Marco helped us with transport and information, a yummy dinner delivered to our AirBnB from his restaurant, and a very full day trip (oh, and with registering my prepaid Kolbi sim!). When we decided to go to Cahuita, I knew the BriBri experience was something we’d want to do; and then I realised that it would be great to get a chance to go down the coast, see the beaches and visit a second national park (Gandoca-Manzanilo) but that it would be tricky to organise (given that we hadn’t hired a car) and we’d probably need to spend a separate day doing it. Thanks to a forum post, we found Marco who offered everything all in one day – and even included lunch. It was a bonus that his English is perfect and he was so patient (if not a bit bemused) by my stress and difficulty adapting to ‘Pura Vida’ life! This was one of our most expensive days but we were feeling very alien to the country at the time, and having a personal guide for the day was just what we needed. Marco taught us so much! Zoe has written more about the day here: Activities with Marco.
BriBri Chocolate / Medicinal Plants Tour
This was part of Marco’s day trip but I’ve separated it on this page as we were originally looking to do this on its own. The BriBri tourist centre feels a bit like a farm, with ramshackle buildings and different sections depending on what is included in your tour. It’s all very compact, and quite clearly set up to demonstrate historical practices to tourists rather than reflect the current way of life. Marco was our guide, which was helpful as the BriBri didn’t speak English. The tour covered more than I’d thought it would (e.g. there’s a small frog pond in the middle) and was our first introduction to cacao. It was more hands-on than I thought it would be (e.g. getting us involved in grinding the nibs; using Megan to demonstrate how leaves were used for camouflage) and therefore would have easily been suitable for younger children too.
Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park was our first independent foray into Costa Rican wildlife and we weren’t disappointed. At the Cahuita end, entrance is by donation but this donation is expected to be around $5 per person. Bags were searched, but I wasn’t really sure what for, as locals were taking in full ice boxes for picnics on the incredible beach. I’ve written separately about not using the guides who tout their services at the park entrance. This was a personal decision, but I think if you want a guide for the park it would be better for you to be organised about it anyway and not leave it to chance on arrival.
Sadly, we didn’t get to go snorkelling as the visibility wasn’t good for the time we were there. We always knew this was a risk related to the time of year we were travelling. There are a lot of tours available though so you don’t need to risk booking this in advance – wait until you know what the visibility is like before committing to it. We were lucky, too, that Marco could give us honest advice on this, as someone did try to sell us a trip regardless of what we’d see.