Cabuya is the scenic gateway to the very popular Cabo Blanco Reserve. This tiny yet attractive community borders the main entrance to the park and offers a plethora of natural sites to discover. Nestled along the jungle-rimmed coast with a backdrop of picturesque mountains, Cabuya is a superb for hiking, beachcombing, bird watching and caters to all inspired nature lovers looking for a place off the done to death tourist tracks. Cabuya is the only village in Costa Rica to have the town cemetery located on an otherwise secluded island. Cabuya Island is linked to the mainland by a wide cobbled trail which is completely submerged at high tide. It´s rocky shores are perfect for snorkelling or kayaking. Also Cabuya hosts the Cabo Blanco Spanish School with Spanish Immersion Programs. Created to fit the world travellers’ interests and needs, the school offers beautiful accommodation and Volunteer programs at Cabo Blanco National Park.
Cabuya Attractions and Activities
At high tide, swimming is safe off the Cabuya shore and there are some neat stretches of sandy beach. Low tide exposes dramatic rock formations and tide pools. About 2kms north of Rio Lajas, travellers will find Los Cedros beach, a well known surfing spot that caters equally well to lazy beachbums.
Another top must visit here is the Rio Lajas, which is crossed as you enter the village. It’s shady and breezy banks are ideal for bird watching; where kingfishers, herons, toucans and even roseate spoon bills can be spotted. Upstream there are refreshing swimming holes and hold your breath, even natural Jacuzzis to cool you down on the sunniest tropical days.
From Montezuma heading south, you’ll spot a scenic road along the beach to Cabuya and on to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. The road first passes by a steep-sided jungle with huge boulders, smothered by the roots of strangler figs and vines. Small rivers cascade down the slopes and empty into the ocean where they form picturesque natural pools, large enough for swimming. After two kilometers you arrive at Playa Las Manchas, a luxurious white-sand beach with clear turquoise water, perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Playa los Cedros – A little further down comes Playa Los Cedros, the best surf spot around Montezuma. A picturesque coastal landscape, fringed lushly by palms and old trees, extends until Cabuya.
There are usually very few people on this stretch of coastline. Instead you see hordes of pelicans making a dive for their daily fish and frigate birds soaring overhead.
Rio Lajas – A bridge leads over the Rio Lajas where herons and kingfishers are frequently spotted by enthusiastic bird watchers. You can watch the wildlife while taking a bath in the lagoon at the estuary or in one of the rocky pools of the shallow riverbed. An upriver hike of 3 kilometers will bring you to one of the largest waterfalls in the area (2 hr hike!) One of the area’s surf spots is hear at the rivermouth.
Giant Banyan Tree – Back on the road, shortly after the Rio Lajas, you spot a breathtaking natural monument – the Higuerón de Cabuya, a huge strangler fig. With a diameter of around 22 m and an altitude of almost 40 m, it is the largest monument of its kind in Costa Rica.
Cabuya Island – At low tide it is possible to walk over to the island where you enjoy the tranquil atmosphere with views of the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. The reef on the extreme tip of the Cabuya Island is one of the best spots in the area for snorkeling. Even without snorkeling equipment, you can see colorful fish swimming in the rocky tide pools.
Cabo Blanco Park – The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is nestled at the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and is considered as one of the most scenically beautiful areas of Costa Rica. Cabo Blanco holds a special place in the history of National Parks in Costa Rica as it was the country’s first protected area, established in 1963. The name of the reserve points to the island Cabo Blanco, housed at 1.6 km from the reserve’s southern tip. Since the times of the Conquistadores it has been known as the “White Cape” because encrusted guano covers the rocks. Cabo Blanco is an important seabird sanctuary, inhabited by large numbers of brown pelicans, frigate birds, laughing gulls, common terns, ospreys and Costa Rica’s largest community of brown boobies. Within the reserve, along the coast, there are three roost trees of brown pelicans to which around 250 birds retire at the end of each day. In the late afternoon from the beaches of Mal Pais and Santa Teresa you can always watch them gliding past in long V-shaped formations. The abundance of bird life only matches the wildlife found under water. 1,788 hectares of ocean belong to the protected area of Cabo Blanco hosting many fishes and large quantities of lobster, giant conches and oyster.
The majority of Cabo Blanco is secondary forest which is around 60 years old. The remaining patch of primary forest accounts for 15% of the area and is located at the inaccesible highest point of the reserve. The forest is home to a large variety of animals like white-tailed deer, pacas, armadillos, anteaters, howler and capuchin monkeys, coyotes, porcupines, raccoons and coatis. There are also wild cats like ocelots, jaguarundis and margay cats but you are less than unlikely to see them in the wild. Around 150 species of birds have been recorded in Cabo Blanco. Apart from seabirds you can see magpie jays, motmots, long-tailed manakins, cattle egrets, crested caracaras, elegant trogons, white bellied chachalacas, ringed kingfishers and sulphur-winged parakeets.
More on Cabo Blanco can be found here: Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Cabuya, Costa Rica, has a limited amount of restaurants available, mostly serving regional cuisine. A popular area for dining in Cabuya are locations close to Celaje.
Cabuya Bakery and Cafe – Cabuya Bakery and Café is a nice and relaxed venue, where you can enjoy a refreshing cup of coffee in a serene setting. The fresh fruit smoothies are a good try for first timers spoilt for choice and so are the lip smacking, freshly baked pastries. If you want a more local experience, shed your touristy inhibitions and plonk yourself on the patio to get up close and personal with the locals.
Café Coyote – This is your go to place for comfort food. Café Coyote serves delicious pizzas and some truly inventive cocktails. The sides such as yoca fries and chicken preparations are equally sought after. Bliss here is only a cold beer away, while the affable Spanish owner Jenny shares her rich anecdotes about life in Cabuya, which will keep you regaled as much as her scrumptious creations. If hard drink’s not your thing, try their fresh fruit smoothies or a glass of refreshing lemonade. They have takeaway available.
Soda Marvin – This is a family run restaurant that is an extension of the owner’s home. The portions are humongous and prices humble. You can enjoy a full vegan meal here other than the standard fruit smoothies, breakfast and coffee. The food is fresh, delicious and served with the family’s trademark hospitality. Try their grilled to perfection whole fish or the lip smacking seafood pasta. Known to whip up the best sodas in the village, Soda Marvin is also sought after for their soups, vegetables and salads.
Kardoes – Kardoes offers sheer variety to the savvy world traveller in addition to regional comfort food. Everything from their pastas to fries to steak dinners are near perfect. Hang in here if you want to chat up fellow tourists from all around the world against a relaxed, scenic backdrop complete with a wi-fi connection. The space is breezy and peaceful and the owners are known to be extremely affable. Try their popular chicken with pineapple or have a relish a full English breakfast before you embark on hectic sightseeing day ahead.
El Rancho – If you want a no-fuss eatery that gives you more for your buck, this is it. El Rancho is a tiny open-air restaurant that serves among other things, yummy burritos, fresh seafood and casados. The ingredients are always fresh, the service courteous and friendly and the portions are huge.