Outside the village of Cahuita, the eponymous national park is a fantastic and popular hiking destination, blessed with coastal rainforest, mangrove swamps, pristine beaches and some very vocal troops of howler monkeys. There are two entrances to the park – one at Kelly Creek, near the village, and one at Puerto Vargas, which is 3.5km (2.2 miles) down the road. A single hiking trail runs along the coastline, connecting the two entrances. Most hikers opt to hike one way and catch a lift in the other direction. Buses ply this route every 30 minutes, or it’s also possible to flag down a car heading toward Cahuita.
The trail is flat and easy, with one river crossing (which can be a submersive experience at high tide) and two swimming beaches. The hike’s rewards are plenty, especially the abundant wildlife, which is remarkable for a trail that is so easy to access. Keep your eyes open for sloths, monkeys, coatis, snakes, iguanas, and loads of water birds.
At the Puerto Vargas entrance, there’s a 2km (1.2 mile) boardwalk – the Cavitas Trail – through forest and mangroves. If you start at Kelly Creek this will be the last leg of your hike.