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Puntarenas Travel Guide


Puntarenas Introduction


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Puntarenas, Costa Rica, a small Pacific-coast city about 50 mi/80 km west of San Jose, is making a comeback as a port and resort town. The toll highway between San Jose and Puntarenas cuts the journey to less than one hour, but for foreign tourists it remains mainly a place to pass through en route to or from the Nicoya Peninsula.   Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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Puntarenas Geography


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Puntarenas is built at the end of a needle-thin, 5-mi-/8-km-long peninsula that juts west into the Gulf of Nicoya. The Gulf of Nicoya to the south and calm estuarine water to the north separate the spit from vast mangrove forests. At its narrowest, to the east, the peninsula is no more than 300 ft/93 m wide. It gradually widens westward before tapering to a rounded tip.   Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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Puntarenas History


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The slender peninsula with a sheltered harbor on its north side provided an advantageous anchorage for Spanish ships exploring the New World, and the first settlement at Puntarenas was built in 1522. The port remained tiny for centuries but was given a major boost in the late 18th century with the growth of coffee's popularity in Europe.   Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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Puntarenas Sightseeing & Things to Do


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Puntarenas is mostly a down-at-heels port town, although city fathers are making a valiant effort to spruce things up. Caution should be used when wandering around obviously dilapidated and rough areas, where drunks abound.   Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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Puntarenas Nightlife


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Puntarenas has relatively little nightlife. Several bars line Paseo de los Turistas. Most feature karaoke and large-screen TVs and draw local youth. Avoid the sleazy bars in the center of town, where drunks abound.  Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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Puntarenas Restaurants & Dining


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Puntarenas has only a handful of restaurants that can be recommended. Basic budget meals can be had at sodas (open-air snack counters) near the Central Market (Avenida 3, Calle 2) and along Paseo de los Turistas. Good seafood dishes are to be had at many restaurants—we recommend corvina al ajillo (sea bass with garlic).   Click here to see the full Puntarenas travel guide on Travel42 »

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