The reason I am talking about all of them together, is because if you go to one, you might as well go to all! Being one next to the other, this beaches are all really different. Rajada Beach is my personal favourite, having a refreshing breeze, a wonderful light blue ocean, surrounding vegetation that will make some shadow if you want it, white-yellowish sand, a lot of privacy and the best part: sea turtles! Next to it, you have El Jobo beach, which was just as beautiful as Rajada, but now it has an all-inclusive hotel on it, although it is still great for snorkeling, and watching sunsets and sea turtles. Copal beach is famous for kitesurfing. It is located on Salinas Bay, where the wind blows real hard, making it perfect to practice this sport, and gorgeous to look at. Junquillal is a small National Wildlife Refuge and a small beach that is great for camping and swimming. Cuajiniquil on the other side, is mostly a port, but if you want to go diving or snorkeling, this is a great place to do so, being able to see the biggest live coral formations we still have in our pacific ocean (excluding Cocos Island).
- Not the best place for a family vacation because of the lack of amenities, but worth visiting at least to spend the day.
- La Cruz is the closest city to find pharmacies and the hospital. This city is also the frontier with Nicaragua.
- If you like sea turtles, you better know this are some of the most important black sea turtles nesting beaches in the eastern pacific.
- Excluding Copal and Cuajiniquil, this are all great beaches to go camping.
- Not many costaricans know this paradise, making it really exclusive.
- A 4×4 wheel drive car is not necessary.
- This is an important study site for most of the marine biologists from Costa Rica, which means you find a lot of marine life 🙂
What is there to do
Visiting nearby places: Since everything is so close to one another, you can visit different beaches each day (of the beaches I will talk about below), and if you drive a little further, the Santa Rosa National Park, or you can even cross the border and visit Nicaragua!
The lookout: There is a great lookout and restaurant on La Cruz. It is like a 12 min drive from El Jobo or Rajada. You can find it with the Waze app by writing Mirador La Cruz. Plan to get there about 5pm and you can watch the sun set on the Salinas Bay.
Snorkeling: I love to snorkel with sea turtles every time I visit. The local ONG Equipo Tora Carey offers scientific tourism tours for anyone that wants to learn about sea turtles, swim and closely interact with them, while at the same time, support their cause. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the life of a marine biologist closely, and learn about the four different kind of turtles that live on Matapalito Bay (the black, the green, the olive ridley and the carey sea turtle). Keep in consideration that some of them are critically endangered and science and protection are needed to preserve the species. If you don’t feel like swimming with turtles, you can also support the locals by booking with Anibal Lara or the Surfari del Mar for a regular snorkel tour to see fishes, octopuses and corals.
Diving: There is one dive center on Cuajiniquil called Diving Center Cuajiniquil. It is small but very reliable and the divemaster, Maynor, is an awesome tour guide. He will take you to some Pinnacles and tell you all about why you are seeing the ecosystem as it is. You can see tons of butterfly fishes, trigger fishes and black corals at about 18m of depth. It looks like an underwater forest, really different from what you are used to and very enjoyable. Also, if you are an advance diver, consider asking them to take you to the Bat Islands to see bull sharks and giant mantas!
Sea Turtle tours: You can watch sea turtles on both the beach, nesting, or on the water. For the nesting and newborn times, you should try to be there between November and April and contact Equipo Tora Carey to support and get a tour by the local community. If you can’t travel on that time, or you prefer to watch them on the ocean, contact them as well but ask for a snorkeling tour.
Camping: This is a great area to camp out. It can be either on Rajada, el Jobo or the safest place would be Junquillal because you have to pay like $5 to park and go in. If you do so, it would be a great idea to stop at the SuperCompro in Cuajiniquil to buy your food because you won’t find any other diverse and cheap supermarket anywhere else. Avoid camping on Coquito, Bolaños or Copal because I’m not sure if its safe. Another great place to camp is Roca Bruja on Santa Rosa National Park but you can only go on the dry season and with a 4×4 wheel drive car. Make sure you pick up all your trash after your stay, and share with me your pictures on Instagram by hashtagging #theyellowpassportblog.
ATV tours: I know there are a couple of ATV tour businesses, I will write about it the next time I visit.
Sail and sunset tour: Contact Surfari del Mar .
The aren’t many options around there. You can eat italian at the Blue Dreams (they have great pizza), hamburgers and deli food at Lapa Lapa (oceanfront restaurant at El Jobo) or drive to Cuajiniquil and eat on the restaurant next to Santa Elena Lodge. If you ask me, the Blue Dreams is your best choice or… you can talk with Equipo Tora Carey because there is one local lady that cooks awesomely and she is trying to build a local “soda” (like a little restaurant) so she will gladly cook typical food for you is you tell her with time. I completely recommend her, and at the same time, you will be helping her to fulfil her dream… just be ready to eat at a really humble house, but really authentic Costa Rican food. One last option would be to go the All-Inclusive Dreams Las Mareas Hotel or EcoPlaya (but I haven’t try those).
If you want to buy supermarket food, the best choice is to drive to Cuajiniquil and go to the SuperCompro. If you want something closer, on El Jobo town there is a mini-market but it is really expensive and lacks of variety.
To get here, the best option is to drive, and take the Cuajiniquil road (if you come from Costa Rica-if not, the La Cruz road is better). You can download Waze on your cell phone for directions. If you don’t want to drive the 5.5 h it takes from San Jose, the best choice is to fly to Liberia on Nature Air or Sansa, and rent the car there.
You can also take a bus on La Cruz to El Jobo, since there is no direct bus from anywhere else. I think there is one from La Garita in Nicaragua, you would have to check that out.
There are actually many places to stay around considering that this place isn’t developed yet. You can rent an AirBnB house (Casa Mariquita), or go to a Hotel like the Blue Dreams, EcoPlaya, the All-Inclusive Dreams Las Mareas, Sol y Mar and Santa Elena Lodge. My low-budget nice choice is the Blue Dreams (and it has an awesome deck with a view). I am not into all-inclusive places but if you travel with family or want something nicer, this is your place. I wouldn’t recommend EcoPlaya because it looks sketchy but I haven’t stay there before. Casa Mariquita is really nice and has a wonderful view as well, AND, tons of yellow parrots pass through every afternoon singing with the sunset (I love to hear them). Santa Elena Lodge is nice and cozy, and I’ve never been in Sol y Mar either.