and Topography
Cabo Blanco is best planned as a half-day hike, which will allow you plenty of time to enjoy the plants and animals you’ll encounter along the trail, and to spend extra time relaxing on the fabulous beaches. The trail to the beach is a big rugged, and appropriate for more experienced hikers. However, the shorter Danes Trail will have you looping through the park at an easier pace, so those unsure of their hiking prowess shouldn’t be deterred.
The average temperature ranges from 73 degrees Fahrenheit to 91, and humidity averages 82%, so be sure you dress accordingly. You can view maps and guides at the ranger station before embarking on your tour of the reserve.
Flora and Fauna
Cabo Blanco is located in somewhat of a unique area of Costa Rica, as it exists in a transitional plane of dry and wet forests. Containing both evergreen and deciduous trees, you’ll find an impressive array of foliage, from the vibrant Cortez Amarillo to the tall and proud Espave tree. The Espave (named from the Spanish saying “es pa ver” or “to see”) received its name thanks to the natives and explores in the area, who would climb the tree and use it as a look out.
The reserve is also home to many of the animals that make Costa Rica such a remarkable ecosystem. At the captivating coastline, you’ll find a variety of marine birds like pelicans and a large brown booby population (if you’re lucky, you may catch some of their spectacularly acrobatic dives), alongside a variety of mollusks, crustaceans, and fish. Move into the forest, and you’re likely to run into coati, deer, sloths, anteaters, and a few kinds of monkeys, including howlers and capuchins.
What to Bring
Along with the usual hiking necessities (sunscreen, water, maps, a compass, snacks or a lunch, and a small first aid kit) you’ll also want to focus a little extra attention on your clothing choices. Layers are most definitely recommended, as it can be very hot or very rainy at any moment, and you’ll want some good, sturdy footwear to carry you over the trails. A bathing suit as your bottom layer would also be advisable, as Cabo Blanco has miles of gorgeous beaches for your enjoyment. And as always, don’t forget your camera! You’ll want to capture images of the breathtaking scenery to look back on once your adventure has concluded.