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Costa Rica is only the size of the state of West Virginia, yet it is one the most diverse places on earth in terms of flora and fauna. Puerto Caldera is a thrilling embodiment of the vivid, lively atmosphere of this ecological paradise, with an authentic Central American feel that has been predominant in the region for decades.
Although there are far busier townships elsewhere, Puerto Caldera is still blessed with thrills than can compete with anywhere else in Costa Rica, including a raucous nightlife and zip line trails through lush jungle environs that will leave you utterly breathless – not to mention delighted.
Sarchi is a hub for craftsmanship which is just a scenic drive away from Puerto Caldera. Home to a tight-knit community of artisans, there are over 200 stores in this township, all of which produce a mind-boggling amount of handicrafts each year.
Everything from handmade rocking chairs and unique art pieces are sold throughout the townships and villages spread along the coast, including the local speciality of carretas, gorgeously painted oxcarts that often bring the freshest coffee down from the highlands. Don't be surprised to find there's a whole world besides shopping in Sarchi, with the bright colours used by its revered artists extending to the décor and architecture of the town.
Mata de Limon
This nature reserve is off the beaten track, but the trip from Puerto Caldera is well worth it, especially when you take into account the lack of crowds on the river banks.
Head there early in the morning, preferably around dawn, to get an incredible look at the purple and orange hues of the skies reflecting upon the waters, framed by the some of the lushest greenery you'll ever see. Spanning for miles, the lagoons of this park are filled with an abundance of wildlife, including flocks of parakeets, all of them electric shades of green, blue and yellow.
A sloping road just off the highway leads to Mirador Nemaclys, a hilltop overlooking the Costa Rican coastline. Upon reaching the summit, you might wonder why the locals revere this location. The answer however, will be immediately clear as you watch the local paragliders winging their way towards the shoreline. With a host of experienced pilots on hand to take you up into the skies above Mirador Nemaclys, you can be sure of the photo opportunity of the lifetime.
Although these is no shopping centres or high luxury boutiques in Puerto Caldera, you can still find an endlessly appealing range of local handicrafts to purchase, including antiques, curios, and the freshest produce. Make sure to head to the centre of town at the height of the afternoon to experience authentic farmer's markets.
The Costa del Sol Restuarante serves up excellent seafood delicacies, such as pan-friend red snapper, and features exceptional service. If you're with a group, make sure to enjoy the crab and shrimp platter, which is both delicious and filling.
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